What a smashing trip. Using a local agency was great as we were able to keep in close touch throughout the trip and any issues were ironed out immediately. Mariana was so helpful both in designing the trip and whilst we were on the holiday. She took on board our personal suggestions and designed a trip with our preferences in mind. Also, liked the idea of cutting out one stage of the process and more of the profit going to the local agency. Everything went smoothly in terms of accommodation and transport.
They were open to my suggestions and very flexible in terms of accommodation and location during the planning stages. Their response rate was very quick. Any problems we had on the trip were dealt with to our complete satisfaction e.g. when we were unable to do the volcano walk because we weren't able to get there in time because the road was blocked due to a road accident, Mariana was able to arrange a refund which we put towards a meal at one of the hotels. She arranged a free Night Walk in Monteverdi when the hotel in Tortuguero swapped our Jungle Walk for a walk around the garden. In fact, the Night Walk turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. It was nice to have personal contact with Mariana on our first night in the country. It was good to meet the person which whom I'd been emailing over the months.
Not sure we made our preferences clear enough because, on reflection, we would have preferred one night less in Manuel Antonio as we're really not beach people and more time in Monteverde or Arenal. Would also have liked to stay at Trogan Lodge for an extra night and go straight to the airport from there rather than having the night at the Alta Hotel even though it was a lovely hotel. Pity we were at Manuel Antonio on Sunday and Monday as the national park is closed on Mondays, which we weren't told, and Sunday is very crowded. In fact, we didn't go to the park at all. For future reference, would be better to avoid weekends and Mondays. These are more points to consider rather than criticisms, however, as TravelLocal's Costa Rican partner did an excellent job.
Guides on the Night Walk at Monteverdi, Quetzal Walk at Trogan Lodge, market tour of San Jose Market were all exceptional and all guides and drivers met or exceeded expectations.
Think carefully about what you want to see and do so conduct some research first. Decide on the type of accommodation you want- luxury but probably expensive, within the town or outside which can affect where you eat- hotel restaurant or local sodas. Make sure you let TravelLocal's partner company know your interests. If you're interested in wildlife, Monteverde, Cano Negro and San Gerardo de Dota are excellent. Have a guided walk - you will see so much more than you would on your own. Using shared transport works well but increases the time of the journey as you pick up people from other hotels and the mini-buses aren't as comfortable as private cars.
The sunrise suite at Hotel Belmar was stunning- well worth the additional cost. The Night Walk was great- saw sleeping hummingbirds and toucans, a coiled snake, a tiny red-eyed frog, a scorpion, a paca and an agouti.
Our local partner based in Costa Rica replied...
Hello Marianne and Stuart, Thank you very much for your lovely review, it was very nice meeting you here in San José and I am happy to know that you had such a nice experience. We will keep into account the suggestions you mentioned, especially the ones on -the nights walk in Moteverde and Manuel Antonio National Park. I will also make sure to send your nice comments to the tour guides involved. Once again, thank you very much for choosing us to arrange your trip! Pura vida! MarianaOur local partner based in Costa Rica