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Dec. 1, 2009 We have had an amazing trip!

Hi  Nadya,

I wanted to let you know that we have had an amazing trip! All the Hotels were exceptional, the adventures were aweseome. We managed to see most of the Volcano despite the rain. It was really awesome, thank you for making this a wonderful trip. We'll be back again and again I am sure of it. We loved Costa Rica, especially the people of Costa Rica. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming.

Kind Regards,

Samantha


- Samantha

Nov. 20, 2009 We enjoyed very much the planned trip in Tortuguero

PLEASE GIVE US FEEDBACK  (Thanks in advance!)
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...
What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory? 

We enjoyed very much the planned trip in Tortuguero.  We also stayed at Monteverde lodge for 3 nights without a reservation.  Special thanks must go to Ricardo in Tortuguero for his superb safari trip and expert spotting skills, and also to Louis (hope that's right) who took us on our night hike.  Also to the lovely barman, apologies for not remembering his name, who waited up for us after our turtle tour, well beyond midnight, only to be told we wanted nothing more than water and bed!  Special thanks too to Andreas (Acting manager) and Jonathan (waiter) in Monteverde.  Many thanks to the staff at Tortuguero for our surprise meal under the stars after our night hike, and our lunch in the garden, and also to the staff in Monteverde for our candle-lit meal cooked in the gardens.
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...

The attentiveness of the staff, and the little surprises - drinks on the quayside, meals set out in the gardens.

...and what fell short of your expectations?

Nothing.
Did the trip change your feelings about those you travelled with?
No......
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?

Nothing

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?

Had travelled with you before.

What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?

Exceeded - Ricardo and Louis in Tortuguero, Andreas and Jonathan in Monteverde
What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?  (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)

This was the best part of our trip - the places themselves are lovely but its the staff that really make the difference, helpful, attentive and happy to talk.  We saw wonderful wildlife in Tortuguero, it was a real experience of a lifetime


- Stevie

Nov. 19, 2009 I'm very glad that I did!

Hi Michael,

Because I like to plan my own vacations I didn't use Costa Rica Expeditions to plan my entire vacation. Instead I used CRE as the vendor for our 1 day rafting trip on the Pacuare River and I'm very glad that I did! This was the first day trip of our vacation and the best way to jump start a Costa Rican adventure. Everyone was was stellar from the drivers to the guides. The safety instruction was very thorough which was a good thing since our raft flipped over which wasn't a big deal since all of the guides and staff reacted quickly to make sure everyone was safely retrieved from the water. Ricardo, who was our guide also gave me his shoe to wear the remainder of the trip since mine was sacrificed to the river..lol. Lastly, the river side feast was 5 star and very top notch. I have been rafting in the US and was expecting a ham sandwich or something along those lines but instead we were greeted with an immaculate and very tasty spread of goodies! Also by the way, I booked days before my arrival which at first made me a little nervous but all of the nerves went away because from the moment I decided to book Douglas was on the job and didn't miss a beat! Kudos to the staff at CR Expeditions! Oh yeah, I almost forgot...the stop at the restaurant for breakfast was a great bonus too...the food was amazing and we enjoyed the views! :-)

Thanks so much!

Yasmin Smith


- Yasmin Smith

Oct. 28, 2009 Our trip was amazing!
Our trip was amazing! You did a great job planning this for us as well as making sure each of our locations were up to what was expected. We took a lot of pictures and I wrote a journal while we were there. When I'm finishing editing it and creating the online version I'll send it to you. Feel free to use it as a success story.
- Chad Stinner

Oct. 27, 2009 The service was unbelievable!

PLEASE GIVE US FEEDBACK  (Thanks in advance!)

As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?

The service was unbelievable!  Everyone was helpful, friendly, and when we stayed at the Tortuga Lodge they upgraded our room to the suite, which was a wonderful surprise.  We traveled with our 4 year old and everyone was very accomodating.

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?... 

The service was perfect.  We were even met at our airplane by a van and our original guide on the last day. 

...and what fell short of your expectations?  Nothing.

Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?  It's a little scary doing all business on the internet.  I just felt a little nervous upon my arrival into San Jose, until we saw our name plate when we got off of the plane.
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?  the constant feed back I had with Nadya Shaw.  Whenever I wrote with a question she had a response within the hour.

What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?

Everyone was great.
What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica ?  (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)  If you are in anyway inclined to use a travel company to plan your trip, definately use Costa Rica Expeditions.  We just told some friends of our this the other day.

Thanks again for your feedback!


- Wendy

Oct. 21, 2009 Wonderful trip to Costa Rica!

Hi Priscilla,
We had a most wonderful trip to Costa Rica!  We loved everything - Federico, Pablo, all the flora and fauna we saw, the hotels (We loved the "penthouse" suite in Tortuguero), the hospitality and mostly your beautiful country.  Thank you so much for all the planning you did, down to every detail.  I appreciated your flexibility, suggestions and itinerary.  It could not have been better.  

Muchas gracias.

I have completed the evaluation.  What is the best way to send it to the office?  I can scan it and attach it to an email or fax it.  What is the contact name and information?

Again, thank you.
Shelley Saxe


-

Oct. 20, 2009 Our wonderful adventure in Costa Rica

Dear Michael
We just came back from our wonderful adventure in Costa Rica.  Monteverde Lodge was our last stop. Everything was what we expected and more.
First of all the resort was outstanding , our room had a natural feel to it was clean and roomy with a huge glass window to view the wildlife. The staff was amazing went above and beyond their duty to make sure we were comfortable. 
Jonathan arranged a special dinner for our family in the library overlooking the gardens with candles and fire pit . In the morning he had breakfast set up in the gardens before our zipline tour. Food was excellent. The gardens were spectacular.....What more can we say.. You created an environment that stays true to the surrounding, you chose a staff that is knowledgeable and friendly. We're hoping to come back next year and see all the familiar faces.. Special thanks to Carlos our Tour guide, Jonathan , Andres and Walter...

Sincerely

Randy, Lia, Martina and Barron...(pictures to come soon) I believe Jonathan took some of our family while we were there..

Pura Vida


- Randy, Lia, Martina and Barron

Oct. 16, 2009 Thanks in advance!
PLEASE GIVE US FEEDBACK (Thanks in advance!)

As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?

Seeing the incredible amount of wildlife - venomous snakes (eyelash vipers, coral snakes), sloths, baby sea turtles

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...

The romantic candelit, fireside dinner and having the deluxe accomodations due to having Tortuga Lodge to ourselves. The food was also spectacular. Also, the flight was special since there was only my wife and I.

...and what fell short of your expectations?

The return by boat was nice, but because it was such a hurried trip and we were traveling so fast we weren't able to see much wildlife while we zipped through Tortuguero. I would have liked to have left earlier and had a more leisurely return.

Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?

I always say I love my wife more every day, but I think the romantic atmosphere at Tortuga Lodge allowed us to have a more intimate and memorable weekend.

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?

The cost.

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?

The trip reviews on tripadvisor.com and the recommendation of Lonely Planet, as well as the opportunity to fly in to Tortuguero.

What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?

Our transfer guides, tour guides, waiters, and host at the Lodge were all amazing ... incredibly helpful; they knew we loved wildlife and would always come and find us to point out an interesting animal on the property; the food was world class

What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica? (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)

'You'll never feel like you're being rushed along with a giant tour group ... they totally cater to your desires and your agenda ... never pushy but always available to help make your stay better. It has to be the best value in Tortuguero!"
- Daniel and Erin Kinzer, Curacao, Dutch Antilles

Oct. 16, 2009 Dear Michael and Natalie --
Dear Michael and Natalie --

Please forgive our delay in providing feedback -- I've filled out responses to your specific questions below, in addition to the general description that follows. Our trip to Costa Rica was absolutely wonderful, and we owe it all to Costa Rica Expeditions (and the lovely people of Costa Rica, of course). In the past, we had never used a tour company such as yours to make arrangements, handle transfers, provide guides, etc. Frankly, I was a little skeptical as to whether it would be worthwhile, but my colleague Jessica Pers spoke so highly of her family's experience with you (and we were pressed for planning time) that we decided to give it a try. Without gushing too much, the experience was incredible from beginning to end. Priscilla Jimenez was extremely helpful and efficient in providing us suggestions, options and alternatives. She was knowledgeable and we came to trust her to help plan our time in Costa Rica. She turned around changes quickly, efficiently and professionally, and she made us feel very comfortable. Her pre-trip materials (what to pack, etc.) were very helpful and added to our excitement about the trip.

My wife Kathleen had traveled to San Jose earlier for business and our guide (Federico Alban) and driver (Carlos) made things very easy for her, picking her up at her hotel to meet me at the airport when I arrived. I can't say enough good things about Fede and Carlos. Quite honestly, they became like friends to us and we were extremely disappointed when it came time for us to head for the beach without them. In addition to guiding us on our adventures, Fede and Carlos also made us feel connected to the country, the people, local businesses, etc. We always felt extremely well-cared for in their hands, and your company's focus on safety and customer service really came through. Your company has a fantastic reputation, and the owner of the Hotel Nayara spoke reverentially about your company (I believe his words were: "Ah, Costa Rica Expeditions, they are very serious, very professional, people. They are the best.")

Fede is an amazing guide and a fascinating person. We learned so much from him, and he and Carlos quite literally made our vacation. It became kind of a running joke after we were on our own at the beach -- "If Fede were here, we'd know what kind of spider this is. . ." Again, we hadn't had much experience with guides before this trip, but now I can't imagine having done it without him. His knowledge was matched only by his ability to manage a conversation and make sure everyone was involved. He and Carlos were very supportive of my attempts to remember my college Spanish lessons, and the encouragement was infectious. Carlos, too, was very important to our trip. Although his English was not as good as Fede's, he was active in pointing out interesting animals, plants and cultural items of interest. I only wish our Spanish was better so we could have involved him more. He was always in a good mood, and was endlessly patient -- whether waiting for us to emerge from the jungle or following us as we cycled around the lake. I have already recommended to three different friends who are planning to travel to Costa Rica that they use your company and specifically request Fede and Carlos. (We were so glad when Carlos met us for the short transfer between San Jose airstrips on the day we left.)

It is obvious that Costa Rica Expeditions works hard to find excursion partners who provide the highest level of customer service. Everyone we met (cycling, horseback riding, etc.) was knowledgeable, friendly and professional. They went out of their way to make sure that we were having a good time and experiencing what Costa Rica had to offer. For example, Donald (spelling?), our mountain biking guide was very knowledgeable and was a terrific guide. But what impressed us the most was after our excursion had ended and we bid Donald and his assistant good bye. They had left well ahead of us, but while we were driving, we found them stopped by the side of the road along the way back to the hotel. They say a three-toed sloth in the trees above the road and stopped and waited for us (again, after our excursion was long over) to make sure that we had a chance to see it. That's excellent customer service in my opinion. We had a similar opinion regarding Johnny (last name?), our horseback riding guide. By the end of our trip, we felt like we knew him a little (we learned about his upcoming wedding and where he planned to build a house, etc.). A lot of the credit for these experiences goes to Fede, who has such good relationships that the other excursion guides seemed to open up a bit more.

Sorry, I'm rambling a bit. Hope you don't mind.

Let's see, what else? The transfers were flawless, and we really appreciated the assistance when we accidentally packed our passports in the bag that you held for us in San Jose when we went to the coast. We also had one minor scare when Kathleen accidentally left her wallet on the bench at the Tambor airstrip. But an airstrip employee found it, somehow figured out that it was ours and where we were staying, and called Flor Blanca. They called our driver and we went back and got it. Quite a lucky experience for us, and it showed not only the honesty of the airstrip employee, but his resourcefulness as well.

The hotels that we chose or that Priscilla recommended were stunning. The Nayara was beautiful, lush and private. The rooms were spacious and the views of the volcano incredible. We would definitely go back. And Flor Blanca was quite simply one of the nicest places we've ever stayed.

I can't recall the name of the transfer guide who met us in San Jose with Carlos, but he was also extremely nice. Very friendly, very professional, very helpful. He was only with us for a few minutes.

We've already recommended you to three sets of friends (if they don't call and demand Fede and Carlos, I'll be very disappointed). And we fully intend to return to Costa Rica and see all the things we've missed. Thanks so much for creating a wonderful vacation for us. We would be happy to serve as a reference for your company if you ever need one. Please let us know if there is any other information you need.

Best,

Name withheld by Guests request

p.s. Can you send us an address where we could mail something to Federico and Carlos (and could you give us Carlos' last name) -- is the main company address ok for this? Thanks.


- Name withheld by Guests request

Sep. 21, 2009 “We had a great experience at the (Tortuga) Lodge and really enjoyed the kayaking in the canals.”
We had a great experience and would like to commend everyone who we dealt with. We were meeting our 15-year-old son who was on a 3-week community service/Spanish-intensive trip and was concerned about the logistics since we were staying at a different hotel than he was. We planned on picking him up and going directly to Tortuguero. Everything went smoothly until he remembered that he forget to get his passport from his leader. This was an hour later and our guide called his group leader to arrange to pick it up later for us. The next morning his passport was at Tortuga Lodge. That is good service. We had a great experience at the Lodge and really enjoyed the kayaking in the canals. The turtles were fascinating, but was a little too organized and controlled. We did not spend enough time with them but got to see them laying the eggs and going back to the water. I would have enjoyed just watching longer but it was not allowed.

When we came back, we were picking up a car in San Jose, which took longer than it should have but your guides waited to help us get to the highway. We had been in Hotel Si Como No 10 years ago and it has changed but we still enjoyed our stay there. Manual Antonio is a special place and even though it is more developed, it still is a great location. We have now been all over except the Guanacaste area and will come back for a stay there at the Harmony Hotel. We have already recommended you to our friends, who should be signing up for their trip. Thanks for great trip.
- Louis Walsdorf

Sep. 11, 2009 “Costa Rica Expeditions was fantastic and had all of our accommodations, tours, and travel planned for us so that we could enjoy all of the time we had in the country. It was a stress-free vacation…”
Q. What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory? This was my first trip to Central/Latin America - I've only traveled to Europe in the past - and I think everything was new and exciting for me: the rainforests, the animals that I've never seen before (coatis!), the fact that I slept in a hotel next to a volcano. These are things I won't forget. It's a beautiful country with very friendly people.

Q. What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand? I didn't know what to expect and have never used a travel planner. Costa Rica Expeditions was fantastic and had all of our accommodations, tours, and travel planned for us so that we could enjoy all of the time we had in the country. It was a stress-free vacation - just what we wanted!

Q. What fell short of your expectations? Nothing :)

Q. Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
I took this trip with my boyfriend and neither of us had been to Costa Rica. It's great to travel to a new place with someone so that it's a new memory we can both create and share.

Q. What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
Financial reasons.

Q. What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us? Travel arrangements - we were not sure beforehand if we wanted to rent a car or try to use the buses around the country. We were told the roads were bad so we didn't know what to expect if we rented a car, and we didn't want to have to rely on buses to get from place to place. The ease of having CRE set up our travel allowed us to enjoy the time we had in the car to sightsee and also to meet some great locals!

Q. What Costa Rica Expeditions’ people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways? Everyone was wonderful and very friendly! We speak very little Spanish but we still tried our best to have conversations with all of our drivers and it was a great way to practice our language skills.

Q. What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica? Costa Rica is a country like no other I've visited before - the size of the country is fairly small but where else could you think of going that has a volcano and several rainforests and beaches and mountains within a few hours of each other? The beauty of the country and the friendliness of the people will be wherever you go in Costa Rica, and the country has something to offer everyone - ziplining, rafting, hiking, beaches, and I could go on and on.
- Sarah Olsavsky

Sep. 8, 2009 “Making the decision to allow Costa Rica Expeditions to work out all the details for us was the best decision of the entire trip, and one of the best vacation decisions I have ever made.”
Please allow me to take a moment and say what a wonderful trip my family had this past summer in Costa Rica. Making the decision to allow Costa Rica Expeditions to work out all the details for us was the best decision of the entire trip, and one of the best vacation decisions I have ever made. From start to finish Costa Rica Expeditions allowed us to get the most out our time in Costa Rica. Everyone we met associated with Costa Rica Expeditions was professional, flexible, and service-oriented every step of the way.

Our host with our pickup in the van, both at our hotel in San Jose and again when we got off the plane from Tortuguero was Luis – and he was wonderful. In some ways he became the face of Costa Rica to us – knowledgeable, friendly, reliable, courteous and professional. Our guide, Norton Sinclair, at Tortuguero Lodge was amazing. Both incredibly competent and patient, he allowed us to see the lowland rainforest of Costa Rica in a way that we would have missed entirely without his help. Julian and Diego at the Tortuguero Lodge bent over backwards to see that our every need was taken care of.

This service continued once we arrived at Monteverde Lodege with Hava and Fredrico working in tandem to answer our questions and provide the best experience possible. Our guide at the Monteverde National Park was Carlos, who expertly explained what was right before us (but would have remained invisible without his skill) with an enthusiasm that was contagious. In short, thanks to Costa Rica Expeditions for everything. We would have had no idea what all we would have missed had we decided to do this trip on our own.
And please pass on our regards to Douglas and his family. It was a pleasure meeting them as well.
- Jim Shiveley, MD

Sep. 1, 2009 “Costa Rica Expeditions was simply amazing. They respond very quickly and offer the most personalized and friendly service!”
I have been meaning to write a note expressing my utmost appreciation for a most wonderfully arranged trip and an amazing experience that has exceeded my expectations completely!!
I am/will enthusiastically recommend Costa Rica Expeditions (and Costa Rica for that matter!) to all my friends and family! The level of customized/personal service provided by Costa Rica Expeditions was just great; I would like to thank Priscilla Jimenez especially for communicating in such a timely basis and for her fantastic service in helping my friend and I plan and develop a trip itinerary customized for us!
See below for my feedback. I am already looking forward to my next trip to Costa Rica. Please continue with your unparalleled excellence in helping others create wonderful memories in Costa Rica!

Q. What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory? The people of Costa Rica! They are so generous, open, nice, and genuine! Really a service-oriented country. People went out of their way to make sure we had a good time; very flexible and accommodating. The food was amazing! The service at Monterverde Lodge was simply fantastic!! We were provided such customized and personal service, it is unforgettable. The food was delicious and the package provided by CR expeditions was just great. All our tour guides (monterverde cloud forest, ecological sanctuary at Monterverde, float boat in arenal) were fantastic!!

Arenal was beautiful and we were extremely lucky to see the volcano erupt!! Arranged separately, zip lining was absolutely amazing and unforgettable!! And, most of all, the highlight was a boat cruise we took in Tamarindo (lazy lizard). We saw humpback whales, dolphins, turtles, went snorkeling and "petted" puffer fish, porcupine fish, starfish, octopus. And, watched a beautiful sunset on the waters of playa flamingo. All the transportation/transfers were smooth and as scheduled; drivers very friendly and courteous.

Q. What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand? The people of costa rica were truly amazing. We heard about it beforehand, but to experience it was unbelievable. The website was actually a bit complicated, especially with the myriad of packages offered. Working with Priscilla was so easy and fast - it was wonderful. The questionnaire on the website was really great - with this, Priscilla was able to develop a personalized vacation for us in no time.

Q. What fell short of your expectations? I was surprised that ziplining could not be arranged. We went with Sky Trek, which was fantastic! We understand the safety issues (many of the "canopy tours" indeed are precarious looking), but an organization as established as Sky Trek should have some relationship with Costa Rica Expeditions. Capitan Suizo was a great hotel, but not as great as we were expecting. The Arenal Nayara was the best hotel on our trip and we would have stayed there an extra night. It would be great to hear even more feedback from CR Expeditions on our proposed choices. For example, we were extremely grateful to Priscilla for letting us know ahead of time that Cala Luna was not on the beach.

Q. Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with? Went with my best friend; this was our best trip yet!

Q. What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us? Response time; we planned later than usual for the trip, so were anxious to keep the communication flowing very rapidly and book as soon as possible.

Q. What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us? The pricing (which was accomodated to our budget), the itinerary, high level of customization and service provided in developing our itinerary.

Q. What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways? Priscilla responded right away and offered whatever means (such as calling) to help plan our trip in a timely manner. She was extremely courteous and friendly and easy to communicate with. The itinerary was simply fantastic. Her caveat on Cala Luna not having a beach was very appreciated! I would wish to work with her again on future bookings. The only recommendation I would make is provide a list/proposal of other activities that we could do - for example, provide a range of choices for us to choose from. Also, further feedback on hotels chosen would also be helpful for travelers (and help confirm for them whether their choices are good or not).

As mentioned above, Monteverde Lodge absolutely exceeded our expectations! In particular, Diego Hernandez and Frederico (who was covering for the regular manager) provided the most amazing personalized service. All the tour guides (Charlie/Eco Sanctuary, Samuel/Cloud Forest, Haime/Float boat) were simply superb.

All the drivers were great, especially on our way to Tamarindo, the driver made a lunch spot at a fantastic place - la choza de laurel (?) in Liberia.

Q. What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica? Costa Rica Expeditions was simply amazing. They respond to you very quickly and offer the most personalized and friendly service! They arranged all our transportation, and concocted a customized itinerary that was simply fantastic! You should definitely use them if you wish to travel to more than one place in Costa Rica, as they make sure the transfers are smooth and the trip filled with fun activities - to your preferences.
- Sandra Chang

Aug. 31, 2009 “The trip was expertly planned and met or exceeded our expectations in every respect.”
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Costa Rica, and we are so happy that we arranged our trip through Costa Rica Expeditions. The trip was expertly planned and met or exceeded our expectations in every respect. I have a lot to say about the trip, and I appreciate your patience in reading this lengthy letter! There was never a time when I regretted the decision to travel with Costa Rica Expeditions. The company came highly recommended by every travel publication I read. I liked the idea of traveling with a local company, and our travel planner, Luis Cubero, responded to all of my emails and questions in a timely and complete manner.

As a woman traveling alone with a child, I paid particular attention to planning for a safe and child-friendly visit. Through Luis Cubero, and through our travel experience, I came to understand Costa Rica - not as a scary, foreign country - but as a destination full of warm, friendly, educated people, rich culture and history, deep commitment to environmental issues, and twenty-first century ideals.

We felt so fortunate to have Luis Torres as our expedition guide. Luis was professional, knowledgeable, patient and kind. He was able to answer all of our questions about the plants and wildlife of Costa Rica. He also knew a great deal about the history and culture of his country. In addition to me and my 11-year-old son, there were two younger children in our group. Luis expertly engaged the children in wildlife spotting activities, spoke with the children in an age-appropriate (but never condescending) manner, and praised their accomplishments. This man was a jewel; he is the most important reason we had such a spectacular time on our tour.


It is difficult to say which part of the trip was most enjoyable. Every location had so many wonderful and interesting aspects. Monteverde was beautiful. It was there that we saw three quetzals, many howler monkeys, and went to the great bat museum and hummingbird garden. Arenal was dramatic with its imposing volcano and suspended bridges. If I had to choose, however, my favorite would be Tortuguero. The Tortuga Lodge was a great experience in itself, and the riverboat tour was fantastic. Seeing the green sea turtles nest was an unforgettable and humbling experience. If I could say something to someone thinking about traveling to Costa Rica, I would say, "Go! Please go! Travel with Costa Rica Expeditions because they know and love their country, and it shows. Travel to Monteverde, Arenal, and especially to Tortuguero -- if only for the experience of being awakened in the morning by a chorus of howler monkeys! Go, and enjoy!"

My son and I stayed on an extra two days in San Jose after the tour so we could do a zip line at the Aerial Tram and see the Poas Volcano crater. Those day trips were arranged through other tour companies by Costa Rica Expeditions. We absolutely enjoyed the short excursions. The one and only thing I would say fell short of expectations was the decision to move us from the Parque del Lago Hotel to the Gran Hotel Costa Rica. I have attached a few pictures. They are not the highest quality, as I am not a professional photographer, and my camera is a small point-and-shoot. Maybe you will find them useful.
Pura Vida!
- Karen & John Sabo, NV

Aug. 27, 2009 “Personalization and attention to our specific needs sold me on your service.”
Yes, CRE OUTPERFORMED!!! Personalization and attention to our specific needs sold me on your service. All drivers and guides were timely, pleasant and exceptionally knowledgeable. They were truly genuine and really wanted us to see their country. For my kids, 8 and 9, they had fun, adventure and had the opportunity to meet people that are satisfied with what they have and not always wanting more and more…a great lesson for my children. Daily follow up and availability with the operations center was important and handy. Itinerary was perfect: the right amount of scheduled and free time and good selection of activities.

Jeffrey Vargas, our planner, was awesome. His local knowledge is quite apparent in retrospect. A great example was the Hidalgo Family hot springs. Beautiful property with great food and service and a limited number of visitors in comparison to the bus loads across the street at Tabacon and Baldi. We did actually do a zip line tour through "Sky" company. We found it extremely well supervised, safe and of course, fun. You may want to reconsider not recommending zip lines as many guests look forward to this publicized activity in Costa Rica. Yes this was a family trip that will provide us great memories forever.
- Robert Bass, MD

Aug. 26, 2009 "We had the impression we were special and important guests (not tourists)"
Q. What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
Seeing turtles nesting and laying their eggs on the beach in Tortuguero was truly a magical experience. Witnessing the Arenal volcano eruption by night and seeing the lava flow down the mountain was unforgettable. Our children will never forget surfing in Nosara. The Harmony hotel truly wears its name well, we would go back anytime.



Q. What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand? We had the impression that we were special and important guests (not tourists) in your country. It's all in the details, the truly friendly and gentle way in which we were treated. We were impressed with how patient and attentive our drivers and guides were. Their punctuality was impressive. We were also impressed with the quality of the food we ate.

Q. What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?

 This was our first time organising a trip with a travel agent on site in the visiting country (not our local travel agent) and we were unsure of your reliability. However, our guide books did recommend Costa Rica Expeditions as being reputable, so we jumped in!

Q. What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us? The recommendation in 2 guide books and the interaction with Jeffrey Vargas.

Q. What Costa Rica Expeditions' people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways? Jeff Vargas: He was truly amazing in his advice to us and his availability!

Q. What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica? When you travel to Costa Rica, I recommend that you organize your travel through Costa Rica Expeditions. This outfit is highly professional and reputable. They are locals, they know the country inside out. They will provide you with excellent advice on what to see according to your preferences. Their guides are knowledgeable in the local fauna and flora and will point out animal and birds that you would not see on your own. Their drivers know those roads inside out, better than a GPS!
- The Lavoie-Ferremi family

Aug. 17, 2009 “Spend the money and get more “bang for your buck” by having a trip planner, guide and driver to make the experience more worthwhile. Vacation time is precious – make it count!”
Q. What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
 We have so many fond memories of our travels that it will be difficult to share them all but I’ll try…Our time spent with William Granados and Carlos tops the list. There were so many funny, enlightening and memorable moments with them. Also, private turtle tour – being treated like royalty during dinner, having a whole Caribbean beach to ourselves to watch the turtle nesting (read my Tortuga Lodge review on TripAdvisor). For the guys, zip lining at Parque Adventura. I loved it too but struggled with it some. That struggle though and the fact that I tried it, made it a very bonding experience for all of us and we are still enjoying the stories about this.

Sitting in our room at Monteverde and looking out as the clouds swept past the treetops. Having a “wildlife crisis” at Monteverde during this one 5 minute period and not knowing which to focus on – a sloth, a hawk or a coatamundi. We were running back and forth delightedly overjoyed by all the wildlife we were discovering. (We did prioritize the sloth last since we figured he wasn’t going anywhere fast…he or she was adorable. We got some great photos.) My husband and guide William Granados spent a lot of time talking about photography and William was invaluable to us in helping us get some prized photos while we were there. Looking back at those photos reminds my husband of how much he learned and shared with William. He has been very inspired to take another step in his photography.

The walk through the Monteverde Cloud Forest was very enlightening and a number of people who did not have a guide were truly envious of our in-depth experience provided by William, who was very knowledgeable. One suggestion I would have is to truly emphasize how much more people get out of a guided expedition as I do not think the people who just “walked through” Monteverde had any idea what they missed. I consider our family time together so precious so I am willing to make the investment for the maximum experience possible. I also believe in lifelong learning and another suggestion I would make is to emphasize how educational and enlightening your tours are.

Our 4-wheel-drive from Monteverde to Lake Arenal. We were making “Jurassic Park” jokes the whole trip and when the two four-wheel-drives arrived, it was just a perfect parallel to the movie. We told our kids that they were riding in the one with the lawyer. (This is only funny if you have seen the movie.)

Being in Arenal when the volcano became visible after days of cloud cover. We know you ordered that just for us! William helped set up and loaning us his tripod so we could get awesome lava flow pictures from the Lost Iguana. The Celebrity Villa at the Lost Iguana. Those outdoor showers were called “epic” by our teenagers. The deck overlooking the rain forest was awesome.

Mountain biking around Arenal Volcano. I did not last the entire bike ride and thought it was perfect that I had no guilt hopping in the van and riding along, stopping with the rest of my family for photos and seeing that beautiful part of the country. I think this is a real strength to any adventure – i.e. when it accommodates the whole family, who may be at different levels of physical ability, to do something together without it being too hard for any one family member and everyone having fun in the process.

The Hidalgo Hot Springs was a nice place to relax and we loved the dinner there. Buying machetes for our boys with William’s help. And the Arenal Hanging bridges – we saw a baby eyelash viper and lots of cool things on our hike. We were also in the forest when a troop of monkeys came through which was very exciting.

The penthouse at Tortuga Lodge was amazing. The service at Tortuga Lodge was phenomenal and it was such a nice touch that so many staff members came out to say goodbye when we left! The boat rides through the canals with Norton. We saw so much wildlife and the private boat ride was definitely appreciated!! The food at Tortuga Lodge. Another suggestion – I would have loved to sign up for a cooking class with your head chef while I was there! The hike through the Braulio Carillo area by the tram. We saw an amazing caterpillar (we called it rat-erpillar as it looked like a small mouse or rat.) Bullet ants and other neat things.

Q. What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand? The service was impeccable and the many ways that William and Carlos went above and beyond to make sure we were comfortable and enjoyed our stay was great. The fact that we stopped at perfectly timed intervals to use the restrooms and William was always in sync with the pace we were comfortable with and really trying to customize the experience to what we were looking for. Again, my husband was very happy with the photography help. We felt very relaxed by the fact that Carlos was always at or near the car watching our photography equipment and such when we stopped to explore. It was also great not to have to worry about navigating through Costa Rican roads and finding the places we wanted to visit.

Q. What fell short of your expectations?
 When we arrived at the airport, we were expecting someone to meet us with a “sticker to facilitate clearing customs” as per our instructions on our itinerary. We looked around and my family was a little concerned when we didn’t find anyone. We proceeded through customs and found a CRE representative outside, who directed us to our driver. I know that “going with the flow” is important but I do think that first impression is really crucial to someone entering a foreign country and wondering if the people they hired will actually show up. If our instructions had said, “proceed through immigration and customs and we’ll be waiting outside to meet you,” there would have been no cause for concern. On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “didn’t bother us” to “10” being that it really bothered us, this was about a “4” so it wasn’t really a big deal but just a suggestion for perhaps re-wording the itinerary.

In our tour of Tortuguero, I would have liked to visit the school and talk to the students. I had seen that on your website I believe (photos of a family visiting the classroom) and we arrived there just as school was getting out so I was disappointed. I had brought postcards for the students of Oregon and was hoping we could have a discussion with them about various things. Both our boys speak Spanish and have enjoyed similar interactions with students visiting our area. It would have been an excellent learning opportunity. I am not sure if this is “workable” or not but perhaps having more cultural activities such as interacting with locals or hands-on learning of a local craft, cooking lessons, dance lessons, volunteer opportunities (becoming quite the hot travel item in some areas…). In Australia and Turkey, we enjoyed some of these immersion activities and they were very memorable.

I’m not sure I would do Punta Uva again, although we do have some great memories there. It was just “inconsistent” with the rest of our trip. It was exactly what we asked for though, which was 3 days to relax at the beach. The snorkeling was not good right off the beach as it was way too rough and that was our primary goal so that was disappointing but we made the most of our time there and found other fun things to do.

Q. Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 We are a very close family and it did help to further that bond.

Q. What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 The cost as compared to putting it together ourselves – it seemed expensive, but I did a lot of research on your company and felt that we would get the higher level of services and amenities that we wanted by using CRE. I do think that more could be said on your website about the value of services of the guides and drivers. I wouldn’t have even hesitated if I had known more about that up front. I was concerned about your financial stability. I am a business/financial analyst and so I was very concerned about giving you $7,000 to hold for almost a year (and then another $7,000 a month prior to our arrival) and hoping you would deliver the services and goods when the time came. There have been many travel companies that have failed in this economy and left their clients in a lurch.

Q. What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us? Specialized service, well-trained guides and more intimate experiences.

Q. What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways? Wow, this list is very long. Luis Cubero was great to work with, very prompt at answering my emails and questions and just very sweet; William and Carlos are now considered adopted family; Julian went above and beyond to make us feel welcome at Tortuga Lodge; Hava was very good to us at Monteverde Lodge; Norton was funny and great at spotting wildlife in Tortuguero; Fernando was amazingly knowledgeable about the turtles; the dining staff at both Monteverde Lodge and Tortuga Lodge were excellent – everyone smiled and said hello to us. We did not encounter anyone from a CRE establishment that was not service-oriented, helpful and friendly.

Q.
 What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica? Spend the money and get more “bang for your buck” by having a trip planner, guide and driver to make the experience more worthwhile. Vacation time is precious – make it count!
- Cyndi Thompson

Aug. 13, 2009 ''It was nice to have someone who knew the country well and could give us good travel and safety tips.''
Q. What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory? During our stays at MonteVerde Lodge and Lapa Rios we were delighted with the wildlife! We especially were impressed with views of the sloths, monkeys, and reptiles. Our naturalist guides were friendly and knowledgeable.

Q. Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with? No, we still love each other!

Q. What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us? The initial cost was higher than we wanted. But Marco Hernandez was able to modify the itinerary to meet our expectations.

Q. What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us? The availability of a contact in Costa Rica who could make the travel arrangements and be available in case of emergencies. Also, the focus on sustainable development heavily influenced our decision.

Q. What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations and in what ways? All the CR Expeditions people we encountered were friendly and helpful.

Q. What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica? Costa Rica Expeditions worked with us to prepare an itinerary that included the activities and accommodations we desired. It was nice to have someone who knew the country well and could give us good travel and safety tips.
- Kim

Aug. 10, 2009 “(Our guide) helped us see so many animals and educated us on so many different things. He really opened up our eyes to the beauty.”
Q. What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened - something that might become a lifetime memory? Going through Monteverde Reserve with Carlos Gomez! He was great! He helped us see so many animals and educated us on so many different things. He really opened up our eyes to the beauty. Just the feeling of being so close to the beauty of nature. Costa Rica is really mother nature in all her glory!

Q. What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand? How fantastic everyone's English was. Our Spanish was pathetic and I was embarrassed. Everyone on the trip was very fluent and those that were less so were still better than my husband and I!!

Q. What fell short of your expectations? NOTHING

Q. What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us? Nothing

Q. What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us? You were written in Frommer's travel book as being the most reliable guided tour. Jeff Vargas responded to my e-mails as we decided on various destinations.

Q. What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 Wow, they were all great! Carlos the Naturalist in Monteverde. Our guide at Arenal Hanging Bridges - her name may have been Alma, I can't remember. All of the wait staff at each hotel. The main receptionist at The Lost Iguana. Jorge at Monteverde Lodge and Gardens and the woman at the front desk there. Sorry I can't remember her name. Will at the Borinquen Resort, who took us horseback riding. All of our drivers. The boat transfer driver and boater, the four-wheel-drive vehicle driver to Monteverde. Our driver to the hot springs.

Q. What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica? If you are looking for a group that is a little more expensive, but very dependable and takes the hassle out of planning the details, you should use them. They set up all your activities and are thorough when finding out how adventurous you are. They set up all the transportation and are very safe. Their English is very good. They seem to know how to plan an awesome trip and make a very good itinerary.
- Christina Fairbairn

Aug. 10, 2009 “It may seem like a lot of money compared to other places you can stay at in Tortuguero, but the experience in unlike any other.”
Q. What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory? One of the managers at Tortuga Lodge showed us howler monkeys in the trees, and pointed out a crocodile in the river, and helped us learn what various lizards/iguanas we were seeing. We also had a hike in the back of the hotel and had a snake with a frog in its mouth dangle right in front of our faces!

Q. What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand? We couldn't believe the friendliness/genuineness/helpfulness of the staff at Tortuga Lodge. When our boat pulled up to the dock after an incredibly long/rough day of travel there were many workers waiting for us to carry our bags, sit us down, serve us a welcome drink, and tell us all about what to look forward to. It was the moment we could finally exhale and relax.

Q. Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with? No, but it raised the bar for all the places we were going to stay at for the remaining week and a half of travels!

Q. What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us? It was hard not being able to just book a room on a form and pay for it and hit submit. Instead there were lots of emails back and forth, then I had to print everything out, scan it in, and write my credit card number in the scan. It would have been easier if I could have just gone on hotels.com or something to quickly book the room. I understand a lot of people do a whole package deal though, with add-ons, etc. We just don't travel like that and just wanted the room. I'd already been to Tortuguero in the past so I knew how to go about doing things on my own.

Q. What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us? It looked like, from the website, that it wasn't just going to be a hotel room, but rather a wonderful experience. It was my 70-year-old mom's first few days in Costa Rica, my 2-1/2-year-old's first time there, and my 18-year-old niece's first time there, and it really was an excellent way to start the trip through Costa Rica.

Q. What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?

I wish I could remember the name of the manager that we saw all the time while we were there. Diego had been there for a day and he was great and but then another man came on to work the remainder of our time there. He was so amazing, and I couldn't thank him enough for everything. He worked on July 30 and 31 for sure. He was incredibly helpful, funny and energetic and could make things happen. I was also impressed with the bar staff and how beautiful they made the drinks (besides being tasty).

Q. What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica? It may seem like a lot of money compared to other places you can stay at in Tortuguero, but the experience in unlike any other. The location, the beauty of the rooms, the ability to exhale, relax and feel like you aren't missing out on anything. We saw more wildlife in three days than we did in the following 11 days in all of Costa Rica. You can trust the staff at Tortuga Lodge, but I wouldn't trust other places. Spend the money and go!
- Liz Pellegrom

Aug. 5, 2009 ''The risk of a disappointing vacation was too high if I tried to do it myself, so I decided your price premium was worth it.''
Thank you for asking for feedback from my trip. I had been working on a note already so I hope you don't mind if I send you a slightly longer document than you requested below. Also, I have some really nice pictures so I've attached some of the better ones (if you want to see them all, they are on facebook but you have to friend me at kevin brand - atlanta, ga). Thanks for everything and here's the feedback:

Overall: I didn't realize until I was heading home at the airport in San Jose how much stress of a trip is removed by not having to worry about getting to your next destination and about worrying whether everything will be as promised. Without a doubt, this was the biggest benefit of booking with Costa Rica expeditions. Every single driver was on-time or early. Every connection and outing was well coordinated. For this, I thank you.

We enjoyed our time in Costa Rica. The trip was a success. Each location we visited had some memorable times. There were no great disasters or anything that put a big damper on the trip. There were some areas that I thought could have been improved. Here's the details of each location...

Drivers (overall): All were knowledgeable of the routes, polite and helpful. Our first driver, who's name we can't recall, drove us from the airport to Villa Blanca and then from Villa Blanca to Arenal. He was especially polite and careful.

Locations/Hotels: Villa Blanca was the highlight of the hotels. The room was very nice. The food was excellent in taste, variety, and presentation. The food was fairly priced. The waiters were professional and helpful. Every meal was good. Obviously it was a little off the beaten path, but for relaxation and a nice hike in the cloud forest this was a great destination. We had a side trip to a coffee plantation and Sarchi (arranged ourself), which was also very nice. We also did a night hike which was interesting. We saw Coati and a great variety of moths and butterflies here. All in all, we'd highly recommend this destination. The only very minor issues here was that the van they got for our side trip did not have seatbelts in the third row so someone had to ride without a seatbelt and the bed could have been more comfortable.

Arenal Naraya: Our biggest comment about this hotel was that it was on the wrong side of the volcano. They did have a bus that went to the other side at 9 pm but if it was clear at 8 but not at 9 you missed out seeing the lava. We would have preferred to stay at an equal or even lesser hotel but be on the side where you could see the lava flow. We did get to see a small amount of lava flow on the night we went on the bus. The hotel room was nice. Beds were very comfortable. We enjoyed the outside shower and the fairly spacious room. I spent quite a bit of time walking the grounds and got some excellent hummingbird pictures. The front desk personnel were nice as were the waiters. The breakfast was excellent, dinners were OK. The prices were a bit higher than expected for dinner but not outrageous. The bike ride was enjoyable and Moses was an excellent guide. He was knowledgeable and helpful. He arranged for us to have lunch at the end of the ride for no extra cost as the weather cut us a tiny bit short. The lunch was unexpected and not necessary as we had plenty of time to ride (frankly, I was glad the ride was over as I was pretty tired :-) Moses even stopped the bikes when he spotted a blue jean frog. We also got to milk a cow on the farm and have a short tour. My only other comment is that the ride was not anything like the description on our trip guide (trip guide: From there we go towards the Arenal Observatory Lodge and the village of El Castillo. We ll be biking on a quiet lane surrounded by dense forest and a few cattle farms. Along the ride we often see howling monkeys, coatis, and many birds like toucans, egrets and king fishers. We ll stop for a picnic on the shore of Lake Arenal where it s possible to swim). We rode on a farm and through a small amount some forest. There was no village and we didn't go near Lake Arenal. However, we did enjoy the ride and our guide. It just seems like the guide should be true to the trip.

The boat trip was also very enjoyable. Our guide (Adolfo I believe) was knowledgeable. He found howler monkeys and engaged them in a conversation, which was quite entertaining. We saw iguanas, a small crocodile and birds. We stopped at Don Pedro's farm for a snack and chatted (with translation by Adolfo) with Don Pedro. We really enjoyed this peak at Costa Rican life. This trip was also slightly different than the description on our trip guide as we went on a farm not through a tropical rain forest. This was fine as we had plenty of time in rain forests on our trip. (trip guide: "At the end of the river trip, it is time to put on your long pants and get ready to hike into the Primary Tropical Rain Forest.") The Arenal Hanging Bridges was a very nice hike. Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable and the forest was interesting. We saw a good bit of wildlife including a coral snake, trogon, and many other birds. So, all in all, Arenal was very good except for the one comment about our hotel being on the wrong side of the volcano.

Monteverde Lodge: It's hard to exactly judge this without knowing the price of the hotel. The room was not as nice as our other hotels and were much smaller. That said, the room was clean and the beds were very comfortable (which was important to us on a long trip like this). The staff at the hotel was nice, and I had a chance to chat for an hour or so with Fredrico at the front desk, who was very knowledgeable about Costa Rica and an interesting person. The happy hour was good and we enjoyed the bar snack menu which was very reasonably priced. Breakfast and dinner were OK. Probably the least tasty food of our 4 hotels but still acceptable. The waiters were helpful, even getting our daughter a taste of something one night to see if she wanted to order it. We really appreciated this extra gesture. We had purchased the breakfast/dinner package but the prices on the menu were much less than expected. I actually felt a bit disappointed as we appeared to have overpaid for the meals package even though we had been given a 20% discount. I think it would have been noticeably cheaper had we paid as we went. I guess I could have asked to see a menu before deciding but as you own that hotel, you may want to be more transparent about the package price. The grounds were very nice. I went on hikes down to the river and saw Agouti and Armadillos as well as hummingbirds. I saw lots of butterflies and birds on the grounds also.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest was enjoyable. Carlos really went the extra mile in spending lots of time with us in search of monkeys, toucans, and the quetzal. He let us spend quite a bit of time at the hummingbird garden and I got some great pictures there. He found a quetzal right at the end of the trip which was exciting. Carlos was also very knowledgeable about the cloud forest, showing us highlights such as the zombie beetle and strangler figs. We also saw a Coati steal someones lunch! We really enjoyed the cloud forest and Carlos's guidance.

On the way to Tulemar Bungalows, we stopped for the Zip Line. That was a good experience. I was very glad you had checked it out previously and certified the safety because outside appearances when you pulled up would have made me a bit nervous of the safety. I was confident about it though since you had told me about your inspections. We enjoyed our guides there. They were safety conscious and when Maura got nervous about the height they worked with her and even rode across together with her to ease her concerns. The staff was excellent overall and that added to the positive experience.

Manual Antonio/Tulemar Bungalows: This was definitely the worst hotel and one that I would not recommend to others. Again, I don't know the price of it so maybe I should have lower expectations but this area seemed to have a lot of choices so I think we could have done better. On the positive side, our room was clean, the beds were comfortable, and the room was spacious. So all in all, it wasn't a poor experience. There were just several annoyances. The reception was dirty and cluttered. The front desk person could have been more polite and helpful. Our room had no clock and hence no alarm clock. I asked him if he could find one (since I had lost my phone which was our backup alarm) and he said he'd try. When I saw him the next day and asked him, he actually laughed at me as it was obvious he didn't try and get one. Maybe it wasn't possible but he could have just told me that. Since we had to get up early the next day for our flight, I was a bit nervous about oversleeping. Honestly, the wake up call worked (as did your office calling us so thanks for that), but I didn't want to worry about it.

Our room itself was showing signs of age. Things chipped, stained etc. The shower leaked through the wall and left a puddle on the floor in the bedroom when you used it. Lastly, on our first night there was a wedding in the restaurant area. So we had dinner in our room which was not our preferred option (we could have ate next to the pool, which was 20 yards from the wedding, but that wasn't too enticing). We were two bungalows from the restaurant so it was quite loud from the music til 9:45. This was not very relaxing and I wonder why they put us so close to the restaurant knowing this would happen. At that point, it wasn't worth asking to move as we had unpacked already. So, again, not a disaster or a hotel that ruined our stay, but I just felt we could do better. The food was pretty good but a bit expensive (the most expensive of any of the hotels). Waiters were nice and helpful. Grounds were nice as we saw sloths, monkeys, coutis, iguanas and many birds. They had the dedicated beach, which I'm sure was attractive to many though we didn't use it. We went to Manual Antonio Park while there and it was very enjoyable. Had a great monkey viewing and saw Agouti's, iguana's and birds.

The airport in Quepos was closed when we got there as we were early for the first flight (we actually asked the office for an earlier pick-up so that was my doing). Other people who arrived were dropped off. Our taxi driver stayed with us til it opened and even went to the counter and spoke spanish to the agent to make sure we were all set before he left. That was greatly appreciated as he really went the extra mile.

Summary: All in all a great trip. Everything we did was fun. Every location had its highlights. People were extremely friendly at every stop. Stopping at farms during the boat and bike ride allowed us to see parts of Costa Rica that added to the experience. As I said up front, having our itinerary run like clockwork was great. I felt like I paid a premium to use Costa Rica Expeditions but I believe I got my moneys worth. I'm sorry if some of my negative comments above seem unduly harsh or picky and I want to make sure you put them in the proper perspective. The trip was an 8-1/2 out of 10 (and I'm a hard grader) but as someone who provides services to consumers in the U.S., I always like to hear the areas for improvement so we can continually be improving our service. I hope you take my comments with that in mind and that they are helpful. Thank you. Also...I think I answered all your questions below except these 2:

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us? I priced each component to the best of my ability and thought your markup was too high. I worked with Priscilla on this. She was quite helpful in getting the price down by swapping out some private portions for shared trips. I still thought we were paying a bit more of a premium than I wanted but see next question...

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us? I liked that you were in Costa Rica (it would have been helpful to have a U.S. number or an 800-number). You had good recommendations from travel books which was critical in our selection. And, lastly, I decided that the risk of a disappointing vacation was too high if I tried to do it myself, so I decided your price premium was worth it.
- Kevin Brand

Aug. 5, 2009 ''By using your service we could truly feel like we were on vacation and let the experts take care of the details. It was wonderful! Worth every penny!''
Q: What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory? Definitely the rainforest hikes and the strange critters we saw there that we didn't expect - butterflies with transparent wings and basilisk lizards that walk on water, for instance.

Q: What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand? How smoothly everything went. We felt completely cared for so that we could lay back and enjoy the wonderful sights, tastes and experiences of CR.

Q: And what fell short of your expectations? The only experience that disappointed was the snorkeling tour. It wasn't private, which we weren't clear on given the rest of our tours. That wouldn't have been such an issue but the water was apparently rough that day and not a good day to snorkel. Our itinerary description said that they would be going to more than one site, though with the poor conditions the operator did not offer an alternative site nor did they offer to reschedule. Had it been private, John would have asked them to return to shore. No sense wasting a morning... but it wasn't private and the other people along had never been snorkeling before so the tour operator did not offer to return early. John would not recommend using them again. One tiny request: it would have been nice to have a message at our hotel each night before an excursion knowing what time we were going to be picked up. We were sometimes guessing.

Q: Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with? No. We had a blast together. The kids were great travel companions.

Q: What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us? The outdated conditions of Monteverde Lodge. I would still contend the rooms and main lodge need updating, especially given all the new and nicer resorts going into your beautiful country. But we stayed there knowing what it would be like and the staff went a long way to making the stay more enjoyable. The garden was lovely and the hiking paths were fun. Your staff should promote those more!

Q: What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us? Priscilla Jimenez's ability to capture all of our needs in one vacation pretty close to right off the bat. With a bit of fine tuning we had an itinerary that included all we wanted to do. The whole process was so easy. It was so nice to be able to rely on a trusted expert who had a feel for what we were looking for. We felt cared for every step of the way. We knew drivers were arranged for each activity so we didn't even have to think of that. Even as mundane as knowing my kids were prone to motion sickness so I was concerned about the drives into and out of Monteverde, Priscilla had arranged stops and clearly Alberto and William knew our situation so they and their drivers did an amazing job planning enough breaks so that the drives never got to be too much. As an aside, John met another guest at Monteverde Lodge who said he got his friend's Costa Rica Expeditions itinerary from the year before and just followed that. He was implying that he saved himself a bunch of money by booking it all himself. John and I felt like he missed the point - that meant this other guest had to do all the calling and arranging, had to deal onsite with all the coordination activities. By using your service we could truly feel like we were on vacation and let the experts take care of the details. It was wonderful! Worth every penny! Finally, I really appreciated the fact that you check out the companies and tour operators you work with, particularly the canopy tour operator, to ensure all safety procedures are being followed. It gave me peace of mind to know we could relax and enjoy because someone had already done the checking out of the various operators. To know that out of 200 canopy tour operators in CR you have only approved 6 so far to work with made me feel that much more safe with the one you chose.

Q: What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways? None fell short. Priscilla Jimenez, our travel planner, was an enthusiastic ambassador of your country. She was responsive, attentive to detail and was quickly able to assess our needs and wants and address them. She did an amazing job. Our travel guides into and out of Monteverde, Alberto and William, and their drivers, were terrific as well. They were friendly and knowledgeable, sharing interesting facts about CR and interesting sights along the way. They were responsive to our needs for breaks. William was a trooper - my son Liam was not feeling well the morning of our drive to Manuel Antonio. (I think he petted too many stray dogs without washing his hands...) He ended up getting sick a couple of times on the way down, but we were able to get him out of the car and to a safe spot on the side of the road both times, thanks to William and his driver. William even thought to stop for some Gatorade for electrolytes and crackers for Liam.

Our nature guides in both parks - Carlos in Monteverde and Millie in Manuel Antonio - were wonderful as well. They clearly showed their expertise. There is no way we would have seen any of the things we did without them. They were knowledgeable and willing to share the sights and sounds the rainforest had to offer. They were generous with their expertise and their passion for what they did came through in their efforts with us.

Q: What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica? With CRE you know all the details will be taken care of so the adventures you enjoy are the ones you're suppose to enjoy - like canopy tours, rainforest hikes, and white water rafting - instead of travel hassles you don't enjoy - like having to arrange transportation, figuring out how to get between destinations, checking out operators and hotels from hundreds of choices. With CRE you always have someone to call should you need help.
- Kathy McDonald

Aug. 5, 2009 "Your prices were competitive, the itinerary included all the things and places that we had requested and were interested in seeing."
Q: What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory? It was amazing to be experiencing so many wonderful, exciting things with my two daughters without any problems in our travel plans... yea!

Q: What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand? We had heard great things about everything in Costa Rica. I was pleased that the travel from place to place was painless and enjoyable. Also the hotels were all unique, eco-friendly and gave us a real flavor for Costa Rica hospitality.

Q: And what fell short of your expectations? I thought our ziplining tour was a little crowded. We had a fantastic time. I really don't have anything to compare it too, since it was our first time. We just seemed to have to wait a long time inbetween lines.

Q: What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us? Timing, as far as the rainy season was concerned. I was worried about it being too rainy. It was ok, but didn't stop us from doing anything or exploring.

Q: What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us? Your prices were competitive, the itinerary included all the things and places that we had requested and were interested in seeing.

Q: What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways? All of our transfer agents, drivers and tour guides were very friendly, professional and knowlegeable about the different areas we visited. The hotel accommadations were wonderful and really helped us enjoy Costa Rica from many perspectives. Everyone was always willing to help. The service was great.

Q: What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica? If you are interested in seeing Costa Rica stress free, I think Costa Rica Expeditons did an excellent job with coordinating activities, travel and acommadations in all locations. Our travel was efficient and we felt like we maxiimized the time we had to spend in the country.
- Anne Munroe

Aug. 4, 2009 ''CRE is definitely a respected company in Costa Rica and so glad we chose you to put our trip together.''
Marco: Just wanted to tell you that we have returned safely to Atlanta and had a GREAT time on our trip to Costa Rica! I sent the survey in yesterday but wanted to write you an email to say thank you personally. We enjoyed ourselves in every location. The hotels and transportation – and mostly the efficient organization of it all – were very impressive. CRE is definitely a respected company in Costa Rica and so glad we chose you to put our trip together. Could not have asked for friendlier drivers and guides or better service all the way around. Shout outs especially to those who were most memorable:
-Olam our welcome and goodbye host – he was so friendly and the perfect contact to meet at the beginning of a trip.
-Yaherra (not sure if that is the right spelling), our guide at the Arenal Hanging Bridges – she was fabulous, spoke great English and made the tour very fun and informative.
-Carlos, our guide at the Monteverde Cloud Forest. He was excellent, funny, smart, so well informed and spoke fantastic English. You can tell he loves his job. He is a tremendous asset to you.
-Whoever the chef is at Monteverde – the food was fantastic there and comparable to fine dining in the U.S.
Jorge, the waiter at Monteverde was awesome.
-Yeremi and Omar – waiters/bar staff at Si Como No. Fabulous, friendly young men. They made our stay there fun.
-H2O rafting guys were great

Thanks too for accommodating our change of plans in Manuel Antonio. The kids were tired of vegetation tours (!!) so the rafting trip satisfied their need for continued adventure! Guess it was a sign that it had to be changed anyway because the National Park was not open on the Monday the tour was originally scheduled! But appreciate it anyway.

We really had fun getting to know several families who were on the same or similar vacation as ours...maybe a day or two ahead or behind us. It was like seeing old friends when we ran into them in each of the places we visited – kind of like a cruise without the boat!! Ha

This is not a negative at all and please do not take it as such but I did want to pass it along to you in the hopes it may help you with any future “handicapped” travelers/clients you might encounter. Remember we talked about the fact that my husband has Multiple Sclerosis. Just a reminder, it is a disease that challenges those who have it with all kinds of things: balance, walking, fatigue, heat etc. Those were my biggest concerns regarding his ability to take part in the activities we had selected. He is in very good shape so overall he fared pretty well. However, I would say for anyone else that you might have to advise on this, especially anyone older or anyone who is less active or in not-so-good physical shape, the things that were most difficult for him were these:

-Turtle Nesting Tour (this was the only event we could not complete. It was far too long of a walk in the dark for Brent. When we learned the lottery zone we had received was a mile and a half hike in the mud and in the dark (the furthest one away), the guys at the lodge made some phone calls to help change our location to a closer zone which was so very helpful. Of course we went, but because “our turtle” wasn’t cooperating (!! – which was nobody’s fault – that is just nature) and we had to move zones in order to see another turtle, he could not do it and we had to leave. Overall it was just too difficult for him to navigate the distances and the uneven terrain in the dark).
-Hanging Bridge Walk and Tour. We all loved this activity but the balance requirement on the bridges was a challenge for him – not dangerous at all, just very exhausting.
-Zip Line. We all loved this and it was one of our favorite activities, but the hikes between platforms were muddy and slick (and of course downhill!) and very difficult for him without assistance.
-Hotel room locations. We loved all of them and not sure you are able to have control over this but I should have asked for rooms closest to the “reception” areas. Lots and lots of stairs and ramps and walking involved, which was difficult after a day’s worth of adventures! I only mention these specifics in the hopes it might help someone else who is asking you questions about these activities.

Overall everything was perfect and I wanted you to know that all of us had a fabulous time. We loved all the Park tours. We got to see a turtle “release” at Tortugera and met some really cool people there in the park who were doing research. Even met the guy who was at the first turtle release 40 years ago – John something.

-The Boat Tour in Tortugera was fun – Fernando I think was our guide and he was nice
-Glad you insisted on the Volcano View rooms in Arenal. That was cool.
-The Hot Springs and dinner event in Arenal was a fun event and a treat. So glad you chose that evening time frame for us – it was really a great night.
-We Bungee Jumped in Arenal which was a thrill for the kids (!! although I am sure CRE would not approve!! J)
-Internet access in Monteverde hotel was very appreciated by our techo-starved-at-that-point children!!
-Zip Lines were awesome
-Rafting was great
-The order of our trip was perfect...ending at the beach was right on!

The weather was very cooperative in the appropriate places (we even got to see a few lava splashes in Arenal) and we could not have asked for a better nine days away. We joked that the only thing Drew was disappointed he did not see was a Jaguar sitting with a Toucan on his back looking up at a Boa Constrictor in a tree!! So sorry we did not get to meet you in person but thank you for everything -- your country was beautiful.
- Gina Cullen

Aug. 3, 2009 "Everything you worked into our itinerary far exceeded our expectations."
LUIS!!! I'm so glad that you e-mailed! I would like to tell you how awesome you and EVERYONE who we came in contact with was. Everything you worked into our itinerary far exceeded our expectations. I think it's great that even though we couldn't fit into the Costa Rica Expeditions' white water rafting schedule, you booked us with Rios Tropicales. Our guide, Cristian, and his assistant (I forgot his name) took really great care of us. They cooked for us and took us hiking and ziplining. The lodge was so freaking awesome. Like, craaaaaazy awesome. It's not what you would expect for a lodge in the middle of nowhere. It was nicer than a lot of hotels we've stayed at and definitely much more interesting!

I was a little hesitant about the whole nature thing in Monteverde because we don't really know anything about what to look for. I mean, we could be like, "Hey look, there's a nice looking plant" but that's about it. And we wouldn't have known where to look for all the wildlife. I mean you told us in our itinerary that we would have a guide, but I thought it just meant someone was going to go hiking with us along with another group and point things out. But no, it was so much more!! WE FREAKING HAD OUR OWN PRIVATE NATURALIST FOR 2 DAYS!!! That's nuts! We totally did not expect that. FEDERICO TOTALLY MADE OUR TRIP!!! Always carrying around that bigass telescope and talking nonstop about this and that. "Oh my gosh, look here!!! No no, there, there!!!" HAHAHAHA! Made us feel like VIPs!!! And our driver! Shampoo! He's such a nice man!! The two of them make such a great team. We learned a lot from them, and they were so patient with us. We laughed a lot and had a lot of fun, more than we ever thought we would have. I hope they're doing well!

Oh, while we were at the lodge in Monteverde, my friend Lisa thought one of the staff was really hot. I forgot his name, but he worked at the bar and restaurant. I think he's married and has a kid. She was trying to hit on him in Spanish but she doesn't really know that much so she said, "Con permiso guapo!!!" And then tried to ask him in Spanish what his plans were for the night, but I don't think she said it right. Haha, I think the staff thought we were nuts :)

We loved our itinerary. We loved the people we met, the things we saw, the food we ate. Dude, who knew rice and beans could be that good?!!! And we drank a lot of guaro :) It was the best experience ever. Thank you so much for planning it for us. Everything was so easy, accomodations were in optimal locations, drivers were on safe and on time, itinerary was the best. SO AWESOME. I only wish we could have met you to take you out for some drinks!

Below is a link to some pictures we took. We have A LOT of pictures of scenery, but I figure you have plenty of those. If you want more pics, let me know what you're looking for, and I can send them to you. We have over 2,000. :) We've been recommending you to everyone who's asked us about Costa Rica. Please let us know if you need anything or if you're ever in San Francisco :) Peace out Luis! I hope everyone gets a chance to have the same experience we did, pura vida!!
- Jennifer

Aug. 3, 2009 “It felt like a second honeymoon for us.”
Q. What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory? First impression upon arrival: We arrived at Liberia Airport Hilton hotel at night. From our window, you could not see anything at all, so we didn't even know if it was the sea, or the forest, or a field, or some buildings. When we woke up the next morning, we opened the curtains and saw such a beautiful dense forest as far as the eyes could see. That was amazing.

Q. What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand? Waterfalls in Arenal: After the horse ride, we walked down to the bottom of the waterfall. It was raining really heavily, the water was deep, so we didn't want to cross the water, but our guide took our camera and walked across the waist deep water just to take some closer photos of the waterfall for us. We hadn't asked him to do such a thing, he just went anyway and returned 100% soaked obviously. This is an example of a person going beyond expectations.

Hotel Borinquen Mountain Resort was beyond expectations too. From the photos and from what I've read, I could not have imagined what a beautiful and tranquil place it would be. We had 2 days there, and one of the days was completely at leisure. So, we spent the whole day relaxing on the hammock on the balcony admiring the view, listening to the birds, reading a book. It was the most relaxing day of our lives. The staff, even though there was no room service, didn't mind bringing us food from the restaurant for lunch. Again, going beyond expectations.

Q. What fell short of your expectations? Nothing. Believe me, I find very easy excuses to complain about things if I am not satisfied with something. My own job is very demanding and you cannot afford to make any mistakes. So I expect the same from everyone. No complaints about anything in Costa Rica. The only thing I could mention is that most of the hotels do not have a clock on the wall in the reception area. I found that unusual. I think out of the 5 hotels we stayed in, only Monteverde Lodge had a clock.

Q. Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with? I was with my wife, we left our little daughter with the grandparents and took our first holiday as a couple since her birth 2 years ago. So in that sense, it felt like a second honeymoon for us. It would have been very difficult to do the same trip with a 2 year old, almost impossible, and we would not have been able to do some of the activities at all.

Q. What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us? Nothing really. I contacted Priscilla and at the same time one of your competitors working for a US company. After a few emails, it was apparent that you were more professional, even though you were more expensive, so I decided to go with you.

Q. What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us? Professionalism. Priscilla Jimenez was always very clear, she could answer all my questions, never giving me ambiguous answers. This way, we didnt have any bad surprises.

Q. What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways? Everyone seems to enjoy their jobs. Michael, please pay them well, they deserve it!

Q. What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica? This is a very good company, they put together an itinerary based around what you want to see in Costa Rica and how intense you want to experience different activities. They're very professional, the email communications are always very clear and, when you arrive in CR, they give you a vouchers booklet, very neatly printed, so you know exactly what's going on each day. They always call or fax you the day before about your upcoming activities and who will meet you at what time and where. You feel like they're taking care of you. You feel like you get personal attention. However, of course this all comes at a price. They are not cheap. I would use them if I were planning a trip with many stops, many activities, many transfers, because they arrange everything for you, you pay a lot of money, but you get a wonderful service.
- Baris Akcali

Jul. 13, 2009 “Service that goes above and beyond your expectations, wonderful private tours, abundant wildlife, gourmet-quality good…treat yourself to Tortuga Lodge”
Q: What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory? We absolutely adored our private picnic that we had on the banks of the river; everything was so beautiful, and the service was exceptional. It was a complete surprise to us. Tortuga Lodge has a reputation for special treatment, and you really lived up to our expectations, even exceeded them. We loved having dinner at the restaurant, sitting by candlelight on the edge of the water and enjoying the exceptional food. We were amazed. We got the chance to see a beautiful green sea turtle in the moonlight - what a treat!

Q: What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand? The food was absolutely amazing - impressive, delicious, beautiful, and so fresh. How do you do that in the jungle?! The wildlife was so abundant. We loved our private tour of the canals and preserve. We passed boats from other lodges that were overloaded with people and we felt very lucky to have just the two of us go out with our wonderful guide.

Q: What fell short of your expectations? I think you should provide robes and blow dryers in the rooms. Weight limitations on these small flights make it hard to bring in little luxury items like that. All the other places we stayed provided them. It would be great if there were some sort of activities to do when it rains, since rain is so prevalent in the area - maybe provide a little library of books, magazines, or show movies, have cooking classes, or talks done by a naturalist.

Q: Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with? I already adore him!

Q: What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us? We had a communication problem with our first rep. I asked some detailed questions about the park such as if there was a charge for the tour, is it on land or via boat, etc. and he responded that we weren't doing the jungle odyssey since we were getting picked up in Arenal, rather than in San Jose. I found his answers to be abrupt sometimes and felt like he didn't answer all my questions. It made me think we couldn't visit the park at all. My husband wanted to cancel this portion of our trip after reading that. I got a NEW rep after that, Marco Hernandez, who answered all my questions in a wonderful way - very friendly, helpful, and thoughtful so we decided to stick with our plan, and I'm glad we did. Marco is great and showed a real attention to detail that we loved.

Q: What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us? We made our choice based on trip advisor reviews and the fact that you let people go out individually rather than in groups; we wanted to go with someone who would provide us with good service and individualized attention. We had also read that you have wonderful food, and you did not disappoint us.

Q: What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways? Our first rep confused me. I was happy when Marco took over. Marco Hernandez was great - friendly, thorough, and detail-oriented. Also adored Jorge at the lodge; he saved us so many times and always with a smile. When we needed a Bandaid, he provided it. Bug spray? Yes! Binoculars, of course. And he came up with a blow dryer for us. He could not be stumped and always had a warm smile and positive attitude. I can tell that he really loves his country, and he is very, very, very good at his job. When we wanted to do a tour, he called someone up and had the guide there in minutes. We were impressed.

Q: Wait staff was also very fun and friendly? I liked that they tried to speak Spanish to us, even though our Spanish is spotty. Ricardo and Fernando were excellent at spotting wildlife and got us up close so we could take beautiful photos. I never got to meet the gardeners, but they do an amazing job, and housekeeping kept our room spotless. On our last day, we were at the airport and surprised by how many reps/guides came along to see us off. While we were getting ready to board, Fernando and Ricardo yelled for us to come to the beach, so we ran over to find two sea turtles! It was so wonderful because we could take pictures of them, and of course we couldn't do that on the night hike. Now we will always remember the turtles.

One last thing, we would love the recipe for those delicious butter cookies with guava filling. Were they homemade? We had those for breakfast on our last day since our flight left early. We thought it was great that you provided those along with the coffee and muffins. Could you send me the recipe?

Q: What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica? Go, go, go! If you want service that goes above and beyond your expectations, wonderful private tours, abundant wildlife, gourmet-quality good, and a room that looks like you're in a beautiful little tree house, then treat yourself to Tortuga Lodge. You will love it!
- Leslie Lakes

Jul. 12, 2009 “Our guides, drivers, service personnel, hotels and their staff, were all superb.”
Marco: I just wanted you to know that my niece and I returned last night from our trip to Costa Rica. I want to thank you for a memorable and fantastic trip. I am a most experienced traveler and expected a few hitches in the schedule. I am so pleased that everything went like clockwork and was incredibly efficient. Each of our guides, drivers, service personnel, hotels and their staff, were all superb and made for a relaxing and exciting vacation for us both. We enjoyed every aspect of what you had planned for us, but we both thought the canopy tour was the highlight. Thank you again for everything. It was a most fabulous trip and I look forward to a future trip to your beautiful and friendly country!
- Sally Jabaley

Jul. 6, 2009 “Guides were informative and friendly…hotels were great. The hikes were beautiful and fun.”
Our trip was amazing! Everything was just perfect - Costa Rica Expeditions and Marco Hernandez did such a wonderful job of making arrangements. We always received notice the night before we were going somewhere - the drivers were always prompt and reliable. The guides were informative and friendly. The hotels were great. The hikes were beautiful and fun. Please feel free to use us as a recommendation anytime.
- Karen Doolittle

Jul. 5, 2009 “You were attentive to our interests, always responded to my MILLIONS of questions…and, you designed a trip that was unforgettable!”
Hi Luis: What an EXCELLENT trip!!! Absolutely wonderful!!! I will write a separate note to Costa Rica Expeditions to communicate our complete satisfaction with the planning and actual trip, but first I wanted to send a personal note to you to say 'thank you'. You were wonderful to work with! I hope all your clients are as satisfied with your planning skills as our family was. You were attentive to our interests, always responded to my MILLIONS of questions, you were pleasant to work with, and, you designed a trip that was unforgettable! THANK YOU!!!

The little gift we gave you was just a small token of our appreciation. You don't know how much it meant to us that you to handled all the preparation and headaches that go along with planning a trip. I'm so glad we were assigned to you as our travel planner! And, I'm really glad we got to meet you!...icing on the cake!

When we were in Monteverde, I was talking to another guest who was also on a trip with CRE. She told me she also booked her trip through you. Unfortunately, I never got her name, but I know her guide's name was Sophia. Anyway, this person had all the same nice things to say about you. She said she asked if her group could meet you, but your response was that the planners don't typically meet the travelers. I didn't tell her that you had taken your personal time to meet me and my family. But I knew in my head that you had taken your time to meet us. Very special! I feel privileged to have met you!

The other special person on our trip was Federico Alban! We couldn't have asked for a better guide!!! He fit right in with our family. He made our trip SO enjoyable! Great personality! Very energetic! Knowlegeable. Sensative to our family interests! How did we get so lucky to be assigned to you as our planner and Federico as our guide?!!! I would definitely recommend you to anyone who travels to Costa Rica!!!
- Debbie Bittner

Jun. 30, 2009 “We enjoyed our trip to Costa Rica. GREAT ITINERARY.”
Priscilla: I just wanted to tell you how much we enjoyed our trip to Costa Rica. GREAT ITINERARY. We added a few things like a horseback ride in Monteverde and swimming in Manuel Antonio, but basically you set us up with everything that we could desire. THANKS!

Was surprised in Monteverde by Michael Kaye and his wife after their work detail - great opportunity to hear his story of success with CRE from a personal perspective. I believe that he may have sent an email the other day after our return. Unfortunately, my email service auto-deleted it, not recognizing the address. If so would you have him resend the note. It may have been from the CRE office in general.

Our grandchildren stayed active and that made their days go fast. The White Glove river lunch at Siquirres was exceptional - impressed our entire family, as did the accommodations at the Grano de Oro and Monterverde Lodge. Had a few problems at the Karahe but got beyond them. They need a significant upgrade to their facility. Seems to be getting slightly run down.

We drove up to Volcan Poas on our way back from Manuel Antonio - arrived at the top approximately 45 minutes before closing. It was raining heavily and the park attendants would not let us in unless we paid $70 to drive in. Could not justify that much money in the driving rain/clouds, although the children would have liked to get out of the car after that climb, notwithstanding the rain. Never could tell if there was a visitor facility up there. We made it to the top but not beyond the gate. Turned around, disappointed, but found a great family restaurant on the way down the mountain where we had dinner.

Several of your guides were EXCEPTIONAL, including Natu (Alvaro Farias) and Walter Centeno on the raft trip and Carlos in Monteverde. ENTHUSIASM and DEDICATION was the key. Our visit to Trapiche was great and informative. Great to have someone so dedicated that they influenced the children positively as well. Rafting was the best way to start our trip, as it immersed teenagers immediately in strenuous activity and the Costa Rica outdoors. That held their attention from the outset and for the remainder of our stay. Next time it will be Arenal, Fortuna and the Northwest Coast. Please thank Michael for his vision many years ago. He has developed a wonderful business and we will re-comment on it to everyone. Our thanks to the entire staff of CRE - we'll be back.
- Capt. Alan H. Barbour, VA

Jun. 29, 2009 “We are very grateful to you for the meticulous organization and planning.”
We all had a truly wonderful vacation in Costa Rica and we are very grateful to you for the meticulous organization and planning. Every suggestion we made was responded to and as a result the trip was truly tailor-made to our needs. The vacation was made by our wonderful guide, Diego Blanco. He was great fun to be with, happily entering in to all our activities and even learning a new game of cards. He was clearly very knowledgeable about Costa Rica, the culture, the wildlife and country. He was fantastic. We would not hesitate to recommend both Costa Rica Expeditions and Diego.
- Liz Farwell

Jun. 29, 2009 “Every day was a great adventure.”
Our trip was fantastic. The two places selected (La Paloma and Lapa Rios) were wonderful and every day was a great adventure. The organization was superb; everyone was where they were supposed to be and on time. The guides, pilots and drivers were all great. Clearly, Nadya Shaw did a great job. I will definitely recommend you to any friends considering a trip to Costa Rica.
- Jeffrey Thomas

Jun. 4, 2009 “(We) have been raving about your company.”
Hi Michael and Natalie: We had a fantastic time on the trip, and have been raving about your company (and Costa Rica in general) to friends and family alike. We had a couple of hiccups before the trip started, but it was smooth sailing from the moment our plane landed.

We took about 1,500 photos, although the vast majority were taken in Monteverde. Unfortunately the photos are very large (4MB apiece). I will try to compress some of the better ones along to you. If there are particular types of photos that you are in need of, please let us know (otherwise, I'll just pick out my favorites). Feel free to use them in promoting your company, but I would appreciate you letting us know if you use any of the photos. Thanks for your time and have a great day.
- Derek

Jun. 3, 2009 “We were all really impressed with what you were able to do with our budget. We felt like VIPs…”
Luis: I was going to write you an e-mail, but wanted to attach pictures...Too bad you couldn't join us, we had a lot of fun. I'll send you a more formal e-mail once I figure out what pics to send. But, in short, everything was awesome. I think we were all really impressed with what you were able to do with our budget. We felt like VIPs the whole time cuz we had private guides and drivers for our little group :) Anyway, hopefully, I'll be able to send you a more detailed e-mail by the end of this week. I'll include some stories, so it might be really long, be prepared!!!
- Jennifer Wang

Jun. 2, 2009 “I was ''shocked'' to see how everything was well-coordinated, especially the flights and transportation.”
Dear Luis: Indeed, times fly! Our trip was absolutely fantastic! Costa Ricans are so welcoming and friendly, and the wildlife is great (but the rain is wet...). We have only good things to say, and to thank you for so many good advices! I think that the biggest success was having Diego Blanco with us. He is a superb guide, and together with Randel the driver they made an excellent team. We (also our 4 kids) regretted not having Diego for the rest of the trip (we needed him especially in Corcovado). Comments regarding hotels from my perspective:

1. The Lost Iguana Hotel was an excellent recommendation for spoiled people like us! Just a marvelous place.

2. Punta Islita was also outstanding, especially having the 2 casas with the private pool. Please note that the main infinity pool is off limits for kids, please make sure to mention it to future travelers. The kids adored spending 4 days in Punta Islita, but my wife and I ended up regretting not spending a couple more days in the humid, air conditionless La Paloma in Drake instead of having the relaxed days in Punta Islita. The zip-lining is indeed very family-friendly, non-scary at all. People who look for more adrenalin rush (not me) should go somewhere else.

3. Monteverde Lodge - great restaurant, food and hotel garden.

4. Tortugero Lodge - exciting garden and trails, but I suggest emphasizing to travelers that the beach should be off limits as not only dangerous but extremely dirty.

5. Finca Rosa Blanca - another success, especially if you take the coffee tour.

Itinerary planning: I was "shocked" to see how everything was well-coordinated, especially the flights and transportation. There was only one "glitch", and it was in our favour: instead of flying Drake - San Jose (and getting our bag with clean clothes) -Tortugero, we had a direct flight to Tortugero without realizing it until touching the ground. Luckily Nicole in La Paloma suggested to have our clothes washed and dried for a ridiculous fee (8$ per basket). Highly recommended!

The only disappointment that we had was Corcovado. Our guide wasn't so enthusiastic as the others. I was hoping to get in the deep secluded forest, but we were taken to the nearest official entrance. Although it was a half-a-day trip with provided lunch, it ended up to be the less exciting tour with almost no wildlife (but beautiful beaches). I would have much preferred touring the more remote (Southern?) entrance and spend a longer day in Corcovado. Luckily, the following day we had a great day snorkeling at Cano Island with Roy, who was a great guide. I will email you some pictures in a separate email (although you're probably tired of wildlife pictures).

Again, thank you for getting us such a great experience, and PLEASE tell Diego that our kids don't stop talking about him. Apparently he became a role model for them. Should one of you visit Canada, please email us prior your arrival.
- Yehuda

Jun. 1, 2009 “We had a great trip including the Pacuare raft trip.”
We had a great trip including the 1-day Rio Pacuare raft trip. We will certainly give referrals to Costa Rica Expeditions and I can't imagine what the VIP treatment for returning guests is like as the first-timer treatment was excellent.
- Mark Hanlon

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