Holiday review by Mr. Martin White
Name: Mr. Martin White
Date of trip: 23/11/2019
Number of people: 2
We had many special moments to cherish and relive from our now extensive photographic record! The wildlife is fascinating and the guides expert at finding new experiences along with being masters of the information of the flora, fauna and area. The guides in fact made a big difference in increasing the enjoyment. The Costa Rican people should be very proud at how they're part of an environmental protection regime that should be the envy of the world where other more wealthy nations don't come near to what the Costa Rican's achieve.
The whole holiday was really enjoyable and the arrangements to get us around Costa Rica were absolutely reliable, always according to the itinerary.
Paul Cook's advice was invaluable when I was organising the tour and the resulting route and accommodation were just what we wanted (except the Trapp Family Lodge).
I think some credit should be passed on to the local representatives who it seems did all of the organising in Costa Rica.
I would have marked you higher had you explained what the local representative's role would be: I was expecting some representation from Tribes but as everything went like clockwork there is no problem.
I have to say that our experience was all the better thanks to the efforts of our guides. A good example is the Tortuguero guide who persistently wanted to give us the best experience. This resulted in him being able to show us events we will cherish for ever. These included the sight of an Egret perching at the edge of the river a few feet from us and managing to spot a fish and devour it, the Red Eyed Frog at night in the grounds of the lodge and the chance discovery of the baby turtles struggling against the odds to get to the ocean. Unfortunately, because of the inevitable risks these turtles have, they were more than likely to perish before we got on our plane home. I hope our presence at least put off the eager vultures hovering nearby!
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
Costa Rica is well organised to fulfil their environmental responsibilities better than we do at home. Tribes support of this is very valuable.
The places you stayed
A good hotel in the middle of San Jose which was what we needed after the long journey. We had a large room and a really comfortable large bed. The food was good and service excellent.
We were able to walk around the town centre feeling safe to do so.
A great location being in the middle of the forest waterways and close to the Caribbean beaches. It was an interesting and thrilling route to get to the lodge via an eye-opening boat ride. The cabins were spacious and although basic were comfortable. It was our first experience of having to dispose of toilet paper in bins: something that can't be hygienic and difficult for us to comply with at times.
The hotel was large and had a lovely swimming pool with impressive improvements ongoing. The meal arrangements were acceptable but not as good as we had in the other hotels. It was more like a canteen than a hotel restaurant. That said, the food was OK.
We were intrigued with the Howler Monkey chorus each morning and had an excellent guide who went out of his way to show us as much as he possibly could. He showed us numerous birds close up, Crocodiles and Cayman, Sloths, Howler and Spider Monkeys and frogs. It was like being on safari: eager to see what may be seen around the next corner or tree.
What an amazing location and lovely setting in view of the volcano and the forest. Unfortunately, throughout our stay the cloud did not rise enough for us to see the volcano and it rained for most of the time.
The hotel was well set out and modern. The restaurant had a fantastic view of, what were told was a volcano, through a massive window. If the cloud had risen, we would have had a treat! The food was average: standard Costa Rican breakfast fare which was included in our deal, but the evening meal service was poor and the food uninspiring.
The location of the hotel was great being in forest surroundings with the volcano as a backdrop, but it was too far away from the town, La Fortuna, to walk there. On our final night we took a taxi for a meal at La Parrilla De Maria which was very good and gave us an insight into the local community. We paid £40 each for two course and drinks.
We stayed in a “lodge” about 200 yards from the reception and dining facilities. It was an innovative idea in being able to see the volcano one direction and the forest in the opposite. It was well equipped and very comfortable.
The short walk on the edge of the hotel grounds was interesting. Had we taken this walk after our tour to see the mountain up close, when we came across a Pit Viper (poisonous snake), we may have been more careful of what we were treading on!
The tours we took were great and included:
1. The Arenal Hanging Bridges where and a few bridges Ali overcame her fear of them and complete the 15 without trauma! It was good to see the forest canopy from above.
2. Don Juan coffee and chocolate: it was very interesting to see how the famous coffee is grown and processed.
3. We had to undertake the guided hike to the volcano in a thunderstorm! The guide was very informative, but the weather prevented enjoyment of this outing. We crossed the lake in driving rain, staggered up to a lookout in thunder and lightning and proceeded to climb the lower slopes of lava in more heavy rain. This is where we saw the Pit Viper.
4. Ecotermales hot springs has an excellent set up with pools to laze in which increased in temperature from 36.5 to 40.5 degrees C
5. Zip wires where Ali not only conquered her fears again but was also really enjoying it when we got to the 16th and final ride! It was very safe having two support cables, effective safety mechanisms and procedures and well organised and trained staff.
Having returned to the news of the fatalities in the New Zealand volcano I would be reluctant to stay that close to a live volcano again.
Playa Potrero, Guanacaste
We really enjoyed relaxing and recovering here.
This is a very well organised hotel with about 40 rooms located directly behind the beach at Potrero. The village itself is about ¾ hour walk along the sandy beach but there is little to see there.
The room ‘standard’ but was spacious and very suitable for our needs. A short stroll found us at the swimming pool which was well arranged and had underwater seating so that cocktail drinking in the pool was very relaxing and convenient.
The restaurant is adjacent to the pool but also spills outside to make al fresco dining very enjoyable. Breakfast was served by waiters and the choice was good. Evening meals were good, but we did try out the adjacent Sailing Club one evening where we were served up with tasty seafood.
We opted for a half day on a catamaran which took us out to sea under sail, provided us a free bar and buffet and allowed us to snorkel in the varied and colourful marine environment. Our guide found a mature turtle which we could swim alongside whilst we were thrilled by sights of multi-coloured fish life.
This was a very relaxing way to end our holiday despite the need to get a five-hour minibus ride back to San Jose to catch the plane home.