Bradford, West Yorkshire
- We booked this tour because of the wide variety of activities plus the chance to see a range of wildlife, especially the birds and this trip exceeded all expectations! We chose the end of March beginning of April and this was a good choice because the weather was excellent. We only had one cloudy day with light rain and the rest of the holiday was sunny. It was very hot on the pacific coast so take cool clothes for here at this time of year. At higher levels it was cooler and it was good to have trousers at night. We trekked in shorts and t-shirts for all the walks and you do need walking shoes. I contemplated taking walking boots but at this time of year these are not needed. We were only really bothered with mosquitos when we did a shaded walk behind the hotel in Tortugueo National Park and at night here when we sat out. Take clothes to cover up for this.
It is a must to take a pair of binoculars each for this trip. Jose, our guide, was a bird expert and we were amazed at his bird spotting skills. We wouldn't have seen most of the birds without his expert eye, hearing and knowledge. Jose could name all the birds and he showed us the incredible range of species we saw in his book - The Birds of Costa Rica by Richard Garrigues and Robert Dean. I can recommend this book as we are keen bird watchers and it was good to make a note of all the species we saw each day and then mark them in our book which coincidentally was the same one that Jose had. The icing on the cake was seeing the Quetzal- both male and female in Monteverde. Jose carried his scope with him on all our walks and due to his skill we all saw magnificent views of the birds. Other animals we saw were sloths, racoons, agoutis, coati, anteater and many different types of monkey. Costa Rica really is a wildlife lover's paradise.
The itinerary was excellent and as well as lots of wildlife walks there was the chance to take part in other sporting activities. The walking wasn't strenuous because rather than trekking, the purpose is to spot wildlife so you walk at a slow pace, observing nature. This is entirely what we expected. There are a lot optional activities in this trip so even though it's been said before, take plenty of dollars because we took the advantage of most of these. I can recommend the white water rafting, kayaking along the river in Tortuguero, the zip wires, the canopy bridges, the bird/wildlife watching tours. We also did the waterfall walk in La Fortuna. This is a spectacularly high waterfall and the walk consists of walking down lots of steps, bathing in the plunge pool, then walking back up the steps again - well worth it! Another good walk was in Tortuguero where I did an optional walk to the viewpoint. We saw lots of wildlife again here plus lovely views over the Caribbean.
Jose organised excellent lunch stops on the travelling days which had lovely, good priced food in good locations. The driving was always broken up with stops so it was never tiring. The scenery was amazing and Jose's commentaries about the country were very interesting.
Most of the hotels had large rooms and many had 2 double beds, in Monteverde, Hotel Heliconia, we were all upgraded to a junior suite which had large bath as well as shower, a mezzanine floor and large balcony. La Baula Lodge in Tortuguero did the most amazing meals in a lovely setting at the side of the river. All meals were included here so that was a bonus! El Faro Hotel in Manuel Antonio had the most amazing views of the ocean and the infinity pool was lovely.
In the evening Jose always recommended a good choice of restaurant to eat in and we did a mixture of group meals and also doing our own thing. The prices can be expensive, especially if you like a drink! We took our own duty free from the airport in the UK and it saved us a fortune! A bottle of wine often worked out at 30 dollars a bottle in the restaurants. Still, we were up early every morning so you can't go too mad anyway!
So in summary, this trip is a must for wildlife lovers who enjoy stunning and varied scenery and who also like to do some more adventurous optional activities. Those who want relaxing also have options to choose so there is something on this trip for everyone. We all commented that the trip seemed more like a month than 2 weeks because we fitted so much in. It is a well thought out itinerary, with well chosen hotels and as usual Explore gave us a leader who made the trip that extra special for all of us.
Published on: 11 April 2017