Holiday review by Mr. Ray Pencavel
Name: Mr. Ray Pencavel
Date of trip: 24/11/2018
Number of people: 2
This would be a blank space if you had asked 'what did you NOT like about the trip?'. Everything was good - the hospitality and people, the scenery, flora and fauna, the accommodation, the food (local and hotel-based), the transport (most of the roads were fine...), and the trips - wildlife walks, hot springs, the additional Zipwire trek (highly recommended - Arenal Mundo Aventura). The proportion of activity and chill-out time was spot-on, with opportunity to go into the local towns (La Fortuna (Arenal) Tortuguero village and especially, Santa Elena (Monteverde). Where to stop with the superlatives ? Any hiccups were either trivial or efficiently remedied (eg uncertain time for one trip which meant we missed the pick-up but that trip was rearranged within minutes).
This was a wonderful holiday. Flights were fine, and from the first contact with our courier at San Jose airport we felt totally welcome. Throughout the Costa Rican people seemed to welcome us from their hearts (not, as in some places, with our wallet !). The hotels/lodges were comfortable, the guides brilliant, and the co-ordination of transport arrangements a joy to behold. Food was excellent - we have never eaten as much succulent, straight-off-the-tree fruit. Even Costa Rican pineapples purchased in the Uk don't taste quite the same. And that's without even mentioning the exceptional beauty and variety of the country's natural scenery, flora and fauna. A truly exceptional experience.
Excellent from first contact to finish. Many thanks to Fernanda. Great job ! I recommend Tribes at every opportunity.
Every guide was knowledgeable, often going out of their was to point things out. Good English, and clearly proud of the country where they live. Cannot complement them enough. I could walk past a tree a dozen times and not spot some of the things they pointed out, from bullet spider to cayman, iguana to hiding boa constrictor. And that's not to mention the sloths and monkeys.
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
The impression was that Costa Rica is a country at peace with itself, and aware of the priceless natural heritage contained within its borders. Respect for the environment ran through everything, from the (conventional) notices about reusing hotel towels, through to environmentally friendly packaging and recycling, and in the evident pride people had in their country and its natural attributes. The only caution was the proposal to put a road through to Tortuguero, Sacrilege ! Thankfully, it is being resisted by the residents. It would be tragic if anything were to kill, or even lightly scratch, the goose which lays the golden egg.
The places you stayed
Only stayed for one night so difficult to comment further - comfortable with good food and friendly welcome.
Tortuguero National Park
Again comfortable, super location in the national park. Boat access to trips, and all food on-site. Good variety, reasonable quality. Welcome bordering on the ceremonial !
Good view of the cloud-topped volcano from the room. Delightful gardens and minibus access to La Fortuna only a 10-minute drive. Food excellent. Nice local 'street' food in the town, with very attractive public square. Wine quite expensive, but this was universal throughout the country as almost all is imported from Argentina. Room was spacious, comfortable and spotlessly clean, Loved the different towel sculptures each day.
Loved it. Beautiful hotel with lovely comfortable room. Peaceful relaxing grounds (and hammocks) with very warm pool. Fascinating to see the cloud sweep into the valley as evening approached. Outstanding food at the lodge, and an equally fine range of restaurants in the town. Frog visitor attraction worth a visit (free re-entry at night when the frogs are more evident), as they may be more difficult to spot in the wild. It was a joy to hear the local school band playing in the town to raise cash for TeeShirts to wear at the national championships.
Playa Potrero, Guanacaste
Ideal place for a chill-out, right on the ocean, and a respectful distance from Tamarindo. The West coast appears more geared for tourist trade, expecially from the USA, but the welcome was consistent with the rest of the country, and there were plenty of excellent places to eat (and, on one occasion, attempt to teach some local kids to play pool !)
The kayak trip across the bay was a highlight, even if i did end up with a black eye thanks to one momentary lapse of concentration. Great.