Holiday review by Ms. Simone Illger
Name: Ms. Simone Illger
Date of trip: 03/03/2018
Number of people: 2
The trip to Tortuguero was a once in a lifetime experience, reached by a 1.5 hour coach and 1.5 hour boat journey. At one point, occupants of the boat had to get out and push the boat as lack of rain / water meant that the river level was fairly low. We also enjoyed the trip to the Gonzalez family farm at Arenal to look around at the garden and to learn about the coffee growing and production. We had the opportunity to make our own tortillas. At every location, we were surrounded by wildlife - birds (including humming birds, toucans, pelicans, frigates, vultures), insects, spiders, reptiles (snakes, geckos), crocodile, monkeys, coatis, agoutis... wherever we went there was an abundance and it was all around us. The long drives between locations were really enjoyable as the scenery is stunning and changes quite rapidly. The four locations we stayed in were each very different from one another. I am certain there is much more of this beautiful country to see and enjoy - another time perhaps? We both enjoy nature, peace and tranquility and this holiday itinerary met that criteria in every way.
Once again, Tribes delivered! Everything went exceptionally well, with hotel bookings, flights and transfers. The hotels were all perfect in terms of wheelchair access and accessible bathrooms. Costa Rica is a wonderful country full of exceptionally friendly and welcoming people and the scenery was stunning. The four locations picked out for our trip gave us a real flavour of the culture, variety and geography of the country.
I have nothing but praise for the service which Tribes has given us on the two occasions that we have used them. As a disabled traveller with reduced mobility, there is always a small concern that some part of the holiday may turn out not to be ideal - but I can honestly say that the holiday was 99% perfect in every way! It worked well in terms of having an extra day of relaxation here and there and we enjoyed the final destination and four days to relax before the 11 hour flight home which worked really well for us.
In terms of the drivers, the first driver who took us from San Jose to Peurto Viejo and then Peurto Viejo to Guapiles (Alex) was exceptional - both in terms of his knowledge, his English and his driving. The drive with him was a real bonus as he was so knowledgeable and passionate about his country. Other drivers supplied were fine, but often the driving was quite fast, overtaking on double lines and once having to swerve to avoid a pothole and I really thought we might leave the road at that point. The guide who showed us around the working Costa Rican Farm in Arenal was also really knowledgeable and we enjoyed this tour.
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
The Costa Rican people are rightly very proud of their wonderful country. The people are very friendly and welcoming and are quick to come up with a solution to any practical problem that arises; there is a real sense of community spirit with staff in the hotel sharing the responsibility of caring for their guests. Quite surprised at the use of disposable water bottles here; no efforts made to provide tap water to refill water bottles - although this were available, I didn't feel that they were trying to discourage the use of plastic bottles. At every hotel, there were bins to encourage recycling of rubbish.
The places you stayed
We stayed for just one night. The hotel was luxurious, clean and comfortable. This was a city centre hotel, so served it's purpose for a one night stay on arrival and we found the food was good.
The rooms are quite basic and minimalist, but exceptionally clean. All the food was excellent, the staff were all very friendly, helpful and professional. We enjoyed the location. The pool wasn't that appealing, mainly as it was fairly close to a noisy road. We liked the layout and the proximity to the beach and the town of Peurto Viejo.
Tortuguero National Park
We loved the location of this Lodge! Again, the rooms were quite basic and the lack of glass in windows (necessary for the climate) meant we were often disturbed by inconsiderate people leaving for trips before daylight walking past our window (making more noise than the howler monkeys!) The food was buffet style and self-service doesn't work especially well for me because of my disability. We were pleased that we were given a table for just the two of as as we are quite happy not to have to make small talk! The standard of the food was acceptable, bearing in mind that they are feeding many people in a one hour slot.
We loved the stunning location of this hotel. The portion sizes for evening meals were over generous (for us). Breakfast was adequate and service in the hotel was very good. We used the laundry service here. The air conditioning was very welcomed as it was exceptionally humid on one day.
I wasn't immediately impressed upon arrival at the hotel - it was too "hotel like", compared to previous locations but it slowly grew on me during our stay. We found service in the main restaurant Makoko was lacking on the one night we dined there, but all other nights we ate in the less formal "Matiss" restaurant which served delicious food and we found the service there very attentive. This hotel was mainly full of guests from the United States, who were rather loud! Other hotels had European guests who tended to be a little.... quieter! We enjoyed the fact that there was lots of space for guests to sunbath or sit - again, we enjoy somewhere fairly peaceful so we enjoyed sitting under the trees on the grass adjacent to the beach rather than around the main pool. The height of the beds was rather too high for me - they must have been about 75/80cm high and I needed to use a chair to climb into it!