Every day was a new wonderful adventure. The incredible beauty of this country, the wildlife, the people... it was about as far from freezing cold and grey Britain as you'd want to be in January. We would tell anyone, don't hesitate, go do it. Main advice is just read up on it all and ask questions as much as possible, as despite doing that, there are still things we wish we'd been clearer on in terms of what is needed for various excursions, the state of the roads, etc etc. But minor niggles, it was fantastic.
In the planning stages, Mariana was excellent, she could not have been more helpful, especially considering the trip was postponed for a year and flights changed several times. When we met her on our first morning, again, she was just lovely - a credit to the local Expert and a great representation of the Costa Rican people :-)
Some minor niggles: The itinerary I agreed and paid for included 'our driver will pick you up and take you to... airport' on the last day. The one we were given on arrival however said 'clients take a taxi by themselves'. When we met Mariana we all agreed it would be easier for us simply to retain the hire car and drive ourselves which she said she would amend. However, someone came to our hotel on the last night to take the car so we had to do some speedy unloading! And in the end we had to pay for a taxi, 35 dollars equivalent. As I say, minor niggle but when I paid for the holiday, this was supposed to be included. Also in our original itinerary we were expecting a 'double bungalow' at Cerro Lodge, but in the one we received on arrival, that had changed to a standard room. Their standard rooms were dark, small, and dreary.. we paid ourselves for an upgrade but sadly, this hotel has seen better days and even the upgrade to what we thought we were getting was a bit miserable. Also, the service in the restaurant was hilariously bad at times, and the waiting time for meals was ridiculous. It appeared as if they had maybe had to let staff go because of the pandemic and drafted in teenagers to help who didn't care or know what they were doing. Otherwise, generally, the accommodation was the biggest issue - notable exceptions were Hotel Lomas del Volcan, which was perfect, and spoiled us so the rest was a bit of a shock! Also Yaba Chigui was excellent in every way (except the approach road to it!!) Trapp Family Lodge - to be fair, I found this, as our previous accomodation could no longer fit us in, but this was not great, the room was cheerless and we were left by the bellboy (as they called him) to drag our own cases a long way up two steep paths and some steps. In general we were really surprised by the lack of facilities in rooms, being British, my husband likes a cup of tea before bed and there were no fridges in most rooms to keep drinks etc, or even coffee making facilities in most. Having been to Canada and the States, we know having a kettle is not usual in the Americas generally, but some basic facilities would have been much better, especially given most places didn't have room service or easy access to shops/other services. Anyway, we ended up buying a kettle and having to ask for milk from restaurants to take back to the room!! Not ideal, you feel a bit bleak not even being able to make a drink in your room in the evening. Trogon Lodge was freezing at night - our heater didn't work which didn't help but another couple said even with that, their baby nearly froze in the night... Really unpleasant and while we expected it to be colder at that altitude, it was still a bit of a shock coming from Corcovado to that! Other issues: Car - I did check we had a 4-wheel drive as we'd read about the roads, but even so, with such a basic car, the driving was really hard going at times. If we'd known, we'd have asked for a 4x4, it would have made the whole thing much less scary and much more comfortable ;-) Driving in the cities was hair-raising, people need to know it's completely dog eat dog. Several times people pulled right out in front of us with no warning at all. Trips - mostly these were amazing, but more information would be better. It was an issue not knowing what we should bring, or what would happen (e.g. how far we'd be going etc.) For example, on the Arenal walk followed by hot springs, we didn't know if we needed towels, and had not been told we'd need cash for lockers and drinks at the hot springs, or that we would be left there for quite a long time and be given a time for pick up. The guides said they always had these problems, that no-one had the right stuff, or knew what was happening. Another couple who were vegan were quite upset to be left there for hours, when they couldn't eat in the restaurant and didn't want that much time lolling in hot water!! Generally then, we really recommend that fuller advice is given beforehand, preferably in the itinerary itself, as the uncertainty and unnecessary faff made it more stressful than it needed to be. Transfer from Sierpe to Drake's Bay was chaotic, fun in the end but again, more info on this process would have removed some stress and uncertainty. Overall, when I compared my experience to others who had been, I felt that value for money could have been better. For what I paid, such a basic car and mostly what felt like basic accommodation, seemed incongrous. I didn't expect luxury but spending that much, I expected a little more comfort and facilities at times for my special 50th birthday holiday, and that was a bit disappointing. I know you guys have to make your money though. Luckily the sheer beauty of the country made up for it.
Arenal kayaking - Roy was excellent Monteverde - great (though they charged us coming in and bless him, the guide returned our money himself) Snorkelling in Drake's Bay - not so good, I told him I had never done it before and was not even a confident swimmer, and he literally just left me to it, around rocks, in deep water, and often he disappeared and I had no idea where he was. All the same, it was easier than I thought and I loved the experience, but I do think it's poor that he failed to even carry out a basic check I was ok and nearby!!
Get a better vehicle and make sure you are clued up about excursions Bring a kettle!!!
Hard to say one thing, just overall the sheer lushness of the landscape and the wildlife, was definitely unforgettable.