Holiday review by E Furr
Name: E Furr
Date of trip: 24/01/2019
Number of people: 2
Mainly lovely accommodation (not too keen on Villa Lapas as there were too many large groups). Loved Lomas del Volcan at Arenal, Cuna del Angel. Aguila de Osa and Chayote Lodge. The guide at Evergreen Lodge in Tortuguero was brilliant and incredibly hardworking. He appeared to start at 6am and finish at 10:30pm and still stay enthusiastic. We loved crossing the Arenal Lake in a boat all to ourselves so that the boatman gave us a wonderful private tour, pointing out the birds and animals along the shore. The shared tour from Uvita for whale watching was excellent and we had fabulous sightings of young humpback whales breaching close to the boats. Obviously we were lucky as this can never be guaranteed. Only disappointment for me was not being able to do two dives at Caño Island as the only dive guide was taking the snorkelling tour. So I did that instead. Well run safety conscious snorkelling trip, just not what I was hoping for.
One of my best holidays (and I travel a lot). I now have to spend a few hours(days/weeks!) sorting through my photos trying to establish correct bird names as I became quite passionate about my birding experience. This came as quite a surprise to me as I'm usually more comfortable underwater naming nudibranchs...! But we had such varied holiday experiences, including close encounters with humpback whales and superman style zip-wiring, all of which I loved.
Paul Cook gave us such a personal service that you could easily believe we were his only clients. He responded very quickly to our questions and organised a package that responded brilliantly to our wishes (even when we didn't really know what we wanted!)
The majority of guides were excellent, sharing their enthusiasm for the amazing flora and fauna (especially birds) of Costa Rica and going beyond their brief in time and effort. At the hanging bridges in Arenal we could easily have had a nice walk but seen very little (like so many groups that were escorted past us) but our guide responded to our genuine interest and gave us a very personal informative tour. He saw and identified so many birds! One or two guides were average, no doubt competent but possibly a little bored doing the same thing every day. I wish I could remember all their names to give more personal feedback. Sorry! Standard of driving usually very good.
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
Hard to know how much of the money filters down to local people but all the guides were part of their local community and appeared to be happy employed in the tourism/guiding industry.
The places you stayed
A good choice for our first night after the long haul flights.
Tortuguero National Park
An excellent introduction to wildlife viewings of Costa Rica with an enthusiastic resident guide. Good food and service.
Comfortable rooms with humming birds close by and outside seating. A very good place for intensive birding with good guides (though the other group had a novice guide who was much less informative). Food OK but rather a basic cafeteria style restaurant, but probably no point paying extra for a pizza in the downstairs restaurant just to get a white tablecloth and waiter service.
Beautiful! lovely staff in the huge (but very quiet) restaurant. We were in cabin 504 and had a fabulous view of the volcano from the back porch. Stunning gardens. Hard to leave!
Very far out of town so taxis were necessary to go anywhere and were expensive. Wherever you were picked up it cost $10 even for a mile or two. A regular hotel shuttle a couple of times a day would have been appreciated. But we had some wonderful tour experiences from this location in Monteverde. Even got to see the Resplendent Quetzal!
Near San Jose
Wonderful reception staff (Yorlena). Basic breakfast included (fruit, coffee and granola with yoghurt) but rather pricey for additional items ($7 for one egg on toast). The only bread/toast available seemed to be garlic bread. Not so good with jam...!
Beautiful spacious room. Well appointed and simply decorated. Very comfortable beds and the best pillows in Costa Rica!
Stunning views over the coffee plantations towards San Jose from the private terrace at the back of each 'chalet'. Warm blankets included so you could sit outside on a chilly evening.
Enjoyed a very special coffee plantation tour with Jose, the guide at Chayote Lodge.
Convenient first night stop. Took about an hour to get there through the rush hour, but a comfortable experience. Departed before able to have breakfast, but the breakfast in Guapilles was welcome and very good.
Tortuguero National Park
Very comfortable, the guide Alfonso was very accommodating.
Only slight downside the room was close to the early morning clatter of the kitchen preparing food.
Owing to refurbishment we were the only 2 from our coach party in a separate eating area, away from the main dining room, which we had not expected, but that was fine.
The walks we joined and the river journeys were excellent, again Alfonso very eager to please. Flora and birdlife fantastic.
Not initially impressed with the restaurant, a bit utilitarian, but food was fine and the bird feeders off the balcony invited many good birds including our first motmot.
The guide Randy, was particularly good and had the most rewarding 2 hour walk around the lodge. Able to walk ourselves to other side of the busy road, still within the lodge area, and again good wildlife sightings.
Pool area needs a good clean as does the furniture.
What a fabulous place and room 504 too,with the volcano slap bang in front of us from the balcony. The staff were brilliant, so willing to help, in both reception and the restaurant. Food was delicious, surprised it was not more full in evenings.
Well we had heard that Monteverde would be chilly and a heater provided for the room was well received. Breakfast fine.
Had a friend living in Monteverde so he spent time with us and showed us around. The taxis fares are way too expensive and TFL only reached by taxi. Closer to town would be better and not in the cloud. Functional lodge.
Near San Jose
One hour out of SJ, is this lovely lodge on the top of a hill with wonderful views of SJ and the central valley below. Cool at night and warm by day. Very well looked after, the food was tasty and lot of it. Took taxi local town with its lovely church and topiary trees outside. Excellent end to a marvellous holiday