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“Gold standard for traveling in Costa Rica”

Costa Rica Expeditions
Ranked #2 of 132 Tours in San Jose
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Costa Rica Expeditions, unique travel experiences since 1978.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Lockers / storage, Bathroom facilities
Reviewed February 15, 2014

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.
Some advice:
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!

Date of experience: February 2014
4  Thank ardenp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Natalie E, Guest Relations Manager at Costa Rica Expeditions, responded to this reviewResponded February 19, 2014

Dear ardenp,

Thank you for taking the time to write us such a detailed review, it was a great pleasure to read about your vacation, and what it is that you think makes traveling with Costa Rica Expeditions so special. I hope that the readers will take the time to give your helpful account of your experience a careful read, as I think it speaks very clearly to the great benefit planning a trip with us can bring. One thing I did want to clarify however is that you mentioned that we book directly with local guides as opposed to outsourcing to third party. The reality is that we do in fact work through local operators. It looks like you had good luck with some of your tours and received some upgrades to private ones, which is great. Because of our long history of working all over Costa Rica we do have firm connections with the tour operators and hotels we use, and that allows us to get upgrades, and receive the best service, from them.

Ardenp, we hope you can travel with us again sometime. If you are interested in a recommendation for a travel planner somewhere else in the world, don’t hesitate to send me a message, through the many years we have been doing this we have developed relationships with quite a few excellent agencies in different regions of the globe.

Sincerely,

Natalie Ewing
Director Marketing & Guest Satisfaction

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (649)
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574 - 578 of 649 reviews

Reviewed January 29, 2014

CRE did a great job of helping us plan and carry out a one-week post-Christmas trip for 11 people in three generations. We went from San Jose (1/2 day of wandering the markets and the Gold Museum), up to Monteverde Lodge for 3 days, which included great birding (we saw many species, including quetzals) and nature study, and a trip for some to Arenal with zip-lining and kayaking. We had two wonderful bi-lingual guides, one for the trip as far as Manuel Antonio, and another for birding in the reserves.Then we went for almost two full days to Manuel Antonio for beach and pool fun on our own, which included surfing lessons for some of the youngers, then back to San Jose for the trip home. In the process we dined as a big family for more than 20 meals (what a treat!). CRE took care of all the details--it was like joining a tour, except we were in on the planning (with a highly professional staff), and we were the only members of the tour.

Date of experience: December 2013
1  Thank 138Margaret
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Natalie E, Guest Relations Manager at Costa Rica Expeditions, responded to this reviewResponded January 30, 2014

Dear 138Margaret,

I am very glad we were able to set up a great vacation for your multi-generational family group. We think it is very special that your family travels together in this fashion. I’m sure your big meals together were just a ton of fun.

Reading over your description, it sounds like you had a great variety of Costa Rican locations, and activities (along with some great wildlife, including quetzals; what great luck!).

As you mention, when you travel with Costa Rica Expeditions your opinion become an integral part of the planning process, and you participate in managing all the details as much or as little as you want to. We are happy to work with you until your vacation is just right for you… and the other ten members of your family.

I certainly hope we haven’t seen the last of you guys.

Sincerely,

Natalie Ewing
Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 25, 2014

From the wish list and travel planner to choice of lodging and events, both CRE and Costa Rica either met or exceeded expectations. My wife, adult daughter, and I (all highly traveled) each thought it was among the best travel experiences of our lives. Loved the diversity of flora and fauna. CRE exceptionally responsive throughout, you can be comfortable putting yourselves in their hands. Not cheap, but gave real value for the price.

Date of experience: December 2013
Thank FWjaunt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Natalie E, Guest Relations Manager at Costa Rica Expeditions, responded to this reviewResponded January 27, 2014

Dear FWjaunt,

Thank you for sharing your review of your trip. I was thrilled to read that you enjoyed your trip so thoroughly, and found your time with CRE and Costa Rica to be such a great travel experience.

At Costa Rica Expeditions we try to be the company in Costa Rica that treats your vacation time like gold, making sure you are free to enjoy every moment. I’m glad to see that with your family we seem to have succeeded.

Sincerely,

Natalie Ewing
Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 20, 2014

Costa Rica Expedition helped us plan and lived a unique ecotourism adventure. By far the best trip of our life. My wife and I wanted to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary in a unique way. This was a very important moment and we both had big expectations and challenging needs. Our delightful customer experience started the moment we logged in onto CRW website. They took the time to understand who we were, what sort of travellers we were, what was our needs and expectations. The 3 weeks we spent visiting 5 locations was unique with zero logisitics problem. CRE representatives, guides, drivers made a difference and very safe and enjoyable. In fact, the only 'worry' we had was to enjoy ourselves, leave every moment, focussing on discovering the beauty of Costa Rica. CRE exceeded our expectations and met all our needs and more. As a management consultant, I am looking for case example of 'best class customer experience'. CRE is now at the top of the case I use to illustrate it. Thanks to the whole CRE team for taking care of my wife and I. Will cherish this trip for the rest of our life.

Date of experience: December 2013
Thank gilmor2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Natalie E, Guest Relations Manager at Costa Rica Expeditions, responded to this reviewResponded January 22, 2014

Dear gilmor2014,

We have to thank you for taking the time to write us this excellent review not only of Costa Rica Expeditions, but also for our hotels Tortuga Lodge & Gardens and Monteverde Lodge & Gardens. It is an honor to us to receive such great participation from a guest, and we are very pleased that you feel the way you do about the level of service we provide.

For our part, nothing makes us happier than reading that you came to us to plan your 35th wedding anniversary, and that the end result is a trip you say you’ll cherish for the rest of your life. That is the most rewarding thing we can read.

Sincerely,

Natalie Ewing
Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 19, 2014

It was great to have all the planning, stress and worry of a trip taken out of my hands by Costa Rica Expediciones. Everything went smoothly, the accommodation was excellent and the transfers were mostly for just us two. Our expectations were more than met, and the staff and Guides were polite and very friendly..I loved Torteguero, but Monte Verde and Arenal were also nice and all so different from each other. We could not have done this trip with a Package Deal or a large group, which is why Costa Rica Expediciones is the best way to go.

Date of experience: December 2013
Thank Patricia F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Natalie E, Guest Relations Manager at Costa Rica Expeditions, responded to this reviewResponded January 22, 2014

Dear Patricia F,

Thank you for your review, we are very happy to read how much you enjoyed your vacation to Costa Rica. I am glad that by working with us you were able to get out from under the stress of vacation planning and focus on enjoying your vacation time.

By visiting Tortuguero, Monteverde and Arenal you got a great look at three Costa Rican destinations that exhibit some of the remarkable variety in flora, fauna and landscape present in our little country.

I hope someday you can come back for another visit and see some other areas.

Sincerely,

Natalie Ewing
Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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