Dec. 31, 2007 “I don't know what magic you use to get everything put together so perfectly.”
Dear Nadya: We had a wonderful trip with Costa Rica Expeditions and will use your company again next time. Everything went very well, and I don't know what magic you use to get everything put together so perfectly, but it works like clockwork. The people that work for you are very polite, helpful and knowledgeable. Tortuguero was fabulous - the food wonderful. All the people work SO HARD to make everyone happy - I wish American folks did half so well.
It appears that your company is very well managed and I cannot say enough well about all of you. Marcia at Zoo Ave was so perfect in every way... the perfect guide to show and tell us about it. Thanks, Nadya - it was all great!
Pat & Bob Moss
Nov. 30, 2007 “Our family is already planning our next trip to Costa Rica.”
I just wanted to let you know how much we all enjoyed our trip with your organization. We went with two of our kids, son-in-law, and my husband's parents. This is the second trip with you for Gary and me. Everything went so smoothly, and we had such a wonderful time together. The other members of our group were also comfortable and fun to be with. Luis is a great guide. He is knowledgeable, organized, patient, and kind. He wanted to make sure that we saw and learned as much as was possible. He always had his scope and binoculars ready, got up extra early two mornings so we could see baby turtles, made extra stops with the van and boat, and took us out one night to look for frogs, besides spending the days and evenings with us. He never seemed to get tired. Ricardo and our drivers were very nice also. Our family is already planning our next trip to Costa Rica.
Gary & Lynne Caletti
Nov. 29, 2007 “Everything was spectacular, including the guides.”
My family and I did the Tortuguero Jungle Odyssey November 18-20. We had a wonderful time. Everything was spectacular, including the guides. I was wondering if Diego Blanco has an email address to email him directly?
Nov. 28, 2007 “The guides were great, the follow up and attention to detail was much appreciated.”
Priscilla: I heard from my client today following his return from their Costa Rica Expeditions experience and subsequent cruise. He raved about your services, and was so happy that we recommended CRE. The guides were great, the follow up and attention to detail was much appreciated. And my thanks to you, personally, for making it easy to make these arrangements for our happy clients. Hopefully, we'll have a chance to refer more people to you in 2008. Felicidades!
Connie Dix, Kelly Cruises
Nov. 27, 2007 “The arrangements made by your company exceeded my expectation.''
Luis: I had a wonderful and most exciting time in Costa Rica (on the River and Rainforest). And the arrangements made by your company exceeded my expectation. I am amazed by the natural beauty of Costa Rica, and how your people have kept it. I am very happy that I made a good choice. Our guide Luis Chinchilla was very helpful, informative and considerate in every way. Would you mind forwarding me his email, so I can share the trip pictures/videos with him. Pura Vida.
Oct. 31, 2007 “Our Costa Rica trip was top notch, absolutely the best family trip we have taken yet.”
We took a trip with your company almost two years ago and since that time I have received countless emails and offers from you, none of which we have been able to take advantage of, sorry to say. I want to say that I love your company and your customer service. Our Costa Rica trip was top notch, absolutely the best family trip we have taken yet. I have recommended your company to many, many friends, I think your employees are first rate and anyone planning a trip to Costa Rica should utilize your firm. That being said, we are planning another family trip and are intrigued by Nicaragua. Of course, when we saw that you ran expeditions there, we knew who we would book with. I thought I would ask you about your trips to that country and what you recommend in order to see it "all." Thanks for your input.
Sep. 20, 2007 “We appreciated spending time with one of your employees, Luis.”
We are writing to say how much we appreciated spending time with one of your employees, Luis . He rode with us from Tortuguero to San Jose (the delightful Priscilla was the driver). We had thought this part of the trip, on our last day would be a 3-hour slog, as our son gets bored during long car rides. It ended up be a major highlight of our trip - even for our son!
Luis' amazing knowledge, his enthusiasm, and his generosity in addressing all of the questions we'd been socking away during our trip had us wishing the ride would go on another couple of hours. Though we grilled him mainly about plants, medicinal and otherwise, he was also fascinating to talk to about Costa Rica's people and history, and its creatures. A brilliant and lovely person.
Melissa Hoffs & Stuart Swezey
Sep. 2, 2007 “Availability via email was seemingly around-the-clock.”
Luis Cubero was "the man." He is the reason you will be involved if/when my family and I make the trip back to CR. His availability via email was seemingly around-the-clock and very much appreciated. The lodge and the arrangements were smooth and ran without a hitch. Thanks!
Aug. 28, 2007 “All of the staff we met were very courteous, friendly and helpful.”
Michael and Natalie: It was a complete pleasure for us to visit Costa Rica. We had had several friends who visited and recommended it. Also, I got the name of your company from a traveler who had been to Costa Rica several times and recommended that I use your services. I especially want to thank Nadya Shaw, who was able to move us to the Paridisius on fairly short notice. Also, all of the staff we met were very courteous, friendly and helpful.
I was a little worried that my wife, who is more accustomed to Americanized, all-inclusive resorts, would be uncomfortable in the rainforest at Arenal, so we only spent two days there, with the next five days in Guanacaste. It turned out that she actually liked the rainforest more than the resort. We both enjoyed the rainforest pace of life, where the reliable afternoon shower set the pace, not a clock. But of course, life is always easier when you are on vacation, than when you are working.
I think we came to Costa Rica thinking of a third world country, and left with the knowledge that Costa Rica is a fastly developing country. All of the Costa Ricans that I met were proud of their country, and I think recognized the value of keeping the country sustainable, so that they can keep the tourist industry growing. I just hope you all can keep Costa Rica from becoming too Americanized, with tourists like us, as has happened in most of Mexico. No offense, but I have heard that Panama is also very nice, and I am having some thoughts about purchasing a home for retirement someplace down that way. I plan to visit Panama next March or April to check it out. Lastly, we have some very nice pictures to share with you, happy to do so. I am just now editing and organizing them. I will send them to you within the next few weeks.
Aug. 11, 2007 “I will let everyone know what a great organization you are.”
I recently visited Costa Rica. When I discovered that I had lost my wallet, the guide, Charlie Gomez, was prompt in his actions and kept me informed of the efforts made to retrieve it. His efforts and kind support was most appreciated. When found, the efforts of the driver, Nino, to retrieve it were also appreciated, and the wallet would be returned before I left Costa Rica. I also wish to thank the staff at Selva Verde, who took the time to search for it and forward it.
The birding trip was wonderful, well organized and otherwise went very smoothly. Thank you very much. It was memorable. I will certainly let everyone know what a great organization you are and recommend the guides.
Aug. 11, 2007 “Your employees are great and very caring; always on time and made us feel like family.”
Dear Mr. Kaye: Thank you for your email, my daughter and I had the most wonderful time in Costa Rica and a lot of it had to do with your company, your employees are great and very caring; always on time and made us feel like family. I will be sending you a picture soon. Once again, thank you. You have a fantastic organization.
Aug. 6, 2007 “Thank you for doing such a great job coordinating our trip.”
To Priscilla Jimenez: Just wanted to thank you for doing such a great job coordinating our trip. Everything ran so smoothly, and everyone was so welcoming and accommodating. We didn't have to worry about anything. Also I wanted to thank you for getting my cell phone back to me. That must have required a lot of effort and I really appreciate it! Rachel and I had a great time. I will definitely recommend Costa Rica Expeditions to anyone I know who will travel there in the future, and I hope to go back myself again some day!
Jul. 25, 2007 "Your company provided the best service that we have ever experienced."
Hello! We have just returned from our Costa Rican adventure. You have a beautiful country and we have met some very special people. Over the course of our journey we were involved with several tour companies, yours being our first experience. I can honestly say that your company provided the best service that we have ever experienced anywhere in the world and far superior to any other service we received in Costa Rica. Thank you so much!
Please commend your entire staff, from the driver and guide who picked us up at our bed and breakfast and taught us the meaning of the words pura vida; the pilot who expertly navigated through thunderstorms and torrential rain; the staff that met us with the boat and much needed umbrellas, Dwayne at the front desk who thought we were joking about the flood; Norton Sinclair Tucker, our expert guide who showed us things even after the tour was finished; the gardener who took us on a tour of his own; the staff who went out of his way to show me a snake, knowing that I'd be interested even though he didn't speak English; all the very friendly servers and especially the delightful bartender, Fabian.
To my friend Herrol Mora, who helped me plan this part of our adventure, I thank you for your assistance and prompt reply to my many questions. You needn't worry about the length of our stay - we would have been happy to spend more time in Tortuga Lodge. Next time we hope to be able to explore the walking trails that were a little soggy on this trip. We hope to return one day and will definitely advise all of our friends to book as much as they can with Costa Rica Expeditions! I can't think of one thing that you could do better. Keep up the good work, it was a pleasure being in your care.
Jul. 23, 2007 "Costa Rica Expeditions is the finest group I have been in contact with."
Dear Michael and Natalie: We've had a few days for re-entry and can more fully appreciate what a great trip we had to Costa Rica with your agency. Nadia and Paula in the main office great. Federico, our guide, was unfailingly enthusiastic and informative. He balanced the fine task of different ages, abilities and interests. Probably he should have been more informative before hikes regarding the length and sights so some could opt out beforehand. I would recommend him highly to anyone. Cola, Ramon and Eihttel were all engaging, polite and fun to be with. All deserve the highest accolades. Just in general, so no one is singled out or embarrassed, I would recommend all employees in contact with Americans to at least observe the best standards of personal hygiene (teeth, bathing, etc). Your whole group is to be commended for attention to detail, punctuality, concern for comfort and safety, efficiency.
I do think Costa Rica Expeditions is the finest group I have been in contact with. Very, very professional. Everyone! When we had a glitch with the weather and travel to Corcovado, I suggested Savegre and It was done! - almost immediately too. On that line I think that your agency should have backup plans for just such a situation, as not all travelers would have known about alternatives - I just happened to have read a bit about Costa Rica. Better you have the solution than the traveler!
Tortuguero - nothing but accolades. Love the rooms, the noise of the monkeys and cicadas. Food great, setting great. A major possible problem on our hike to the turtles - its ridiculous that no flashlights were allowed for the hike. Two hikers narrowly escaped serious injury due to no visibility. We were no where near the beach for a very long, dark dangerous walk. Also a major issue - you should inform people that the hike to the beach could be short but also could be very long and dangerous due to unwise regulation regarding flashlights. Older, less fit should be warned that it could be long - we walked over an hour each way: no fun and very dangerous. For two older hikers.
Arenal - hotel very nice but not in keeping with eco-touring - too Americanized. If there is another one in the area that you use, which is more like Savegre or Monteverde, I would recommend it.
Monteverde - all positives. Staff really great, esp the front desk - there was a young woman there who was terrific - she could be promoted to higher service position in your company.
Savegre - the best! Enchanted valley. Food, to be honest, quite poor. Birding and hikes wonderful. Rooms great.
San Jose: as the guide books say, not much. I would have gladly paid more to stay in a more atmospheric fun hotel than Parque del Lago. The Staff there is ok but it's way out of town and its not much fun trying to get into the center. I would recommend you extend your service to have the guides take people to the Jade and Gold Museums, as most Americans have no idea of Costa Rica's Amerindian past, not to mention William Walker.
I have already recommended CRE to friends. Thanks again, hope this helps.
Jul. 12, 2007 “We will definitely remember Costa Rica Expeditions fondly.”
We had a wonderful time in Costa Rica. Costa Rica Expeditions made it an easy trip by taking care of all the transfers and tour bookings. I think La Paloma Lodge was our favorite, followed closely by Monteverde Lodge and Tortuga Lodge. Our least favorite was The Lost Iguana, but even that one was very nice (AWEsome view!). It's hard to pick a favorite tour: Monteverde was beautiful, but crowded. The Butterfly Garden was fun. I insisted on handling all the largest bugs, including the orange-kneed tarantula!
Arenal Hanging Bridges was great, especially the yellow eyelash viper. Hidalgo Hot Springs was beautiful and relaxing, even in the pouring rain! Tortuguero - sticky, buggy - iguanas and basilisk lizards and frogs and HUGE grasshoppers, and a troop of howler monkeys hanging out by our hotel room the first day we were there. It was all wonderful too!
Cano Island and Corcovado National Park’s hermit crabs, scarlet macaws, large schools of jack along with other reef fish, clear Pacific waters, cascading streams and muddy river mouths - all good with me! And the geckos that hunted in our room at La Paloma were quite welcome, too!
A couple minor suggestions: 1) No need for a transfer from The Lost Iguana to Arenal Hanging Bridges. The reserve is just behind the hotel grounds, and they have golf carts at the ready to take guests there (or you can walk!). 2) For the Rio Frio river floats, perhaps work with someone who can provide more options as far as boats. Our two-person kayak could not support our weight and so we sat in a puddle for the entire float (and were quite embarrassed, but that, I suppose, was our own problem). Canoes would work well. Or more buoyant kayaks (I don't know much about kayaks). Let me ALSO say, though, that our guide did a great job and the trip was fun and beautiful despite our little weight problem!
Anyway...be sure that if Costa Rica ever comes up in our (or someone we know) travel plans, we will definitely remember Costa Rica Expeditions fondly.
Jul. 8, 2007 “Our guides and drivers were terrific.”
Hi Nadya: We just returned from Costa Rica late last night. I wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know how much we enjoyed the trip. Everything ran very smoothly from start to finish and we loved Costa Rica! Our guides and drivers were terrific - especially Diego. We loved the stop at the local market in Orotina and Diego did a great job of educating us about Costa Rica.
The stop at the farm while on the Peñas Blancas float trip was another highlight. We especially enjoyed the Costa Rican people - everyone was so friendly and welcoming that it really made our trip enjoyable. We were amazed at the beautiful flowers and lush vegetation in Costa Rica as we don't see that in Chicago with our brutally cold winters. Nadya, you did a terrific job of planning our vacation and we really appreciate it.
Jul. 7, 2007 “We had a wonderful trip on the river.”
We had a wonderful trip on the river with your company. Alvaro Farias, “Natu,” was a wonderful guide and made our trip one of the most memorable parts of our trip to Costa Rica. I have attached a few pictures as you requested. Thanks for a wonderful time.
Mary Ellen Wilkosz
Jul. 5, 2007 “The level of service & punctuality surpassed our expectations!”
We recently got back from our trip & would like to THANK YOU SO MUCH! for making our experience so smooth & memorable. The level of service & punctuality surpassed our expectations! We had a fantastic time & fell in love w/ Costa Rica!!! Thanks for all of your help!!!
Olga & Fred Troyansky
Jun. 29, 2007 “One of the highlights was our excursion to Monteverde.”
Michael and Natalie: We enjoyed our trip to Costa Rica immensely and one of the highlights was our excursion to Monteverde that you helped organize for us. Not only will I never forget the experiences in the cloud forest, but will also never forget that road. That bumpy, windy, muddy road that went on and on. My pain in my back was replaced by fear when I saw the little town covered in clouds. "Where's the hotel? Are there really hotels ways up here? What did you sign me up for?" Were thoughts that flashed momentarily in my mind. However, that fear only last a minute, until we found the Monteverde Lodge with its friendly staff and its warm and inviting atmosphere. I want to thank you for your recommendation…
Jun. 29, 2007 “What made the experience so unforgettable was not only the breathtaking scenery but the professionalism of your staff.”
At the last minute I decided to go river rafting with my friends in Costa Rica and I could not have been happier with my decision. Part of what made the experience so unforgettable was not only the breathtaking scenery but the professionalism of your staff, especially our guide Alvaro Farias. Alvaro was always concerned with providing us with the best trip possible. Anything and everything we wanted to know about the land and all the different species of plants and animals around us Alvaro was able to explain with a remarkable sense of humor. You could tell that his number one priority was not only our safety but in making sure that this would be an experience we would never forget. The two days we spent out on the river ran so smoothly that I easily could have stayed for another week. I plan on recommending this experience to anyone and everyone who wants to experience Costa Rica at its best.
Jun. 26, 2007 “We had a wonderful time at the Tortuga Lodge.”
I was in Tortuguero with my 80 year old mother-in-law, my husband and sister and brother-in-law in January 2007. We had a wonderful time at the Tortuga Lodge - loved the accommodations, food, and tour guides. It was appropriate for all of us in terms of activities. I would really recommend your Costa Rica Expeditions. It was a great experience.
Jun. 26, 2007 Two-day Pacuare River trip: “It was one of the best experiences we have ever had.”
Five of my friends and I rafted the Pacuare River on the 24th and 25th of June. I have to say that it was one of the best experiences we have ever had. We were so lucky to have Alvaro Farias as our guide, who was recommended by a friend that had just rafted with him a few weeks prior. The amount of knowledge and passion he as for the river is unbelievable. Not only was he professional but we felt very safe with him. Alvaro made every effort to make sure that every part of the trip was unforgettable. Everything about the trip from the pickup all the way to the drop-off was so well organized. Aside from having a great guide, the food, environment, campsite, and overall experience was phenomenal. Thank you for making our trip memorable.
Jun. 26, 2007 “Excellent service, planning, escort, tour, lodging and transportation.”
I would be happy to reply and praise the excellent service, planning, escort, tour, lodging and transportation that Costa Rica Expeditions provided Sam and I. We continue to share our experience and thoughts about your staff and especially our stay at Lapa Rios Ecoresort and Lands in Love. Our guide in Lapa Rios was especially fabulous, I so wish I remembered her name. She helps teach at the school, her father is in engineer in Costa Rica, and she has a brother living in the U.S. while attending school in Kansas. Lands in Love was unique, while not luxurious like the other resorts, it was warm, fun and the people were extraordinary. The tour we took rappelling into the canyon was fabulous. The Lost Iguana Resort was another highlight. Although the turtle season was past, Tortuguero was still pleasant and our guide was terrific.
Jun. 25, 2007 “The guides we encountered were professional, knowledgeable, gracious and attentive.”
Hi Priscilla: We have returned form your beautiful country and the beautiful vacation you so kindly planned for us. We spent a lovely time exploring the many regions that we were so fortunate to visit. I think it's fair to say that we enjoyed the "untouched" Osa peninsula the most - so pristine and pure in every sense.
The Lapa Rios Ecoresort is a destination that, time permitting, we would return to again and again. It is really an extraordinary resort and destination. All of the travel arrangements were perfectly executed by your firm and colleagues throughout our eight-day adventure. The guides we encountered were professional, knowledgeable, gracious and attentive at every step of the way. The accommodations and cuisine throughout our travels were superb and exceeded our expectations, as did the beautiful and unique wildlife and activities.
Although I write this note to you, I know that Bob echoes all of the same sentiment and accolades - he was genuinely impressed with your firm. Thank you for your advice and assistance planning this great trip - it was truly wonderful from start to finish. I hope you are proud to be a Costa Rican, you should be!
Jun. 25, 2007 “I am indebted to you all for some of the most wondrous days of my life.”
Dear Nadya: I have just returned home from my trip to Costa Rica and I need to tell you immediately what a WONDERFUL experience I have had. Every detail of our trip was planned and executed flawlessly. I have nothing but the highest praise for every single aspect of our trip, from the moment we arrived at the airport in San Jose, to the moment we re-boarded the plane for the trip home. The staff in all of your facilities that we visited were exceedingly helpful, friendly and invested in making sure that we had everything that we could possibly need or want. Their efforts on our behalf are remarkable. They anticipated our needs before we were even aware of them ourselves.
I especially wanted to mention our guide, Federico Alban, and a guide-in-training with your company, Esteban Biamonte, who were with us for the entire 8 days of our trip. They deserve more praise than words can give. Their knowledge was exceptional. Their passion was contagious. They had a remarkable ability to manage a large group of very diverse people. And their willingness to share their knowledge and their love of their country made my time there an experience that I will never forget. If there was ever any doubt as to Esteban's ability to carry out the exceptionally high standards of Costa Rica Expeditions, please put that to rest. His expertise and passion for what he does, and his genuine concern for those entrusted to his care for the week made him a guide that we could not have done without. He will be an excellent addition to your staff. Federico's skills with people, his empathy, and his ability to reach out and truly engage himself on a personal level made my trip so much more than just a visit to the jungle. Please communicate my praise for these two men to the highest level of your company.
I am indebted to you all for some of the most wondrous days of my life, and I will definitely be coming back. I sing the praises of your company to everyone I meet. Thank you for the experience of a lifetime.
Jun. 25, 2007 “Your staff is outstanding, and I felt like they helped to make our trip so wonderful.”
My friend and I had a FABULOUS visit again. Your staff is outstanding, and I felt like they helped to make our trip so wonderful, regardless of the fantastic scenery and experiences. Thank you for establishing CR Expeditions. I have recommended your company as the way to see Costa Rica, and will use them again for my next trip. While I am at it, I wanted to mention some of your employees who were outstanding:
Luis, and Priscilla were outstanding on our ride to Tortugero. Fernando Estrada was an excellent guide, and he spotted so much wildlife for us. Miguel Prendas Taylor, who drove the boat back and forth to Tortugero village was so polite, and so well groomed - I was amazed how white his socks were in that climate!!! He went out of his way to show us a baby boa that was hanging around, and was very helpful in identifying bats. I remember these folks from my first trip, and they were just as fine. Also, a young bartender who works 3 weeks, then has a week home with his wife in San Jose - can't recall his name, but he was so sincere, and really touched our hearts.
At Monteverde, a young woman who greeted us, and worked at the front desk, was so helpful and friendly, and our guide in the cloud forest was top notch. We saw the quetzal, a pit viper, among other creatures. Also, the waiter - a young man, was wonderful, and another young man who is married to a young lady who is quaker. As you can see, one of the highlights was visiting with your employees, and we really enjoyed getting to know them. The food was incredible. EVERY meal was wonderful.
My only disappointment was at Tortugero when we were informed that our flight back to San Jose left at 6:15 a.m. We had to be up so early, and eat breakfast at 5:30, so we really were not at Tortugero for even 48 hours. I know you would want to know any negatives - and that was it. Thanks again for a wonderful time.
P.S. Nadya Shaw was so prompt and helpful, too. She helped us design a trip that could fit our budget, and still be first rate.
Jun. 25, 2007 “Thanks for the ‘wow’ trip. I plan to be back next year.”
I would be more than happy to respond with praise and examples of the extraordinary service I received from Costa Rica Expeditions. Am also happy to be contacted by phone to talk positively about your company. (example: while in Corcovado I bumped a knee which swelled. I was leaving the next morning and your representative and bus driver took me to the San Jose Hospital to see a doctor, plus waited for 2+ hours for me to see the doctor and finish my visit. They insisted on staying with me even though I urged them to leave for more important tasks.) By the way, I owe you some photos, and will get them to you. Your email request just got on the back burner. Obviously your service to me is better than mine to you. Thanks for the "wow" trip. I plan to be back next year.
Jun. 20, 2007 “We had a wonderful trip.”
Dear Michael: We had a wonderful trip. Planning a trip for 6 people, 3 generations is not easy. Janna Knight answered my e-mails promptly. We asked for Mauricio for our driver many times. She told me that she had notes all over her desk. Mauricio is wonderful with kids of all ages. He was with us in 2004 & 2006.
We love Costa Rica. Have been traveling there for 30 years. We used to fly in pick up a car & head out. Only reservation the last night near the airport. In 2004 with grandson Steve we planned a trip with your company. We wanted to go to Toruguero & Monteverde. I read that the company owned the Lodges we wanted to stay at. I booked the whole trip. We were very happy with the van & Mauricio. Loved Tortuga Lodge, although the food was not anything like the 2007 trip. Also the kids like the games in new reception area. Suggestion, we asked if a 11/2 hour boat trip & 11/2 hike in the rain forest was possible? Desk said no, manager came in & said sure. This works well with kids, 3 hours sitting in a boat, is a bit much. You really need 3 nights here.
We have flown in a lot of small planes, Bahamas, Belize & Costa Rica. Not my favorite but felt safe with pilot that flew us back to San Jose. Trip to Monteverde, is brutal. Even more so in the rain & fog. Lodge was & is beautiful. I asked & we got upstairs rooms, wonderful views. Carlos, the guide, is super with kids. No one told us about boots, shoes were a mess. Staff arranged for them to be dried. My daughter said, her shoes looked like new. Now that the road to the Frog Pond is paved, not sure if it is a good idea to walk there at night. Cars are driving really fast in that area. Think it might be a good idea for the desk to mention taking a cab. Grounds look lovely, food here is excellent, staff friendly & helpful. Mauricio made the long drive to Xandari Plantation fun for all of us. We have stayed here 3 times & love the rooms. I think it is worth the money to stay in the ulta plus villas. Being so close to the airport makes for a perfect stay first or last night.
I guess the only place, I haven't described is Sarapiqui Neotripcal Center, coming from Grano de Oro Hotel, was a shock. The deluxe rooms are ok. Very hot even with a fan. Food just so-so. Little information at the desk, a printed folder. Kids went white water rafting & had a fun time. We did hike over the bridge & around the property. If I was to plan the trip again, would go back to Selve Verdi Lodge. Covered walkways are a real plus in the rainy season & they have a pool. Driver to boat was the only rude person we met. He didn't open or close van doors & seemed put out that my granddaughter had to use a bathroom. I must say that he was a good driver. The trip was great, I am being very picky. Our trip with you in 2006 was also a very good one. There were 7 of us.
Dr. John & Jan Hamilton
Jun. 18, 2007 “We had an action packed tour. The hotels we stayed in were awesome.”
Hi Nayda: Thank you for a wonderful trip and fulfilling a dream. It met my expectations and more. The different forests you sent us to all had something different to see and Arenal Volcano even cooperated and we saw lava flow at night from our beds. I was overwhelmed by all I saw, and am still processing. We had an action packed tour. The hotels we stayed in were awesome. The roads were really the only "hard" part of the trip.
I wish I could remember the names of the guides and drivers that took care of us. Everyone we had was a very hard worker, very polite and made sure that we were alright and had what we needed. They even brought bottled water along for us.
We had a great trip and I loved our walks through the different rainforests. I know the Cloud Forest was my favorite. Our guide took his time, explained what we were seeing and why. When I told him I taught 5-year-olds he started pointing out things for me to be sure to tell my kids. He helped me get pictures of things that I would be unable to get or even think of taking. I was so overwhelmed by all that we saw. He had fun telling us to look in a general area for something and then when we couldn't see it, would point it out. It's amazing how camouflage really works.
When we were at Arenal, the tour people were on time, friendly and very helpful. The river safari was awesome. The guide again took his time, explained what we were seeing and why. Other people were passing us but he continued to take his time and answered our questions. I feel very lucky in all the guides that I had on our 9 day trip because they all took their time, didn't rush me and answered all the questions I had, even though, others started after us and passed us along the way. Since I don't speak Spanish I feel very lucky to have had these men as my guides.
The drivers that took us places were pleasant, careful and always on time if not a little early. I don't see how they drive over some of those roads. When we were in Arenal and there was a really bad rainstorm, we were picked up in a Land Rover to make sure we made it back over the low water bridges to the Observatory. I thought this was a remarkable thing for Sunset Tours to do. They were awesome. The water taxi was neat and how those men carried all that luggage up and down those hills and over the rain run off was amazing. I had trouble just with me. :-)
We had a wonderful time and everything I wanted to see we were able to see. I was even able to have my picture taken with the Kapok tree. The Kapok Tree is a book that I read to my kids when I start teaching about the Rainforest. The kids understand that it is a huge tree but then when they saw me standing next to it they were able to realize how REALLY HUGE it is.
I'm teaching summer school now and using all my pictures that I took. I think the favorite with the boys especially are the snakes and tarantula. I wish I could have brought back my guide from the Cloud Forest, the kids would love him, the way he explains things and how he shares his love and awe of the forest and everything that lives there. I hope I can do as well.
Thank you, as a country, for working to keep these forests preserves. They are so important to the world and I feel it's my job to pass on to "my (students) kids" that it is important for them to help by recycling, buying recycled items and collecting donations.
Sandy Callahan, MO
May. 31, 2007 “Thank you for helping us make our vacation in Costa Rica a memorable one.”
We had a wonderful time in Costa Rica. Costa Rica Expeditions did a great job with making all the necessary arrangements for us. I have already recommended you to some of our friends who are interested in vacationing in Costa Rica. Everyone we met was very friendly and helpful. We plan to return to Costa Rica and visit the areas that we did not get to during this trip. Thank you very much for helping us make our vacation in Costa Rica a memorable one.
May. 23, 2007 “The Damas Island boat tour was wonderful.”
We have filled out your form as well as we could, but we had so much more to communicate that we are adding this letter. We visited Costa Rica last year, and had such a good experience with CRE that we booked the trip through you again this year (Mar 30-Apr 15). Our experience this year was very good, also, and we want particularly to let you know how much we appreciated the help of Nadya Shaw, who organized the tour for us and was available to help us with small crises as the trip passed. Even when we had to correct the misinformation we gave her about our daughter’s and grandson’s arrival time only days before the tour began, she responded graciously, quickly and efficiently. I have sent her a letter thanking her and also letting her know some of our observations about the trip. More specific notes are:
-San Jose: Fernando Perez was our guide last year, and again this year, and he was wonderful. He related particularly well with our 10-yr-old grandson, as did the driver, who gave him Spanish lessons when he got bored.
-Tortuguero: Norton was our guide on both tours and he was knowledgeable and great fun. We felt the food was fine, but not great. There was a delay in being picked up by plane. There were some Americans there who were extremely dissatisfied and quite vocal in voicing their unhappiness to your staff. The others of us there felt their reactions were totally unjustified and rude and we think you should not take their criticisms seriously.
-Manuel Antonio: We stayed at Buena Vista Villas, where we had stayed last year and were very happy there. As we have communicated to Nadya, we feel the catamaran tour could have been better, even if it hadn’t been rained out. There were a lot of people on board and it is difficult to see how we could all have snorkeled and had dinner easily. We think a smaller boat might have worked better.
-The Damas Island boat tour was wonderful, as it was last year. We especially appreciated the knowledge of the guide, Mili, who had also been our guide last year. She is excellent. We also had a good guide and driver for the tour in Manuel Antonio Park.
May. 15, 2007 “Everything about this day was perfectly beautiful.”
I rafted the Pacuare with Alvaro and Alejandro last week (arranged by Pura Vida Spa). Both Alvaro and Alejandro were awesome guides. Not only were they full of history and information about the region, they were fun and a pleasure to spend the day with. I was most impressed with their passion for their country, its environment and the native people. Everything about this day was perfectly beautiful, even the long drive, which exposed me to some of the most beautiful places on the planet. Rancho del Sapito was spectacular as well. I will definitely refer others to you, and I will be back myself.
May. 4, 2007 Connoisseur: “(I) am glad that I decided to go with CRE instead of with another company.”
I recently returned from the Connoisseur trip (Apr 20-30) and just wanted to let you know what a wonderful trip I had to Costa Rica. I am enclosing the survey for the trip but am listing some additional comments below:
1. The transfers from the airport to the hotel in San Jose went smoothly and without any problems. I especially appreciated the transfer guide on my day of departure who was so friendly and helpful at 4:30 in the morning!
2. Our guide, Luis Torres, was absolutely fabulous. He was extremely knowledgeable on Costa Rican history and the flora and fauna of the country, friendly and personable, always willing to be flexible, and he epitomized excellent customer service. I highly recommend him!
3. Felix was an excellent driver being able to manipulate all of the roads and getting us to our destinations on time. Plus, he was able to change a flat tire on the road to Monteverde without any help from anybody; impressive.
4. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the hotels and delicious food. My only issue was with the hotel in San Jose. Although the Parque del Lago Hotel was quite comfortable, I would have preferred a hotel with more local character and more typical of the country.
5. Ricardo Davis, our boatman in Tortuguero, did an amazing job spotting the wildlife and was able to see animals that seemed hidden to the naked eye.
6. My main complaint for the entire trip is that I would have liked to spend an extra day I either Arenal or Monteverde, or both. Because of the extremely long travel day from Tortuguero to Arenal, it would have been better to take the boat into Tortuguero and then on the day of departure, to fly directly to Arenal, thereby giving us more time there. I especially wold have liked an additional day in Monteverde in order to visit the village, the cheese factory, etc.
7. I also would have liked one morning completely free (with no scheduled activities) that would have allowed us to sleep late and eat breakfast on our own. I am not a morning person, and generally do not eat breakfast.
8. I know that on a trip like this it is impossible to see everything, but it would have been nice to spend some extra time in San Jose so that we could visit the Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall gardens. Maybe for future trips this could be included on the way back to San Jose on day 9 after visiting Café Britt?
9. Finally, I really enjoyed the Pacuare white water rafting trip and am glad that I decided to go with CRE instead of with another company. The Pacuare is a beautiful river and both Alvaro Farias and Alejandro Carazo are fun guides.
Overall, I would say that I had a great vacation and I hope to return to Costa Rica some day to visit the rest of your beautiful country. Thank you for all your help in planning the trip and for your patience in answering my email questions.
May. 1, 2007 “Excellent service and guides.”
Hello Herrol: Just a quick thank you for providing such excellent service and guides on our short visit to Costa Rica April 26th. Andrew and Federico were wonderful guides - professional in every way, and very informative. Paulo, the driver, kept us safe - our first priority. My group was very impressed with your services, and most of all the wonderful country of Costa Rica. We shall return!
Sue Wehrli, Wehrli Travel, Naperville, IL
Apr. 27, 2007 “The itinerary was perfect, the accommodations and food were excellent, but the best part was your staff.”
We very much enjoyed our trip with your company. The itinerary was perfect, the accommodations and food were excellent, but the best part was your staff. Andrew Newcomb did a tremendous job. He was very informative and was helpful and conversant on a wide range of topics, some of which were totally unrelated to what we were doing or seeing. He is a very intelligent man. He provided options and was always flexible in accommodating the schedule to our wishes. He is also an excellent birder. We would never have seen the 113 types of birds we did without his keen eye and powerful lens. I know I will spell his name wrong, but Eitel was a great driver. He not only handled his job perfectly, but was good company and was able to add to the conversation and enjoyment of the trip. We would, and have, recommended Costa Rica Expeditions to others.
Apr. 24, 2007 “All drivers, managers, planners, and facilitators were top notch.”
Hi Nadya: We had a great trip, largely thanks to you and the great CR team. As you remember, we had a vacation planned at a resort that fell through (on their end). In short order, you put together a great itinerary for us and we were on our way. Suffice to say, we loved everything: the variety and diversity of the Costa Rican countryside - from the rainforest to the Caribbean Coast to volcano regions to the cloud forest. The hotels were great, luxurious enough, beautiful, clean, flowers, and with a fun "down home" beat as well. But more – the professionalism and knowledgeable "upbeat attitude" of all CR drivers, tour guides, hotel managers, etc. was phenominal. I have never been to such a happy place. I wish I had written everyone's name down to commend them individually. All our drivers were great: friendly, funny, eager to communicate, and very nice. Miquel, who transported us to Tortuguero, put on a wonderful picnic and told great stories. They all made us feel at home and welcome.
Also, as you may know, our trip was not without its challenges. A few days in, our daughter developed an ear infection, which we could not even diagnose correctly. We were in a remote place, worried - but CR came through with flying colors. In no time at all, we were scheduled for a doctor's appt in a hospital in San Jose. We saw a great doctor who spoke excellent English. We had the necessary drops and antibiotics in a half hour, and we were on our way to our next destination - not even a real break in schedule! Again, to a person, all drivers, managers, planners, and facilitators were top notch. Best we have ever come across. We had a GREAT GREAT time, and we couldn't have done it without all of you.
The Borzilleri family
Apr. 23, 2007 “We considered our guide Federico and our driver John outstanding.”
We want you to know that we considered our guide Federico and our driver John outstanding. I will preface this by saying that my wife and I travel frequently and take one or two independent adventure type trips a year, e.g., African safaris, Southeast Asia, India, Patagonia, etc. So our comments are based on extensive experience:
-Our guide Federico Alban and our driver, John Andres Corrales were excellent.
-Transfer guide and reception we would rate at a 7.
-Herrol Mora was our sales person, rating 8-9.
-Itinerary – not too fast and not too slow.
-Variety of sites, 8. Wildlife at sites, 7. Activity vs. travel time, 8. Comments: Roads are horrible about on the level we have encountered in a rural third world country. Everything else was great.
-Xandari Plantation was generally good, 8.
-Lost Iguana, average, 7. Food very institutional, expensive vs. quality (restaurant at Volcano Lodge much better). Staff could have a better attitude and supervision.
-Hotel Punta Islita, above average, 8-9. Staff is very pleasant, location somewhat isolated.
-Naturalist Guide Federico Alban: Overall outstanding. One of the best guides anywhere. Knowledge of birds: 8-9. Natural history and culture: 9. Accessibility, problem solving, delivery, 10.
-Raft Guide: Good, 9.
-Transfer Guide: limited English but was punctual and pleasant.
-Driver: John Andres Corrales. Punctuality, courtesy, safety – Excellent, 10. Plus very pleasant and a good sense of humor. Enjoyable to be with.
EXPECTATIONS: 9. Guide and driver made it spectacular, road unforgettable – not in a good way. Monteverde Lodge a pleasant surprise vs. what we anticipated.
-Recommendations: Definitely 10. Very button-up, like the hand outs/summary and recommendations for tipping. Staff excellent both in the field and at Monteverde Lodge.
We learned about CRE from a friend at Abercrombie & Kent.
John Eiffert, Chicago
Apr. 23, 2007 “We had a fantastic stay in Costa Rica.''
As usual we had a fantastic stay in Costa Rica, and thank you very much for all your good care. I've taken some good shots with my Nikon D80 and I'm attaching them to this email.
Apr. 16, 2007 “The itinerary that you planned for us was great and exciting.”
Dear Janna: I wanted to drop you a line and thank you for all of your help in planning our vacation 3 weeks ago. We had a fantastic time. The people of Costa Rica are wonderful and the country is beautiful. The itinerary that you planned for us was great and exciting. You were able to schedule so many activities and our transfer guides made sure everything occurred without a hitch. (The gallo pinto must have given us enough energy). Our family is grateful to you and the other staff of Costa Rica Expeditions.
Apr. 15, 2007 “Our trip was absolutely amazing!”
Our trip was absolutely amazing! Each stop we made exposed us to very different experiences. The whole trip felt like tourism but without the tourist traps. The only downside was the bad roads to and from Monteverde. The days that we spent 4-5 hours on bumpy (and somewhat worrisome) roads were not so enjoyable. We hope to come back some day and have already given the name of your company to many people. Keep up the good work!
Apr. 12, 2007 “Tortuga and Monteverde Lodges were both great - and the food was outstanding.”
We just wanted to let you know that we really enjoyed our Costa Rica trip. All the arrangements worked out perfectly. The drivers and guides were very punctual and professional. Tortuga and Monteverde Lodges were both great - and the food was outstanding. Even the weather cooperated. If we have one complaint, it is leaving at 4:15 AM for our return flight. We were all checked in and through immigration by 5 AM and had a lot time to kill. Lots of friends are interested in hearing about our trip, so you may get some more business!
Steve & Mary Muller
Mar. 20, 2007 “Our transportation arrangements were impeccable."
We had a good trip! Our transportation arrangements were impeccable and very appreciated. We saw many animals in the cloud forests, which was gratifying to us. We appreciated the safety recommendations and good accommodations. Thank you for making us feel comfortable and energized in Costa Rica.
Mar. 19, 2007 “One of our best vacations ever!!”
We had a FANTASTIC time on our trip - especially at Monteverde. Leo was WONDERFUL and helped us really plan out our time while we were there. Our guide at the cloud forest (Carlos) was amazing and so enthusiastic. And the meals & staff at the lodge were outstanding! Thanks again for all your help. We'll send photos and more words along once we get a chance to download. We really appreciate all your efforts in making this one of our best vacations ever!!
Karen & Rick Juneau
Mar. 13, 2007 “I enjoyed the others on the trip as well as your staff.”
I am happy that I chose Costa Rica Expeditions to introduce me to that wonderful Central American country. It is such a pleasure to see how much the government of Costa Rica done to preserve the country's natural gifts. I have no complaints about your organization, and I enjoyed the others on the trip as well as your staff. I was treated well from my pickup to arrival at my San Jose hotel. Thank you for having me as your guest, and I wish you continued success.
Mar. 12, 2007 Connoisseur: “We traveled with 15 of the nicest people.”
My wife Sylvia and I enjoyed our recent trip to Costa Rica very much. We traveled with 15 of the nicest people we've met in a long time. The group was so much fun. We traveled to Tortuguero, Arenal and Monteverde on the 9-day Connoisseur Tour. We also spent 3 days at the Corcovodo Tent Camp, which was fantastic.
I would recommend CRE to anyone wanting to get the most out of their trip to Costa Rica. We plan on coming back again! We particularly enjoyed our guide Luis Torres during our 9-day trip and our other guide at Corcovado named Luis as well. We took many pictures on our trip. (http://www.cayugalake.net/~tbalon/www/Costa_Rica/index.html) You’re free to view and use them on the CRE site if you wish.
A suggestion to improve the tour would be to extend the stay in both Arenal and Monteverde by one extra day. Because of the long travel time to get to these sites, we arrived late in the day and only really had one full day in both places before departing very early for the next destination. In reality we were there for less than 48 hours. Our trip evaluation report is on it's way...
Feb. 27, 2007 “We were particularly impressed with how you helped us when our baggage arrival was delayed.”
We had a fabulous trip and thanks for your assistance with organizing. We were particularly impressed with how you helped us when our baggage arrival was delayed. The emergency packs were a godsend!! After nearly 24 hours of traveling to get to Costa Rica having a toothbrush and toothpaste, plus a clean T-shirt made a huge difference to us. We would have been prepared to pay for these but it was really generous that you provided them for free. We also appreciated not having to chase up the airline on what was happening with our bags and relaxed knowing it had been left in your capable hands. Thanks a lot for this.
The rest of our trip went really well with great guides and helpful drivers along the way. One small feedback was with the organization of the Canopy Tour. It would have made sense to do this on the way from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio rather than from San Jose to Monteverde as the way it was arranged meant we had to drive a lot further.
Feb. 26, 2007 “We were very impressed with the quality of service and the friendliness.”
We had a fabulous time in Costa Rica and would love to come back someday. Everyone we met was very warm and exceptionally friendly. I do have some pictures of our trip (about 300 of them actually) that I would be glad to forward to you. I have to go through them all but once I do, I can get you some of our guided tour to Monteverde (where we did get to see a quetzal female) with Elimar and the Don Juan’s Coffee plantation along with some of us in the garden at the Monteverde lodge. As I told Janna, I would be happy to provide a recommendation to anyone regarding your services, etc. We were very impressed with the quality of service and the friendliness shown by everyone.
Feb. 25, 2007 “The Monteverde Lodge was wonderful.”
Dear Priscilla: We are back in Memphis, and I wanted to let you know what a WONDERFUL week we had in Costa Rica. Miguel Marin is an outstanding guide (and Priscilla Murray an excellent driver). We learned so much from Miguel - he is obviously very knowledgeable - and he was also wonderful to be with, as was Priscilla. They were a lot of fun to be with in addition to being everything we could possibly want from a guide and a driver. We enjoyed them tremendously, and as I said, we learned so much from Miguel about animals, birds, plants and local culture.
We loved everything we did - I guess if I had to pick highlights they would be the cloud forest at Monteverde and our visit to Nectandra, but we also loved the float trip and the hanging bridges at Arenal...and everything else, as well. We had rain the days we were at Arenal, so we didn't get to see the volcano - I guess we'll have to come back!
The Monteverde Lodge was wonderful - our rooms were comfortable (with beautiful views of the trees), the food was very good, the staff was friendly and very attentive. The gardens are beautiful and we're glad we were there an extra day so we had time to enjoy them (and the sloth and the toucanets and hummingbirds). We also thought the Volcano Lodge at Arenal was beautiful and a lovely place to stay.
We got to the Hotel Britannia on Sat and again on Fri with only time to sleep - the rooms were charming and comfortable - however, the bathrooms showed signs of the tropical climate (moldy) - and we had one unfortunate experience in the restaurant. Sunday morning at breakfast Jill found a beetle in her eggs - the staff handled the situation promptly and well, and did not charge us for the meal. We gave the restaurant another try Friday night because we were too tired to go anywhere else, and everything was fine - the food was o.k., but not of the same quality as that at the lodges. The maitre d'/waiter (same one we had sunday a.m.) was very nice, and when he heard we were leaving the hotel at 4:45 Sat a.m., offered to set out fruit and bread for us (we told him that wasn't needed).
If you want more specific information about any of the places we visited, please let me know. Alan will email you as well - in short, everything was wonderful - all six of us loved every minute of our trip. Costa Rica is a beautiful country - we hope we can come again to see more, and we'd love to travel with Miguel and Priscilla again. Thank you so much for your help in planning our trip. We will recommend you to anyone who asks!!
Sherry Samuels, TN
Feb. 18, 2007 River & Rainforest Adventure: “Everything was a 10.”
Please consider this letter my "evaluation" of our River and Rainforest Adventure 1/6-1/14/07. I traveled with my two youngest daughters, Jen & Sarah, and my friend, their Tio Tomas. Start to finish we had a wonderful trip. Our "planner" was Nadya Shaw, who did an excellent job. We were fortunate to be joined by an eclectic group of travel companions with whom to share the adventure.
As far as the evaluation form, from my perspective, everything was a 10. What I want to do in this note is to take a few minutes to express my appreciation to our naturalist guide, Alvaro Farias, and our driver, Moncho (sp). I have had the opportunity to experience many "adventure" trips in many venues with many guides. I have stayed in contact with many of my guides over the years and hope to stay in contact with Natu. I have never had a guide whom I did not enjoy and appreciate, but Natu is the best.
The reason I say Natu is the best is that he not only excelled at all the things a traveler expects a guide to do well -- be informative, cheerful, accommodating, etc... but he also had to coordinate a variety of logistical arrangements with many different constituencies, all on Tico time, while adroitly speaking both English and Spanish. Another great benefit of his leadership was the knowledge imparted about Costa Rica and its people. On most trips, the guide has one mission. Natu had many, not the least of which was as a teacher to a bunch of foreign students.
In fact, as I think back on our adventure, perhaps the "best" part of the trip for me was to watch the interactions between our guide and the many other people who provided service to us, whether in travel, adventure, or lodging. Close behind was stopping on a busy highway to rescue a sloth. I do not speak much Spanish, but one does not need to speak a language to observe the genuine affection people show for each other. Natu has a way of making everyone feel special, and that is a rare gift. I left your country with a warm feeling not only for my fellow travelers, our guides and Costa Rica Expeditions, but also for all the friendly and helpful people with whom we interacted along the way. And I applaud Natu for guiding us on this amazing journey!
Everyone loved our driver, Moncho. He enjoyed helping my daughter, Jen, with her Spanish. Our river guides, Alejendro, Eduardo and Sieno (sorry about misspellings) were pure delights! I sincerely hope the Pacuare River remains open for rafting trips! It would be a shame if the government dams it!
So, in closing, I thank you for an excellent trip and sincerely hope you understand what a unique and talented employee you have in Alvaro Farias.
Feb. 18, 2007 “One of our best vacations ever...The facilities were nice, the food was great and the staff were outstanding.”
Dear Herrol: Back in cold western North Carolina after one of our best vacations ever, we'd like to thank you and all the Costa Rica Expeditions staff for making our Costa Rica vacation a great experience. Each trip component, starting with our arrival at the airport and ending with a drop-off at a car rental agency, included caring CRE staff ensuring that we were in the right place at the right time. Every part of your package was wonderful - the facilities were nice, the food was great, and the staff were outstanding. We'll certainly advise friends to consider Costa Rica Expeditions in their travel plans, and hope that we, too, can again use your services some day.
Chuck and Tia Ramsey
Feb. 16, 2007 “The itinerary you put together was excellent and the service first class.”
Michael and Natalie: I want to let you know we had an outstanding time on our tour in your country. The itinerary you put together was excellent and the service first class.
All of the accommodations met the standards we expected. The transfers and guides were very informative and accommodating. The food, when provided, was excellent. The only issue that I had during the trip was at Tulemar. We didn't have access to the AT&T in country toll free number from our Buena Vista Villa. This was an inconvenience; since, we had to go to a pay phone on the highway to make calls back to the States.
I also want to thank Nadya for her help in arrangements for the trip. Her service was great and she was a pleasure to work with.
Feb. 16, 2007 “…Adventurous hiking, 70 sightings of different ‘critters,’ excellent food, transportation, lodging and great companionship.”
We had the extraordinary pleasure of using Costa Rica Expeditions on our recent visit earlier this month. Douglas Espinosa advised us and organized our trip. Our driver/guide was Mauricio and our naturalist guide was Federico Alban. Mauricio is an incredible driver. He negotiated the roads in a safe manner, kept our mini-van immaculate and comfortable and always had our best interests at heart. Federico took us on amazing hikes, is extremely knowledgeable regarding flora and fauna and made our experience one we will never forget. Both gentlemen are a credit to your organization. They are professional, informed, dependable, personable, and highly skilled in their respective roles.
We enjoyed every aspect of our three-night tour of Monteverde and Arenal. We had adventurous hiking, 70 sightings of different "critters", excellent food, transportation, lodging and especially great companionship with Mauricio and Federico. You obviously run a fine organization and Federico and Mauricio represent you extremely well. Thank you.
One constructive criticism would be minor but important enough to mention. At your Monteverde Lodge, the policy is to charge your guests for soft drinks and coffee at meals. It seemed out of character with the first class treatment we received portal to portal on our vacation. At the Lost Iguana Lodge and at every other meal, we were spared the minor annoyance of having to pay for soft drinks. Please don't let this detail blur our message of total satisfaction with Costa Rica Expeditions. We hope to use your services again in the near future and have already recommended your firm to our friends and family.
Thank you again for providing the resources that made our Costa Rican adventure so enjoyable and memorable. Please pass along our warmest regards and gratitude to Mauricio and Federico.
Pat and Don Auriemma
Feb. 12, 2007 Costa Rica Connoisseur: “What a wonderful week we all had.”
Dear Michael: We came back from your beautiful country last night to cold and snow in the Chicago area. Aren't you lucky! I had joined the Costa Rica Connoisseur trip with three other couples and I just wanted to let you know what a wonderful week we all had.
Everybody just loved Tortuguero. That is a dream destination. Tortuga Lodge is superb in its simplicity and friendliness. This is my third stay at Tortuga and you are really keeping up the standard of excellence. The boat rides were wonderful and well led by Miguel.
I think we all would have loved to stay there another night but off we went to Arenal. That was also a great experience. We arrived and the Volcano was hiding behind clouds and Andres was expressing his hopes that we would see it the next day. But first we refreshed ourselves in the Hidalgo Family Hot Springs. That was a fun experience and it was followed by a lovely dinner there. The next day we did the morning hike in the rain forest with the hanging bridges. That is a unique experience. We had a sunny day and the clouds disappeared from the top of Arenal.
Dinner at the hotel was fun and we watched with fascination viewing the volcanic activity which included explosions and lava flows just as you describe in the itinerary. It was like having dinner with fireworks except they were real.
Next day off to Monteverde. Your lodge there is so beautiful and everybody was exclaiming over the charming rooms with the sitting areas at the corner windows. And we did get to see the resplendent quetzal (male and female) and that made the day! Again, I think I could have easily stayed another night and enjoy the lovely lodge. We all loved the elegant farewell dinner in San Jose.
But the best thing was the tour guide you provided, Andres (Andrew) Newcomb. His knowledge of birds, plants, history of CR is excellent and he is able to present everything in an interesting way. He was patient and very attentive with everybody in the group and never lost his cool. He was there at 6AM every morning for those who wanted to look for birds and was as enthusiastic and thrilled as we were when a good one presented itself to us. He was always prompt and explained what we were going to do and see in a clear way. He joined us for all meals and was a great addition to the table. I cannot recommend him highly enough and hope to have him again, should we join another of your great tours in the future.
Mary Sproul, Four Corners Travel Ltd., Evanston, IL
Feb. 7, 2007 “The guides were great. The accommodations were very good.”
Hello Michael: My wife and I had a fantastic trip to Costa Rica!! You may not know that this trip was our fifth time in Costa Rica. We loved the nature and the weather there so much on past trips that we wanted a trip targeted toward seeing much more of the nature in Costa Rica. Costa Rica Expeditions did not let us down! The guides were great. The accommodations were very good.
For your information, I will pass on a couple of area that I felt could be improved on. We booked in at Don Carlos Hotel in San Jose in Room 12. The room had a very old and squeaky bed that made our first night in Costa Rica (after 12 hours of traveling) a restless one. Which made my wife and I worried about the rest of the accommodations to come. Gladly, the rest of the accommodations were good.
At Corovado I found (like most others) that after a day of hiking, a period of relaxation is appreciated. But, I found the plastic and wooden chairs and loungers uncomfortable for a siesta. The nylon hammocks, with no head or foot cross bars, are not comfortable either.
We especially enjoyed the accommodations at Monteverde Lodge. As typical for Costa Rica, the people that serviced us were great!! They really do make a difference.
I do want to give a special thank you to Nadya Shaw. I felt Nadya went out of her way to ensure that our trip was a pleasant one. Thanks so much Nadya! (I did receive my jacket I left at Tortuga Lodge). I will not hesitate in recommending Costa Rica Expeditions to people I know that are going to visit our country.
Ron and Janet Shillington
Feb. 5, 2007 “You did a great job of organizing our trip.”
Dear Nadya: A short e-mail to tell you what a great job your personnel did for us. Your people were very knowledgeable, anticipated our every need and were always helpful. As I'm sure you already know, you did a great job of organizing our trip and everything went as scheduled. Our only problem, which was not under your control, was the weather, i.e. we had heavy rains during our river tour. Thanks again for your help and services. I would/will highly recommend you and your company.
Feb. 2, 2007 ''Our trip to Costa Rica was…one of the best vacations we have had…Jonathan was truly amazing in his knowledge of the birds.''
Our trip to Costa was a wonderful experience - one of the best vacations we have had. This was attributable not only to Costa Rica itself, but also to our warm and experienced companions provided by Costa Rica expeditions. Jonathan was truly amazing in his knowledge of the birds, animals, trees and plants and his ability to spot everything within viewing distance. He was also just fun to be with. And Favio was not only an excellent driver, but also a great bird man - we called him our Trogon spotting expert. Give both of them our very best wishes.
Feb. 2, 2007 Your staff throughout the country were helpful and friendly
Hi Michael and Natalie --
It's taken me a while to write back, but it's certainly not because we weren't satisfied...on the contrary, we've since recommended Costa Rica Expeditions to a number of our friends and business colleagues based on the exceptional experience we had. Your staff throughout the country were helpful and friendly, and the three lodgings we stayed in -- Tortuguero, Monteverde, and Punta Islita -- were each phenomenal. Thanks for making Costa Rica so much fun for our whole family, which in our case includes triplet 11-year-old boys! Am attaching a couple pictures of favorite memories...two of the boys ziplining in Monteverde, and the whole family on a sunset horseback ride in Punta Islita. Feel free to post either on your website if you'd like; just let us know, as the boys will get a kick out of going to the site to see themselves there. If there were one thing we'd change about the trip, it would be more options to fly from place to place vs. driving; in particular, you may want to take a look at using the Punta Islita airstrip more, because that van trip to-and-from in particular was pretty painful, and we would have paid a reasonable amount more to avoid it, if that option had been available to us. But it certainly didnt dampen our overall experience, which was tremendous. Thanks again for a terrific trip!
John & Jill Stiker
Feb. 2, 2007 Everything with Costa Rica Expeditions went very smoothly and we were extremely impressed with your service.
Michael and Natalie,
Thank you so much for touching base with me. We really enjoyed our honeymoon to Costa Rica - everything with Costa Rica Expeditions went very smoothly and we were extremely impressed with your service. We were most impressed that all of our guides and transfers were on time if not early to pick us up.
The only challenge we encountered was when we went to the included lunch at Villa Caletas. It wasn't clear to us what exactly was included in the lunch when we ordered and there was a huge range in prices on the menu. Because this was the most expensive restaurant we encountered on our trip, it would have been nice to have some more information about whether everything was included, everything except alcoholic drinks, or everything except drinks in general. We ended up paying for our drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and it wasn't too much, however, it made it difficult to fully enjoy the meal not knowing what the charges could be at the end and how they were going to be paid for since our guide was not in view.
Per your request, I will be sending you our photos right now...there are a lot, however, I couldn't really narrow it down too much because I wasn't sure what pictures you might appreciate and want to use. The resolution on our camera isn't great - so perhaps this might be a limiting factor as well, but I will let you decide.
Jan. 24, 2007 "We liked the hotels you recommended."
We were very well satisfied with Costa Rica Expeditions, from the pick-up at San Jose Airport, including welcome help in getting through customs to the conclusion of our trip. We liked the hotels you recommended, the Bougainvillea Hotel near San Jose and Villablanca Cloud Forest Hotel. The drivers we had on all transfers were helpful and spoke enough English for us to communicate. We liked your country and would like to return and when we do we will use your services.
John & Barbara Donahue
Jan. 15, 2007 “We had a marvelous trip to Costa Rica.”
Thank you for your letter - we intended to write you sooner, but life has a way of getting away from you. We had a marvelous trip to Costa Rica - especially our ten days with your fine staff.
George (Jorge) was our guide. He was terrific and responsive to our needs on a daily basis. Unfortunately, my husband had to be hospitalized during the trip. He contacted your doctor in San Jose, we flew out the next morning to San Jose from Tortuguero and he spent the entire time with us at Cima Hospital. Everything turned out fine - your doctor was excellent, the hospital experience was also excellent, and George stayed with us the entire time.
We stayed at a fine hotel, George picked us up the next morning, and we resumed our trip - it was wonderful. Both George and Alfie, our driver, took us on a non-scheduled trip to downtown San Jose, which was super. Then we resumed our trip. We will certainly not hesitate to recommend Costa Rica Expeditions, George and Alfie on future trips.
Sonny, Joseph and Irwin Selikson
Jan. 12, 2007 ''You planned and executed my best vacation ever.''
Michael, Natalie and Douglas: I want to thank you, your company, and your providers for the wonderful vacation we so thoroughly enjoyed. Sometimes travel causes us to be skeptical for a wide variety of reasons and I must admit, that as our adventure progressed, I almost kept waiting for some unexpected unpleasantness. What actually happened was that we kept being unexpectedly delighted and we left your country with the feeling that we had just experienced something extraordinary.
It was really remarkable how we never waited - at every turn, the planes, the lodging, the guides - everyone seemed to expecting us and delighted to see us. The accommodations were nearly perfect - each memorable and unique in its own way. The frequent "family style" meals made for stress-free, interesting and at times memorable dining, and not one of us had any food-related discomfort. The organization of the trip was also masterful - from outdoor adventure, to luxury jungle lodge, to wild jungle lodge, finishing with 5-star luxury - perfect! Very uncharacteristically, we never asked if our innkeeper had other rooms for us to consider!
All and all, you obviously have created a culture around your "Vacation Time is Precious" tagline, and I consider myself remarkably lucky to have connected with you. Since you asked for suggestions, I'll offer the following, but really, if you want to use me as a reference and delete these items, feel free, since they're very minor. I'm merely trying to accommodate your request for feedback.
1. Although we knew dinner was included at Casa Turire, we weren't sure what was included.
2. We were picked up from Casa Turire 1/2 hour late.
3. We would have enjoyed more river-time and less campsite-time the first day on the Pacuare and it would have been nice if the guides handled all of the baggage carrying instead of requesting help from the guests. Also, the counts were such that several groups, one as small as 3, had to split up on the rafts. Finally, cold beer at the campsite would have been nice.
4. Our guide at Tortuguero (Fernando) was kind of cold, as was the captain who took us there from Cano Blanco.
5. We could have skipped the night hike at Corcovado.
6. Arriving at the airport for our return home 3 hours early seemed about an hour and half too early. We didn't want to waste a minute at Punta Islita! (That said, the other 2 charter flight times were just perfect.)
Again, the above items are for your benefit and given only because you asked, because my overriding message is you planned and executed my best vacation ever.
Jan. 8, 2007 “The planning and execution of our trip by Costa Rica Expeditions was great.”
We had a marvelous time in Costa Rica. It was an educational and fun experience, and we will remember our vacation there for a long time (at least, until we return). The planning and execution of our trip by Costa Rica Expeditions was great, and this contributed a great deal to the wonderful time we had (The country, by itself, was the major contributor).
The drivers (Carlos, Willie, Leslie(?), Ronnie, and some more I forget), the transfer guides (Felix and Sebastian), and the naturalist guides (Charlie at Monteverde cloud forest), Juan Carlos (at Arenal hanging bridges), and Kenny (from aerial tram) were all very professional and well-informed and did their jobs very well. Given your earlier heads-up about the Tico system, we were quite impressed to see that the CRE drivers were always early for any pickup. The accommodations were up to our satisfaction, and we also appreciate the extra work Ingrid went through to ensure vegetarian meals for us.
We had only a couple of minor worries: (1) At Volcano lodge, CRE's faxes regarding schedule never got to us. I had to call the CRE office each day to get the necessary information. During one such call, the CRE representative informed me that he had confirmed the receipt of the fax at the front desk, so this is more likely a problem at the hotel. (2) Some guidance from CRE regarding where and where not to purchase souvenirs could be useful. I did notice that at one of the places that we stopped, the prices were even more expensive than at the airport.
Also, in retrospect, I might have planned the trip to include more opportunities for wildlife viewing, but overall, the itinerary planned by Ingrid was great - it had great variety, had a good combination of action and leisure, and gave us a good glimpse of some of what Costa Rica had to offer in the limited time that we had.
I would give CRE very high marks for this trip, and it would be my pleasure to recommend CRE to any of my friends and acquaintances.
Jan. 7, 2007 “I wanted you to know how much fun we had on our trip. It was beyond what I expected.”
I just wanted you to know how much fun we had on our trip. It was beyond what I expected. Pablo did an excellent job of providing political, cultural and environmental information of Costa Rica. We felt as if we had relatives in the country and they were showing us around. We will definitely rebook for a trip back in one year.
Jan. 6, 2007 ''Everyone at Costa Rica Expeditions was WONDERFUL."
Dear Michael: Despite the fact that TACA airlines lost our luggage for the entire 9 days that we were in Costa Rica, the trip was great. Everyone at Costa Rica Expeditions was WONDERFUL. We always felt that we were in good hands. The transfers were all seamless, we learned so much from the friendly and knowledgeable guides, and the accommodations were great. Your employees were also very helpful with our lost luggage situation, which was greatly appreciated!
Jan. 2, 2007 “I am singing the praises of Costa Rica and of Costa Rica Expeditions.”
Dear Nadya: The Bennett family is just home in Ottawa after our terrific Costa Rican holiday. Tomorrow I must go back to work - the first day of the new term at the college where I assist International students. I will try to bring the warmth and graciousness of the Tica people and the professionalism of Costa Rica Expeditions to my work.
I was so very impressed with the pride that Costa Ricans have in their country, and with their eagerness to share their knowledge, language, history and culture. We four had lots of questions, and all your staff, but particularly Luis at Corcovado and Paloma of Rios Tropicales, answered our queries and went out of their way to point out things they thought might interest us. (Could I please have Luis’ surname and his email address so I can thank him – I realize he is back at university now, but he was a real asset to your Corcovado location).
The staff at Costa Rica Expeditions made our holiday so relaxed – we never had to give a thought to the arrangements. We were confident that everything would be handled "behind the scenes" leaving us free to enjoy our time fully. We quickly learned a phrase that expressed all aspects of our trip – Solo Bueno.
All my very best for the new year to you and your family. I hope to contact you again to visit other parts of your beautiful country. In the meantime I am singing the praises of Costa Rica and of Costa Rica Expeditions.
Heather Bennett, Canada
Jan. 2, 2007 I am telling everyone I know that this is the only way to go to Costa Rica!
We would just like to say that we did have a very wonderful time traveling with Costa Rica Expeditions on the River and Rain Forest trip Dec. 17 to 23. Our guides were wonderful, the service and pickups and driving were all fantastic, and we saw such beautiful parts of Costa Rica that we would not have been able to organize on our own.
Thank you very much, and you can be sure I am telling everyone I know that this is the only way to go to Costa Rica!
Lindsay Brown and David Zapolsky (and 13-year-old son Ian, who had a great time).
Lindsay Brown/David Zapolsky