Holiday review by Mr. Peter Cavanagh
Name: Mr. Peter Cavanagh
Date of trip: 07/03/2019
Number of people: 2
Our prime reason for the visits was to see the natural environment and wildlife within it . So, the visits to the rain forests and cloud forests were highlights . In terms of wildlife, to get to see Sloths, Toucans ,Macaws, etc in the wild was a special experience. But in addition,, there were so many species of bird , mammal and reptile we never even knew existed including the Quetzal, BellBird and Trogon. Seeing there waterways of Tortaguera was special but this was an area where we felt numbers of tourists impacted a bit on our enjoyment .
The organisation by Tribes before we left and by Swiss travel in Costa Rica was excellent with no hitches . As A first trip to the country the itinerary was a great mix but obviously there are lots of other options should we wish to return
Rory was great at discussing the options with us and givings us alternatives which were good decisions . As soon as we arrived in San Jose the Swiss Travel rep advised us to change our choice from Manual Antonio national park to a private reserve which was good advices as tourists were queuing fro over 2 hours at MA to get in.
On the whole all the guides we had were knowledgeable, engaging and good at communicating . likewise the drivers were very responsible . The only issue we had was with the transfer from Belmar to Parador where the driver had not been given enough time to make the journey . he had a return trip pick up which we felt he was hurrying to meet the tight schedule. Not the drivers fault
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
Difficult to assess. As far as the impact on ourselves, it was great to see the contrast between Costa Rica and Madagascar in terms of what impact the leadership of a country can have on preservation of flora and fauna by making tough but morally correct decisions . As far as the impact of our visit on Costa Rica is concerned, tourism is flourishing and if anything I felt it may be beginning to have a negative impact on some of the areas we visited but I suspect the economics and local motivation for tourism outlays this at present.
The places you stayed
Only there for a few hours overnight. The initial room we were given smelt damp and we had to change rooms . Quite a long transfer from the airport when we arrived but good advice re short morning transfer to the Tortaguera bus
The setting was lovely and we felt it compared well with one of its sister hotels which looked rather large and less relaxed .
The food was average and self service and did not compare with some of the later hotels .
The numbers on the boat trip to explore the nature of the region were at a maximum . This did not affect us too much at the front of the boat but there was some irritation by those nearer the back .
The Walk was at another of their hotels and had far too many people on it and was not very informative . Likewise the trip to the Tortaguera town as something or nothing .Obviously it would be different during the turtle season . If I was advising anyone in the future I would suggest look for smaller personalised boat trips to see the nature and scenery of the waterways , a better venue for a walk and more boat nature trips rather than the Tortaguera town trip
Fabulous seeing and our room gave us beautiful views over the cloud forest right down to the coast. The little walk in the grounds was worthwhile visiting and we loved the idea of the Belmars own vegetable garden which was lovely to see. No pool but we did not miss it . Greta setting for lunch and breakfast .
The Trip to the main park was enjoyable but crowded and our group was bordering on being too large . The second trip to the smaller private park was very enjoyable . Just 4 of us on it and a very knowledgeable guide . We saw just as much in a more relaxed approach.
Food at the Belmar was fantastic but top of the price range as we expected . The town did not have great deal to offer but there were some simpler bars and restaurants for a change . We visited the butterfly gardens which was walkable and a good way to spend an hour or so if you don't want to sign up for one of the more expensive trips. This was probably the place to have done a night time walk
We were up gated to a fabulous room . so we can't really comment on what we had booked . Mind you lots of people seem to have been upgraded . The only disadvantage of the hotel was that it did not have direct access to the beach , but we had told Rory that our focus was on Wildlife and not beach holidays so it was not a problem for us . The little beach next to the hotel was really quite first thing in the day so great fro a few hours . We never went to Manual Antonio national park and we heard some horror stories about queuing and crowding . The little trip we did to La Foresta was a great alternative with a guide who really made the whole trip better than it actually was by his enthusiasm and excitement .
We saw our best views of Macaws, toucans, frogs and Sloths from the hotels itself
In retrospect, we felt we would have preferred to have transferred to the airport from the coast and added another night somewhere along the way rather than this night . Without a game plan in San Jose for the morning the wait fro the transport was a bit of an anticlimax . Having said that the hotel room had great views of San Jose and the food and service was excellent . the final transfer was very punctual with no problems getting to the airport