A review of Casa Marbella, Tortuguero

A capuchin pauses for thought

We had the privilege of staying at Casa Marbella, Tortuguero on our adventure in Costa Rica. Lets face it, when you’ve travelled the road (much!) less travelled to get to Tortuguero independently, you are hoping desperately that the accommodation lives up to its reputation. I need not have worried. I was not disappointed.

The reviews of Casa Marbella had built it up so much that I had spent the weeks before the holiday trying to manage my own expectations downwards. Not easy! But it was everything I expected and more.

It’s a homely and comfortable B&B. There’s no frills, spas or room service, but that’s not why people stay in Tortuguero village – you instead choose a place that has amazingly comfortable beds, is very clean, has powerful cold showers, and a decking from which you can watch the wildlife and locals sail by. You choose your B&B for the friendly welcome you’ll receive, the scrummy breakfasts eaten outdoors and privileged access to incredible guides like Daryll and Roberto. Not to mention the added extras like that fact that they have a kayak that you can use for free to sail the national park alone, free to explore the stupendously beautiful landscape at your own pace in contemplative silence. What’s more it is incredible value – we paid $55 per room for a superior river facing room on the ground floor.

Whilst staying there for 3 nights we went out on the early morning boat safaris with Roberto almost every morning (we chickened out the morning of an almighty thunderstorm, worried that our already watersodden camera lenses would not survive another trip). The safaris were fantastic. Roberto was a great guide and introduced us to a host of species – informing us of their habit, calls, activity etc. Here’s a small selection of some of the experiences he created for us:

a) He found a two toed sloth high in the trees and stayed with ‘him’ for half an hour or so, enabling us to watch, take pictures and experience this rare moment (many other tour groups turned up, waiting 5 mins (noisily) and left!

b) He navigated to a small side canal where we found a troop of white faced capuchin monkeys. We must have spent an hour with them, and a pair of toucans, drifting silently. We drifted toward the canalbank into hanging vines where the monkeys (now accustomed to our presence) hung and playfully came to see who we were and what we were doing. We could have reached out and stroked mothers and curious babies. It was amazingly beautiful and felt so natural.

c) He found sleeping Iguanas on the bushes of canal banks and allowed us to get close enough to observe the colourful scales and spines on its back

d) He explored canal banks to look for sleeping Boa Constructors on branches hovering above the water’s edge

e) He warned us (wisely) of the danger of standing under howler monkeys in tree branches and allowed us to track animals by smell and sight (lets just say the Howler Monkey ‘deposits’ have a less than savoury but extremely distinctive smell’)

f) He shared a passion and enthusiasm for wildlife that was infectious.

Thank you Roberto! You helped us to fall in love with Costa Rica more than we thought possible.

Details of how to travel independently to Tortuguero are available in our Costa Rica trip log.

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