15 independent reviews for Costa Rica beach & wildlife holiday

Reviews for Costa Rica beach & wildlife holiday

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review 19 Aug 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The wildlife was outstanding - egg-laying turtles on the Carribean coast; whales and dolphins in the Pacific and the plethora of monkeys, sloths, birds, lizards and snakes. However, what our boys really remembered was our white-water rafting experience which was exhilarating.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

August is a good time of year to go as it is quiet, but we had rain almost every day, much of it typically tropical in volume. Generally, it started late afternoon but we had a day when it rained from 10am until 4pm, more-or-less continually. The rain is warm so it's not unpleasant, but, make sure your waterproofs are good quality. As a result, it did feel "damp" (or "humid", take your pick) pretty much all the time. It's slightly uncomfortable until your get used to it, but after that it's fine. We stayed in one lodge which was delightful but some way away from the local town or other amenities. We ate at the lodge's restaurant (which was very good) but if we had been there more than a couple of days we probably would have got cabin fever, so check where you stay has some alternatives to simply staying in your room. Learn a bit of Spanish. We didn't really use it until we went into very local shops or bars, but universally, the locals were willing to listen to my mangled attempts to speak it and then interpret it appropriately. Moreover, they did it with a real smile. The Sagevre Cloud Forest is very high! Yes, I read it in the guide books before I went but 2,800m is higher than all but a few European ski zones and walking can be hard work. It's also much colder than on the coast - a good 7-8 degrees so you may need an outer layer in the late afternoon and evenings. If you're after a relaxing few last days in Costa Rica before you head home, finish by the coast rather than go to Sagevre. However, even my 2 boys said that Sagevre was amazing, so don't leave it off the itinery.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

This whole holiday felt like we were staying in small or family owned hotels and lodges. I guess that means more of the money we spent there was staying in the local area, certainly within Costa Rica, rather than being collected up by some multi-national corporation, which must provide benefit to local people. Most of the hotels used low-power lights and were air-conditioning-free zones, keeping our impact low, but I recognise that we flew there, which makes these sort of marginal gains somewhat redundant...

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent.

review 10 Aug 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

There were many highlights - including watching a Green Turtle laying eggs, spotting the rare Splendid Quetzal, snorkelling with fish and turtles off Cano Island and watching the abundant wildlife including 2 species of sloth. Visiting Los Campesinos and talking to the local hosts was especially memorable.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The Cloud Forest lodges at Savegre are at over 2000 metres altitude and so can be chilly - bring warm clothes. Long sleeved water-wear may be useful for snorkelling as the sun is strong.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. The turtle watching at Tortuguero was done in a very environmentally friendly way with the emphasis on conservation. Los Campesinos and Hacienda Baru have both introduced eco sensitive tourism into rewilded former agricultural areas with spectacular results. Awareness of, and care for, the natural environment was a recurrent theme wherever we stayed.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Superb. The standard of the guides was excellent and trip was varied and fascinating. It was very well put together by the operator.

review 30 Apr 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

There were too many moments that we will remember - including spotting a whale from our balcony, the sounds on the first morning waking up, the people that we met.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Book as many trips and guided tours as you can as the guides are remarkable, helpful, and knowledgeable.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, we were really delighted with the knock on effects we could see in the staff at the various places, the eco policies and the respect for nature from the tour guides and pretty much everyone we met.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Beyond what we coud have hoped or dreamed of.

review 21 Mar 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Arenal volcano and Cero Escondido as it was such a wild place and off grid.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Go with an open mind and respect the local environment as they do. The accommodation and restaurants are spotlessly clean. Make sure you have a handle on the exchange rate as their money is complicated!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes definitely

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Amazing. Simon did an amazing job in planning our trip and listening to what we wanted and his colleague in CR, Jefferson was always available to help and advise.

review 4 Feb 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seeing and photographing a wild Margay (cat family) and the resplendent Quetzal (males and females). Seeing the male resplendent Quetzal in flight. Photographing Hummingbirds. Unfortunately the best way to do this is at feeders, rather than in the wild, as they are elusive. Feeders of course mean that the birds are getting food without carrying out their important role of pollinatig their preferred plants.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Try to avoid going too early in the dry season when it is still likely to rain heavily in the cloud forests and in the rain forests.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Don't know if it supported local people other than those employed by the lodges we stayed in. We would have preferred to stay in locally/family run hotels or bed and breakfasts, rather than up market lodges. Though to some degree this was our fault as we took recommendations from early investigations which we did on the net and suggested actual places to stay rather than giving general descriptions. At La Selva Research Station conservation projects were obviously the focus. At La Selva accommodation and meals were very much low end and canteen style respectively.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Interesting and generally worthwhile, Costa Rica proved to be not so overall well developed and politically honest as our reading had led us to believe as there is a huge problem with corruption, and with under employment. However the democracy is strong as it is common for people to complain quite openly about their politicians. It is not so easy to see and photograph wildlife and birds as the literature promotes.

review 30 Nov 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

That's easy, the vast and overwhelming amount of nature and diverse wildlife .

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Pack your camera, a pair of binoculars and a huge dose of sense of adventure

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Absolutely, it's the only reason I booked it with our tour operator, through Responsoble Tourism.. It's exactly the kind of experience my group and I were looking for.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

11/10!! :-)

review 30 Oct 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The wildlife, people and whitewater rafting

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Book through the tour operator they actually listened and delivered.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes yes and yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent

review 24 Dec 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seeing sloths in the wild

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Eating out is not cheap.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes; the lodges we stayed in all had a good degree of environmental awareness and we used local guides throughout.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Very good.

review 14 Aug 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Can't possibly say just one so here are the highlights The tours for Monteverde, Arenal and Tenorio were fantastic, and the 5 days at the end in Tango Mar were a nice opportunity for us to unpack our bags , get some things washed and dried and relax in one place. The arrangements were perfect, went like clockwork. All the accommodation was great , and a nice variety. Hotel Presidente, San Jose - a lovely hotel, nice rooms, great breakfast , all fresh and a lot of choice. Staff very pleasant and helpful. All the taxi drivers who transferred us from place to place , were polite , friendly and well informed and explained a lot to us during the trip as we passed through places, so much more than just a taxi driver! They were all happy to answer our questions, and stop along the route if we saw anything we wanted to photograph, and looked out for interesting animals and birds so they could point them out to us . All the guides on the tours were extremely well informed too, spoke very good English, we learnt a lot and it was all very interesting to us. The Monteverde Mountain Lodge was an absolutely delightful location, beautiful setting , high up among the trees , exotic plants and birds , especially hundreds of humming birds of all colours feeding around the restaurant area. We saw two coatis in the grounds, they were very friendly , and an agouti , who was quite shy. The staff at the hotel again were extremely polite, helpful and friendly . Food was great. Our lodge was very comfortable, lovely beds , very clean. Had the company of a very large cricket one day! We went on a tour around the frog and the butterfly gardens when we arrived and then we did the night tour to see tarantulas, spiders frog, bugs, birds and cicadas getting ready for the night . All very interesting. We walked to the town of Santa Elena and had a meal in a Tree House restaurant, great food. The tour to the Monteverde Cloud Forest - Our tour guide collected us on time . he was great , so enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and determined to make sure we had the best experience, pointing out the amazing creatures and plants in the jungle. He explained about how Costa Rica recognises the value of eco-tourism to the country and invests in it, about eco-energy and preserving the rainforests. fascinating. We saw so many exotic creatures, birds, snakes, monkeys. Crossed a hanging bridge and looked down on the canopy, amazing trees. Great tour. The trip across Lake Arenal to the Arenal Manoa hotel was lovely, serene. The Arenal Manoa was in stupendous grounds, with the volcano in full view. It covered a large area, there were swimming pools, spa, huge restaurant with fantastic views over a cayman lake, lots of birds, to see while eating breakfast , great spread of food for breakfast, nice evening meal. We saw a cayman, a kingfisher, vultures lots of amazing birds . Casitas Tenorio in Bijagua - great accommodation. Really felt like we were living inside the jungle here. We had a lodge with an outdoor terrace surrounded by forest , lots of unusual noises throughout the day and night . Lovely owners , Pip from Australia and her Costa Rican husband Donald, who is from Bijagua, and they have two friendly dogs called Whisky and Dingo. They grow virtually all the food they serve for breakfast, especially an apple banana which is small but definitely tastes of apples , lovely. Exotic birds also surround the breakfast room and feed off the bananas in the trees. Just so wonderful to sit and watch them while you have your breakfast, felt so close to nature. Trip to Tenorio national park - . We went to the Rio Celeste and the waterfall and the viewing point where we could see a series of volcanoes and much wilder jungle. We saw where the colour of the river changed due to the minerals in the water, we saw a bubbling pond. The Tango Mar is a high quality hotel . We had a beach front apartment with a view of the Pacific ocean and palm trees. The sea was quite rough , not safe to swim in it but you can paddle . The hotel has a nice pool on the sea front . The hotel has very large grounds and you can go on nature walks around the grounds. We saw white faced capuchin monkeys and howler monkeys living in the trees. There is a golf course and stables where you can do horse riding, we did a couple of hours of horse riding one day. The hotel is quite secluded , far from a town, so you can't walk to a town, but you can easily get a taxi . The reception staff organise everything for you. We went to Tambor one afternoon and to Montezuma and Santa Teresa on other days. Staff again are extremely helpful , friendly , polite. The food is great , good choice. Served breakfast and evening meal in the main restaurant, and there is a smaller restaurant by the pool that serves lunch. The hotel offers various tours and activities . We did a snorkelling trip to Isla Tortuga. The snorkelling was just incredible, what beautiful warm clear water. I fed shoals of tropical fish from my hand for about 10 minutes , such varieties , such colour, I was in heaven!! we had a picnic on the beach afterwards, and saw a snake on the sand , two pigs and two deer in the trees. and a marimba band playing music. A fantastic trip .

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared for rain, a lightweight raincoat is fine. If you go in the rainforests bets to cover arms and legs and wear sturdy walking shoes or wellies. Need to tip people, especially the guides 5 to 10 dollars and taxi drivers 5 dollars. It's a long flight from Gatwick - 11 hours, need to keep moving about . 9hours 50 on the way back overnight, no lights and cold air conditioning! need a jumper and trousers .

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Most definitely supported conservation. The Costa Rican government recognises the value of encouraging eco-tourism and reinvests in the rainforests to preserve them. Walking routes through the forests are restricted to designated paths. On some you are only allowed to go with a guide. Creates lost of work opportunities for local people. Humans and nature seem to live together in harmony. Lots of conservation projects on the go, such as the turtle project at Tambor, where people are hatching the eggs and escorting newly hatched turtles back to the sea for safety !

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was amazing, fantastic, a revelation, and I would recommend it to anyone. Very impressive country, so much to see.

review 21 Feb 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Fantastic service from the operator - right from the first phonecall it was clear that they're not only experts, but really cared about making this tailor-made trip absolutely perfect for us.

review 6 Sep 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The beauty of the landscape, the advanced hospitality industry. Possibly Casitas Tenorio?

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Plan with a bit of details around travel durations and meal times/stops - easily done - but I didn't do it!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes there is a clear environmental/green culture in Costa Rica. The tourist industry supports this in here, anyway

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent place to relax - which is why I chose it. 10 out of 10 for that!

review 27 Aug 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Rio Celeste hike to waterfall and lagoon. River trip on Rio Frio.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

If going to Monteverde bring a fleece. It can be chilly in the early morning and at night.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Wonderful holiday. Very well organised. Accommodation excellent.

review 24 Aug 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The mother sloth and baby sloth, and a visiting young male sloth, outside our apartment balcony in the Parque Manuel Antonio for the five days we stayed there; recording biological data in the forest at Las Cruces and being stalked by a humming-bird; dripping with the tropical heat every day; photographing husband and daughter parasailing off the Pacific coast; listening to the scrape-scratch-slither of a large iguana as it dragged itself across our apartment roof, and - thump! - as it toppled off the end.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Bring thin cotton shirts or tops that dry fast because you will sweat bucketloads, wherever you are; a telescopic umbrella is much more effective for keeping tropical downpours off than rain jackets, and doubles as a sunshade when needed; take a camera with a good zoom lens. If you want to travel off the main roads the National Geographic map of CR is very good, but use screenshots from satellite maps to supplement it. Vegetarians will have no trouble finding lots of excellent food.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

At the Hotel Aranjuez in San Josť and at the Wilson Botanical Garden at Las Cruces, certainly: they have an outstanding environmental policy, and employ local people and services. At the Coste Verde hotel at Manuel Antonio, it certainly employs a lot of local people, but doesn't seem to do much for conservation or sustainability.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Tremendous: we loved it. My husband and I would go again for the wildlife, and to see other parts of the country that we didn't reach this time. We'd also go back to do more data recording at Las Cruces, it was a wonderful introduction to the animals and plants, being part of a working scientific community.

review 8 Apr 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The trip to Los Campesinos reserve was wonderful - though the hike was fairly tough going in hot and humid conditions that we weren't used to! But the wildlife we saw was superb, and the friendliness of everyone involved made it a great excursion.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Consider your options for getting to Costa Rica - since we had to stop over somewhere on the US east coast we took a proper break in New York for five nights. This gave our holiday an extra dimension and actually made the flights cheaper - though NY is not a cheap place to stay!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, it was nice to interact with locals everywhere we went, and to avoid all the big chain hotels.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Very good.

review 15 Apr 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

White water rafting through the rainforest, amazing!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Just do it, it's fantastic! If you're inland take some warmer clothes (trousers, long sleeved t-shirts)as it can get colder than you expect.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

All of the places we stayed were dedicated to helping the environment and employed local staff.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Brilliant!

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