Off we went to Tortuguero, the Turtle Park! Getting there was somehow a big myth to us, since there’s only one way: by boat. 🙂 For everyone who is interested in travelling there, here are our advices.
From Puerto Viejo, the easiest way is to get to Limón by bus, then take a taxi to the docks of Moín and board a boat there. Fortunately, we found this page, showing us a telephone number of one of the guys driving to Tortuguero. We called him one day before our departure, which was really important! The boat leaves at 10am and takes approx. 4 hours – and it was fully booked. 🙂 To sum it up:
Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero
- Bus from Puerto Viejo to Limón: 1hr, 3600 CRC for 2 (7$)
- Taxi Limón to Moín: 20min, 5000 CRC for 2 (10$)
- Boat to Tortuguero: 4hs, 38500 CRC for 2 (70$), book one day ahead
Boarding the boat to Tortuguero
The ride with the boat was an amazing river trip – our Capitano stopped a lot of times, showing us the diversified nature and animals living close by or in the river in Tortuguero national park and on the way there. We probably drove through 5 different rivers, we saw birds, lizards, monkeys, sloths and even crocodiles ;). Before we boarded the boat we had the idea to swim in the river later – after seeing the 3.5 m long Croco NOOOOOT anymore 😀
Once we arrived in Tortuguero, we were already awaited by one guide who brought us to the information center to book some tours and also showed us the way to our hostel. We booked a night turtle watch to see what we came for: turtles coming to the beach in the night to lay their eggs, exciting. Unfortunately, we were very disappointed by this tour. We gathered in a group of 18 people at around 10pm to go together to the beach, where 50 people more already waited for one turtle to see! We literally stood in line to “watch” the turle laying eggs; one could barely see anything…who to blame, more turtles just didn’t want to come to the beach 😉
All together the Tortuguero village is a sweet, small piece of land in between the river and Caribbean sea. The village consists mostly of hotels/ hostels and restaurants/ sodas. As you can find this everywhere on the internet, it is one of the most famous Costa Rica tourist attractions. Because of this, expect to pay some money for every single step and trip which you do here (entrance to national park 15$; Turtle Tour 25$; Canyoning 20$…). Be aware that there is no ATM in Tortuguero.
The biggest organizational effort was needed to finding out how to leave Tortuguero. 😉 At the information desk right at the harbor, the guides told us we have to take a private shuttle to La Fortuna, which costs 60$ per person and takes approx. 5 hours. That price was just too much for us. As we asked for a cheaper way, they told us we could go by boat to La Pavona and take several buses via San Jose, where we would have to stay a night and then arrive in La Fortuna the other day. Honestly, we didn’t really feel well informed but rather messed around by these guys only trying to sell expensive tickets.
Luckily, as we strolled down the main street right sided from the harbor, we saw this sign mentioning Rafa’s tours:
And seriously, Rafa saved us from spending too much money on a transport which you can have so much cheaper – muchísimas gracias, Rafa! 🙂 He sent us to one of the local boat owners, who reserved us seats for the boat to La Pavona early the next morning at 5am. If you have time for travelling, this option is seriously the best for you. It is necessary to take one boat and four buses to arrive in La Fortuna, the duration is approx. 8,5 hs. Details:
Tortuguero to La Fortuna
- Boat from Tortuguero to La Pavona, 1hr, 4000 CRC for 2 (8$)
- Taxi from La Pavona to Cariari, 45 min, 4000 CRC for 2 (8$)
- Bus from Cariari to Guapiles, 45min, 960 CRC for 2 (2$)
- Bus from Guapiles to Puerto Viejo, 1hr, 3000 CRC for 2 (6$)
- Bus from Puerto Viejo to Ciudad Quesada (Bus shows direction San Carlos!) , 2hrs, 3000 CRC for 2 (6$)
- Bus from Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna, 1,5hrs, 2640 CRC for 2 (5$)
Bus Schedule Guapiles to Puerto Viejo in July 2016
Bus Schedule Puerto Viejo to Ciudad Quesada in July 2016
All in all, we managed to get every following bus right on time, except for the one in Guapiles – bathroom break was necessary and the driver wouldn’t wait. 😉 Instead at 8am we left at 9am and could use the time for a small breakfast break…and of course the bathroom. To sum it up, the longer ride was 35$ against 120$ (2 Persons), but 8 hours against 5 hours. So If you have enough time, now you know how to get to Arenal cheaper 😉 And you know how to get to see all the beauty of the landscape Costa Rica offers.