Sep. 8, 2009 “Making the decision to allow Costa Rica Expeditions to work out all the details for us was the best decision of the entire trip, and one of the best vacation decisions I have ever made.”
Please allow me to take a moment and say what a wonderful trip my family had this past summer in Costa Rica. Making the decision to allow Costa Rica Expeditions to work out all the details for us was the best decision of the entire trip, and one of the best vacation decisions I have ever made. From start to finish Costa Rica Expeditions allowed us to get the most out our time in Costa Rica. Everyone we met associated with Costa Rica Expeditions was professional, flexible, and service-oriented every step of the way.
Our host with our pickup in the van, both at our hotel in San Jose and again when we got off the plane from Tortuguero was Luis – and he was wonderful. In some ways he became the face of Costa Rica to us – knowledgeable, friendly, reliable, courteous and professional. Our guide, Norton Sinclair, at Tortuguero Lodge was amazing. Both incredibly competent and patient, he allowed us to see the lowland rainforest of Costa Rica in a way that we would have missed entirely without his help. Julian and Diego at the Tortuguero Lodge bent over backwards to see that our every need was taken care of.
This service continued once we arrived at Monteverde Lodege with Hava and Fredrico working in tandem to answer our questions and provide the best experience possible. Our guide at the Monteverde National Park was Carlos, who expertly explained what was right before us (but would have remained invisible without his skill) with an enthusiasm that was contagious. In short, thanks to Costa Rica Expeditions for everything. We would have had no idea what all we would have missed had we decided to do this trip on our own.
And please pass on our regards to Douglas and his family. It was a pleasure meeting them as well.
-Jim Shiveley, MD
Jul. 5, 2009 “You were attentive to our interests, always responded to my MILLIONS of questions…and, you designed a trip that was unforgettable!”
Hi Luis: What an EXCELLENT trip!!! Absolutely wonderful!!! I will write a separate note to Costa Rica Expeditions to communicate our complete satisfaction with the planning and actual trip, but first I wanted to send a personal note to you to say 'thank you'. You were wonderful to work with! I hope all your clients are as satisfied with your planning skills as our family was. You were attentive to our interests, always responded to my MILLIONS of questions, you were pleasant to work with, and, you designed a trip that was unforgettable! THANK YOU!!!
The little gift we gave you was just a small token of our appreciation. You don't know how much it meant to us that you to handled all the preparation and headaches that go along with planning a trip. I'm so glad we were assigned to you as our travel planner! And, I'm really glad we got to meet you!...icing on the cake!
When we were in Monteverde, I was talking to another guest who was also on a trip with CRE. She told me she also booked her trip through you. Unfortunately, I never got her name, but I know her guide's name was Sophia. Anyway, this person had all the same nice things to say about you. She said she asked if her group could meet you, but your response was that the planners don't typically meet the travelers. I didn't tell her that you had taken your personal time to meet me and my family. But I knew in my head that you had taken your time to meet us. Very special! I feel privileged to have met you!
The other special person on our trip was Federico Alban! We couldn't have asked for a better guide!!! He fit right in with our family. He made our trip SO enjoyable! Great personality! Very energetic! Knowlegeable. Sensative to our family interests! How did we get so lucky to be assigned to you as our planner and Federico as our guide?!!! I would definitely recommend you to anyone who travels to Costa Rica!!!
Jun. 30, 2009 “We enjoyed our trip to Costa Rica. GREAT ITINERARY.”
Priscilla: I just wanted to tell you how much we enjoyed our trip to Costa Rica. GREAT ITINERARY. We added a few things like a horseback ride in Monteverde and swimming in Manuel Antonio, but basically you set us up with everything that we could desire. THANKS!
Was surprised in Monteverde by Michael Kaye and his wife after their work detail - great opportunity to hear his story of success with CRE from a personal perspective. I believe that he may have sent an email the other day after our return. Unfortunately, my email service auto-deleted it, not recognizing the address. If so would you have him resend the note. It may have been from the CRE office in general.
Our grandchildren stayed active and that made their days go fast. The White Glove river lunch at Siquirres was exceptional - impressed our entire family, as did the accommodations at the Grano de Oro and Monterverde Lodge. Had a few problems at the Karahe but got beyond them. They need a significant upgrade to their facility. Seems to be getting slightly run down.
We drove up to Volcan Poas on our way back from Manuel Antonio - arrived at the top approximately 45 minutes before closing. It was raining heavily and the park attendants would not let us in unless we paid $70 to drive in. Could not justify that much money in the driving rain/clouds, although the children would have liked to get out of the car after that climb, notwithstanding the rain. Never could tell if there was a visitor facility up there. We made it to the top but not beyond the gate. Turned around, disappointed, but found a great family restaurant on the way down the mountain where we had dinner.
Several of your guides were EXCEPTIONAL, including Natu (Alvaro Farias) and Walter Centeno on the raft trip and Carlos in Monteverde. ENTHUSIASM and DEDICATION was the key. Our visit to Trapiche was great and informative. Great to have someone so dedicated that they influenced the children positively as well. Rafting was the best way to start our trip, as it immersed teenagers immediately in strenuous activity and the Costa Rica outdoors. That held their attention from the outset and for the remainder of our stay. Next time it will be Arenal, Fortuna and the Northwest Coast. Please thank Michael for his vision many years ago. He has developed a wonderful business and we will re-comment on it to everyone. Our thanks to the entire staff of CRE - we'll be back.
-Capt. Alan H. Barbour, VA
Jun. 4, 2009 “(We) have been raving about your company.”
Hi Michael and Natalie: We had a fantastic time on the trip, and have been raving about your company (and Costa Rica in general) to friends and family alike. We had a couple of hiccups before the trip started, but it was smooth sailing from the moment our plane landed.
We took about 1,500 photos, although the vast majority were taken in Monteverde. Unfortunately the photos are very large (4MB apiece). I will try to compress some of the better ones along to you. If there are particular types of photos that you are in need of, please let us know (otherwise, I'll just pick out my favorites). Feel free to use them in promoting your company, but I would appreciate you letting us know if you use any of the photos. Thanks for your time and have a great day.
Apr. 15, 2009 “We travel quite a bit, but we've never had a vacation like this one.”
Dear Mr. Kaye: I couldn't write to you soon enough to let you know what an incredible Costa Rica vacation we had last week. Marco Hernandez did such outstanding planning for us and it all exceeded our expectations. Each driver and tour guide was professional, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and very, very nice. They all enjoy working for or being affiliated with Costa Rica Expeditions - it's really quite a team. And the accommodations in Arenal and Monteverde were perfect. The views were so beautiful from both and the food at the Monteverde Lodge (that I believe you own) was delicious. When we began the planning process, it was so confusing, but Marco took the bull by the horns, and put it all together for us. We travel quite a bit, but we've never had a vacation like this one. We're looking forward to returning to Costa Rica and exploring more and more. Again, I had to let you know how this wonderful experience began with Marco's help. He's top on the Briskin's list!
-Gloria Steinberg Briskin
Apr. 6, 2009 “We had a BLAST in Costa Rica and hope to return in the future.”
Hi Marco: I just wanted to extend to you a big THANKS for putting together such a fun trip for me and my friends! We had a BLAST in Costa Rica, and we hope to return again in the future because there is still so much to do. The itinerary you put together was great - enough rest in between all the adventures. We also couldn't have asked for better transfer drivers. We had Jorge pick us up from the airport and drop us off on our last day, and he was the best! He was patient with us, and allowed us multiple pit stops as long as we had the time.
The hotels that you picked for us were also great. We loved the friendly atmosphere at both Arenal Manoa and Monteverde Lodge. Both of those hotels took very good care of us, and they also provided a lot of information to us. They also kept us up to date on what time we needed to be ready for our next adventure…I hope to return to Costa Rica in the near future, and if I do, I will be sure to work with you and Costa Rica Expeditions again!
Jan. 26, 2009 “Our group of 14 had a lovely stay at the Monteverde Lodge.”
Michael & Natalie: Our group of 14 had a lovely stay at the Monteverde Lodge. The staff was very helpful and professional. The food was delicious. Rooms clean and well appointed. The beds devine - just like at home - exactly the same sheets!!! The hot tub was a great rallying spot at the end of a busy day. I will have our group photographer find a picture or two to send you. I have several people interested in exploring the area and will definitely recommend your lovely lodge. Pura vida.
-John Las Brisas
Jul. 4, 2008 “Your staff and facilities were excellent.”
Appreciate your follow-up. First, let me complement you on your service and staff. From our initial internet contact to scheduling the tour to being dropped off at our hotel after the tour, your staff and facilities were excellent. Being a retired small business owner, I can certainly appreciate the quality of the staff that you employ... people are the key to the success of any business and you have certainly done well in this area!
We are still mentally processing the highlights of our trip (2 weeks) but the Monteverde Cloud Forest portion is something to be remembered. My wife is already looking at your website in anticipation of another trip!
We have a lot of photos (but I don't think you want all 600!) As we go through them I may occasionally send you a few. Here's one that - although not of the Cloud Forest - is certainly worth putting on a website, and you do list a tour to Parque Nacional Volcan Poas. I am highly prejudiced but I think this is a great shot. Thanks again for a great tour and we will definitely be using you on future trips!
May. 30, 2008 “We were very, very impressed with CRE's level of organization and punctuality.”
Dear Priscilla (and Michael and Natalie): Ann and I want to thank everyone at Costa Rica Expeditions for a simply wonderful trip. We had only two regrets - that we didn't get to Costa Rica sooner and that we didn't stay longer. I've already recommended Costa Rica Expeditions to several friends who are considering a vacation there. I just can't say enough about how pleased we were with your operation. Here are a few random thoughts I thought you would like to hear.
1. We were very, very impressed with CRE's level of organization and punctuality. Every time we were told a driver would pick us up at a given time, it happened right on time. From the moment we arrived at the airport to the moment we were dropped back off there a week later, everything on the trip went without a hitch. Every tour guide was at the right place on time and expecting us. Every hotel booking was made perfectly. I don't think I've ever had a vacation go so smoothly.
I really want to commend you, Priscilla, on one point. I had a moment of panic on the plane down when I realized that I had never specifically asked about the size of the tours and told you what I wanted. Ann and I both HATE being in large crowds or being herded onto buses to go from one place to the next in a group. Turns out I didn't have to worry at all. Everything you arranged for us was essentially just for the two of us. Thank you for that. Perfect!
2. A very special thanks to Miguel and Vincent! It was great to have Miguel along to identify so many birds and animals we saw along our drives. He's very knowledgeable and sharp-eyed. Vincent gave Ann a great surprise toward the end of the week with a side trip to see some macaws and monkeys. He's also a very careful driver. Even though we both take New York City taxicabs daily, Ann is very sensitive to drivers who sometimes go too fast and make her feel unsafe, but that NEVER happened with Vincent at the wheel. They were both great guys.
3. The Arenal Nayara Hotel and Gardens is simply lovely. We both were very pleasantly surprised at the level of luxury and service. We weren't expecting so much. That was a nice treat. We even got to see the entire volcano a few times when the clouds lifted. We didn't see much at the Hanging Bridges (even our guide was disappointed), but it was a beautiful walk on a beautiful morning. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain the entire time we were at Ecotermales, but we still had a good time. There is one thing I would recommend you change here, though: We were dropped off about 5:30 p.m., and the driver told us he was scheduled to return at 9 p.m. That's just too much time. There's no way you can spend that long at Ecotermales, even with dinner and drinks. Luckily, the young man at the front desk there was able to call Sunset Tours and have a driver return at 7:30 p.m. That was perfect.
4. Loved the boat trip across Arenal Lake. Even though the boat driver (Wilson?) said he didn't speak much English, we talked about how much we love bird-watching, and he took us to several spots along the lake where we some some exotic birds. Much fun for about half an hour.
5. Monteverde was special. Our guide in the cloud forest-Eliamar Rojas Cespedes-was informative and knowledgeable and a nice guy. On his tour we even saw five(!!) Quetzals. I had always assumed the Quetzal was a legend that Costa Ricans told to tourists to keep them coming. Then we saw two females and three males. Boy was I wrong! On a sad note, we were very distressed to see that shopping mall being built in Santa Elena across from the Monteverde Lodge. I know that tourism spurs development, but that just seems unfortunate. One other note about Monteverde: the one part if our itinerary that I wasn't really looking forward to was the El Trapiche tour. It just didn't sound that interesting, and to top it off it was raining like I've never seen rain that afternoon. Just a torrential downpour. Well, I was wrong and you were right. We found the tour very, very interesting and quite fun, even though we spent some hours walking around in the pouring rain. Diego is even something of a comedian. When we got back to the Monteverde Lodge, Ann and I blurted out at the same moment how much we enjoyed El Trapiche. So thanks for a pleasant surprise!
6. Here's one last thought you might consider. The pre-trip information you sent was very helpful, including the little treatise on tipping. One thing I really, really wished I had done before the trip was to go to a U.S. bank and get a lot of money in small bills ($1s or $5s) for tips. We arrived in Costa Rica with a lot of $20 bills and nothing else. No one at any hotel or in several shops those first days was ever able to make change, either in dollars or colones. It wasn't until our third day that I was able to get to a bank to get a bunch of $1000 colone notes. It's not a big deal, but you might want to recommend that people arrive with denominations of money smaller than $20 bills.
Finally, Costa Rica wins hands down over the Caribbean on two other fronts. Everyone we met was friendly and helpful. Costa Ricans seem genuinely and justifiably proud of their country, and glad to show it off to tourists. Second, the food was universally terrific. We didn't have a bad meal there. So fresh! So thanks again for a wonderful trip. You can be sure we'll recommend Costa Rica Expeditions to our friends.
-Jackson & Ann Dykman
May. 7, 2008 “Your country has to be one of the most magnificent places on earth!”
Hi Jeff: I just wanted to let you know how much we appreciated your assistance on our Costa Rica trip. Your knowledge, accessibility and personalized service really made for an outstanding trip. We loved Tortuguero and Monteverde Lodges as well as the gorgeous resort while staying in Arenal. The guides were extremely knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. The food was great and your country has to be one of the most magnificent places on earth! Thank you again for a fabulous and memorable trip!
Apr. 21, 2008 “Every single reservation you made for a driver, hotel, or tour was perfect.”
Hello Luis and the rest of you at Costa Rica Expiditons: I wanted to thank you all for all the hard work you put into making us the perfect vacation. We returned home Wednesday the 16th and still cannot believe that only a few days ago we were rafting down the Pacure River. We had been referred to Costa Rica Expeditions from a friend who traveled with you about a year ago. It was a leap of faith putting all of our travel plans into the hands of someone else, but you far exceeded our expectations and we would recommend you to anyone we know traveling to Costa Rica.
From the moment we landed we were greeted by one of your representatives who directed us through the airport to where the driver met us holding a sign with our names. That was such a reassuring moment for us that everything was going to be alright and we could just relax and enjoy our vacation. The drivers throughout the trip were so nice and accommodating and we never once got lost or had any car trouble which was very surprising considering the conditions of the dirt roads and the lack of any road signs.
We were so impressed that throughout our 10-day trip traveling through many cities and hotels, every single reservation you made for a driver, hotel, or tour group was perfect. We never once had a problem with any reservation and everyone was always on time to pick us up. The voucher book made payment so easy. We never worried if we were being overcharged or worried about traveling with lots of money on us. Having the vouchers allowed us to just enjoy the experience and not worry about the cost.
The itinerary Luis put together was absolutely perfect for us. We really liked having full days at the beginning. A tour in the morning and then one in the afternoon made us feel like we got to see a lot more and did not waste any time. After hearing from other tourists about some of the very long car rides they took between Monteverde and Arenal, and from Arenal to Manuel Antonio, we were very happy Luis had instead reserved the boat ferry across Arenal Lake and the private flight to Manuel Antonio - which for me was one the highlights of the trip.
There was not one tour or activity that we did that I would not suggest to someone else - everything was great. What I would suggest, is you push the overnight trip on the Pacure River. The rafting part was lots of fun and the guides were great, but the best part was the family lodge where we stayed overnight. What a surprise! After rafting hours down the river, stopping to swim in waterfalls, we pulled our boat ashore at what turned out to be a heavenly paradise in the middle of the forest. The rooms were so beautiful, the family was so nice, it was our favorite part of our trip and a perfect way to end a wonderful trip.
-Adam & Jessica Blatt
Mar. 24, 2008 “I can't think of one thing that went wrong the entire time.”
Dear Michael and Natalie: We just returned from a week-long trip (Monteverde, Arenal and Nosara) organized by Costa Rica Expeditions (Jose Huertas / Lily Ulate). My daughter and I had an excellent time. The hotels were excellent. The drivers to each place were on time, friendly and very helpful. The tours you arranged were excellent. I can't think of one thing that went wrong the entire time. When we go back to Costa Rica, I will definitely ask that you arrange the trip. It's a beautiful place. Costa Ricans are (and should be) very proud of their country.
-Ricky & Lexi Takai
Feb. 29, 2008 “I just wanted to tell you how pleased we were with your hotels and guides.”
We have just returned from a one-week Costa Rica Expeditions’ trip to Monteverde and Corcovado and I just wanted to tell you how pleased we were with your hotels and guides. They looked after us from the minute we stepped off the plane until we left. During the Monteverde portion of the trip, we were with Luis Chinchilla, who provided thoughtful and intelligent insights, and Ricardo, our driver who carefully navigated the often very difficult roads and always made us feel safe. They were interesting and fun dinner companions as well!
In Corcovado, Erick Gomez went above and beyond to get us up-close pictures of wildlife including taking our camera and sneaking down into the forest so that he could get a shot of a puma! We loved all his plant descriptions complete with medicinal recipes! And, finally, Rufilio Nuñez (Fillo) was a true nature lover, endlessly enthusiastic and knowledgeable. His bird walk was great! Please thank them, and also Priscilla Jimenez who did a wonderful job organizing the trip in the first place.
-Amy & Pete Stevens
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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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
Dec. 16, 2006 “The first good food I have ever eaten in Costa Rica.”
Monteverde Lodge was great. The first good food I have ever eaten in Costa Rica. We went 4 yrs ago as well. We should have stayed at your lodge in Tortuguero because I didn't realize Pachira had become like a factory... way too big and I didn't appreciate being told where to sit for meals since I was not part of a tour. Would definitely stay with you in the future. The major rain Dec 1-8 was pretty bad. Do you have any suggestions of a better month to visit? it is probably unpredictable but it is difficult to see animals when it rains so much. thanks again!
Dec. 6, 2006 “One of the greatest experiences I have had.”
Dear Michael & Natalie: Thank you for your email. Just want you to know that my time at Monteverde Lodge, and also my entire trip to Costa Rica, has been one of the greatest experiences I have had. The incredible natural beauty of Costa Rica plus the graciousness of the people that I met will stay with me forever. Thank you for chance to visit Monteverde & I truly hope to be back again some day.
Nov. 27, 2006 Costa Rica Connoisseur: “The trip of a lifetime.”
My wife, Kathy, and I wish to thank you and the staff at Costa Rica Expeditions for an outstanding vacation and the trip of a lifetime for us (the Costa Rica Connoisseur trip). From the time we arrived in Costa Rica until we left, the CRE staff was on time and met (and usually exceeded) our expectations.
I would like to thank Herrol Mora, our travel planner, Luis Torres, our naturalist guide, Norton Tucker, our Tortuguero boat pilot, and Ramon, our van driver, for their excellent services. Luis, in particular, was able to find and show us birds and animals that we did not expect to see, given the season of our trip. He was very knowledgeable about the wildlife, the background, and the history of the various areas we visited (San Jose, Tortuguero, Arenal volcano, and Monteverde Cloud Forest). Norton and Ramon also spotted many birds and animals and always gave us safe transport.
Our accommodations were very nice at every location and the food was always outstanding. I was particularly fond of the gallo pinto and picked up several recipes for that. I also liked that the meals were what is normally served in Costa Rica and not modified to suit "tourist" tastes. At least I hope not too much!
I can recommend your organization highly. I have also included several pictures that you are welcome to use if you wish. Thanks again for a great trip!
As far as suggestions for improvements go, the only one we had was the choice of restaurant for our farewell dinner. The Chateau 1425? (not sure of the number) in San Jose was a very nice place, but they were pretty slow in serving the group and the four fish entrees ordered in the group were all undercooked.
-John and Kathy Wishart, CO
Sep. 3, 2006 ''Our favorite places to stay were: Lapa Rios, Monteverde Lodge and Finca Rosa Blanca.''
On behalf of our whole family I would like to say a big "thank you" to Costa Rica Expeditions. In particular to Nadya Shaw who arranged the most wonderful holiday, perfectly in line with what we were looking for. Her judgment and organization were impeccable: she was a joy to speak with. Our favorite places to stay were: Lapa Rios, Monteverde Lodge and Finca Rosa Blanca, which was a lovely retreat before and after our flights.
We would definitely recommend your company to anyone visiting the country. Your skill and long-term experience and contacts throughout the country are clearly of immense value. Every single driver and guide and all the staff at the above hotels were totally friendly and helpful and all contributed to a very memorable experience.
-Clare Duggan and family
Jul. 3, 2006 “The lodges, tours and food were awesome.”
We were so impressed with the punctuality, as well as friendly help from all your staff. We want to say how fantastic our trip was to your beautiful country, and also thank you for your help in arrangements. Your staff and guides, without exception, were so helpful and knowledgeable.
The lodges, tours and food were awesome. We filled out various forms, but in the bleary eyed checkout our last night, I can't remember if I gave them to anyone. Ricardo, Daniel and Owen were extra great at Tortuguero. Luis was also so much fun in driving us to our boat transfer and on our trip back from Monteverde. We were thrilled to see a Leatherback Turtle laying eggs and Tortuguero. The pilots were very professional on our various flights. We enjoyed Kenya so much, and Freddy's cooking was great. He even shared his chocolate mousse recipe with me.
At Monteverde, Hava was outstanding. Everyone was. Our only suggestion is that we wish comida tipica was on the lunch and breakfast menu at Monteverde.
We were so impressed with the punctuality, as well as friendly help from all your staff. The guys that drove us to the airport to head home were just great also. We were able to focus on our activities, and not worry about transportation, food, etc.
Thanks also for getting us the information about the Orchestra Sinfonica - they were outstanding, and the Theater National is a jewel. My husband is the Principal cellist in the Great Falls Symphony, and introduced himself to the principal cellist in the OSSJ, and it turned out they had studied with some of the same teachers. Again, thank you - it was a magical trip, and we hope to return.
-Thad and Su Suits
May. 17, 2006 “Our excursion was flawless.”
We were referred to Nadya Shaw and your company by our friends, who booked a tour with you a few months back. We were so intrigued by their itinerary that we opted for the same one. Nadya provided excellent service and was always timely with her responses. We could not have asked for a better trip. Everything went as planned; all the drivers were on time, courteous, and drove safely; the accommodations were very nice...our excursion was flawless and we will definitely recommend your company to anyone traveling to Costa Rica.
We have to give a special mention about Daniel Carballo Conejo, who drove us from Playa Conchal to Monteverde. Daniel is such a nice man and he made the drive so enjoyable. He said his English wasn't that good, but we don't know Spanish and yet we managed to converse the entire trip. The drive up the dirt road to Monteverde was very treacherous in places--you look out the window and you could just drop off into a valley--and Daniel was very careful and went slow...definitely not in a hurry to get us to the Monteverde Lodge so he could get home. We told other people we met traveling with CRE that we hoped they had the good fortune to have Daniel as their driver as they went to other destinations.
We will always remember Costa Rica with fond memories and are so glad we added a few extra days to our trip so we could experience Monteverde and Arenal. Thank you for making our trip so enjoyable!
-Philipp and Cherie Albrecht
May. 15, 2006 “One of the best vacations in my life.”
I'd like to express my sincere appreciation for the services of your company. Both our stay at the Monteverde Lodge and the Tortuguero tour at Tortuga Lodge were incredible. Overall, this trip to Costa Rica was one of the best vacations in my life.
May. 1, 2006 “Your team is phenomenal...Monteverde Lodge was wonderful.”
My trip was very enjoyable. Here are my comments that I sent to Nadya. Your team is phenomenal and service impeccable: Nadya, I want to thank you for arranging our trip to Costa Rica. It was wonderful vacation. I found "Costa Rica Expeditions" to be extremely professional. All the drivers showed up at the dot, were courteous and professional. Many of them went out of their way to make the ride fun. I was always kept informed of the time for pickup. The one time change I requested (when you were out of the office) was handled efficiently. Monteverde Lodge was wonderful and the hotel receptionist was extremely friendly and helpful. Overall, nothing but the highest marks for your company and people. I would be delighted to recommend your tour company to all my fellow travelers to Costa Rica.
Mar. 31, 2006 “We were highly impressed with your dedication to safety.”
We had a wonderful time! We were extremely impressed with the high-degree of organization with your company. The transfers were always on time, the guides always knowledgeable. We were also highly impressed with your dedication to safety. When we received the fax from your office stating that we would not be taking Nature Air, but rather a private charter, we were instantly trusting of your company.
We were pleased that the ride to Monteverde was made more direct by taking a boat through Lake Arenal. At first we were also disappointed that we were not going to Tabacon Hot Springs, but later were happy that we were at a more secluded spot. The only thing I can say is that tourists naively expect to go to Tabacon, and this should be conveyed in a more obvious and direct manner, through the itinerary. However, we did have a very peaceful and relaxing time at the other hot springs and were glad to be there. Last of all, Herrol Mora was very helpful and he really organized a great trip that was everything we wanted. Thanks Herrol!
The only negative that I can report are that the room in Grano De Oro opened to the Cafe, which was strange b/c you have to constantly walk through people eating to get to your room. When I asked the front desk for a room that was more private, the hotel was already filled. I would have gladly paid more for a better room.
-Ari Geller, MD
Mar. 22, 2006 ''Tortuga Lodge was the highlight of our stay.''
Our two-week trip was wonderful from beginning to end. We used Costa Rica Expeditions for only part of our trip as we stayed with friends part of the time and "roughed" it for part of the time.
Our trip to Tortuga Lodge was the highlight of our stay. We were treated like princesses from beginning to end. We enjoyed every moment of our two-night stay. The accommodations were first class and very unique with no glass in the windows so that we could hear the sound of the birds 24/7, in addition to being awakened in the morning by the Howler Monkeys. The boat trips to Tortuguero National Park were awesome with knowledgeable guides pointing out the abundant wildlife. The food was excellent and the service without fault.
The charter flights arranged by Costa Rica Expeditions to/from Tortuguero and to Tamarindo were wonderful with fantastic views and very friendly helpful pilots who pointed out all the landmarks to us. First Class all the way.
When in Monteverde, we stayed at the Hotel Belmar because your hotel, Monteverde Lodge, was full. Our excess luggage was forwarded to Monteverde Lodge by road for pick-up. When we went there to retrieve it, we fell in love with your Lodge and Gardens and ate there on several occasions. We will certainly use Costa Rica Expeditions to help plan our next Costa Rica trip.
I send a special thank you to Luz Elena Alpizar who worked with me on our plans in a helpful, polite, professional, efficient manner before we even arrived in Costa Rica.
-Carol, Darlene, Elaine & Carolyn (4 ladies from Miami)
Mar. 17, 2006 “Everyone went out of their way to make our vacation one that we will always remember.”
Thank you for your follow up of our trip. Costa Rica is a delightful country to visit. We are impressed with the Tico people and their culture - so accommodating and gracious. We are particularly complimentary of the staff at the Monteverde Lodge and Gardens. From the minute we were greeted by Janna at the front desk until we checked out, everyone there went out of their way to help make our vacation one that we will always remember.
Feb. 22, 2006 ''Jorge Jara Ayub is a top-notch guide and our experience was infinitely richer because of him.''
Dear Priscilla: I want to thank you for organizing an absolutely fabulous trip for my family last week. You put together a great itinerary with a good pace and fun activities for all of us -- ages 4 yrs to 70. From the minute our plane touched down in San Jose and there was a Costa Rica Expeditions guide to meet us at the airport, it was clear that we were in very good hands.
The Hotel Bougainvillea was fine, and we were appreciative that our guide had ordered breakfasts for all of us for our early start on Saturday morning.
Max, our driver, could not have been more helpful -- arriving early and handling luggage, establishing a friendly tone with the children, getting us safely where we were going at all times, pointing out wildlife along the way, and even entertaining the children when they had had enough of Quetzal watching in Monteverde. I don't know if it is standard practice to have a driver return again and again to pick up the same family, but for us, it was always great to see his smiling face when he arrived to take us off on some new adventure.
We enjoyed every place we stayed: Punta Islita, Monteverde Lodge, Tortuga Lodge -- if I could change anything it might be to spend more time in Tortuguero -- but we will come back in turtle season some day and take another hike.
Finally, absolutely the BEST part of the trip was our guide, Jorge Jara Ayub. He is a top-notch guide and our experience was infinitely richer because of him. He was warm and friendly and informative without overloading us with information. His love for the environment, the wildlife, and the people of Costa Rica came through in everything he did. He was extremely sensitive to our needs and constantly evaluating our plans to make them work. I am sure there were occasional glitches, but they never felt that way -- they felt like opportunities to learn more and experience more. I know he spent lots of time and energy checking to be sure that the next phase of our journey was ready to go, but he did it unobtrusively and positively. His timing is excellent -- if we were in slow traffic we had a chance to learn about coffee farming; a wait for a boat was a chance to use the facilities and watch for birds. He was very supportive of our interests, doubling back to look at birds, doing research about unlikely warblers, arranging for kid-friendly meals, setting up telescopes, bringing us back to Monteverde at 6:00 am to find the elusive Quetzals.
Our forays into Tortuguero's canals yielded incredibly diverse wildlife, and Jorge was able to provide informative facts about them and describe field signs in such a way that all of us, especially the kids, were hooked. He seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of natural and cultural history -- I don't think there was a question we asked that he didn't have a ready answer for. He is very good with kids; enthusiastic and respectful without talking down to them. As we neared the end of our portion of the trip with him, the children were sad and even sulky that he wouldn't be going on to Punta Islita with us.
He made our experience really special. We really appreciate all that you, and Jorge, and Max, and the transfer guides did to make our visit a memorable one. We'll be back -- and we will recommend Costa Rica Expeditions to our friends.
-Judy Drew Fairchild
Feb. 21, 2006 ''In this age of Internet bookings, knowledge of a country is still very helpful.''
We absolutely loved Costa Rica. We did some bookings on our own on the Internet and some with Marco. In retrospect, I wish we had booked everything thru Marco (except I like to plan my own vacations.) His suggestions all were great, he always replied promptly to emails, he was flexible and attentive to our suggestions, and his knowledge of Costa Rica amazing. You have a wonderful colleague/employee.
After we got back, I did email him as to which beach destinations you typically send clients to. I had wanted to go to Manuel Antonio and in fact we booked our own condo there. The national park is beautiful and there is lots of wildlife. I would be curious as to other beach areas where you can get a hotel on the beach and still have the rustic feel. I would consider a different beach area in that regard. We loved the Arenal area and Monteverde and liked the family-run hotels in Costa Rica. Keep the American chain hotels and developers out of Costa Rica as much as possible!
Thanks again. We will recommend any friends traveling to Costa Rica to your company and specifically to Marco. In this age of individualism and Internet bookings, someone's knowledge of a country is still very helpful.
Feb. 16, 2006 "Monteverde Lodge was a special treat. The food was great."
Just a word to let you know how much we enjoyed our Monteverde trip. The Spanish-speaking drivers were kind, considerate and helpful. Between my little Spanish and their little English we made out fine. They stopped when we asked for baños where facilities were clean and neat. They were safe drivers.
Melvin Leiton (sp?), our guide at Monteverde, was absolutely wonderful. He showed us wonderful birds including many sightings of the Quetzal and was very considerate of our small group needs. He loves the forest and told us stories of his life there and his family. A big treat was that he invited us to his home to bird watch and have a cup of coffee or tea. My husband remarked that the day was the best time he had on the whole trip through Panama and Costa Rica!
Monteverde Lodge was a special treat. The food was great. Our room was right next to the gardens where we could see birds and enjoy the flowers. Michael K just happened to be there and we visited with him a couple of times (I had met him on an International Expeditions fam trip 16 years ago). The staff was absolutely wonderful, especially at the desk. They spoke English well, were very accommodating and helpful and knew exactly what was supposed to happen when and how. We were most appreciative for their services.Thank you again for making all the arrangements and helping to make our visit to Costa Rica so special.
Feb. 14, 2006 ''We enjoyed every minute of our trip.''
Hey Herrol: Just a brief note of thanks to you and the staff for providing a wonderful adventure for Debby and I. We were quite surprised to receive a cake and gifts on our birthday in Monteverde. It was very kind and thoughtful, so thank you very much. We enjoyed every minute of our trip and look forward to contacting you in the future to visit beautiful Costa Rica again.
Feb. 10, 2006 "Hidalgo Resort at La Fortuna was the best place to relax."
Dear Nadya: Congratulations! Your itinerary worked superbly and everything went to plan. The guide was good; Gerardo was an excellent and careful driver, and the Hidalgo Resort at La Fortuna was the best possible place to relax and so much preferable to the Tabacon hot springs. Your Associates Sun Tours were puctual and could not have done a better job. We were delighted with the boat trip across Lake Arenal and we compliment Miguel on the difficult drive to Monteverde. We enjoyed staying at the Lodge and the nature walk the next morning, and Gerardo got us to the boat at Caldera in good time. Pura Vida!!
Feb. 8, 2006 ''Monteverde Lodge was absolutely wonderful!''
I want to congratulate you and your staff, along with Vern Kleen, for a very enjoyable and educational visit to Costa Rica. Our guide Miguel Marin provided expert guidance in bird watching and was extremely courteous and patient with our group. Our driver, Ramon, did an outstanding job of transporting us to our destinations, assisting us in spotting birds, and was courteous and provided assistance whenever possible. Vern was his usual self: courteous, kind, and willing to go the extra mile to assist us in experiencing a great adventure in Costa Rica. This was my second trip in coordination with Costa Rica Expeditions and it was as grand as the first trip! Just a few notes:
- Monteverde Lodge was absolutely wonderful--top of the line lodging, good food, beautiful gardens!
- Villa Lapas was another great place to stay--beautiful flora and surroundings. Lapas Sky Way was GREAT!
- The motorcoach was very clean--thank you, Ramon!
- I felt very safe the entire trip--thanks to everyone!
Thank you for inviting me to your beautiful country. I had a wonderful time!
Feb. 7, 2006 "The trip was more than I hoped for."
My adult daughter and I only had one night in Monteverde but we did a night walk in the Ecological Farm and a morning tour in Monteverde cloud forest. We had an excellent guide and saw many wonderful things, even the elusive Quetzal! Amazingly, it was a male and a female. We felt very privileged, as I understand this is a bit early for them (Feb 3). We also went on a river trip in Palo Verde as well as a guided tour into Manuel Antonio. Everything was perfect, beautiful, warm, and our experiences were very positive everywhere we went.
Yes the trip was more than I hoped for and would recommend a visit to your beautiful country to anyone, particularly if they are interested in wildlife. What a dilemma; you want the tourists, but the increase in this industry also brings some negativity such as the coatis' wandering the cloud forest parking lot. Good luck with that and thanks for your interest.
Feb. 6, 2006 "You have really put together an extremely organized operation."
My wife and I were very pleased with our Costa Rica Expeditions tour of Arenal and Monteverde. We were particularly impressed by how all of our drivers were never late for any of our pick-ups. The confirmation faxes were also good. You have really put together an extremely organized operation, and we congratulate you on that. We really can't think of any particular suggestions; everything went so smoothly.
Feb. 1, 2006 ''Your impeccable planning made our vacation a true vacation.''
Hi Marco: I just wanted to tell you how much we enjoyed our trip to Costa Rica. We LOVED it!!! We liked all the things that we saw and especially enjoyed our time in the Osa Peninsula. It was more untouched than the other areas. La Paloma was beautiful and the people who worked there were wonderful. The food was also great. The Tortuga lodge, Monteverde Lodge & Arenal Lodge were also wonderful. Your impeccable planning made our vacation a true vacation. We only wish that you could have changed the weather our last day in Arenal, as it rained. We never got to see the volcano. Oh well, I guess that we'll have to come back. The hot springs and meal at the spa was also fabulous. Thanks for letting us know about it.
Nov. 30, 2005 Sierra Club trip with Master Naturalist Guide Charlie Gómez
Dear Charlie (Carlos): The trip was super and I thank you, Nino, and Costa Rica Expeditions for doing so much to make it turn out so well. What a combination for a leader to be working with! It was an absolute privilege to be part of such a team. From the ease and thoroughness of the planning procedure to the remarkable bird and animal sightings that we enjoyed, everything worked beautifully, in spite of the rain. I have been hearing from many happy participants that they totally enjoyed the trip. The five people new to Sierra Club trips and to group trips in general, seemed to be particularly enthusiastic about the total experience.
Thank you for dealing with the delayed luggage and lost passport with such gentleness and efficiency. Emily is a very experienced international traveler and leader and was distressed to have been the one to cause extra fuss and bother.
I have to tell you that one of my Sierra Club friends, Mary O'Boyle, who has a place at Monteverde, reported that they had had 34 consecutive days of rain and she had been concerned about our trip. I think we were very lucky that the trip was not impacted more by the unusual weather. Your open discussion of the conditions with all trip members helped to make them aware of the challenge as well as understanding of the decisions that we had to make.
You must be totally exhausted after getting up every morning at dawn for bird walks or early departures, but you must know from the continued participation, how much it was appreciated. The enthusiasm that you and Nino bring to finding new birds for the group is wonderful. I think everyone will take home, as a special trip memory, your delight at the discovery of the "Cotinga tree" and of your continued upgrading of the "best bird of the trip".
We all appreciated your in-depth knowledge on such a variety of subjects that we explored in our conversations. I had done quite a bit of pre-trip study and was prepared to be able to talk about some of the social and conservation issues that affect Costa Rica, such as banana plantations, poaching, squatters, and over production of coffee; but my information was probably about ten years out of date and I became reluctant to say much more than to ask leading questions. I think we were all a bit amazed by the more current issues that you raised about pineapple culture, pesticide use on mangos and other crops, fern growing, and changing methods of coffee production. I would like to learn more and to be able to find reference sources to investigate so I can pass on suggestions to the appropriate Sierra Club conservation committee. Could you steer me in the right direction? I especially want to learn details about relatively recently changes since even my most "current" references seem to be very dated. More later, and again, many, many thanks.
Aug. 10, 2005 "Your company went over and beyond to help me."
I just wanted to say how impressed I was at the service I received from your company. I had placed our bags behind the counter at Monteverde Lodge and realized that it was no longer there and had been taken possibly by another guest by mistake. From Quepos, 24 hours later, I called Monteverde Lodge and they had located my bag. They proceeded to send it to San Jose and then, a day before my departure, I rec'd the bag AT MY HOTEL! I was mostly dealing with Monteverde and I am very, very thankful to not only to get my bag back but to have it delivered directly to my hotel. I own a hotel along with several other businesses here in Florida and I recognize how much your company went over and beyond to help me. Thanks so much. We will see you next time we are in Costa Rica!
-Angelia Young, FL
Jul. 9, 2005 "All the places we stayed at were excellent." Ticos friendlier than Texans.
We don’t know where to even start in saying how wonderful our vacation was! Costa Rica is absolutely a beautiful country and all of you are just as wonderful as the country. Texans are usually very friendly, but all Ticos we met was even friendlier and helpful. I (Sherry) know a little Spanish so everyone was helping me practice it even though I am very bad at it! Mike bought a digital camera before we came so we have 600 to 700 pictures to enjoy.
We enjoyed every place we stayed and all of the places were excellent. Monteverde Lodge was cozy and inviting and the grounds and gardens were wonderful. We saw many birds, butterflies and animals every day. We especially enjoyed seeing the hummingbirds everywhere. The cloud forest was spectacular and we were fortunate to see a Quetzal family plus many other birds and insects.
Montana de Fuego was also great and we loved our room and porch with a clear view of the magnificent volcano. We have never been near an active volcano so this was quite an experience—we were able to see some lava one night! Joseph loved the pool there and we even had a friendly cat with us for a couple of days on our porch! We are big animal lovers so this was really fun. Ecotermales was especially great and very private and the food there was some of the best we had—we ate until we were too full. Once again, we saw too many birds, insects, and animals to count. We bought Joseph 5 different Costa Rica field guides and he had memorized them within a day or two so we had our own naturalist guide with us to identify most of the birds and animals.
Of course, Tortuga Lodge was also wonderful and we loved our room there with the hammock and back porch. Seeing birds and animals here was a different experience and we are so glad we went to the Caribbean side. We also were able to see green turtles laying eggs at night—what an opportunity!
And finally and most importantly, we want to thank you for planning such a wonderful trip for us. Costa Rica Expeditions is a premier company and every person we met from there was exceptional. Every detail was planned and we always had a great experience wherever we went.
We will be back because there is so much more we want to see. Corcovado, Manuel Antonio, the beaches, and much more. You can look forward to hearing from us again. Thank you again for such a fantastic trip.
-Mike, Sherry and Joseph
Jun. 24, 2005 "Awesome! ...a vacation that we will never forget."
Words are very hard to find to share the wonderful experiences that our family enjoyed in your country. Ever since we have returned home, it is difficult to describe our 10 days in CR except to say, Awesome! Until you have seen, touched, smelled, heard the many animals & plants that abound throughout CR yourself, you simply cannot understand. The people of CR have so much pride in their country & welcome you with open arms that "Pura Vida" may not say it all but it comes awfully close. Out of 10 days, it only rained a full 2 days so we felt very lucky.
Every driver & guide that was arranged through CRE hit the mark dead on. They were always on time, very helpful, knowledgeable & fun. Our favorite driver was Manuel from Monteverde, I have attached a picture to show you his passion for life & his country. A joy to be around.
The accommodations were outstanding & am not sure we would do them any different the next time. The staff at the Monteverde Lodge were all so friendly & outstanding. The Tulemar was picture perfect & fit our needs very well. The Finca Rosa Blanca was a fantasyland & a delight. All in all, we did not want to leave CR & most definitely we will return very soon.
Your services were exactly what you said they would be & no less. CRE will come highly recommended from the Indiana Dunn Family. Many Thanks for a vacation that we will never forget.
-Shepard Dunn, Indiana
Jun. 23, 2005 ''Your efforts and energy made sure we had our best trip ever.''
We have been home almost a week and are still talking non-stop about all the wonderful things we saw and did in CR!!! Had we known that the Marriott was so gorgeous and an oasis in SJ we could have just stayed there a few days ( < :
We especially enjoyed our adventures in Tortuguero w/Gerardo Aguilar on the river. Cesar was a gracious host and helped make our stay there superb. We all agree we would like to return to Tortuquero. We were able to see one turtle on our night walk. We managed to survive the little plane experiences. Being so remote was very special.
On our drive to Monteverde, Stephen was a wealth of information re: culture, food, history, education and ecology. We had plenty of time to discuss everything as a big rig had crashed on the infamous Pan American Hwy. The road to Monteverde definitely needs work. Our kidneys took a beating both directions, but again we lived to tell about it. Elliamar, our guide in Monteverde, was the BEST. He was well spoken, knowledgeable and fascinating to listen to. One day we were soaked to the skin, including boots and rain gear. We have never experienced rain like that. Our son Phil happen to meet one of his Professors from his college, also staying @ the Monteverde Lodge. Amazing. Our driver down the mtn didn't speak much English but took us to a restaurant for a "pit stop" and breakfast. The rice and chicken dish was scrumptious and will always be remembered.
Lapa Ríos Ecoresort was the highlight of our trip. Staying right in the rainforest was unbelievably exciting, relaxing and educating--fabulous wildlife that constantly entertained us. The surfing was uncrowded and allowed Alison and Phil to feel very successful. What a setting. The food @ Lapa Rios was unsurpassed anywhere else during our trip. The choice of fresh food was terrific. Again we survived the small plane rides. Whew!
We were pleasantly surprised when Julio met us on our return to SJ. We had a lengthy layover before leaving for Tamarindo and he took us to a typical CR restaurant where our lunch was yummy. We also stayed cool @ the Plaza Mayor. Julio was incredibly well informed and was able to answer even the toughest questions. We saw a bit of SJ so that was fine.
Tamarindo was where we relaxed an unwound. Cala Luna Hotel & Villas was lovely and very roomy. The small pool w/each villa is very convenient. We did find it to be a little too far from the town and the surfing area which for my children was very important. We ended up renting a car and driving where we needed to go. We headed down to Avellena and spent a day there--what a spot. We thoroughly enjoyed Tamarindo, the beach and swimming in the ocean.
This is a very long way to say THANK YOU SO MUCH. All your efforts and energy made sure we had our best trip ever.
Jun. 17, 2005 "The people at the Monteverde Lodge...were exceptional."
We had a wonderful trip to Costa Rica and plan to return. We will certainly contact you again to help us. The people at the Monteverde Lodge, especially Ingrid and Leo, were exceptional. Thank you again for helping us to have such a wonderful vacation.
Jun. 3, 2005 "Once at the (Monteverde) lodge, I was impressed with everything."
Michael and Natalie: …I loved the tour. First, I had James Lowis on the ride up to Monteverde. He made the trip pleasant and we found lots of birds along the way. I certainly count him as a new friend. Once at the lodge, I was impressed with everything, the building, the bed, the grounds, the staff, and, especially the chiefs.
The hotel I was at in Alajeula, Martino Resort, had offered very nice Italian food, but hadn't begun to suggest what I could expect at Monteverde Lodge: one wonderful appetizer and entrée after another. …The restaurant at the Monteverde Lodge could easily thrive in San Francisco - my highest complement! The service matched the food - consistently excellent.
But ultimately, I came to see the jungle. Carlos, my guide, was great. We saw three Resplendent Quetzals within minutes of entering Monteverde – which, I certainly wouldn't have seen without his eyes and his 20x scope. And, of course, we saw many other birds, and the trees and plants of the jungle itself. The trip was wonderful, and probably the best buy I've ever gotten for my vacation money. I look forward to going somewhere else with you guys in the future - to other jungles and down wild rivers.
-Paul Harmon, CA
Apr. 25, 2005 "Made travel to a new country stress free."
I can't even begin to tell you how extraordinarily simple and enjoyable you made our recent visit to Costa Rica. Special note to Douglas Espinoza, who was so incredibly efficient and knowledgeable that he made travel to a new country stress free. From the first meeting at the airport upon landing to the little charter flight out of Quepos airport to return home, there was never a missed step, a late pick-up or a less than completely knowledgeable guide and driver.
Kudos to Luis, who was a walking-talking encyclopedia of Costa Rica and taught us about the country, its people and its customs and politics as we ventured into Monteverde. He was just wonderful! We have been recommending Costa Rica Expeditions to all of our friends who are contemplating a trip to your beautiful and exotic country. As a matter of fact, I stress to them that it is "one stop shopping," an expression we use in our country that denotes a company that can do everything you need and do it with grace and efficiency. If you ever need a recommendation or a reference, please to not hesitate to contact me. Thank you again and special thanks to Douglas for a superior job and legendary service. You have earned your reputation.
-Pam Hamilton and Peter Lewis
Apr. 25, 2005 ''Very nice guided tours of the Monteverde Cloud Forest.''
We just returned from a fantastic trip to Costa Rica. Aside from the mixup with overbooking the Monteverde Lodge, which you handled quite nicely, all reservations and transfers went extremely well.
We really enjoyed the Monteverde Lodge; a nice spot and all staff members treated us very well. All members of our group loved the Parador Resort & Spa at Manuel Antonio; the setting, views, swimming pool, and all staff members (except for two rather surly men working the front desk) were wonderful. We especially liked the breakfast buffet, and the impressive Friday night "surf and turf" buffet. We took advantage of very nice guided tours of the Monteverde Cloud Forest (getting great views of male and female quetzals) and of the Manuel Antonio Park. Guides at both locations were friendly, knowledgeable, and great with our children.
The bus transfers that you arranged were great. The driver, "Shampoo," who took us on all three legs of our trip, was always prompt and friendly. Despite his lack of English, we were able to communicate somewhat with him and get a few jokes across. Our kids fell in love with him, and he seemed to have a good time with us.
On the way to Monteverde, we had the bonus of a guide, Federico Alban, who was fluent in English, and seemed to have - and willingly shared - tremendous knowledge of Costa Rica. We also appreciated that Costa Rica Expeditions always gave us notice with regard to pickup times for the bus at each location. Thanks again.
Mar. 12, 2005 Monteverde: “We cannot wait to go back.”
Hello Herrol: My wife and I had a wonderful time in Costa Rica, and especially at Monteverde Lodge. Everyone was very nice and helpful, especially Ari and Leo at the front desk, the waiters in the restaurant (which had great food, contrary to the reviews I read) and they really made our stay special. We got the chance to see our scorpion (in the dome light in our bathroom), plus many hummingbirds, quetzals, coatimundi, toucans - everything we wanted to see and more. Thank you so much for your help in arranging our trip, we cannot wait to go back.
Mar. 2, 2005 "Your service, contacts, scheduling, drivers, etc. were faultless and we were pleased with everything."
Just wanted to let you know that your service, contacts, scheduling, drivers, etc. were faultless and we were pleased with everything. We had never been to Costa Rica before and it was certainly helpful to have your expertise. We stayed at Monteverde Lodge and it was delightful. Food was delicious. We are recommending your agency to friends of ours who are ready to embark on planning a trip to Costa Rica. Thank you again,
-Helen and Jim Petosky
Jan. 20, 2005 ''Monteverde Lodge was wonderful! We loved it! The food was delicious and the people kind...''
Dear Michael and Natalie: We had a wonderful time in Costa Rica and will definetly be planning a return trip! I was a little hesitant in using your services because all correspondences were through e-mail, making it hard for me to get a sense of how reliable you would be. My comfort level rose when we were greeted in the San Jose airport and everything was so well organized. Additionally, Mauricio, our driver was so kind and knowledgeable about the country and it's wildlife that we felt the drive to Monteverde was an adventure in itself. Mauricio even pointed out our first monkey sighting and numerous birds along the way.
Once in Monteverde, the Monteverde Lodge was wonderful! We loved it! The food was delicious and the people kind and interested in our satisfaction. We will include it in our return trip. I miss sitting by the fire!
I'd like to also say that Luz was wonderful in helping us and we appreciate all her efforts in making this a great trip! We look forward to our next trip and will be getting in touch to schedule.
Jan. 18, 2005 ''I marvel at everything that you and the others at Costa Rica Expeditions did to make out trip forever memorable.''
Dear Selena: I cannot begin to find all the adjectives to describe how pleased I was with the trip my family and I had to Costa Rica over the holidays. Working with ages from 10 to 75 is not easy to begin with, and then my endless requests and edits to the plan. I marvel at everything that you and the others at Costa Rica Expeditions did to make out trip forever memorable--and I am a well-traveled, tough critic. The details and thoughtfulness of those at Costa Rica Expeditions simply cannot be praised enough. You all deserve a round of applause for a job very well done.
From the minute we arrived at Monteverde Lodge and watched Maria quietly and confidently working behind the scenes to make sure we felt at home, to Cesar at Tortuguero Lodge who cheerfully greeted us at the airstrip and casually, yet professionally, exhibited how a very well-run lodge should function, to Owen smiling without hesitation when we asked him to meet us at the dock at 5:15 A. M. to look for "whatever moves", and finally to Mitchell at Corcovado who made sure that my nearly-75-year-old father could tell his friends at home about his trip to the top of the platform--we felt welcomed and delighted to be in your company and care. For this we thank you.
To the countless waiters that smiled and gently explained juice when we ordered glasses of "fuego" for breakfast, brought modified dishes of food without hesitation for the picky eaters among us, and created delightful "kiddy cocktails" based upon our poor Spanish/English instructions--you made us happy and made us smile. For this we appreciate all that you did and we thank you.
And last, but not least we will always remember Max and Sonia who became part of our family for the week. Max, who drove us safely everywhere, helped us with our Spanish, and who we knew we could count on no matter what. And Sonia, who my nieces adored, who tactfully managed our disagreements, and who taught us more than we ever imagined about Costa Rica and its beauty. We will not forget you; we cannot express our heart-felt appreciation and thanks enough.
-Susan Haerr Zucker
Dec. 13, 2004 "It made it comfortable for us as we travelled, knowing that everything was taken care of in advance."
We are back from our wonderful trip to your wonderful country and want to tell you what a fabulous time we had. First, your planning was perfect! The order of the places we visited was so perfectly planned. We loved every place we stayed and the various kinds of hotels, from a resort to a lodge to a resort to a tent and end with a resort was a perfect order and combination and gave us a chance to experience much of what Costa Rica has to offer.
And everything went so smoothly. The drivers were always on time as were the guides for our tours. Thank you so much for making these arrangements for us and for keeping an eye on us as we traveled. You were so thorough and that made it comfortable for us as we traveled, knowing that everything was taken care of in advance. You are an excellent travel agent.
Second, every guide we had and each one was so knowledgeable. We learned so much and saw so much and enjoyed everything we did. They explained every plant, spotted so many animals, birds and insects and had so much patience and spent a lot of time with us. They all seemed to love what they do. We especially liked Nelson at Corcovado - he is a real asset to your company. He is extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic and seems to love what he does. We also liked Michy and the platform tour.
Third, everyone we met who works for your company was fabulous - from the drivers (especially Carlos), to transportation (especially Sergio, who is terrific), to the people at the Monteverde Lodge (Maria, George and Leonardo), to operations (Harrol), to the guides (Nelson and Michy). They were all so nice, helpful and efficient and wonderful to work with. Again, thank you so much for making this trip so wonderful and special.
-Carole and Art Levine
Jul. 27, 2004 ''The staff at Monteverde Lodge was wonderful.''
Dear Michael & Natalie: I wanted to let you know that my family (ages 7 - 70) had a wonderful time in Costa Rica thanks to Nadya Shaw who helped us plan our trip and took care of every detail in advance. It is always interesting traveling through a new place and relying on people you haven't even met. We put our faith in Nadya and your staff that our drivers/transfers would always show up as promised and that our hotel reservations were accurate. And everything was perfect! It made our journey flawless.
More importantly, the drivers were not just drivers, they became our new friends. Although our Spanish wasn't very good and their English wasn't very good, we had a lot of fun with them over the hours we spent together. I would like to mention that Daniel, who took us from Monteverde to Los Suenos, was great. Also, the staff at Monteverde Lodge was wonderful. They were very helpful in many ways - from planning our daily adventures, to handling our laundry, to retrieving my son's binoculars that were left in a taxi. The restaurant staff was also great and the food was delicious.
Of course, the wildlife that we came to see was awesome. We even saw a three-wattled bellbird form our room at the Monteverde Lodge. My 12-year-old son also saw the Quetzal, which was a highlight of his vacation. I truly felt that I made new friends and will surely return to see them.
Feb. 28, 2004 Monteverde Lodge "A lovely hotel, with a warm and helpful staff."
My girlfriend and I stayed at the Monteverde Lodge at the end of January, and had a wonderful time. It was a lovely hotel, with a warm and helpful staff. Neither one of us had a single complaint, and we have highly recommended your hotel to all of our friends. Without hesitation, we would stay there again when visiting Monteverde. We have several great photos that we took while there, and I'd be happy to email them to you. Thanks for a wonderful vacation that we'll never forget.
-David Alan Kolins
Feb. 14, 2004 "Absolutely loved the experience!"
Dear Michael: Ethan and I had a fabulous trip to Costa Rica over the past Christmas - thanks to your staff and great team that made it so much fun!!! Here is a picture that was taken near Monteverde Lodge, where we went for horseback riding. We went with the stable "Estrellas" and absolutely loved the experience!!! Our guide was Carlos who made the tour an unforgettable memory for us. Thanks again!
-Maggie and Ethan
Jan. 7, 2004 ''(Thanks) for giving us our best vacation ever.''
Dear Michael: Thanks for your email message following our wonderful trip to Costa Rica. Once again, your company continued to surprise me with your excellent customer service!
Marco Madrigal was the first one who impressed me. He took what looked like a disastrous vacation (I had a flight, but my tour and hotel had gotten messed up by a Canadian tour company), and turned it into our dream vacation overnight. He managed to squeeze us into the Multisport tour, asked a few questions about what we like to do, and within 24 hours had booked a vacation that appeared as if he'd known us for years. This after I'd talked to many Costa Rican tour companies who simply said that all hotels were full and it would be impossible to book us anywhere during the Christmas season on such short notice.
Marco's service continued to be excellent through the trip. As was that of our favourite guide, Federico Alban - Federico managed to bring together our multisport group into a great team and helped us build friendships that will last a long time. Federico has the excellent balance of service, spirit, and education that make him an excellent guide.
Our last trip to Costa Rica we booked with Swiss Travel - we had a wonderful experience with them; however, their service looked to be very basic when compared with your 5-star service. Our pickups were always double-confirmed by your team, and the driver (we love Fabio!) was always on time and very accommodating.
I'd also like to make a recommendation for Javier who was there at the airport to greet us, and to take us home. I hope I haven't missed anyone, because everyone was so wonderful, but Marco, Frederico, Fabio, and Javier stand out most in mind. Please pass my thanks onto all of them for giving us our best vacation ever.
I hope you enjoy some of the photos that I have attached. I especially like the photo of the Quetzel... it was waiting outside our room at Savegre with his mate on the morning of our final day at Savregre. We aren't birdwatchers, but might change our minds after seeing such a beautiful bird. We also appreciated the monkeys that woke us up at 6:30 every morning at Tulemar by running across at roof and then eating their breakfast in the palm tree outside our windows as they watched US like we were in the zoo.
You have a great company. I've recommended it already to both Carlson Wagonlit here in Toronto and friends that are visiting in September. I look forward to coming back to Costa Rica in a couple of years as we plan to book a special adventure trip for members of our mountain biking club. Once we have the dates firmed up, I'll be sure to call Marco for his excellent planning.
Dec. 3, 2003 “Everyone was very courteous, professional, on time and knowledgeable.”
Thank you to all the team members of Costa Rica Expeditions that we came into contact with that made our trip so special. Our travel agent: Selena, drivers: Wilson, Carlos, a few others, our raft guide: Dani, our safety kayaker: Mr. Ed, the guides who were training at the local airport, and the trainer (I can't remember his name), and the folks at the Monteverde Lodge. We came into contact with many members of your team, and everyone was very courteous, professional, on time and knowledgeable.
Ours was a group of 5, and we wanted a pretty customized trip - Monteverde Cloud Forest, rafting the Pacuare, then three of us flew to Tamarindo. Selena helped me make all of the arrangements. She was incredibly patient. We must have exchanged 15 emails of the course of a few months. Her suggestions were impeccable! The hotels she helped pick out were just what we wanted, our rides were always there, we always had a fax waiting for us. We loved our guide Adrian Mendez. About once a day, at least one of us in the group said either "We love Selena!" or "We love Costa Rica Expeditions."
Thank you for making our trip so memorable. We were never stranded, or concerned about anything. My wife and I will definitely be traveling back to Costa Rica to see more, and the first thing we will do is to contact Costa Rica Expeditions for help.
-Jerome Rossen, CA
Sep. 19, 2003 “Maria went out of her way to make our wedding day special.”
We had a marvelous trip in Costa Rica. I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge the superb job Maria, the manager of the Monteverde Lodge, did for our wedding. Maria went out of her way to make our wedding day special. She listened carefully to our concerns (particularly with respect to the weather) and was flexible in making alternative arrangements at the last minute. Her extra special touches were truly appreciated and will not be forgotten. Please convey our utmost gratitude and thanks for the splendid job that she and the rest of the Monteverde staff did.
Jul. 3, 2003 “One of the most enjoyable trips of my life.”
It has been almost 2 weeks since we returned from Costa Rica and our "Costa Rica Explorer" vacation. This was one of the most enjoyable trips of my life. It had everything I could want: great birding, fabulous vegetation, a wonderful guide, Fabian Montero, a most affable group of fellow travelers, spectacular scenery and something interesting around each bend in the road. Even those crazy "roads" to Monteverde and from Monteverde to Arenal were a blast. My husband and I loved nearly every minute.
As paddlers we enjoyed the boat trips and took out the canoe at Tortugero for some personal exploration. The food was much too plentiful and delicious, especially at Tortuga Lodge! We can't hold back our praise of our guide Fabian, our driver Raul and our boatman/wildife spotter Luis (in Tortugero.) Of course you know how great these people are.
All the members of our travel group grew very close and friendly and exchanged email addresses at the end of the trip. In each of the communications these staff receive high appreciation. We also tacked on a white water rafting trip and it was truly great. I had never rafted and, although I approached it with some trepidation, it was thrilling. Our river guide was so competent and had everything under control, even with several novices in the raft. The river was just beautiful. I can never recount all the splendid things we did and saw. All I can say is we expect to be return-customers with Costa Rica Expeditions.
-Roseann Bowerman, PA
Apr. 25, 2003 “Thanks to Costa Rica Expeditions and to Federico for an experience of a lifetime.”
I just returned from an 8-day trip to Arenal and the Monteverde Cloud Forest. It was a spectacular trip, made 100 times better by our guide, Federico Alban. Federico is a charming and gracious man with an extensive knowledge of the natural environment and an enthusiasm for birding that is contagious. His exceptional intelligence and fluency in English (he has a better vocabulary than many Americans I know!) made for many lively discussions about Costa Rican politics, social issues, and history. I returned to the U.S. with a new appreciation for the idea of using travel as a vehicle to "gain new eyes." Many thanks to Costa Rica Expeditions and to Federico for an experience of a lifetime.
-Christine Calagna, CA
Mar. 23, 2003 “I will always be grateful to you for making our trip as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.”
Dear Priscilla: Thanks for making our travel arrangements for us. Our trip was outstanding and I will always be grateful to you for making our trip as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. I am SOOO glad I did not do my own driving! Your staff was so kind and concerned. And ALWAYS ON TIME.
Please pass on to Michael Kaye that Joe and I also appreciate his sponsorship of the Whiffenpoofs. Hearing them in Monteverde was quite a memorable experience.
Mar. 20, 2003 “All the people doing the driving and transporting of us were wonderful.”
Marco: I wanted to report on our trip to Costa Rica, and thank you for all the leg work you did for us. We had overall a great time, and Costa Rica is a wonderful place. At Arenal, we were able to see the lava overflowing the lip of the volcano at night - the Montaña de Fuego Resort & Spa is a wonderful hotel.
Monteverde was magical - we saw both a male and female Quetzals and loved the guide (Roy) who took us through the Cloud Forest. All the nature guides in Costa Rica are terrific. We hiked and hiked. On one afternoon Max and I took the Canopy Tour. I thought it was going to be kind of hokey, but in fact it was wonderful, beautiful and exciting. The people who ran this tour - Adventura Tours - were phenomenal. Boy do they work hard.
Manuel Antonio was a slightly mixed experience. The hotel was a bit high end for our tastes and so far off the main road that we felt somewhat trapped at night. Also, we had $100 stolen from the room. I had gotten out money to tip the people running the sail boat that we were going to take in the afternoon. I had left that money out, plus my wallet, (passports and extra cash were in the safe), and had gone to the beach with my daughter leaving my son behind. He then left the room. When I came back, the maid, Juanita, was cleaning the room, and I got my wallet to get out a tip for her. In my haste, I had the vague sense of looking for a $2,000 colones note, but didn't think too much about the fact that I couldn't find it, and gave Juanita something like $3,000. Only later when I went to look for the other tip money did I realize that, in addition to the $2,000 colones, all the dollars had been taken from my wallet. I just thought you would like to know that. Otherwise, the beach was magnificent (although it is clearly being affected negatively by tourism) and again the tour through the forest was excellent.
All the people doing the driving and transporting of us were wonderful - prompt, good-natured, and all around great. They all allowed me to practice my rudimentary Spanish and were extremely encouraging. I think, however, that if I were to do this again, I would try not to spend so much time in a car. The trips were just a bit too long. I don't know how that could be avoided (on a limited
budget), but I would want that. I would suggest that you ask your clients more questions, and perhaps offer more alternatives. I left things completely up to you, not really knowing much of anything.
Finally, the Hotel Grano de Oro is a wonderful place. Someday I will want to come back there and maybe spend a few days in San Jose. Overall we were really happy and, as I said, had a wonderful time.
Jan. 20, 2002 “The time we spent in Monteverde was fantastic.”
Dear Grettel: I wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed our trip to Costa Rica and how much we appreciate all that you, and Costa Rican Expeditions, did for us. We were very pleased to be met at the airport when we arrived, whisked through customs and transported to the Hotel Don Carlos in a matter of
Throughout our trip in Costa Rica, the efficiency, friendliness and helpfulness of all of the guides and staff of Costa Rican Expeditions helped to make our trip a wonderful experience. I wish I could remember the names of the guides, but I cannot remember them all, so I will simply tell you that they were all wonderful. We appreciated the faxes we received reminding us what time we would be picked up the following day. We also appreciated that the guides and drivers were always on time.
The time we spent in Monteverde was fantastic, from the delicious food at Monteverde Lodge to the beautiful surroundings and the attentive staff. The National Park is awesome, and though we did not see the quetzal, we did see many other beautiful birds in the Monteverde area.
We also liked the Montaña de Fuego Resort & Spa, with its superb view of the Arenal Volcano. Most of the time it was covered with clouds, but it did clear up enough for us to see some lava flows on our last night there. The time we spent at Dona Mireya's hot springs and Don Pedros' farm were some of the best moments we had in Costa Rica. Dona Mireya and her son were so gracious, so were the members of Don Pedro's family. We are so glad that you arranged those special trips for us.
The Aguila de Osa Inn was also a wonderful place to stay and we enjoyed the time we spent there. Although we liked the location, the atmosphere and the furnishings at Don Carlos, it was often very noisy throughout the night and it was difficult to sleep there. Still, the staff was very helpful and attentive and we liked being able to walk downtown and to the museums from the hotel.
Thank you so much for helping to make our first trip to Costa Rica a marvelous experience. You have a breathtakingly beautiful country (so green!) and we will be back.
-Bill & Karen Pierce