We will be in Tortuguero in July and are trying to decide on the best lodge for us. We are looking for smaller, more personalized, tours. Based on this, what would you suggest?
Turtle Beach Lodge is a good choice for this. They have less rooms than most of the other lodges and more personalized service. They break the groups down to less than 10 people and assign the same guide to your group for the entire stay.
Tortuguero village is small, any hotel would be good. Find one within your budget, and then book your tours from there.
If you want small personalized tours, I'd recommend Tortuga Lodge. We loved staying there. We liked the fact that you can tour on your own and eat on your own without being put into big scheduled tour groups like some of the other lodges do. We did a canal tour and were the only two people on it, so we had the guide all to ourselves and were able to get close to things to take great photos. He asked what we were interested in and then did the tour accordingly. When they picked us up, we were the only two on our boat, and they pulled over on the side of the river to serve us a beautiful picnic. The food and service were both excellent there. It's a little pricier, so depends on your budget, but we loved it. They get rave reviews. We saw a lot of other tour boats that were packed with people so we really appreciated being able to go on our own at our own pace. That area can get a lot of rain in July; we brought books just in case. I'd recommend packing some mosquito repellent too and a pair of binoculars.
most boats are of similar size and carry about the same amount of people, how many the boat will have on any particular day is anybody's guess. i did the tour from casa marbella, they have the only boat in tortuguero with an electric motor so you slip through the canals in silence, not scaring the birds and other animals away. we saw tons of birds and lots of caimans and crocs. we sneaked up on a mother caiman with her babies on top of her head and on branches in front of her. whenever one of the other tour boats came through the noise of their outboard motors pretty much cleared all of the animals away. www.casamarbella.tripod.com
One heads up, if you want to see the turtles, they recommend that you dress in dark colors so pack a dark t-shirt and shorts or something similar if you can. Lots of good wildlife in this area. In addition to the turtles, we saw crocs, caimans, toucans, poison dart frogs, roseate spoonbills, lots of blue morphos, tons of monkeys. and otters which were a first for us and fun to watch.
The best hotel in tortuguero http://www.manatuscostarica.com/
they have the best , not the cheapest but is worth it
For me, the best "tour" was to use a canoe and hire a guide to go with me and just paddle on our own around the canals. You can go on your own time and not to someone else's schedule. You also can be very quiet moving through the water and not talking, giving you the best chance of seeing wildlife and just appreciating it all in silence.
Thanks so much everyone. It sounds like we'll be okay pretty much anywhere we choose. I love the idea of taking out a canoe and hiring a private guide. Knowing I can do that totally alleviates my concerns.