Turtle, Ecuador

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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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260 Reviews

  • Reviewed February 2020

    Amazing Costa Rica

    I thought this was a great trip and I was very fortunate to end up travelling with a fabulous, like minded group of people. Costa Rica is a beautiful country and the itinerary is well designed to fit in lots of places but without feeling rushed as you get to stay everywhere for two nights. It did not feel as intense and tiring as some trips I have done as there is ample chance to chill out on the verandas of the lodges or by the pool with a book or just watching the wildlife. It is very focused on the nature, scenery and wildlife side of the country, in particular birds, so be prepared for that. There is a chance to do a few other things such as the hot springs and zip lining which are well worth it. I thought all of the accommodation was excellent. Although they varied in terms of facilities everywhere was clean, comfortable and friendly, in excellent locations, with beautiful grounds and with good food (food especially good in Savegre) and most had pools which was an added bonus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were quite a few amazing moments and the whole country is just a joy to explore. I was desperate to see a sloth and we managed to see a few but seeing my first one by the pool in Tortuguero on day one was a definite highlight. I also loved the boat trips we did. We also saw an Armadillo and porcupine here as well which are apparently quite rare to spot so that was very exciting as was seeing a troupe of monkeys jumping from the trees across the river on the boat trip. In terms of the optional trips I really enjoyed the hot springs in La Fortuna as well as the zip lining and canopy walk in Monteverde and would definitely recommend doing these.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alex Castro is a brilliant tour leader. He has an infectious enthusiasm and love for his country and a seemingly endless wealth of knowledge regarding all the animals, birds and plants. Quite how he could identify birds at such a great distance when all I can see at best is a blob without my binoculars will forever be a mystery! He was always charming and polite with a great sense of humour and had endless patience with us when we were asking for the twentieth time what a certain bird was or getting excited about an 'animal' that turned out to be just a lump of moss or leaves! Also, I have to mention the best bus driver in Costa Rica - Mario. A lovely, friendly guy who navigated the winding and sometimes bumpy Costa Rican roads brilliantly and safely, and who was always happy to try and help me with my awful Spanish!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is not necessary to take colones. You can get by easily with American dollars. Be warned that Costa Rica is at least as expensive as the UK if not slightly more so. Both Monteverde and Savegre can be on the cool side so make sure you have some layers. Take binoculars as you need them to spot all the birds and animals. I wondered before I went if I should have booked to stay in San Jose for longer however having done the trip I don't feel it is necessary. We had a few hours on the last day so got to do a quick tour of the city centre and then the gold museum which is very good and then as the flight was not until the afternoon the next day I was able to do the 9am tour of the National Theatre which I would highly recommend.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just go. I am worried with the increasing number of people travelling to Costa Rica it may get too over commercialised soon so go before it is too late!
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Jean Smith

    A ‘must do’ for the ‘bucket list’!

    An excellent trip with Edward our leader, Felix our driver and Primo the very best boatman in Tortuguero. Our 2 days in Tortuguero were a highlight with the boat trips and we were very lucky with the weather. You definitely need plenty of thin cotton clothes - nothing dries in the humidity and layers for the cooler areas. We felt well prepared having read the trip notes and the recent reviews. Plenty of bug spray, umbrella, waterproof or poncho and a good hat. Excellent food especially the fruit and fish and accommodation better than we had expected. The spa at the last hotel was an unexpected bonus - well worth having a massage and jacuzzi after a busy holiday! We enjoyed the happy hours to sample local cocktails (some more than others!). Our group of 16 was an eclectic mix who got on extremely well, always ready for a laugh and a challenge and got on really well.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    5.30 am boat trip down the water channels at Tortuguero looking for wildlife - superb!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Edward was very professional, personable and smart both in appearance and knowledge. He was flexible, wanting to meet the whole group’s individual needs and good fun. He was always willing to organise extra things for us to give us the best experience of his beloved country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes and recent reviews and make sure you have a good camera, binoculars, umbrella, waterproof or poncho and a good hat.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Julie O'Donnell

    Discover the whole country

    I booked the trip as I expected to be surrounded by wildlife, it wasn't the case.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The second day in the river boat. One of the trips out we saw possible 70% of all the wildlife we saw during the whole two weeks. I witnessed a few (about 10) sea turtle hatchlings make their way into the sea, this was the highlight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader (Ed) was brilliant, knowledgeable, funny and went out of his way to ensure we all had a great time. He did everything he could to find the wildlife we all were desperate to see.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't be under the impression that you will be surrounded and see wildlife other than birds. Yes you will see mammals, reptiles, insects etc., but the majority of the time.... birds.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It would have been so much better to have stayed in the river and rainforest areas longer. The last two days were a total waste of time in the grubby city and we were moved from place to place far to often, having to leave some beautiful places! This was no failing of the guide but the schedule.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Charmaine Cook

    Brilliant trip around an Amazing country

    A trip that transports you from different areas in beautiful Costa Rica. Six different ecosystems visited but the travel between destinations was only half a day and spending 2 nights at each place meant we had plenty of time to explore. My trip was bird watching lead guide. So every morning had an optional early start to go out and look for birds. Some of the people on the trip were not that sure at the beginning but by the end of the trip, they were keen about what we saw and more knowledgable. Frankly I was in phographers heaven!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hummingbirds galore - the speedy devils were a challenge to photograph but I managed some cracking shots that I was pleased with. I was not expecting to see any turtles at Tortuguero so watching the hatching turtles scurry down to the sea was special. Maybe the premise of a new beginning was why it was magical - we all were blown away by that. Personally I just loved the quiet time I had in Santa Elena Cloud Reserve standing in the rain, being harassed by a hummingbird and looking at the beauty of nature surrounding me.It was the sheer variety of plants, flowers and birds on our trip that allowed me to just enjoy nature and relax.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andres was a master of bird identification- he just listened, watched and studied to show us an impressive array of birds on this trip - 230 or so. He was thoughtful and made sure he knew why we were doing this trip - ensuring that why we were here was covered. His patience was unlimited and he had information with quick wit and a smile all the time. Our driver, Alexandros was a laugh, an amazing driver who kept us safe, brilliant evasive control when needed and was always keeping the bus immaculately clean.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just go. Costa Rica is beaches, rainforest, towns, cloudforest, canals and very friendly people. I took colones and US dollars as purchased at home but US dollars was regularly accepted and change given as colones. Take a good lens and plenty of memory space - I took over 8000 photos. As a vegetarian, usually easily catered for in our hotels or when we ate out. Tropical fruit, good quality food everywhere - not gourmet but tasty. If you are wanting partying, late nights and cities - this trip is not for you. If you want open area dining with the local animals watching you eat, marvelling at the beautiful nature and early nights/ possibly early mornings - then this is more your trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Costa Rica is a country that is a leader in the way of eco tourism. They also as a nation are very environmentally aware so it makes you realise that supporting the country is supporting the environment too.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Andrew Patchett

    A birding bonanza

    This was the most wonderful adventure and our experience was just as all previous reviewers, simply amazing. Lots of great scenery, beaches, forests, countryside and birds. Lots and lots of the most amazing birds. Costa Rica is green for a reason so be prepared it can rain a lot at any time but it is always warm/hot!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching the turtles hatch on Tortuguero beach and seeing the amazing Resplendent Quetzal in Savegre Cloud Forest at such close proximity.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andreas our group leader was one of the best we have travelled with and we have had a few! His patience, knowledge and enthusiasm was just simply amazing and never seemed to be phased by the groups constant questions. Our trip had a birding bias and Andreas’s ability to locate, see and identify them was just simply amazing. We would not seen a fraction of them without his expert knowledge and guidance. Thank you!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Costa Rica is not a cheap country so be prepared for normal UK prices or above however the food and drink are really good with lots of fresh local fare. Just the best. The coffee it goes without saying is fantastic. ( We liked the iced coffees the best. Mmmmm!) ATMs are safely available so no need to carry lots of cash and dollars are always used with change given in local currency. You can also pay on credit card everywhere and great internet access even in the remotest of stays. How do they do it! Everyone says it,however it is worth mentioning, you do need a lot more travelling clothes than you would normally take. When washed they do not dry quickly because of the humidity. A fold out umbrella is an essential item. We found sealed bags for cameras etc useful and check your ‘bins’ are sealed, they may steam up inside otherwise! It is all about the beautiful green countryside, so clean and litter free. This is a very different Central America more akin to the North and generally you will have no language barriers at all. Try to get a direct flight! Going via Miami is a complete nightmare with immigration, lines, and just general inefficiency with little or no signage. In our experience you need at least 3 hours between flights if you do and that will be tight. It was a real challenge and took the edge of what was an amazing adventure. A great pity. However ....... Go and enjoy!
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Miriam Carpenter

    Fabulous holiday

    How many times can I say the word amazing? We had high expectations of this holiday & we weren’t disappointed. It’s a busy holiday, moving on every 2 days, but there was time to relax in the afternoons & it meant that you feel you’ve seen so much of this varied country. The drives are about 4 hours, broken up with stops in interesting places, & the views are always amazing. We saw so much wild life, and the atmosphere in the rain forests was a great experience We had a couple of good fish meals at restaurants but Costa Rica isn’t really a ‘foodie ‘ destination. Prices are similar to England.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Boat trip on the Laguna at Tortuguero was magical. The atmosphere of the rainforest at Aquinas lodge was special, especially on the night walk At every location, there was so much wild life. Particularly loved seeing the colourful birds, especially the flocks of toucans and the resplendent quetzal, and the iguanas, and of course the sloths and howler monkeys.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Johnny Villalobos well deserves his tour leader of the year award. He is a naturalist to his very core, and his passion is infectious. he is incredibly knowledgeable, not just about the wildlife, he told us so much about the history, the politics & the economics of his country. On top of that he’s warm & friendly, he’s witty & he is very humble.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack light, there’s some hoofing your case around but pack wisely as you’ll go from a hot & humid rainforest where you want to shower hourly, to the cool mountains where you need a jumper & jacket. All within a 4 hour drive. Beg steal or borrow a good pair of light weight binoculars. Set up a WhatsApp group to share photos with your group
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Sue Pemberton

    Pura Vida

    This was a 'special treat' holiday for me, I had been looking forward to it for 9 months and had very high expectations. These were more than met. Costa Rica is a fascinating country which we could learn a lot from. This tour gives you a really good introduction to the country, staying at 6 different locations all completely different. Wildlife was amazing. The journey was shared with a wonderful group of people - so much fun and friendship.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to choose, there were so many - a wonderful close view of a sloth on our way to Tortuguero, staying at Esqinas Lodge, the monkeys at Manuel Antonio, the scarlet macaws.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    It's easy to see why Johnny is an award-winning leader. His knowledge of and passion for his country was impressive and he taught us so much in his gentle way. He knew the best places and times to find wildlife, which always seemed to appear bang on cue! His organisational skills were exemplarary and he always had 'a plan'. We also came home ardent supporters of the Herediano football team!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go prepared for a wide variety of weather and remember to take your camera and binocluars with you wherever you go!
  • Reviewed November 2019

    Discover Costa Rica

    A great trip to get an idea of the different environments in Costa Rica, we saw a huge amount of wildlife in such a short space of time.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to pick just one moment; seeing a sloth in the wild for the first time, the tiny turtle heading out of its nest down to the sea, the hummingbirds, the perfectly named resplendent quetzals, the macaws, the ever changing scenery, never ending laughter with the group of strangers that quickly became friends ……..just so many wonderful moments to remember.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fantastic! Carlos Calvo is an excellent guide, his passion and knowledge knows no bounds, spotting animals and birds that we would have very easily missed. He is an amazing photographer and was more than happy to share his photos with the group. He is well organised and had a great sense of humour, interacting with everyone in the group with ease. Our driver Henry Fonseca was great too, he kept the minibus super clean, drove very carefully and always had a smile on his face.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Definitely read the previous traveller notes, nothing to add as they are pretty comprehensive

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just go - it's an amazing place!
  • Reviewed November 2019
    Julie D

    Discover Costa Rica

    Fantastic insight into this beautiful and fascinating country. Brilliant guide.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the baby turtles hurtling towards the incoming tide at Tortuguero

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant guide - very friendly and very knowledgeable about everything from the plants and wildlife to the history of the country

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring an umbrella !
  • Reviewed November 2019
    David Phillips

    Costa Rica is an amazing country

    This was a great trip which we enjoyed thoroughly. Having wanted to visit CR for some time, I was hoping to see a lot of the wildlife and to experience its rich biodiversity. The itinerary was perfect and allowed plenty of time to enjoy these aspects. The transport and accommodation was comfortable and of a high standard. Our guide was superb.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many enjoyable moments throughout the trip, but for me the most thrilling moments were 1. witnessing a green turtle lay and bury her eggs on the beach at Tortuguera, and then return t o the sea on the second night in the country. This was a real privilege. 2. Spotting and photographing Resplendent Quetzals in the cloud forest at Savegre right at the end of the trip

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andres Zuniga is an absolutely superb guide. His knowledge of Costa Rica and its wildlife is astonishing and his ability to find and identify birds and animals is absolutely astounding. We would not have seen a tenth of what we did see without him. He instantly identified scores of birds by their calls. He found quetzals for us with little effort. He also has an impressive knowledge of the flora. He made our experience of Costa Rica an incredible one. Not only that, but he was pleasant at all times, interesting in what he told us, and was a great host and ambassador for his country. We also had a very capable, friendly and helpful bus driver, Geraldo. Between them they looked after our party extremely well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are at all interested in birds and animals and enjoy seeing them, you will enjoy this trip. Costa Rica deserves its reputation as a country that has gone to great lengths to restore and conserve its forests and biodiversity and this itinerary will give you many wonderful experiences of what it has to offer.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The itinerary was perfectly paced - 2 nights each at 6 destinations, with no more that a half day between them, meaning that we arrived at each place midday and then had the afternoon and all the next day to experience it before moving on. Thus we did not feel rushed and each destination was comfortable and welcoming.
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