In July my husband, 9 year old son and I went to Costa Rica. We had 3 days planned for the Arenal area and wanted to do white water rafting, canyoneering, and zipline. We went to the DeSafio office and discussed this with them since my husband is a little older, wanted to be sure that we got booked on what they thought was the right thing, they booked us for all three (zip line with another company). They said that the white water is usually for 10 and up, but looked at my son and said "oh yes, he can do it".
The next day they picked us up at the hotel and off we went to the office then to pick up others. We were SO excited about! After a VERY long bus ride to the river, out in the middle of no where, nothing nearby but cows, we all got off the bus and started putting on our lifejackets. After we had our lifejackets on, ready to board, the head guide came over to us and said that it would not be safe for our family to go. I asked why and he just kept repeating it would not be safe. I asked, then why did they sell us this trip and he just shrugged his shoulders. So I asked, what are we to do now and he said I could just stay with the bus and they would give my money back, or we could do a portion of the trip for full price. I didn't think this was at all fair, but I didn't want to sit and do NOTHING for hours and my little boy was already SO disappointed, so we took the partial trip, which turned out to be quite tame - we went with the bus driver and met the others where we were allowed into the boats for some very simple, easy rapids (we have previously rafted in Colorado). If I had wanted a float trip, I would have asked for one.
At the stop at for food (which by the way everyone said was very BAD - I didn't eat because I was too upset) I told the guide that I felt I had been hijacked into paying full price for something I would not have done, had I been given the choice under the proper circumstance, not coerced and faced with doing totally nothing for a whold day, that they should have informed me BEFORE they drove us miles from nowhere, that they had totally RUINED and WASTED one of our 3 days in Arenal, and that I wanted to go back to the office, not the hotel to talk to the managers.
We got there and talked with the only person left in the office, who kept going upstairs to talk to someone else. I told her I wanted to cancel the next 2 days booked with them and I wanted a TOTAL refund since they did not give us what we paid for. So she came out with $249.00 cash. I said no, we paid a total of $555.00, I want a full refund. So then she went back upstairs, came back and said it would have to go back on our credit card. So I asked, may I have a refund voucher please, so she went back upstairs and brought us a paper (different type refund from in the US) I started checking it over and the our credit card number was wrong! So I pointed that out, again she went back upstairs and came back with the refund slip with the correct credit card. If I had just walked away with the voucher without checking\, imagine how totally impossible it would have been to resolve after arriving back in the states.
We re-booked our canyoneering with PureTrek and had a wonderful time, did the zipline with Ecoglide, again, wonderful fun adventure. Them refusing to let us go was totally preposterous, we are healthy, active people, there were others there as old (I asked some of the people on the bus). I do understand about safety, BUT, there was no reason for this. We didn't arrive walking with a cane, or with a cast on an arm or anything like that, and we had walked into their office a day earlier to book, so they actually saw us prior to booking. As far as river conditions - it was the RAINY season, it rains almost every day, they know the river conditions, they are out there on the river EVERY day.
Desafio must do some fun stuff, but this is no way to do business. I feel that they didn't want to "leave any money on the table" since we were in there office ready to book. The most upsetting about it was wasting a whole day for us and making us disappointed and angry--do not go on vacation to experience THOSE emotions - and vacation time - especially when you travel so far - is very precious and not to be wasted. Do your homework, PureTrek is wonderful, there is also a company called Rio Tropicales that does rafting.
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