My wife and I just returned from a 10-day trip to Costa Rica in early January. This was our first visit to Costa Rica, and we arranged the itinerary with the help of this travel company. The service provided by this company was terrific from start to finish – both during the planning process and the trip itself. We are pretty experienced international travelers but had very limited time to research or plan this trip, so we needed a good travel agency to make it happen. We sent an inquiry to the Zicasso website in late October and were contacted by representatives from several agencies, but we quickly decided to work with this agent because of his responsiveness and attention to detail. Based on several phone conversations with us about our interests and travel preferences, our agent quickly put together a proposed itinerary for us, and then revised it based on our feedback. I was impressed with how carefully our agent listened to us in putting together the itinerary. We stayed in four different parts of the country for 2-3 days each (Tortuguero, Arenal, Sarapiquí and Manuel Antonio), which gave us a sense of the rich variety of Costa Rica while not jamming too many destinations into a 10-day trip. The itinerary included some pre-planned tours and activities in each location but our agent did not push anything on us -- we only booked the things we knew in advance we wanted to do and at our request, he included a couple of free days in the itinerary The lodges and hotels that our agent selected for us were all excellent. Our agent met us in person on the night we arrived to walk us through the arrangements, and he also arranged for drivers to get us from each destination to the next during the trip (we decided up front not to rent a car). Having the transport pre-arranged was a major stress reducer for us, and all the drivers were punctual, capable, and friendly. In short, we had a fabulous time. I’m sure that with more time to plan up front, we could have done much of the booking ourselves and saved some money, but from our perspective the premium we paid for our agent's professional travel help was totally worth it. We are thinking about going back to Costa Rica to see some other parts of the country next year, and will happily use this company again when we put the next trip plan together.
Tortuguero was fabulous, and unless you are a turtle fanatic I recommend going there some time other than turtle nesting season. There's lots of other wildlife to see and it is much less crowded with tourists when the turtles aren't nesting. We also highly recommend the lodge where we stayed.
We loved Arenal even though it rained the whole time and we never saw the volcano (from what we heard, this is a common experience among travellers). We went white-water rafting on the Sarapiqui River on one of our free days and that was a blast.
We stayed in Sarapiquí for only 2 nights and wish we could have stayed longer. We stayed at Selva Verde Lodge and really loved it. It was different in Sarapiquí than the other cities we visited we felt it was a bit less touristy, which was nice.
Manuel Antonio was jammed with tourists and guides on the main path to the beach but we spent a few extra hours and found a number of picturesque and less crowded spots on some of the other trails. Also saw lots of howler and white-faced monkeys up close.
We stopped at Tarcoles River on our travel day between Arenal and Manuel Antonio and were booked on a private boat tour that turned out to be better than expected. There were only 4 other people on the boat and we spent an hour and a half going downriver to the ocean and seeing crocodiles (lots!) and a whole host of different waterbirds.
For a first trip to Costa Rica, there is very little if anything we would change. Now that we have been there and have a better sense of the country, we're likely to focus next time on some of the larger national parks in less-travelled areas that we didn't have time to get to this trip.
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"The drivers and guides that took us to all of our tours were extremely nice and knowledgable."
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