If my memory is correct, which generally it is not, it seems it was back in the ’80s that Costa Rica was “discovered’ as a place where the cost of living, and property, was cheap, the scenery beautiful and the people friendly. So, a flood a retirees and escapees began to head in that direction.
By that time Costa Rica itself was undergoing its own transformation. In 1949, following a civil war common in that part of the world, the new government took the extraordinary step of becoming the first nation in the world to abolish its army. By the eighties the economy had moved from being primarily a coffee and produce exporter to becoming a center for Eco-tourism. Much of the land was protected either by the government or privately and by the nineties tourists became the primary economic engine.
For many years we have come across people who have been there and loved it, and it has long been on our list of places to go. However, it did not become high on that list till it came time to cash in some expiring free Southwest air miles.
We started accumulating those miles with an Air Tran credit card some years ago. Then Southwest bought Air Tran. The miles, although computed differently, did transfer, but the process hit a little turbulence and it wasn’t clear that those hard-earned miles had arrived at their destination safely until early this year. When they did arrive, they brought their October, 2015 expiration deadline with them. So, we had some planning to do.
At the time the all this was going on the farthest destination Southwest flew was Aruba. And, while we would have been plenty happy going back there again, we are always looking for something new. That’s when Southwest announced they would soon begin service to Costa Rica! Yay! For various reasons, including the arrival of our new granddaughter, we could not travel much before the dreaded miles expiration date. So, I slowly began looking into everything Costa Rica had to offer, which was a LOT!
As is my custom, I started with Tripadvisor. They had all kinds of fabulous beaches and national parks as destinations, mostly on the Pacific coast. So Dianne and I looked over the list and settled on a few places. We decided it would take about two weeks to see all this stuff and avoid a mad rush from place to place. I was able to confirm that our flight would indeed be free. So, we booked October 1-13. Now it was time to fill in the details.
I started looking a You-Tube videos about Costa Rica. To my surprise, one of the first videos was from a couple guys who live down there and who strongly advised against renting a car. WHAT??? How are you supposed to get around? People on TripAdvisor had mixed opinions of the subject, but they all agreed on one thing: it would be pricey. The cost of renting a car down there is a little high, BUT the government requires you to buy insurance, regardless of what your own policy and/or credit card might cover. This required insurance would be, at least, $55/day. Hmmmm. Not good. Sounded like the kind of racket you run into some times. Still, I had a hard time nailing down an alternative. The whole country is no bigger than West Virginia. Surely it can’t be that hard to get around.
Earlier in the year one of my Facebook friends, Amy Kutschbach, had posted pictures from her trip to Costa Rica. Making no progress on my own, I messaged her about car rentals and getting around generally. She replied with some good advice and sound reasoning which was, a) DO NOT rent a car because roads are awful and signs are few, AND, b) let the locals arrange both your vacation and your transportation. She recommended a site called “Anywhere Costa Rica”. They give you good suggestions to choose from and the service is free! OK. Now we were getting somewhere!
I got on the Anywhere Costa Rica site and got to work. First the give you a nice checklist of things you want to do down there. Then they ask for your budget and how many days you plan to stay. You send them that info and they assign one of their staff to work with you. Sure enough, almost instantly, I received a reply with suggestions for places to visit and things to do. Following Amy’s pictures, comments from TripAdvisor people and our personal preferences, Dianne and I soon had it narrowed down. We replied back and soon received a phone call from Yuliana, our guide for this experience. She agreed that we had picked some excellent spots, but she pointed out that October is still the rainy season in Costa Rica. For that reason some of the places on the Pacific side actually close and regardless, we might well spend considerable time in the pouring rain. OK. This was good to know. She said we would still be alright in the mountains, but would be much drier on the Caribbean side. She suggested some places to visit there, which sounded just as good. Soon we were narrowing things down again. Before long, we had a plan.
Not only did this plan include the properties, it also included all transportation from the airport, to every destination and back to the airport. And all within budget. Here is the final itinerary:
These services are confirmed and booked in the name of David Stoner as of 2015-10-14.
Be sure to print these confirmations and take them with you on your trip.
Oct 01, 2015
Monteverde: Transport, Checkin
Pickup at International Airport (South West flight #602 at 11:30) at 11:30AM.
Local # 2469-2020 / 8704-9393. Confirmation # 21933. Adult Rules: 11 and older. Child Rules: 4-10 years. Infant Rules: 3 and younger.
Local # 2431-0776 / 2645-5858. Free Breakfast. Adult Rules: 12 and older. Child Rules: 5-11 years. Infant Rules: under age 5.
Oct 02, 2015
Pickup at Trapp Family Lodge in Monteverde at 07:00AM.
Tour Rules: Sky Trek (zip lines) weight restriction: 217lbs and maximum waist width of 56 inches. Minimum height required for Sky Trek: 1,40 meters. What to Bring: Closed toe shoes, long pants or long shorts, a light jacket, camera.
Sky Trek Local # 2479-4100 / 2479-7832 . Confirmation # R-203579.
Pickup at Trapp Family Lodge in Monteverde at 02:30PM.
Tour Includes: Guide, coffee picking, and plantation tour. What to Bring: Comfortable clothing, camera, and sunscreen.
Tour option: Regular Tour
Don Juan Coffee Tour Local # 2645-7100/ 2645 6858.
Oct 03, 2015
Pickup at Trapp Family Lodge in Monteverde at 07:20AM.
Tour Includes: Naturalist guide, entrance fees, transportation (if requested when booking). What to Bring: Comfortable clothing, hiking shoes, insect repellent, camera, water, raincoat.
Language / Idioma: English Tour type: Regular tour
Pasion Costa Rica Local # 2452-1717 /8828-2417.
Pickup at Trapp Family Lodge in Monteverde at 05:00PM.
Tour Includes: Naturalist guide and flashlight. What to Bring: Warm clothes, long pants, hiking shoes, insect repellent, rain gear, jacket, camera (optional).
Hidden Valley Local # 8378-1657 / 2645-6601.
Oct 04, 2015
Arenal: Change Hotels, Transport
Pickup at Trapp Family Lodge at 07:45AM.
Taxi-Boat-Taxi Local # 2645-7140 / 2645-7638. Please take into account there is a walk from the van to the boat and boat to the van on both sides of the lake and the luggage will need to be carried by all passengers. Families and elderly people will be given priority by the drivers. If any member on your party requires assistance please inform us in advance. Adult Rules: 7 and older. Child Rules: up to 6 years. May include one or more stops and a connection with a vehicle change. Exact logistics vary from day to day.
* Early checkin may be possible.
Local # 2479 2800. Confirmation # 52330. Free Breakfast. Adult Rules: 12 and older. Child Rules: 5-11 years. Infant Rules: under age 5.
Oct 05, 2015
Pickup at Volcano Lodge & Springs in Arenal at 07:25AM.
Tour Includes: Transportation, bilingual naturalist guide, bottled water, fruit, lunch, and entrance fees to the parks. What to Bring: Hiking shoes, water sandals, rain jacket, comfortable clothes, swimming suit, insect repellent, sunscreen, towel, and camera.
Rainforest Explorers Local # 8921-6427 . Confirmation # 879.
Oct 06, 2015
No pickup transportation included.
Tour Rules: This tour does not include transportation. The tour is located on the road to La Fortuna waterfall, in front of Cabinas La Catarata.
Tour Option: Regular Tour
Rain Forest Chocolate Tour Local # 8474-4007/2479-0090.
No pickup transportation included.
Tour Includes: Entrance fee. Lockers and towels are available paying a refundable deposit. What to Bring: Camera, bathing suit, sandals.
Tour Option: Entrance Fee Plus Dinner
Tabacon Hot Springs Local # 2479-2099. Confirmation # S144300.
Oct 07, 2015
Puerto Viejo de Limon: Change Hotels, Transport
Pickup at Volcano Lodge & Springs at 06:00AM.
Interbus Local # 4100-0888 / 4100-0890. Confirmation # 428555 . 1 piece of luggage and 1 carry-on allowed per passenger at no cost (extra luggage – $15 per piece). Adult Rules: 12 and older. Child Rules: 4-11 years. Infant Rules: 3 and younger. May include one or more stops and a connection with a vehicle change. Exact logistics vary from day to day.
* Early checkin may be possible.
Local # 2750-0035 / 2750-0518. Free Breakfast. Adult Rules: 6 and older. Child Rules: 5 and younger.
Oct 10, 2015
Tortuguero: Change Hotels, Transport
Pickup at Hotel Cariblue at 08:10AM.
Notes: Upon arrival to Muelle Los Almendros please ask the boat captain to call us or Mawamba Lodge.
Terraventuras Local # 2750-0750 . 1 piece of luggage and 1 carry-on allowed per passenger at no cost (extra luggage – $15 per piece). Adult Rules: 12 and older. Child Rules: 4-11 years. Infant Rules: 3 and younger. May include one or more stops and a connection with a vehicle change. Exact logistics vary from day to day.
Pick Up Location: Muelle Almendros in Tortuguero (connecting with Terraventuras). – Drop off location: Adventure Inn in Alajuela
Local # 2293-8181 / 8854-6155. Confirmation # R149074. Free Breakfast. Adult Rules: 13 and older. Child Rules: 5-12 years. Infant Rules: under age 5.
Oct 12, 2015
Alajuela – SJO Int’l: Change Hotels
Notes: We have secured a free shuttle service from Adventure Inn to SJO Int. Airport on 10/13/2015. This service is provided by Interbus (ref. # 429057). The shuttle departs at 8:30am, please be ready at the lobby of the hotel.
Local # 2239-2633. Confirmation # 45159-E. Free Breakfast. Adult Rules: 13 and older. Child Rules: 5-12 years. Infant Rules: under age 5.
Oct 13, 2015
Alajuela – SJO Int’l: Checkout
IMPORTANT: Anywhere Costa Rica has prepaid each of the bookings shown above. If a provider requests payment or if you have any problems, please call us immediately at 2479-8811. If you pay a provider directly, we will be unable to issue a refund. All cancellations and modifications must be made with Anywhere Costa Rica. We try to help clients get full refunds in every circumstance. However, we must respect the cancellation terms of our providers. Tours often operate rain or shine. Hotels, shuttles, and flights have stricter cancellation policies. Early notice on conflicts or cancellations allows us to better negotiate a reduced penalty.
We were ready to go!!!