Travel Local and their local partners looked after us extremely well throughout the trip. The hotels were all comfortable and clean with plenty of hot water - some were nicer than others but all of them were pleasant and everywhere we went the staff members were all friendly and helpful - especially in the owner run hotels! Our agent, Soledad, came to the hotel for our briefing as it was a Sunday. She provided us with heaps of information, recommendations and details on what to see and how to get there. She also provided us with a WhatsApp number for emergency contact if we needed it and that worked really well. It's a shame they couldn't fix the weather for us though as we climbed two volcanoes and still didn't see a thing! Tortuguero is amazing! We knew it was going to be wet but rain forest rain is like no other! Take a big waterproof cape with you - that was my "most worn garment" this holiday. Of course, it wouldn't be rain forest without the rain but when we look back at the amazing animals, birds and reptiles we saw there, they are what we remember the most. Laguna Lodge is a lovely place and our guide, Sebastian, was superb, as were all our guides! They are all local young men who know the area and the flora and fauna in minute detail. They know where to look for animals and birds that you would never otherwise spot. And they were all charming! Monteverde is also stunning and the Hanging Bridges are an amazing way to see the cloud forest. My favourite location was Hacienda Guachipelin at Rincon de la Vieja (once again we didn't get to see the volcano for low clouds!) The hacienda is a cattle ranch so please, if you're not a vegetarian, don't miss trying the beef in the restaurant. It was the best I've ever tasted and I was brought up on Aberdeen Angus!! You definitely need a few days here to allow time to see everything on the ranch. Our few days at the beach in Samara were very welcome to give us time to run down and recover quietly. We stayed at Villas Verdes where the villas have their own kitchen, so you can self cater if you want to. The owner, Koriynne, is a Chinese Singaporean and she cooked Thai food for us on our last night - not only superb but our favourite food! Meals are not normally included but Koriynne loves to cook and will make a meal for you if you ask her. A great choice of accommodation near the centre of the town and close to the beach, with a pretty pool to sit round during the heat of the day. The one thing we did wrong on this trip, which was our own lack of planning, was only having two nights in most locations. Three nights would have made the whole holiday seem less hectic - we seemed to have just reached a place and we were off again. Most of the transfers were quite long so more time in between would have been more restful. The other thing that would have improved it would have been a group tour, instead of shared transfers. We found we met some of the same people several times, doing the same tour as us but at different hotels. Had we been travelling as a group we could have got to know some of them better. The shared transport arrangements sometimes seemed very haphazard but it worked! We were well impressed with Travel Local and our local agent and would use them again.
It was good to deal with people who know the locations and hotels first hand and can provide you with local information. We also had someone on hand whenever there was any problem.
An option of discussing travel details by phone instead of email would facilitate quicker booking.
Guides and drivers were all terrific! I wouldn't like to be driving on some of those roads!! The guides are all local young men who have been brought up in the area and know it like the back of their hands. They are all, also, very charming!
Check the transfer times carefully and allow plenty of time at each location so you don't feel rushed. If you can add an extra day in each place it will repay you. The transfers often felt longer because of the state of a lot of the roads. The transfer from Tortuguero is quite long as it is as far east as you can get in Costa Rica. You can catch a flight from there to Liberia to make life easier.
The fresh fish!! Rain forest rain. How friendly the people are.