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Review: Costa Rica with Explore

Escorted Tour - Coach

Costa Rica with 'Explore'

  • By SilverTraveller granh

    60 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon

  • August 2016
  • Family including children under 16

19 people found this review helpful

For over a decade I have been going on a yearly bird watching trip. The last few have been disappointing – too much dashing around to get an impressive tick list. My daughter suggested I try something different, how about a Family Wildlife Adventure with her and the two grandchildren, aged 7 and 11. The wildlife bit appealed, but I wasn’t sure about the adventure aspect. The spirit might be willing, but could the elderly frame cope? However I decided it was now or never, soon my grandchildren would be older and more adventurous and I would be older and more decrepit; so I agreed to the holiday. Surely I could keep up with a seven year old!

Our destination was Costa Rica and the tour company was ‘Explore’.

Costa Rica is a small Central American country, bordered by Nicaragua in the north, Panama to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean to the east. Our trip was to take us in a circuit around the country, experiencing different geographical areas. We visited mountains, volcanos, towns, rain forests, jungles, rivers and beaches discovering the rich variety of plants and animals each contained. We took opportunities for educational as well as adventurous activities which were available.(All these activities were organized, not independently done.)

Nearly a quarter of the population of Coast Rica live in the metropolitan area of the capital city, San Jose. That leaves a lot of countryside, and 25% of the land area is in protected national parks or protected areas in private hands. The country has progressive environmental policies, and is proud of its record of sustainability. Tourism is taken very seriously, but within this environmental policy, so is not overdeveloped.

The climate is tropical all year and has wet and dry seasons and micro climates. I expected rain but we were lucky. There is usually a dry gap in the rainy season, and we hit it!

I was concerned about the heat as we had to go in school holidays, so went in early August. It was hot, but not all the time – it was cooler in the mountains. Insects were another dread, I expected them to swarm round as soon as we got off the plane and had taken lots of insect repellent. This proved to be unnecessary, sensible precautions were all that was needed. I washed my hair twice daily in a shampoo which had insect repellent in, and which doubled as a body wash. It smelt nice and was a bit oily, which counteracted the drying effect of the sun on my hair. I wore cotton trousers with elasticated bottoms (one pair was actually a pyjama bottom, but no one noticed.) Long sleeved tops protected arms, my husband’s old shirts came in useful here! I wore heavy duty walking sandals with socks, which protected my feet. Any exposed area got anti insect applied, as well as sun cream. I only had one bad bite, which made my finger swell, and that was when we visited a supermarket! The members of our group who wore shorts and open sandals were the ones with most bites.

The accommodation varied between international hotel standard to rather basic, but was all comfortable and clean. Breakfasts were usually included, but not all meals. This suited us as we had different tastes. The children liked fast food, I liked basic food and my daughter wanted to try new types of food. We usually found places to eat which satisfied all tastes. Popular foods were rice, beans and chicken which appeared on most menus, even for breakfast. Our guide had good local knowledge, so could recommend places to eat.

We had a direct flight from Gatwick to San Jose, where our local guide, Hector, met us. He was excellent and escorted us around for the 15 day holiday. He spoke fluent English and had a clear voice. His knowledge was phenomenal, not just about the wildlife but about the geography, history, culture, politics and sustainability of the country. He was keen to explain and educate and share his love of the country in a friendly, informal manner, talking with ease to both children and adults. He discovered that I was interested in birds, which he was also, so included a few early morning bird walks which were not on the itinerary. I did not take part in some of the more strenuous activities, and he always suggested things to do instead, even if it was directing me to the nearest café.

I will write about highlights separately, but would thoroughly recommend Costa Rica as a holiday destination. ‘Explore’ I would recommend also, but there are points to consider. You need to be reasonably fit; there are different types of holiday so research which would be best fit your interests; and, if you take children, make sure they are interested – our holiday was marred by fellow travelers who were keener on the adventure idea than their children, who got bored and were not very co-operative.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 1 Comment(s)

  • ESW
    almost 3 years ago
    I'm looking forward to the separate highlight reviews.

    This sounds a wonderul holiday to share with the grandchildren - but what a pity about those who got bored and unco-operative. I hope they didn't spoil it too much for you.