Holiday review by Mr Peter Griffiths
Name: Mr Peter Griffiths
Date of trip: 09/01/2018
Number of people: 2
The chocolate tour at Tirimbina - we expected a factory type of tour! Yellow-headed caracara sharing our balcony at Manuel Antonio. Scarlet macaws at Corcovado. The boat journey across Arenal Lake, seeing lots of birds. The boat transfer from Sierpe to Corcovado, including the (very) wet landing. Loads of sloths and monkeys everywhere. Cocktails in the hot springs after the Arenal lava flow trip. As someone (Pete) who isn't good with heights, to start with a night-time crossing of the 264m long wobbly bridge at Tirimbina was terrifying, but after the return crossing (grabbing an unexpected handfull of monkey poo on the rails en route) and further crossings for the chocolate tour, by the time we did the Hanging Bridges trip at Arenal I was feeling almost relaxed! Howler monkeys booming at dawn. Fantastic birds, we ticked off 130 species.
Overall it was well organized, with good accommodation, enjoyable transfers and a very varied and interesting sample of what is a great country to visit. Tour groups were always small, which makes the experience much nicer and more informative.
Paul helped us put together an excellent, varied itinerary that seemed to give us a wide spectrum of experiences in Costa Rica and met all of our expectations and aims. Fortunately we never required in-country assistance, but the infrastructure was clearly strong and all transfers and pre-booked trips ran perfectly smoothly.
Marcus (drove us from San Jose to Sarapiqui and then to Arenal) was very informative about the area and things we saw en route. Good birding guides at Selva Vere and Monteverde. Chocolate tour guide at Tirimbina. Cynthia at Casa Corcovado was excellent all round. Daly, who drove us from Arenal Lake to Monteverde was great fun and made the bumpy ride a lot easier to endure.
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
Difficult to judge, but certailnly everywhere we went was organised on a very eco-friendly basis with great emphasis on re-cycling. We noticed, as an example, that the staff at Casa Corcovado were very local and were provided with accommodation and good facilities in their on-site village. Wildlife was respected throughout, even in the more challenging location at Manuel Antonio.
The places you stayed
Comfortable, well equipped rooms, particularly when we were on the ground floor (our own little patio/garden with easy access to pool area). We had some spare time here and found the grounds relaxing. We never got to grips with possible outings into the city; it seemed a bit remote and one couple aborted a taxi ride to a restaurant they had booked because of traffic gridlock. Also, not sure the location was right for Airport access - even at off-peak times the traffic jams were awful. It was also the wrong side of town for the exit to Sarapiqui.
Very good for tours, birds, wildlife and the accommodation was very good. We were in a room close to the river which was good for birding. The bar/restaurant area was good, but the serving times were very inflexible. We arrived at around 2pm and the restaurant was shut, so no lunch. Then we were booked for the night walk at Tirimbina with a pick-up time at 6:30pm - the restaurant opened at 6pm and they said they could get us 2 pizzas ready to eat in the half hour, but failed, so take-out pizza for dinner!
Excellent accommodation, food and gardens and birding. Liked the in-room hot tub.
Spectacular setting (we think); unfortunately we had 48hrs of non-stop rain and high winds, so there were no views! The shuttle bus system worked very well, even with us being in the highest block (901). The room was disappointing - a superbly appointed bathroom, but a bedroom with 2 wooden rocker chairs (no cushions), coffee maker perched on what looked like an old packing case, with no adjacent plug, no source of heat in the very cold and damp conditions, so nowhere to dry soaked clothing. The lower restaurant and (sort of) bar were fine on the first night, but on the second night we were in effect forced out of the bar when a tour group arrived and started to have a group briefing and slide show. Then we found the restaurant was in buffet mode and swamped with loads of tour groups - not at all relaxing.
An excellent place. Can't criticize anything. We almost wished we had had another day here.
Such an enthusiastic team! Superb setting, excellent accommodation and great wildlife. The wildlife walk with Cynthia was great, even though we were pretty tired at the end of it. Like a number of others we declined the snorkelling trip the next day - this was easily accommodated by the team and they organised a dawn birding trip for us with Cynthia and the manager Steve. The boating experience in and out was unexpected, but wonderful. They sorted equipment (dry bags for the boat, wellies, socks, etc) very well.