Costa Rica Travel: A Tour of Pachira Lodge in Tortuguero

Following our very educational boat tour through the Tortuguero National Park, we were welcomed back at Pachira Lodge with a tasty pizza snack. I then spent a bit of time working on my computer in the reception area where I had free Internet access. While there I talked to the friendly staff behind the counter and I found out that one of them, Robert Sambola, is the General Manager of Pachira Lodge. He also happens to be the brother of Adrian Sambola, our expert nature guide who had accompanied us on our boat tour this morning.

Welcome cocktail at Pachira Lodge

Robert Sambola during our welcome cocktail at Pachira Lodge

Always curious, I asked Robert if I would be able to get a whole tour of the resort. He promised to show me around in a few minutes after taking care of some customers. With the typical Costa Rican greeting of “pura vida” we started our tour at the boat landing dock where we our Caravan tour group had arrived yesterday. The bar area is also where the welcome drinks get handed out to new visitors. We walked up to the turtle-shaped pool that is surrounded by another bar and a waterfall. The whole area is now accessible to clients with mobility problems.

I learned that Pachira Lodge is only accessible by boat or plane. Guests regularly get picked up in San José by bus, receive breakfast in Guapiles and then get transferred on a boat in Pavona or Caño Negro . From there it is about another hour and a half to get to the jungle paradise of Tortuguero. Our boat tour yesterday on the winding jungle river had been an adventurous experience in itself.

Gorgeous tropical flowers at Pachira Lodge

Gorgeous tropical flowers at Pachira Lodge

Robert explained that the premises of Pachira Lodge have a nature trail that the guests can use and it takes about 1.5 hours to complete it. The hotel supplies rubber boots which also provide important protection against snakes. In a second boat dock area, kayaks and canoes stand at the ready for hotel guest who are up for a human-powered eco-adventure.

Then we reached the expansive open-air dining area that can host several different travel groups at the same time. Gorgeous tropical flower arrangements were set up throughout the dining spaces, and the plates were arranged in an artistic way. Any time you eat a meal at Pachira Lodge, you also have a chance to admire the beautifully carved vegetables that adorn the various dishes.

Impressions of Pachira Lodge

Impressions of Pachira Lodge

The reception area was next where guests can access the free wifi 24 hour a day. Then we headed into the extensive garden that holds the 88 rooms of Pachira Lodge. We talked about all the different animals that can be viewed here at the lodge. The day before I had already watched some of the howler monkeys, watched a tucan hop around in the branches and come across a huge lizard on the grounds of the lodge. Sloths are also a regular site around here.

Tortuguero is most famous for its sea turtles, and strict regulations have been enacted to protect the four different species of sea turtles that live in this area. (“Tortuga” incidentally means “turtle”, so “Tortuguero” is indeed the “place of the turtles). Robert mentioned that ecological preservation has been extremely successful here in Tortuguero and practically all the people in the small Tortuguero Village (population 1,200) now earn a living in the tourism business instead of from hunting turtles.

We had a peek at one of the six king-size rooms that are dotted throughout the property. Robert pointed out that some of the units are equipped with a freezer for people who need to refrigerate medication. The vast majority of the rooms at Pachira Lodge are equipped with two double beds.

The grounds of Aninga Lodge

The grounds of Aninga Lodge

Past lush jungle vegetation and red heliconia flowers, we strolled to the adjoining resort called Aninga Lodge which is part of the same complex. Here, every hotel room is located in a separate wooden chalet and all the chalets are connected by raised walkways. We had a look inside the attractive dining and reception area of Aninga Lodge and Robert introduced me to his wife Milagro who happens to run Aninga Lodge.

A bit farther along we saw the bar area of Aninga Lodge, the outdoor spa area and another turtle-shaped swimming pool. Robert talked about the ecological practices at the resort where all guest rooms have a binder that requests guests not to waste electricity and water and to reuse towels if possible. Any leftovers from the meals are collected and donated to some residents in Tortuguero who used them to raise their pigs. Once a year, they roast a pig and all the employees at the hotel get invited to the feast. Many employees from the 12 local eco-lodges get together throughout the year to pick up garbage that has washed up on the shores of Tortguero.

We had now returned back to the reception area and it was time for lunch. I had truly enjoyed this private tour of the entire premises, was looking forward to a nice Costa Rican meal and another interesting boat tour in the afternoon.

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