Getting to Congo Bongo Ecolodges
Flying with SANSA San José > Limón
The quickest way to get to the Caribbean - instead of 4 hours driving you'll be there in charming 30 minutes! Let us know if you want to be picked up by our private taxi van upon arrival. If you have any questions, we'd be happy to assist.
Enjoy this amazing experience flying over the tropical rain forests and Caribbean beaches. Spend less time than other transport ways and cherish every second more that you have in the great scenarios that we have to offer. We have three companies offering this service.
BOOK this option by sending us an email with your details and we'll take care of the rest.
This is a once in a life-time experience!!
Congo Bongo helicopter flights is the solution to visit the South Caribbean side of Costa Rica - in about one hour flying time, from the Tobias Bolaños International Airport in San Jose, you will be at Congo Bongo in Manzanillo. Even though Costa Rica is a small country, it takes hours to drive to its beautiful destinations due to the irregular topography and not well maintained roads. By chartering your private helicopter you will save valuable time reaching us.
It is a fast, safe and a special experience on top of spectacular nature views of Costa Rica.
Our VIP service offers the client the best aerial transportation in our country, because we will establish a route flying over beautiful areas amazing jungles and have a wider look at all the Caribbean crystal waters and beaches , before arriving to Congo Bongo.
You will be thinking: "Oh my God, Costa Rica is amazing and we chose a perfect destination."
You will be flying certified units with the most experienced helicopter pilots, with years of experience in emergency cases, severe weather situations and being chosen by celebrities during their vacations in Costa Rica.
Private Taxi Van
If your schedule doesn't work out with the shared ride van services schedules or just like your privacy, you might consider hiring a van with driver for a private transfer to Congo Bongo in an air-conditioned and comfortable van with WiFi. The driver we use is very reliable and will pick you up right at the International Airport of San José and bring you straight to Congo Bongo in Manzanillo without any stops for other passengers - comfortable and no waiting for the scheduled time.BOOK this option by sending us an email with your details and we'll take care of the rest.
Prices: 200 USD for 1-2 people., 225 USD for 3-4 pers. and 300 USD for 5-6 persons.
The ride is a really great experience for you and your party, we will give you a tour on the way to see the Irazu volcano, the Turrialba volcano, the Cachi dam, the Caribbean and the Talamanca natural reserve and Hitoy Cerere biological reserve. For more information click here.
BOOK this option by sending us an email with your details and we'll take care of the rest.
Give us the privilege of taking you comfortably and safely to Congo Bongo and back.
The ride is a really great experience for you and your party, we will give you a tour on the way to see the Irazú volcano, the Turrialba volcano, the Cachi dam, the Caribbean and the Talamanca natural reserve and Hitoy Cerere biological reserve. Upon approaching the destination we will brief you about the banana plantations and their history in Costa Rica.
The flights can depart from 5:00 am to 6:00 pm. If you just give us your flight or hotel information we will send the driver to pick you up at the terminal or hotel in San Jose.
The driver will be waiting with a sign with your last names printed on a sign. All you have to do is to follow the driver to the luxury ground transportation and we will take you to the hangar where the plane is going to be ready for the departure to Sixaola.
Flight time from San Jose into Sixaola is 42 minutes.
In Sixaola there will be the Congo-Bongo van waiting for you and your party to bring you the 17 miles drive to your beautiful vacation home.
On the way back we can offer the same, pick you up 3.5 hrs before the flight departs from San Jose international airport, and we can fly you direct to the International airport and drop you off at the terminal where it will take 4 minutes to get to the departure terminal.
The car service - pick up and drop off - is included in the full price.
Our philosophy is to fly safely and arrive on time. Allow us to improve your quality of life by significantly shortening your travel time so that you can take full advantage of your time on your holiday home. We do everything, you just enjoy your trip.
We rely on an excellent and highly qualified staff of pilots who are prepared to guarantee your comfort in the sky.
Prices 2013 - one-way fares:
via Rafting Trip
Another option is to book a rafting trip on the Rio Pacuare, Rio Sarapiqui or Rio Reventazon. This is a whole day trip and they will pick you up in your hotel in San José or Arenal and drop you off in Congo Bongo.
To return your trip to San José or Arenal it is also possible to have this service. So it's kind of like getting your transportation for free! For more information please visit Exploradores Outdoors Costa Rica.
If you're considering renting a car and driving to Congo Bongo, all the major international car rental companies operate at or nearby San José International Airport as well as in downtown San José.
There are meanwhile three rental car companies operating in the Puerto Viejo area: Poas Rent A Car, Adobe Car and Alamo Costa Rica. Both can bring a car to Manzanillo for a small extra fee (15 USD).
Here are the links to the rental car companies operating in Puerto Viejo:
Going by car to Congo Bongo:
Keep in mind that rates quoted online generally do not include any sort of insurance (which is sometimes even more than the rental rate) and that the car rental companies will definitely require proof of coverage elsewhere before agreeing to let you wave any insurance coverage they will sell you.
Driving directions / GPS: N 9° 37' 40.57", W 82° 39' 47.43" - Congo Bongo, Manzanillo
Driving to Congo-Bongo Manzanillo from San José is really easy (except for road conditions at times).
From the airport you drive for about 8 km in direction to San José. On your right hand the Hospital Mexico will appear. After the Hospital Mexico, you must take the exit La Uruca. Take the third exit in the roundabout. Turn right at the traffic lights, then you’ll have the cookies factory (you'll smell it!) Pozuelo on your left hand. Follow San José, keep the middle lane as much as possible.
After the garage Mercedes/Jeep/Chrysler you will see a Shell gas station at a Y- junction, keep left. Take the exit Guapiles-Limón. Follow the road (nr. 32) direction Puerto Limón or ask a taxi driver to show you the road if you are in San José and pay him some coins.
You will first go through the mountains and will be very high up. It is likely that you will encounter fog (clouds) and rain. Please drive with your lights on. Half of the local drivers do not. The drive through the mountains is beautiful. You will see many nice views and real tropical rain forest. After the mountains the road to Puerto Limón is practically straight with no hills.
When you reach Puerto Limón, just before you enter the city center you will see a sign (at the Texaco Station) where you turn right to go to Puerto Viejo. If you need gas, this is a good place to get it. There are no “legal” gas stations in Puerto Viejo; but in Hone Creek about 5km (3 miles) before entering Puerto Viejo there is. From that sign you just follow the coast all the way down.
After about 1 hour of driving, you will come to the little town called Hone Creek. At that point continue the paved road about 5 km into Puerto Viejo. Just before Puerto Viejo you will find Playa Negra. To get to the communities of Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Punta Uva and Manzanillo, drive through Puerto Viejo and continue following the beach road. Congo-Bongo is 12 km (7 miles) after Puerto Viejo on the beach side you will see the sign there just before entering Manzanillo.
Please note that if you have not left San José by 2:00pm in afternoon, you will be driving part of the way at night. We do not recommend this for first time travelers driving in Costa Rica. Roads do not have lines. Rain can be bad and there are potholes and people walking/cycling that you can not see very well.
If you arrive late just stay that night in a good hotel Hotel Grano De Oro and on the way back as well if your flight is leaving very early that morning just leave the day before and stay in this great hotel to be relax on your travel time.
Buses from San José to Puerto Viejo/Manzanillo
Buses for Puerto Viejo and Congo Bongo Manzanillo leave from the Terminal de Buses de San Carlos.
There is one bus a day going at 12.00 am to Congo Bongo Manzanillo. The cost is about $11 and it will take about 5 hours (ask the driver after Puerto Viejo to stop by Congo Bongo Manzanillo).
MEPE bus schedule to the Caribbean:
There are two towns called Puerto Viejo that you can catch a bus to from this terminal. You want Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (also known as Puerto Viejo de Limón).
The bus company that goes there is Transportes Mepe and their ticket office is at the end of the terminal. Ticket price is about $11 for this approximately 4 ½ hour trip and the bus makes one 20 minute stop in Limón for you to use the bathrooms and get something to eat or drink. When you reach Puerto Viejo you have to take a taxi to Congo-Bongo Manzanillo the cost is about $14.
Transportes Mepe Phone Numbers: San José:(+506) 2257-8129, Limón: (+506) 2758-1572, Puerto Viejo: (+506) 2750-0023
MEPE bus schedule from the Caribbean:
There is a good and safe shuttle transport available in an air-conditioned van with WiFi from San José to Congo Bongo Manzanillo offered by Caribe Shuttle.
Caribe Shuttle makes two daily trips from San José to Congo Bongo in Manzanillo and there are two Interbus trips daily back to San José. They will pick you up at your San José hotel or at an off-airport location and let you off directly at Hotel Congo Bongo Manzanillo.
You must book these services in advance because sometimes they fill up. To book Caribe Shuttle you can visit their website here.
Naturally a few questions arise along your vacation planning, so, here is a little compilation of the most common questions we get.
About the houses ...
Do the beds have mosquito nets?
Yes, all the beds are supplied with mosquito nets and all the houses are well screened.
What sizes are the beds in the houses?
The Houses have good orthopedic mattresses and measurements. The double bed size is 140x195 cm. The single bed size is 100x195cm. The King size bed is 200x195cm.
Are the shower and kitchen shared with other customers?
No, you never have to share any of the houses with any other customers. All houses offer their own facilities and are completely private.
Do you provide towels/bedlinen during our stay?
As in any other jungle house rental towels and sheets are included in the price of the rent. They will be changed once a week. If you prefer we can clean your house every day, but please let us know at arrival, we will charge you extra for this service. Of course you can always ask us for dry towels.
Is there security to prevent theft of personal belongings?
All of the houses are equipped with a safety box. All the doors and windows are provided with locks.
Is there electricity?
Congo Bongo has electricity. In Costa Rica the voltage is 110V and the sockets are the same as in the U.S.
Is there any internet access?
Yes, all the houses have free WiFi and Internet access.
How far is it to the beach?
The beach of Playa Manzanillo is about 200 meters from the property.
What kind of activities are there to do around?
About activities you don't have to worry. There is plenty to do. Jungle hikes in the Manzanillo wildlife refuge are most recommended. Also Butterfly Farm, horse back riding, snorkeling/diving, kayaks for rent, dolphin tours, visit to chocolate farm and help making chocolate, bikes and tours to the indigenous reserve in Bri Bri, canopy and wild water rafting and much more actually. Check our activities section to get a better idea of what we have to offer.
Is the snorkeling good? Do you rent snorkeling gear?
Depending on the time of the year the snorkeling is fantastic. Most recommended for snorkeling are April/May and September/October. But also during many other months when the tide is low and the ocean calm you will enjoy snorkeling a lot. Congo Bongo does not rent snorkeling gear, but there are other places around which do, e.g. in Punta Uva Dive Center.
Can we swim in front of Congo Bongo?
Right in front of the property the beach is very beautiful and good to take a swim. Only during the raining season the rip tide can be stronger.
Can we rent bikes?
Yes, we have a set of fresh new bikes that you can rent for 10 USD per day. Renting a bicycle is an excellent way of reaching nearby beaches and grocery stores.
Can we see dolphins?
Dolphins you can find in Manzanillo. There are 3 kinds of dolphins reported, including the very rare and recently discovered Amazon species Tucuci. The people from the dolphin foundation in Manzanillo, Aquamore, can take you on trips and almost guaranteed you will see Dolphins. However, they wont allow you to swim with them.
How close is the Cahuita National Park?
The Cahuita National Park is 15 km North of Puerto Viejo.
How close is the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Park?
Congo Bongo is actually built within the boundaries of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. For hiking in the refuge we recommend to go to Manzanillo, from where nature guides can take you on their tours. If you want you can enter the refuge also by your own, however you can get lost if you walk in to far. The trails are narrow and sometimes difficult to find. The vegetation is very thick and walking off the trails in the rain forest is not recommended.
Eating and payment options?
How far is the closest restaurant?
Cool and Calm is just a 10 minute walk away, ath the very beginning of Manzanillo town. See their reviews on TripAdvisor.
Is Congo Bongo offering food and drinks?
Unfortunately we can not offer you this service. All the houses are supplied with a fully equipped kitchen and a big tank with fresh drinking water. The nearest restaurants are located in Manzanillo and along the way to and in Puerto Viejo you will find lots of restaurants who will offer you food and drinks all day.
Is there a grocery store close to the hotel?
At less than a 10 minute walk from Congo Bongo are two small pulperias, little grocery stores.
Can we use credit cards?
Unfortunately we can not offer you this service other than your first payment over Paypal. Cash money, dollars and colones, are easier for us. The same goes in the grocery stores, mostly. Some accept credit cards, but it always best to carry enough cash.
Getting here and around
Where is the nearest airport to get to you?
The nearest airport is in Puerto Limon. Sansa Airlines now offers daily flights from San José (SJO) to the Limon Airport (LIO) that take just 45 minutes. Then you can take the shuttle to Puerto Viejo, which takes about one hour. Otherwise it would be the San José airport where most international flights come in.
How far of a drive is it from San José?
Under normal conditions you drive it probably in about 4-5 hours. However, faster is possible. The road from San José to Congo Bongo is paved all the way. At night it will probably takes a little more. However, we really not recommend you to drive after dark in Costa Rica. People sit on the sides of the roads, there are pot holes every where and signs are very poor. We really recommend you to do the drive from San José to Congo Bongo during day time. Or use the InterBus service. The driver will pick you up from the airport or your hotel and drive you all the way down to Congo Bongo. Taxis are very cheap locally and it is not really a must to have your own vehicle while being at Congo Bongo. Most people always realize it was not necessary to have a rental car. Unless you decide to travel through the country independently.
How far is the bus from Congo Bongo?
From Manzanillo buses leave at 5:00, 8:15, 12:45 and 17:00 hours. They pass at Congo Bongo about 5 minutes later, but can be earlier. This bus gets about 2 hours later in Limón. In Puerto Viejo many more buses stop. To San José buses leave at: 7:00, 9:00, 11:00 and 16:00 hours. From San José to Puerto Viejo buses leave at the Terminal de Buses de San Carlos or also know as Autotransportes Mepe. They leave at: 6:00, 10:00, 13:30 and 15:30 hours. From Puerto Viejo to Congo Bongo you will have to take a taxi. The bus fare from San José to Puerto Viejo is about $11.
Can I get a taxi around?
In Puerto Viejo it is easy to find a taxi. The fare to Congo Bongo is about $10. At night up to $12. We can always call you a taxi from Congo Bongo. It's a about a 15 minutes drive from Congo Bongo into Puerto Viejo.