Though I am typically the type of traveler who likes to research and plan all of my vacations on my own, the best decision I made with our trip was to use Costa Rica Expeditions to help plan and manage our 8 day trip. From the moment we stepped off the plane, someone would magically appear to whisk us off to our next destination or tour - everyone was friendly, professional, and punctual, and it felt like there was this invisible thread of communication leading us throughout the country. CRE completed exceeded my expectations of "travel planners," as I had assumed that they simply outsource the daily excursions to local tour companies who collect any tourists in the area and drive them around in large groups. Nothing could be further from the truth. CRE makes private arrangements directly with the local guides for their clients. The majority of our tours and transfers ended up being completely private (though they were presented as being shared tours, it seemed this was because there were no other CRE tourists booked for that particular activity). We had no problems whatsoever and after a day or two it was easy to relax because it was clear that we didn't need to worry about anything logistical.
There were three points during the trip when it was clear to me why using CRE was so great.
1) During a transfer by boat on Lake Arenal, when we were on a beautiful boat with only one other couple, and the friendly boat driver stopped to show us lots of birds along the way. in contrast, I watched another group of 10 or 12 pack into a boat half the size which seemed to be sitting very low in the water.
2) Chatting at breakfast in a hotel with a woman and her parents who had rented a car to drive around the country. They were excited but clearly completely distracted by trying to figure out how to get from one place to the next, and also in need of a lot of advice for how to enjoy their day.
3) Sitting in the rainforest of Osa Peninsula. Our travel planner, Nadya, had recommended that we fly there for a 3 night stay - on my own, I would never have considered this, but it was the absolute highlight of our trip and I am so grateful that she encouraged us to make this part of our itinerary.
1) read the "Resources" section of the CRE website as early as you can in the planning process. If I had done this earlier I would have spared Nadya a number of anxious and redundant emails!
2) Do spend time doing your own research into activities or excursions available. The travel planners are not mind readers. In retrospect, I would have tweaked our itinerary a bit and chosen slightly different activities when I actually saw the all of the various types of tours in the Arenal area. CRE was great in giving advice during the trip for how to add an activity during our free time.
3) In the Arenal area, CRE avoids any tours that involve hiking at the base of the volcano. They explain the reasons why in their website (in short, 2008 volcano eruption killed an 8 yr old girl and tour guide which was obviously traumatic). I really appreciated their thoughtful approach to safety. That being said, there are many local tours of hiking, biking, etc at the base of the volcano, so if it is very important to you to have that sort of experience, you would need to plan to do so independently and at your own risk. Apparently the volcano activity has been pretty quiet recently according to the local guides. We were happy to view it from a distance!
As all the other reviews indicate, this company offers exceptional service. I only wish that I could find equivalent companies in other parts of the world - it would be so easy to travel anywhere!
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.