Costa Rica Expeditions is THE way to plan your trip to Costa Rica. They are local and understand the country and want to ensure you have a great experience. Our travel planner helped us arrange a trip that was perfect for our interests AND our budget. Every detail of our trip was looked after. They are also stick with you throughout the trip. My son fell ill on the trip and they helped to connect us to a top notch doctor to make sure he got the appropriate care. Can't say enough about how great they are!
We had a trip of a lifetime. I brought my teenage daughter for one/one time and we were able to bond through our great adventure. Whether it be white water rafting, spending a night on the river, watching monkeys in the wild, horseback riding or zip lining we had a trip we'll remember forever. Costa Rica Expeditions provided the expertise to make it all possible.
This was our first experience with a vacation planned by a third party and I was worried about what to expect but decided to go ahead because I was just getting confused by all of the options in Costa Rica. So glad I did. Every part of the trip was first class from the private charter flight to Tortugero, the lodge itself, the most amazing white water raft adventure and the perfect choice of lodgings for a family of 4 which included two finicky teenagers who demanded privacy. Most amazing everything was planned within our budget and there were simply no surprises (except nice ones like finding out meals were included with certain stays). While, in Costa Rica the company was still responsive to our needs and gladly assisted with a few last minute changes and I will be forever grateful for their incredible response when we had to return home on an emergency basis due to a death in the family, Plans were changed on a dime and we were met with wonderful kindness. Highly recommended all around.
I was looking to schedule a week trip during school vacation in February and a colleague recommended Costa Rica. I found CRE via trip advisor, completed the survey and then worked with Elena to plan a fantastic vacation. We were picked up daily for our excursions always on time, it was great that everything was already taken care of. We just went to the lobby each day for our pickup time and away we went! I have a 12 and 15 yr old, we went zip lining in the rain forest, white water rafting, took a small charter plane rather than a 5 hr drive (definitely recommend), and 4 wheeling (note kids couldn't drive solo). The weather in Manuel Antonio was humid and hot. Though the weather app said a risk of rain daily, it didn't rain at all. The Ac is great in the hotel rooms, so we did a bit of room service. We live in the states and brought usd - a bunch of small bills for tips and it worked fine, never needed to exchange money. I would definitely recommend CRE so that when you get there, you don't need to think about anything except for what to eat off the dinner menu. Can't wait to go back!!
In December 2015, our family had the opportunity to travel for three weeks. While researching possible destinations, we read about Costa Rica in a book about the best trips in the world. Costa Rica Expeditions was the book's recommended travel planner, so we started there. When we looked at Costa Rica Expeditions website, we were impressed with the simple checklist that would aid our trip planner in the type of vacation we were looking for. Starting with asking the right questions, Costa Rica Expeditions was on the right track. The checklist gathered information about the kinds of activities we were interested in as well as the pace of the vacation.
Nadya Shaw was the senior travel planner from Costa Rica expeditions who planned our trip. Her communication was consistent throughout the planning, and she continued to communicate with us throughout the trip. She even worked with a Lodge to return some clothes we had left behind. She hand-delivered them to our hotel before we left the country! Nadya planned an ideal vacation for all of our family, which included safe activities that were perfect for our 9 and 11-year-old children, excellent guides in each of four locations, a perfect pace for our family, and all transfers were smooth and seamless.
During our time in Costa Rica, we stayed at two lodges run by Costa Rica Expeditions: Tortuga Lodge and Monteverde Lodge. Tortuga Lodge was elegance in a rustic setting. The meals were exceptional and the formal service was consistent throughout our stay. We enjoyed the friendly and welcoming staff. Our first welcome was from Xiomara, the first graduate of the local Words Adventure Program. The Lodge works with a local school to provide students the opportunity to learn English with the help of Lodge guests who are native English speakers. This program allowed us more contact with locals in a safe, but non-touristy setting.
The second Costa Rica Expeditions Lodge was Monteverde Lodge. The gardens were private and relaxing. There was always a quiet place to relax and read or write. The original drinks from the bar -- alcoholic and non-alcoholic were unique and delicious. (The Monteverde Gardens was our favorite). We enjoyed a special dinner in the butterfly garden at the end of our stay. In Monteverde, our private guide was Samuel Arguedas. Samuel's commitment to education and protecting the natural environment stood out as exceptional.
La Paloma Lodge, not owned by Costa Rica Expeditions, on the Osa Penninsula was another exceptional stop that Nadya included in our Costa Rica adventure. The ocean views and private accommodations were outstanding. The pool, afternoon snacks, and family style meals with other Lodge guests were highlights of our stay at La Paloma Lodge. In Corcovado National Park, we were guided by Randall from La Paloma Lodge, who is extremely knowledgeable. We also learned a lot on the night tour with “The Bug Lady” who met us at the lodge, showed us many insects, and taught us how to find more on our own.
Costa Rica Expeditions booked us with exceptional guides throughout our stay. In addition to our guides for various excursions, we had the privilege to have Federico Alban guide our family for four consecutive days in Arenal. In combination with Max, our driver, they were an unforgettable team. Federico was a wealth of knowledge on Costa Rica, wildlife, history, and environmental issues. He was excellent with our children, encouraging them to speak Spanish and explore Costa Rican culture and wildlife. He kept the pace appropriate, while pushing their boundaries to explore new things in a very positive way. The time spent with Federico and Max was another highlight for our children and the whole family.
Because of our family's commitment to sustainability, we were looking to show our children Costa Rica as a model of a nation who has committed to preserving the environment. We were never disappointed and often impressed with the many small things that Costa Rica Expeditions did to provide our whole family with a memorable, sustainable travel experience.
First let me start by saying, I was not excited about going on this trip. I have been to Costa Rica before, went with several families and traveled by a friends suggestion of places and things to see. We rented our own vans, had to find the places, (not easy) and arrange all of our guided tours and adventures. It was a lot of work, and was not what I had expected. Many people say Costa Rica is amazing!! I didn't get that. So....fast forward approximately 5 years later.......
Friends of ours were planning a trip with "full Spanish immersion" in mind. (They own and operate a Spanish Immersion School, Sombrero Time here in California.) Thought it would be great for our 3 boys who attend the school to really have the chance to speak the language and become even more fluent and comfortable. The other reason was to see the true Costa Rica, the people, the culture and of course the forest, animals, geography. Our children are 10, 12 and 14. So, instead of staying home, I adventure with my family to Costa Rica. IT WAS AMAZING!!!! Perfect accommodations, worth the bumpy roads! Great adventures, great staff, all accommodating and always on time. We had to make them wait a few times and even made changes to our itinerary without a problem. I'm sure it was a hassle, but they never seemed to mind. We also wanted to staff to speak to the children in Spanish, that can be tiring.... but they did it. Very patient to say the least. Gustavo is a must to be your tour guide. Great personality, great with the kids, educational, informative and again accommodating. Super nice guy and we were happy, again accommodating us, that we were able to keep him for the duration of the tour. One of the kids cried when we had to say good-bye. It was well worth the money.... a trip like this could be a nightmare. They were amazing and a trip that we all will never forget. Thank you CRE and we miss you already Gustavo!
When researching online and with tour books like Frommer's, I saw CRE pop up over and over again as a top notch travel agency to use for a trip to Costa Rica. I liked that they were based in Costa Rica as opposed to the US. I normally plan my own travel, but because I had never been to Costa Rica and we were bringing our three girls (16, 13,10) for a family trip, I wanted the most logistically hassle-free, safest adventure we could have. From the moment I began working with our agent Priscilla until our return home, it was exactly that- hassle-free, safe, and truly, a dream trip realized. Because every detail was handled by CRE, we concentrated on having fun together. Very quickly into the trip we realized that we were in for something truly unusual and special.
At the outset, we knew we wanted as much variety as we could pack into 11 days. We wanted to do this keeping in mind that our two youngest children are quite prone to motion sickness. After filling out the initial survey, we worked with Priscilla who was a great listener and seemed to understand exactly what might be best for us.
Our intinerary included 2 nights in Tortuguero at Tortuga Lodge, 3 nights at Arenal at the Lost Iguana, and 4 nights in Manuel Antonio at Los Altos. Our adventures included a small airplane ride into Tortuguero, kayaking, boat ride on the canals, hikes in the rain in the rainforest, hanging bridges, ecotermales hot springs, canyoning with Pure Trek, zip lining with Midworld on the side of the mountain/rainforest near Manuel Antonio, surfing in Dominicalito, horseback riding on the beach, naturalist guided walks in Manuel Antonio national park and at La Paz waterfall, and eating at many wonderful sodas along way.
In my opinion, CR is not a trip that you want to wing- at least in high season. All of our excursions were perfectly planned by CRE before we left and as the trip went along we were very well communicated with so we always knew what to expect. Every driver and naturalist guide was friendly and interesting. WE felt somewhat bad that we took our kids out of school for two extra days to make this a longer trip, but when I realized how much we were all learning about nature, Spanish, Costa Rican culture and its wonderful people, there was no question that we felt anything but blessed.
How many times do you come home from a trip and say that there is nothing you would change? Given the number of outings, lodges, airplane and car rides, I can't even believe that we all said that there is nothing we would do differently. We did come back with our next trip to Costa Rica in mind- someday, hopefully!
A couple of things that we didn't know would be so great for us but CRE did-1) finishing up at Manuel Antonio in the sun and surf. WE loved exploring jungles and the warm rain didn't bother us when it did rain, but it was nice to end up the vacation with four straight days of sun! Our last day in CR of surfing with really fun instructors, eating at the local soda and then cooling off in a beautiful waterfall will be something we always remember.2) flying into Tortuguero as opposed to driving and taking the long boat ride- the 25-minute flight over the canals and river and Caribbean ocean was thrilling and breathtaking. WE had plenty of boat time once we got to Tortuga Lodge. 3) The Words Adventure program- started by founder of CRE, an amazing afternoon for us. We loved reading with the kids and helping them with their English and seeing the town of San Francisco. What a great way to use tourists for something helpful. 4) The beauty of having naturalist guides and drivers. Without guides, you miss so much. Without drivers, you gain so much stress.
I would also like to add that the customized nature of our trip allowed for our own family bonding. We would meet others when we would join with a group for some of the different excursions. It was the perfect mix. I never had the sense of being herded like cattle or spending too much time on a bus or in a car. That is the main reason I didn't want to join a big group trip like a Tauk tour. Also, I didn't want the trip to be about the other tourists I was meeting. I wanted to concentrate on my own family and Costa Rica. I say all that as someone who geniunely enjoys other people, but I am so very happy that a customized trip is the direction we went.
Our next trip to Costa Rica will be planned with CRE and will likely include Corcovado, Monteverde, and more Manuel Antonio with probably some white water rafting thrown in there. Yes, the country the size of West Virginia can produce more than one, two or three trips of a lifetime! Thank you, thank you Costa Rica Expeditions.
We booked our trip with CRE for 11 days of touring for 10 people (two families with 6 kids 10-15). We have visited Costa Rica before but didn't have time to research, plan and organize this adventure for our group. Our advisor Douglas Espinosa was very responsive and helpful throughout the entire process. Most importantly we wanted this trip to be a real Spanish immersion language experience. Douglas recommended a local tour guide and promised he would work with us to practice our Spanish.
Once we arrived we met our local guide, Gustavo Camacho who was AMAZING! I can't tell you how pleased we were to experience Costa Rica with Gustavo. He was professional, caring and genuinely concerned with making the most of this adventure for us. He took care of all the details and was flexible when we wanted to change things on the fly. Best of all Gustavo engaged us and our kids in Spanish continually providing great opportunities for us to practice our language skills.
One particular example that comes to mind was when our kids were playing card games on the tour bus, Gustavo jumped into the game to engage them to practice the language. The kids spoke nothing but Spanish for nearly an hour laughing and loving the experience. Gustavo quickly became like family and it was difficult to say goodbye at the end of our tour.
We are thankful to Douglas, Gustavo and the entire CRE team for making this trip such a positive and memorable experience. You may pay a bit extra for a tour company like CRE but it's well worth it. The time you will save on planning your trip alone is huge and you benefit from the expertise the experience of your guide and trip organizer.