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San José

San José is the Capital of Costa Rica and is located in the Central Valley, which is the zone of the country where the largest number of public and private institutions are concentrated. The main gateway to Costa Rica for tourism is the Juan Santamaria International Airport which is located in the province of Alajuela 18 km from the city of San Jose.

Route 32 towards Limón

This route crosses the Braulio Carrillo National Park so it has spectacular views of the cloud forest, however the road can be dangerous due to the great amount of curves and bad weather as this road crosses the Central Volcanic Range.

Through Guápiles

  • 15 minutes after descending the mountains the first city you will find is Guápiles.. Continue on route 32 until you reach the Santa Clara gas station. Turn left at the gas station and set your trip odometer to 0.0.
  • Approximately 8.1 km north of the Santa Clara service station you will find a cross road. Turn left so that you do not cross the railway lines.
  • Continue parallel to the railway lines to the west for approximately 0.7 km and turn right on the main road (crossing the railway lines) and continue north for 10.4 km in direction to Cariari. You will be in Cariari after crossing a single lane bridge.

Through Cariari

  • Once in Cariari you will pass the last gas station of the route to your right (19.2km on your odometer).
  • Continue straight along the same road for 7.1 km. Then turn right towards Campo Dos (26.3 km on your odometer). Follow the signs that indicate Campo Dos and Cuatro Esquinas. Follow the road for 1.3 km until you reach a soccer field on your left, turn left and continue on the paved road until you reach Cuatro Esquinas. (33.7 km on your odometer).
  • Continue straight through Cuatro Esquinas until you reach the end of the paved road. Follow the gravel road for 8.9 km. Do not turn at any intersection. Eventually you will find a small supermarket on the right (Abastecedor Palacios) in the small town of Palacios. (42.6 km on your odometer). Once passed the supermarket turn to the left. There are signs indicating the road to Tortuguero. Continue for 5.7 km, turn left and pass the bridge (48.3 km on your odometer). Continue along the dirt road until you reach Rancho la Pavona (49.4 km on your odometer).

La Pavona

  • Here you will find a private parking lot with 24 hour security for a fee of $ 10 per night.
  • In Rancho la Pavona You can eat a snack and buy a ticket for the boat priced at ¢1600 ($ 3). If you are traveling with a lot of luggage it is possible that there is an extra charge of ¢ 1000 ($ 2), in this case the luggage will be placed in an exclusive boat.
  • Boats leave a few minutes after the public transportation buses arrive.
  • The official departure times are: 7:30am, 11:00am, 1:00pm y 4:30pm
  • Try to arrive at least 30 minutes before at the pier. Reservations are not required for the public transport boat. Departure times may vary if the river level is too low during the dry season.
  • There is also the possibility that you hire a private boat on the pier. The fares average ¢15000 ($30) for a private trip which will departure immediately, or ¢2000 ($4) per passenger for a shared trip, in which case the boat will leave when the captain considers that he has enough passengers to Make the trip worthwhile. If you choose to travel in a different boat to the public make sure that it is in good condition and complies with adequate safety equipment such as life jackets, fire extinguishers etc.
  • The journey time to Tortuguero is approximately 1 hour 15 minutes.


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