Tortuguero Hotel ilan-ilan
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Hotel ' Ilan Ilan ' gets its name from a tree, which is very exclusive in the area (Cananga odorata, Ylang Ylang ). Yellow flowers with a very pleasant scent characterize it.
The Hotel, which is located on the strip of land at about 5 Kms from the Tortuguero Village, between the Tortuguero Lagoon and the Penitencia Canal which leads to Barra de Colorado, has an area of 8 hectares. Seven of which belong to the Natural Reserve created by the Hotel, where you can find monkeys, smoky frogs ('frogs with blue jeans'), slots, many birds species and a great rain forest.
The Hotel was built in 1989 with the idea of providing the necessary facilities to the tourist exploring in an area of very limited access, yet without harming its natural richness, so the tourist has the chance to really appreciate a tropical rain forest.
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The pictures on the left do not reflect the present state of this lodge, but what it was in its heyday - a quite luxurious place, with a working bar, jacuzzi and usable swimming pool, its own transport and excellent facilities.
How the mighty have fallen. After sailing in the public boat up the old crocodile-infested banana canal which serves Tortuguero village, we made our way down a long, crumbling jetty and found ourselves the only "guests" in a rundown, ramshackle complex of cabins, with rotting, abandoned launches serving as neglected epitaphs to its former glory.
We were greeted by nobody, but winkled out a family whom we took at first to be native squatters in one of the cabins. They spoke no English, seemed not to have been expecting us, had no paperwork or records, and we immediately suspected that we had been the victims of a scam.
However, we eventually arranged water transport to Tortuguero. The man of the family said he had a friend who could take us. This friend charged us an exorbitant price, and then - the cheek of it - the family piled into the launch which we had paid for for a free ride! In Tortuguero we checked with the police who confirmed that this was the one and only Ilan Ilan. We also spoke to a local, who told us how he had seen the lodge rise to great heights and fall to its present depths.
So why does it get quite a good rating overall? Because Tortuguero is a superb location, and we had a brilliant trip in a leaky boat spotting caimans, turtles, massive iguanas and plenty of other wild life. Secondly, we had the run of the place, and it was great fun exploring the gardens and overgrown trails. And, for all their faults, we did at least get a decent breakfast from the family. But I appreciate not all travellers are as tolerant as us - and there are plenty of other lodges nearby offering much better facilities at this price.
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