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Meet Your Tortuguero Naturalist Guides

Your Tortuga Lodge Naturalist Guides are part of regions history; they are descendants of the first settlers in the area that were mostly from Jamaica, Costa Rica’s main Caribbean city of Limon (also of Jamaican descent) and Blue Fields, Nicaragua.

Your Tortuguero Naturalist Guide will insure that you see the “hidden Tortuguero” because they all live here, study it, know it so well and are totally dedicated to your experience of a lifetime.

Norton, Angelo and Willis know which birds and animals are being seen in the different creeks of Tortuguero National Park and on a daily basis they will choose the best places to explore.

Your time in Tortuguero would not be fully experienced without a guided experience. Private and shared experiences are available.



Norton Sinclair - Tortuga Lodge & Gardens Naturalist Guide

Norton Sinclair

Naturalist Guide

Norton, better known as “Putut,” was born on March 10, 1964, in Rio Maíz, Nicaragua.

When Somoza lost the Nicaraguan Revolution to the Sandinistas, Norton's father decided it was time to move to Costa Rica. They were prosperous and had farms and a business moving cargo by boat between Rio Maíz and Bluefields, his father decided to leave everything behind and look for a safer place to live.

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Norton was 9 at the time, his parents and his eight brothers and sisters took a boat to the Nicaragua - Costa Rica border and then walked on the beach to the town of Barra del Colorado, 35.4 KM or 22 miles from Tortuguero.

Starting over wasn't easy, they brought their cargo boat to Barra del Colorado, but it hit bottom in the mouth of the river and was rendered useless. The family worked hard peeling coconuts, fishing commercially for lobster and fish and felling trees for the lumber company that they then floated down river to the plywood factory in Limon.

“I'm sometimes ashamed to admit that I contributed to destroying the forests and worked at a plywood factory,” says Norton, “but at least I learned and am now dedicated to conservation. There are people that still hunt and cut down forests in this region today. They have still not understood the damage that is caused.”

The Sinclair family finally set down roots in the town of Parismina 35.4 KM or 22 miles south of Tortuguero where they still gather as a family today.

Norton began working for Costa Rica Expeditions in 2005, he is a Naturalist Guide that brings a unique perspective to the table. His work in the ocean and the forests has taught him animal behavior and his sightings are legendary.

In his spare time, Norton can be found fishing, listening to music, playing dominoes with friends or watching TV.

His message to people considering a visit to Tortuga Lodge & Gardens:
“I especially enjoy helping guests spot a particular bird or animal they've never seen before or are keen to see, I look forward to introducing you to Tortuguero National Park and it's creatures.”


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"Norton was our guide on the river and he was most informative and a very special person."
Gayle Johnson, July 2016

Angelo Benley  - Tortuga Lodge & Gardens Naturalist Guide

Angelo Benley

Naturalist Guide

Angelo was born on July 7, 1976. He was raised in the Town of Tortuguero by his grandparents, Don Alberto and Doña Ana Cristina. His grandfather grew plantains, cassava and coconuts. His grandmother worked at one of the lodges in Tortuguero as a cook.

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Memories of his childhood growing up in Tortuguero are of freedom, he remembers running around with his group of friends with the liberty to do whatever they wanted. Their favorite activities included swimming in the river, especially jumping off the dock into the River in front of the Paraiso Tropical Souvenir Shop in Tortuguero, playing soccer on the beach and marbles on one of their front porch.

Angelo has worked as a guide in Tortuguero for the last 10 years. He strives to lead his experiences in Tortuguero National Park with dedication and works so that each of his guests will have learned something new about the environment and its creatures.

When he's not guiding in Tortuguero, Angelo likes to spend time with his wife Carmen and his daughters Selena and Naomi. He also enjoys his parents and his brothers and sisters.

His message to people considering a visit to Tortuga Lodge & Gardens:
“I invite you to visit Tortuguero National Park; you will be surprised when surrounded by Tropical Rainforest rather than by a buzzing city. You will find that at Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, we will all be warm and friendly hosts.”


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“We also loved our boat ride through the backwaters of the lagoon, with a great guide, Angelo. He was a master at spotting birds, of piloting the boat, of pacing the day. He was the sort of person you knew you could trust in an emergency (which we fortunately didn't have). A long-time resident of the small adjacent town, he is a most impressive person, very intelligent and deeply kind.”
BorderCollieFans, March 2016

Juan Molina Gadamuz - Tortuga Lodge & Gardens Receptionist

Willis Rankin

Naturalist Guide

Tortuga Lodge got hold of Willis in September of 2014, after he’d been guiding for another hotel. But as a Rankin, his pedigree in Tortuguero reaches way back. Willis’s great grandfather was a British captain, whose ship ranked amongst those frequenting the coast to fish and trade in turtle meat. He first arrived in Tortuguero in 1920, making him part of the second family to do so.

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Captain Rankin traveled much of the Caribbean coast, and Willis’s grandfather was born in San Andreas, a strangely Columbian island located off the coast of Nicaragua. Durhan Rankin, Willis’s grandfather, got to Tortuguero in 1936 and founded what today are 7 different nuclear families. With the town’s isolation far more pronounced at the time, Willis’s grandmother was a longtime Tortuguero midwife.

Durhan worked with Tortuguero’s original conservationist, the U.S biologist Archie Carr, who pushed the Costa Rican government towards the creation of the park. He helped Carr count and tag the turtles arriving on the beach, research that drove his arguments for conservation. To do so Durhan walked the beach from Tortuguero to Parismina, a journey of several nights with the immense jungle to one side and the roiling Caribbean to the other.

Willis speaks English, Spanish and the Caribbean patois dialect. He says he’ll never forget the day he watched a jaguar swim, crossing the river in Cano Negro, one of the park’s canals. Nor will he and his wife Flor de Maria ever forget the Christmas of 2005, the day his first son Keyrron was born. Today he has two other children, a son Kenny and a daughter Kiara, to whom he dedicates all his time not spent guiding.

Already our guests have been letting us know they’re impressed with Willis’s eye for wildlife and deep area knowledge.


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"The boat excursions into Tortuguero National Park with Willis as guide were terrific. We were fortunate to see a wide variety of wildlife - all three types of monkeys, sloths, caiman, and multiple birds. Wilis did a great job."
Jannice Eileen & William Henry Moore, January 2016
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The Quest for Pura Vida
9 Day / 8 Night Group Itinerary
Monthly Departures
Starting at $2,698 per person

Tortuga Lodge & Gardens
Lodge : 011 (+506) 2709-8136
Office: 011 (+506) 2257-0766
Fax: 011 (+506) 2257-1665


Across from the airstrip 1 mile north of the Town of Tortuguero, Tortuguero, Costa Rica.
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