This is my third trip with a travel company suggested by Zicasso. Previous trips to Italy and New Zealand were also excellent. Each time travel company suggestions have been to local specialists. For my Costa Rica trip with my two daughters I was given two travel companies which each proposed an itinerary after some initial interchange about my preferences. The travel company was on top of every communication. He responded immediately by phone or email or whatsapp to any of my questions. I made a number of modifications as I discussed plans with my daughters age 23 and 17. He was also very patient with my own concerns about whether I really wanted to do some of the activities such as ziplining and canyoning that were on my daughters agendas. We had a significant set back in our plans when my 17 year old was unable to travel with us and joined us separately part way through our trip. I was very concerned about her airport pick up and transport to join us four hours away. The travel planner made it happen and even gave me references on his driver. All the drivers on the trip were wonderful. However, the driver, who picked up my daughter, Jose, was special. He has a PhD in history. He made the long drive interesting and fun. My older daughter and I were delayed returning from a night hike arranged by the travel company. I returned to find Jose waiting with my daughter in the hotel lobby. I know she would have been perfectly safe waiting on her own but I was very touched that Jose stayed with her.
As I noted above the drivers all spoke English and each gave us background on the areas were were traveling through. Driving to Monteverde was up a gravel mountainous road. Having a driver was really appreciated. The route we took from Monteverde to Arenal volcano region required driving in the countryside to an unmarked turn off to a lake were a boat was waiting. I do not think I would have found the boat without a driver. We ended up as the sole party on the boat with a guide. The activities were well chosen with plenty of choices. I would not have thought to include night hikes but they were strongly recommended and turned out to be unique experiences. The guides are all well trained and know where to look for the animals. Definitely do any hikes with a guide or you will miss the animals. All of the activities are well organized. The hotels were wonderful. The travel planner was very responsive to the level of hotels I was interested in. In arenal volcano area we had hotel with less stars that the rest as we were booking rather late. The travel planner, kept emphasizing that it was not a luxury hotel. My daughters and I arrived at the hotel and wondered what wasn't luxury. The hotel was my younger daughters favorite and had hot spring pools at the hotel. Only hotel guests can use the pools unlike some of the other area hot springs which allow day passes. This was definitely luxury. I would definitely recommend a trip arranged by the travel company. And I will definitely be relying on Zicasso for travel company options when I explore another new destination.
There were lots of great activities including canyoning which included belaying down waterfalls and hiking through creek beds, ziplining, hanging bridges, night hikes, and multiple waterfalls. Animals we saw included quiztal bird, tribe of howler monkeys include a baby hanging onto its mom, strawberry poison dart frog, deadly snakes, tayra, and sloths. Our most memorable moment was probably feeding a sloth at the waterfall gardens attached to the hotel in La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park. Again, something special arranged by the travel company. We had specifically requested a stay for our last night in Costa Rica at this hotel. However, the travel company arranged for a private guide for the afternoon so we were able to see all it had to offer in the short afternoon on our schedule. We also saw jaguar and mountain lions being fed and saw butterflies emerge from their chrysalis and hiked along a trail with multiple waterfalls. We returned to our room with a hot tub on the balcony overlooking the forest and another hot tub in our bathroom surrounded by waterfall and plants. We turned on our fireplace and felt very peaceful.
I can't imagine how the trip could have been better. The trip was nicely paced. I could have worked out a bit more before the trip which would have helped with the canyoning. I would recommend bringing a go pro for the zip lines. Specifically request the vendor which has the go pro helmet attachments.
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