Tortuguero, Costa Rica's Watery Eco-Enclave

We were up at silly o' clock in our hotel in San Jose, for our trip to Tortuguero. We just had time for a coffee and some pastries for breakfast, but were promised a much more substantial second breakfast en route. At Guapiles, we stopped for our first substantial meal in Costa Rica; scrambled eggs, corn hearts and fried plantain. Unusual, but very tasty. This was followed by a short walk through the woodland behind the restaurant.


The Laguna Lodge, where we were staying, can only be reached by boat. But, this, although a fairly long ride, was just a transit trip. Anything we did see was a bonus. The wildlife safari is tomorrow. Nevertheless, I did get some good pictures of a baby crocodile and an Emerald Basilisk.

If you’re looking for somewhere to chill out ‘far from the madding crowd’, the Laguna Lodge, near Tortuguero, is probably the place you’re looking for. Unless, of course, you take the madding crowd with you!

You can’t get there by road, mainly because there aren’t any roads. But, shortly after our arrival, a Cessna Citation roared over at a very low level before disappearing over the trees. Since this was not immediately followed by an explosion and a plume of smoke, we assumed, correctly, it turned out, there was an airfield, or at least an airstrip nearby.


We think the boat is a far better option; you see much more, We landed at a dock, at which were moored several boats, which would take us on our wildlife safaris, A short walk took us to the hotel reception, whose odd shape, looking like it had partially melted in the sun, reminded me of something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

It was only after sitting on a tiled bench, I realised … Gaudi’s Park Guell, in Barcelona! I wonder if that had any influence on its design?



The accommodation is pleasant cabins, arranged in blocks of four in extensive grounds. The grounds, if you look carefully, can be a mini wildlife safari on its own. And, you don’t have to walk far to find yourself on the beach, by the Caribbean Sea … and realise that the Lodge is on a narrow strip of land between the river and the sea. We loved the wood and leather rocking chairs on the deck outside the cabin, and later in the tour, we visited the factory where they made them. Alas, our baggage allowance wouldn’t permit buying a couple and taking them home with us. .

Lunch at the hotel was the traditional Costa Rican dish of rice and beans (gallo pinto), with pork and beef, after which we took a boat ride to the Sea Turtle Conservancy complex, where they gave us lots of information about sea turtles, but we didn't actually see any. It wasn’t the right season for them. We just walked along the beach to Tortuguero village, where there’s some really bright street art, illustrating the wildlife we haven’t seen so far. Here, we met the boat back to the hotel.


The icing on the cake came at breakfast time the following morning. Who couldn’t love a place where they cook pancakes to order, before your eyes?  Today was the day of the Canal Cruise. It's not just a canal, it's a whole network of waterways, some natural, others man made, for the purpose of floating logs to the sawmill, back in the lumbering days.

There are enough of them to ensure that, no matter how many boats set out on exploration, all can be absorbed. Many of them are overgrown and remote, which makes a haven for all kinds of wildlife.


We saw:


Tiger Heron

Green Backed Heron

2 toed sloth

Emerald Basilisk

3 toed sloth

Frigate Bird


Black River Turtle

Boat Billed Heron

White Faced Capuchin Monkey

Poison Dart Frog


Little Blue Heron

Spectacled Caiman


Later in the afternoon, we had a guided walk. We never left the hotel grounds, but there was still plenty of birdlife. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to catch most of it. Especially macaws. We heard them frequently, but by the time we’d located them, and focussed the camera, they’d gone.

We left Tortuguero the following day, but I could happily have spent the whole two weeks here, However, as we found, Costa Rica has much more to offer.


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