Holiday review by Mr. David Jones
Name: Mr. David Jones
Date of trip: 14/01/2020
Number of people: 2
We saw a coyote on the last morning near to Chayote Lodge ! Our guide was ecstatic (he had never seen one before) and said we were extremely fortunate to see one at 10am in the morning as they are normally nocturnal and very shy - though it was 50 metres away, we did get some albeit slightly fuzzy ultra-zoom pictures. Also at Chayote, the views are absolutely breathtaking! The light aircraft trip to Tortuguero was brilliant too - though the clouds prevented us getting perfect views for part of the trip. Monkeys playing round the restaurant areas at Evergreen Lodge. A hummingbird landing on the hood of my bright yellow poncho at the Monteverde cafe outside the Park. The night walk trip in Monteverde was lovely, and the stars when the rain clouds finally cleared. The canal boat ride in Tortuguero and being a few metres away from a large open-mouthed Caiman Arriving at the Tortuguero airstrip to find it was a derelict building with no one working there !
Costa Rican people were lovely - genuinely attentive, friendly and helpful. They seemed very conscious that good customer service was crucial for their country's reputation.
The only slight downsides were:
1) The weather (very heavy rain on and off for Days 3-6 of the holiday) which meant we had lots of wet clothes and the humidity prevented any drying; and
2) As a result of the unexpectedly wet weather we saw less wildlife than we would probably have otherwise had done - esp sloths in Tortuguero and Arenal
Tribes staff, especially Tracy, were always great and helpful - answering our numerous panics, questions etc. The trip was well organised and balanced (though one issue below to note for the future.
We were very impressed with the logistics of the holiday.
We expected problems with the numerous pick-ups, guides etc but there were none. Your Costa Rican partners were great (inc when we had to ring them a couple of times) and every pick-up worked like clockwork.
Most of the drivers were brilliant - very comfortable vehicles and good conversation, a few had less English but were always polite and helpful.
The guides were all brilliant - extremely knowledgeable and helpful and friendly - twice significantly over-running their allotted time with us in order to show us more things (over-running wasn't a problem by the way).
We were pleasantly surprised that our tours were sometimes in very small groups (just us in a few cases) which meant a lot of individual attention to our interests.
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
We felt a bit guilty about flying......
Overall, it is clear that most Costa Ricans genuinely care about the environment and the wildlife - not just as a source of tourist income but also in its own right. Local people we met were universally friendly and helpful.
One negative observation, the La Paz waterfall gardens rescue centre obviously does good work and the birds and butterfly gardens were lovely spacious areas to be in. But we were both concerned and disappointed about the really small areas that the big cats were kept in - smaller than the butterfly area. While we accept that in some circumstances rescue animals cannot be put back into the wild, we felt that their living environment was on a par with a zoo (ie completely inadequate).
TRIBES REPLY: Davy, thanks very much for flagging this up. We are also not happy about this and do not condone it. We will look into this further, with a view to either encouraging change (preferably) or not using again.
The places you stayed
It was good and the staff very helpful.
We were though a bit miffed when on our second night there we were told the dining area was full and we had to go out into San Jose at 8pm in the dark and find somewhere to eat. We had not done any prior research as we had no idea that the restaurant would require pre-booking.
Tortuguero National Park
It was excellent - the room, the facilities, the veggie meals prepared specially for us, the wildlife, the trips - all good, despite torrential rain for much of the stay. Tortuguero town itself is a bit grim though. The guides and staff were excellent.
This was the only hotel/lodge that did not have a Wow factor.
Nothing particularly wrong with it - but just a bit underwhelming and it felt rather old fashioned.
They provided a heater for one chilly evening.
We had to send back one meal after they covered it in Balsamic Vinegar (without that being on the menu) - and they seemed bemused that we were vegetarian.
We were blown away by the wonderful views when we arrived. Our lodge itself was great (again with terrific views). Staff very helpful. We were surprised to find for one night we were the only people there (apparently that is unusual and it was booked up later in the week).
Pity there was no pool or plunge pool. That would be a real bonus as when the sun came out, it was very hot.
Again, identical problems on the vegetarian meals front. No options on the menu. We had to negotiate with the catering team. And on the last day we ordered a vegetarian omelette and it came back with ham inside !