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“A True Rainforest Experience”
Review of Mawamba Lodge

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Mawamba Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Maryland
Level Contributor
46 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“A True Rainforest Experience”
Reviewed 12 June 2014

If you are expecting the luxury of a Hilton, skip this charming hotel. It is somewhat rustic but fitting for its natural setting. No AC except for the open screened windows which allow you to hear all of the critters at night, along with the soothing sound of rain, of course. You may wander the grounds to find howler monkeys, blue butterflies, poison dart frogs, Montezuma orioles, and lush exotic plants. You may meander along the Caribbean beachside or watch boats navigate the river. If you want a rainforest experience, this is the place for you.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Rosewards
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Boston, MA
Level Contributor
71 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 June 2014

A bus picks you up at your hotel at 6 a.m. and you have a two hour bus ride that at times was very bumpy. You stop for breakfast and are served eggs, fresh fruit (pineapple, watermelon, papaya), rice/beans and bread. You then board a boat and for 1.5 hours, you cruise the narrow canals surrounded by lush vegetation and finally arrive at the Marwamba Lodge. You
will have a guide and they will entertain you much of the trip to the lodge.

The lodge is beautifully landscaped with exotic vegetation and has butterfly and frog gardens. As you walk on the paths, you will hear the songbirds and can't help but notice the lizards and occasional frogs On one side of the property is a beach on the Carribbean and the other side the canal. The beach has chairs to sit on but swimming is not recommended due to sharks and the roughness of the sea. The main town which is fun to visit is about a 10 minute walk on the beach.

The room was basic - it was dark panelled with a ceiling fan, no tv or phone but they did have wifi or you could use the hotel's pc. As you walk into the room, you could smell the brackishness of the water that was only acceptable for shower use. Outside the room was a veranda with a hammock and chairs to sit and enjoy the surroundings - very pleasant.

The food was mediocre and served cafeteria style at specified times. The fruit and coffee were the redeeming factors so you won't go hungry. The water at meals was filtered so it was safe to drink .

I would recommend taking a guided boat ride to view the wildlfe - birds, caimans, monkey, jesus christ lizards, otters or whatever else you may encounter. It is educational as well as relaxing.

If I was to go to Tortuguero in the future, I would definitely stay here again but would bring some of my own food.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Melanie C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Birmingham Al
Level Contributor
96 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 May 2014

Mawamba Lodge came highly recommended but we were disappointed with some aspects of our stay there. Our cabana was a long distance from the boat dock, and there was no one available to assist us with carrying our bags to our room upon arrival. The cabanas were nice, but we were only given 2 very thin, frayed towels which were not replaced daily.
We booked two optional excursions, an early morning bird walk and a night walk with an excellent wildlife guide. Those were the highlights of our trip. We found lots of animals and birds, thanks to our wonderful guide, Dennis.
Our package included meals which were reasonably good, but very high in carbohydrates.
We were also a little put off by the fact that bottled water costs $3.00 per bottle which adds up quickly in the very hot, non-air conditioned rainforest.
Tortuguero is a wonderful wildlife destination, but I recommend looking at other accommodations.

Room Tip: We stayed in a free-standing cabana near the end and it provided privacy.
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank leapin_lemur
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
12 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 May 2014

Mawamba is set in a well-groomed garden sandwiched between an angry-looking Caribbean Sea (choices of death include being pulled out to sea by rip tides, or being lunch for crocs and sharks - swimming is definitely not advised although the beach is worth a visit) and the serene waterways of the Tortuguero national park. The lodge is efficiently run with plentiful food (all tasty and served with pride even if it won't win master chef) and perfectly adequate rooms. We had a smallish double bed plus an extra single bed overlooking the lagoon, and a shared balcony with a very comfy hammock and a rickety rocking chair (several slats missing in the seat). There was hot water and some advice was provided on minimising use of resources but, compared with the other lodges we stayed at in Costa Rica, Mawamba didn't come across as trying very hard on the sustainability front.

There's a pleasant pool and the bar serves good cocktails; there's pretty good wifi in the bar/poolside area and you'll probably get a mobile signal here. The frog and butterfly gardens give you an opportunity to see (and photograph) some of Costa Rica's most celebrated species - the blue morpho butterfly, strawberry poison dart frog and green-and-black poison dart frog. You can also see plenty of the more common birds, bats and bugs around the grounds.

We stayed for two nights at the start of the low season and I did get the impression that the staff were all a bit worn out after a full-on high season. The other guests didn't do much to help - several seemed ignorant of the fact that we were there to watch wildlife, not interfere with it. I appreciate that Mawamba could not be blamed for the behaviour of its guests but I do believe that a lot more could be done to inform guests (many of whom seemed to be new to wildlife watching) about how to maximise your chances of seeing wildlife and minimise your risks of disturbing the fragile environment surrounding the lodge. We've stayed at quite a few wildlife havens now, both in the old world and in the new world; Mawamba was pretty much the only one we've been to that didn't provide verbal and written guidelines on this. That said, we had a pleasant day and a half pottering about on the waterways watching the toucans, herons, caiman and basilisks, to mention a few. There was also a sloth high in the trees just outside the restaurant, so going on sloth patrol became an enjoyable post-prandial routine.

One unanticipated bonus was a trip into Tortuguero village. It was friendly, ramshackle and full of colour. I'd encourage anyone staying at Mawamba to make the effort to go there. We sat for ages photographing the birds tucking into bananas that had been put out for them by the locals, and if it hadn't been for our tight baggage restrictions I would have spent a fortune on crafts; the local artisans were not at all pushy and making some really original things.

We had a lot of fun at Mawamba but I probably wouldn't go back: it was tricky to spot anything on the waterways because there were masses of wildlife-watching tours on the water - even though this was low season. Our guide was polite, efficient and knowledgeable but didn't give the impression that she was terribly interested in the wildlife. We were obliged to sit with the other members of our group for meals, and as we all spoke different languages it was quite challenging to interact meaningfully as a group. We're used to doing this but I really got the impression that some of the other guests didn't like the idea of forced camaraderie!

Our travel agent wisely put our two days at Mawamba right at the beginning of our trip; the Tortuguero National Park is well worth a visit if you're new to wildlife watching in Costa Rica. If you're not willing to don full-length trousers and closed walking boots to go tramping around bullet-ant-infested trails, the canals of Tortuguero provide a pleasant and low-effort way of seeing some of Costa Rica's most colourful and iconic wildlife. I'm glad we visited it. I get the impression that Mawamba is at least as good as many of the other lodges in the area; it just lacked the serenity and authenticity of the other places we stayed at during our two-week Costa Rican odyssey. This is a shame because with a little bit more effort Mawamba could be truly spectacular.

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank TimperleyEarly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dorchester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
23 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 May 2014

One of the best places we visited in Costa Rica. So exciting arriving by river and fabulous situation between the wild Pacific Ocean turtle beach and the mysterious Canales edged by jungle. We really enjoyed every tour they offered as part of the package and also went out in the misty dawn on a boat ride when the birds and monkeys were more active. We met caimans, crocs, spider, howler and capuchin monkeys; eyelash palm pit viper, bats, basilisks, lizards, poison-dart frogs and lots of birds and butterflies as well as local people from Tortuguero village.

Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank Dee365
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Isle of Wight, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
29 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 May 2014

we stayed here 2 nights in April, the Rooms were basic with a comfortable bed we had a rocking chair and a hammock on the porch which was just outside our bedroom door. The grounds were beautiful with a butterfly garden and a frog enclosure. The food was very nice the portions were not very large but if you asked they were a obliging and gave you more.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Tracey M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mississippi
Level Contributor
72 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 May 2014

This lodge is rustic to be sure. The beds are uncomfortable - nothing but springs. There is very little privacy - no way to cover the windows without closing the shutters and cutting off the little bit of air blowing into the hot space. It was very hot and humid. We took lots of showers to cool off but our towels would't dry. The food was just okay. For the good part - the grounds were beautiful. You are right on the ocean and close to town. The canal trips through the rainforest are wonderful and we saw lots of wildlife. We had a great guide - Anna.

Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank redbirder
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Mawamba Lodge

Property: Mawamba Lodge
Address: Tortuguero Canals, Tortuguero 10980-1000, Costa Rica
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Limon > Tortuguero
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 34 Speciality Lodging in Tortuguero
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:3 star — Mawamba Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 54
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nestled in the heartland of the lush rainforest of Tortuguero Canals, Costa Rica, Mawamba Lodge and Tortuguero National Park are worth visiting year round. What makes us different? *Unbeatable location on a strip of land between the Tortuguero Canals and the Caribbean Ocean, providing direct access to both * The closest Lodge to Tortuguero town within walking distance (no need to take boats to town) * Free WI FI in selected areas of the hotel * Complimentary safety deposit box in your room * Unlimited free visits to our MAWAMBA PARK: where we offer two butterfly gardens, one iguana and one frog garden. A guided visit is also included in our 3 day / 2 night package * Private nature trais for nature walks * Exciting optional tours including night walks in the forest, kayaking, fishing and the NEW! Katonga floating restaurant for sunset tours or dinners / lunches on board. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mawamba Lodge Tortuguero Hotel Tortuguero

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