Costa Rica Family Holiday Trip Notes

Costa Rica Family Holiday

These trip notes are valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2017. View the trip notes for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017


Last Modified: 30 May 2016
Costa Rica Family Holiday
Trip code: QCFR
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2017
Experience the drama of Costa Rica’s landscapes, the real flavours of its culture and cuisine and uncover the country’s adventurous heart. This Family Adventure has been specially crafted to balance organised activities and travel with loads of free time for fun and relaxation. Come and discover this unique, diverse corner of Central America and open your children’s eyes to a colourful new world.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationEmergency contact
ThemesAccommodation NotesVisas
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionWhat to take
Why we love itMealsClimate and seasonal information
MapMoney mattersHealth
ItineraryGroup leaderTravel insurance
Itinerary disclaimerSafetyA couple of rules
Physical ratingJoining pointResponsible Travel
Included activitiesJoining point descriptionThe Intrepid Foundation
Important notesJoining point instructionsFeedback
Group sizeFinish point
Your fellow travellersFinish point description
Style
Original
Themes
Family, Wildlife
Is this trip right for you?
- Make sure you pack some sturdy and comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking around cities, towns, and through forests and jungle on this trip.
- There are a few days of long travel on this trip as you’ll be covering a lot of Costa Rican ground. These drives are along smooth roads in new and comfortable vehicles, and are great for games, chats and scenery spotting. You’ll also make interesting stops along the way to break up those longer drives.
- Is it hot in here? Well you’re in tropical Central America so it can get really hot and humid. Carry plenty of water because hydration is key, especially when you’re walking a lot. There'll also be plenty of chances to take a cooling swim though!
- It’s a good idea to try and brush up on as many Spanish words as you can. While locals are really friendly, they’re also shy, so knowing some local lingo is a great way to break the ice and show you care about them and their culture.
Why we love it
- Dive into the heart of one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries, through rivers, dense rainforest, misty cloud forest, past towering volcanoes and to blissful beaches on a journey that will leave you in love with nature
- Glide through the waterways of Tortuguero NP, seek out monkeys and turtles by foot and boat, and drift off to sleep surrounded by the sounds of wildlife
- Get active on an incredible range of outdoor pursuits, from battling rapids while whitewater rafting to galloping through forest on horseback, hiking through jungle to waterfalls, walking high up in the canopy, and whizzing from tree to tree on a zipline
- After getting up-close to the country’s endless abundance of wildlife, enjoy plenty of time to let off some steam in thermal springs and swimming pools – like the one that sits in the magnificent shadow of the steaming Arenal volcano
- End this adventure by hitting Manuel Antonio NP, where the evergreen forest grows right up to the long, white beaches and irresistible water
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 San Jose
The trip begins at the hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica’s lively capital, where there's a welcome meeting at 6pm today. You can arrive at any time today as there are no activities planned until this group meeting. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, maybe arrive a day early so you're able to attend. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. San Jose sits in the heart of the country in the lush, wide Central Valley, and has a comfortable subtropical climate. With over half the country's population living within its limits, it’s a bustling city with lively markets, intriguing museums and a dynamic atmosphere. It’s also easy to navigate – laid out in a grid pattern, the avenidas run east to west and the callés run north to south. After the meeting tonight, perhaps get to know the rest of the group and head out for your first taste of the local ‘tico’ food.
Included Activities
  • Museo Nacional de Costa Rica
  • San Jose - Butterfly farm
  • Doka Estate
  • National Institute of Biodiversity
    Accommodation
    Tryp Sabana or similar (1 nt)
    Day 2 San Jose
    Today you’ll get a taste of the sights in and around San Jose when you meet you leader and group, and hop on a bus for a guided tour. Your first stop will be the National Museum, which offers an introduction to Costa Rican history with some fascinating displays of artefacts from Pre-Columbian, colonial, and early republic time. The building itself also tells a story – housed in an old fort, there are bullet holes from the 1948 civil war on the outside. Continue on to ‘INBio Park’, an educational and recreational centre at the National Institute of Biodiversity. Here you’ll get an idea of Costa Rica’s incredible wealth of plant and animal species – walk through various rain forest habitats, spotting iguanas, sloths, birds, and many plants with very unique adaptations. There are also tarantula, butterfly, snake, and frog exhibits. Next, drive out of the city to Doka Estate (approximately 1 hour), which sits on the fertile slopes of the Alajuela Poas Volcano. Take a tour of the coffee fields and plantation sugar cane mill. The estate is home to some of the best coffee in Costa Rica (they might say the world), and you’ll learn all about going from seed to cup. You’ll also experience a kaleidoscope of fluttering colour at the butterfly farm, before returning to San Jose.
    Accommodation
    Tryp Sabana or similar (1 nt)
    Meals
    1 breakfast
    Day 3 Tortuguero National Park
    Say goodbye to San Jose early this morning and head out into the Costa Rican wilderness. Travel out of the city, stopping for breakfast en route, before boarding a launch to navigate the waterways into the Tortuguero National Park (approximately 2 hours). There are no roads to your accommodation and this isolation makes the park a nature lover's dream. You’ll travel along Los Canales, which were dug during the 1960s to connect the coastal lagoons to a maze of natural channels in order to transport lumber by boat. They now form a long highway (100 kilometres) through dense rainforest. As you motor along the river, every now and then you’ll see a clearing in the thick-forested banks, where settlers eke out an existence from slash-and-burn agriculture and fishing. Everyone fishes here – an iridescent flash will mark the flight of a kingfisher, while anhinga and several species of heron can be seen perching in the shadows along the water’s edge, waiting to strike. Your accommodation for the next two nights is a riverbank lodge that stands among Caribbean rainforest. Here you can rest up, delight in some home comforts and relax poolside. Maybe take a walk to the village and on to the beach, then fall asleep to the unearthly cry of the howler monkey.
    Included Activities
    • Walking tour of Tortuguero National Park
      Accommodation
      Pachira Lodge or similar (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
      Day 4 Tortuguero
      There’s no need for alarm clocks in this part of the world, and you’ll wake this morning to the screech of toucan and oropendula. This is just the beginning of your wildlife-filled day – you’ll go on excursions by boat and on foot, soaking up Mother Nature's most flamboyant floral and faunal displays, using the experienced eyes of the boatman or guide spot the animals. Tortuguero National Park, established in 1970, is home to 13 of Costa Rica’s 16 endangered mammals. Among them are manatees, ocelots and jaguars, as well as over 300 bird species. First and foremost, however, it is the nesting ground of the green turtle, which comes ashore between July and October to lay its eggs on the sandy beaches. This area has long been associated with the catching of turtle (tortuguero means turtle-catcher), and the original indigenous inhabitants used turtles as a sustainable resource, but the arrival of Europeans led to major exploitation. Lesser numbers of the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, plus loggerheads, and giant leatherback turtles also nest within the park at different times of year. Just some of the other animals you might see today are tree frogs, sloths, caimans, crocodiles, iguanas, spider monkeys and white faced capuchins, making this an unforgettable natural journey.

      Notes: If you visit between August and October and are interested in the nesting ground of the green turtle, it is necessary to wear dark colours.
      Accommodation
      Pachira Lodge or similar (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
      Day 5 Sarapiqui
      After breakfast, wave goodbye to the tree-swinging howler monkeys and transfer by boat back to the port (approximately 2 hours) – keeping your eyes open for more animals and birdlife that line the waterways. Then you’ll head to another region rich in biodiversity and beloved by birdwatchers – Sarapiqui. Pass palms (used to produce palm heart), banana and papaya growing on the edge of the roadside along the way (approximately 2 hours). Stop for lunch and for some leg-stretching time, before continuing to your destination (approximately 1.5 hours). On the banks of the Puerto Viejo River and next to the Braulio Carrillo National Park, the budding town of Sarapiqui is surrounded by virgin forests, banana and pineapple plantations. Sarapiqui is also known as one of the richest areas in Costa Rica for bird watching. The diversity of lowland bird life is incredibly impressive. A biological research station and several nearby forest lodges have made this undisturbed habitat accessible to scientists and travellers. For the next two nights you’ll stay in a family-run eco-lodge surrounded a reforested area with native trees, an old-growth forest on the banks of the nearby river, and tropical gardens bulging with flowers and fruit. The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy this beautiful area, maybe just swinging the day away in a hammock.
      Optional Activities
      • Sarapiqui - Horse riding - USD35
      • Chocolate Tour La Tirimbina - USD30
      • Boat Trip - Sarapiqui Area - USD53
      • La Selva Biological Station - USD37
      • White Water Rafting - USD52
        Accommodation
        La Quinta de Sarapiqui or similar (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast
        Day 6 Sarapiqui
        Today is a free day, so how you explore the lush, tropical surrounds of this idyllic location is up to you and your family. There are so many activities on offer for you, but the first choice of many families is the exhilarating fun of battling the gushing rapids of the Pacuare River on an optional full day rafting trip. The level of rafting here is very suitable for families, but please note that the minimum age is 8 years old. After a safety briefing and getting you kitted out with a snazzy orange vest, you’ll work as a team to make your way through increasingly challenging rapids with names like ‘Terciopelo snake’ and ‘Double drop’. Along the way, you’ll also have opportunities to spot wildlife and see waterfalls in the lush forest. For some less active water-based fun, you could take a relaxing boat trip and perfect your nature spotting skills. If you’d prefer to stay on land, you can saddle-up for a horse ride, or make for the forest trails (like those in La Selva Biological Station) by foot. For something completely different, maybe satisfy your sweet tooth on a chocolate tour, opening the secrets and wonders of one of mankind’s favourite foods.
        Accommodation
        La Quinta de Sarapiqui or similar (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast
        Day 7 Arenal Volcano
        Today you’ll cross west through the north of the country to Arenal (approximately 2-3 hours) where you’ll lay eyes on a storybook volcano that soars out of the verdant plains. The Volcán Arenal shoots up to 1,633 metres in a perfect cone, and looks a lot like what would pop into your head if you were asked to imagine a volcano. The scenery is made up of primary cloud forest and rainforest, and this is a land of rivers, lakes and, thanks to the volcano’s inner workings, a number of thermal springs where hot, lava-heated water gushes to the surface. These springs have been turned into a number of thermal pools and waterfalls, often surrounded by dense foliage, offering ideal place to relax. Your accommodation for the next two nights has lots of activities on offer, as well as something you wont get in many other places in the world – the chance to relax by a pool with a view of a towering volcano! The much-loved famous volcano isn’t spewing lava every day and night like it used to, but it is still rumbling and puffing out plumes of gas. Maybe while away the day at the accommodation's own thermal hot springs.
        Included Activities
        • Arenal National Park
          Optional Activities
          • Sky Tram & Sky Trek - Arenal Area - USD88
          • Hike to the Arenal National Park - USD69
          • Ecotermales Thermal Waters - USD33
          • Cultour Daily Tours - Arenal Volcano Costa Rica - USD102
          • La Fortuna - Hike to La Fortuna Waterfal - USD65
            Accommodation
            Arenal Paraiso Hotel or similar (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast
            Day 8 Arenal
            This morning you’ll head out for a guided tour in Arenal National Park, where the trails pass through interesting dwarf cloud forest, and the rich bird life includes several species of hummingbird and Costa Rica’s national bird (the clay-coloured robin that’s renowned for its melodious song). The afternoon is then free for optional activities in the local area. To get a closer view of the majestic peak, take a hike up towards to the volcano, through old lava flows and with views of the lovely Lake Arenal. Otherwise, you could get a different panorama of the summit by soaring smoothly through the rainforest on the slow paced Sky Tram. At an observation platform you can then enjoy magnificent views of the Arenal Volcano’s southern face. Getting down is even more exciting – return the way you came, or jump on a fast-paced zip line and fly down the mountain. Heading further afield is La Fortuna Waterfall, where you can take a short hike to the thundering cascade, then take a refreshing dip in a nearby clear swimming hole. A day trip to Cano Negro is also an option – this wildlife refuge is full of migratory and resident birds as well as river wildlife, both mammals and reptiles. Horse riding is also available in the Arenal area, and don’t forget about the thermal waters that will wash away your pains and worries.
            Accommodation
            Arenal Paraiso Hotel or similar (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast
            Day 9 Monteverde
            Travel along the Arenal Lake – a famous hangout for avid windsurfers – via Tilaran to Monteverde de Santa Elena (approximately 4-5 hours). Enjoy great views across the lake back towards the Arenal Volcano, and stop on the roadside for great homemade cakes and refreshments. Climb to Monteverde, feel the climate cooling and see the vegetation change from tropical to cloud forest. The surrounding hills are scattered with fair-trade co-operative coffee plantations, famous for producing some of the best coffee beans in the country. In the afternoon there may be time to visit a colourful butterfly farm (optional). Monteverde was founded in 1951 by a group of North American Quakers, who originally cleared virgin forest to create verdant pastures ideal for dairy farming. These environmentally aware settlers soon became conscious of the danger that unrestricted settling and farming could cause to this precious habitat, and so they established a small privately-owned wildlife sanctuary. This has since grown to become the internationally-renowned Monteverde Cloudforest Biological Preserve. Cloud forests are similar to rainforests, but instead of relying on rain for essential moisture, the water comes from the semi-permanent cloud that covers the region. That make it lush, full of wildlife, and truly a nature lover's paradise. More than 2,000 species of plants, 320 bird species and 100 different types of mammals call Montverde home. You’ll have lots of time to discover the natural wonders here.
            Included Activities
            • Sky Walk, Monteverde
              Optional Activities
              • Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve - USD69
              • Sky Trek - USD66
              • Guided Tree Top Walkways, Butterfly Farm, Hummingbird Garden - USD77
              • Bosque Eterno de los Niños Hike - USD61
              • Zip Lining (Canopy Tour) - USD74
              • Don Juan Coffee Tour - USD28
                Accommodation
                Hotel El establo or similar (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast
                Day 10 Monteverde
                Today everyone will become an ornithologist as you explore a forest that’s home to the Resplendent Quetzal (one of the most reclusive birds in the world), the blue-crowned motmot, the emerald toucanet and some 30 species of iridescent hummingbird – and that’s just a few of the 400-odd bird species recorded here! It’s not only things with wings that live here – more than 100 mammal species, 1,200 amphibian and reptile species, and many thousands of insect species are found here, in addition to an amazing variety of plant life. Appropriately in a place so filled with birdlife, one of the highlights for many is the chance to get a bird’s eye view of the forest up the canopy, instead of always looking up into the trees. As an included activity, you’ll walk across hanging bridges (Sky Walk) suspended through the trees. It’s not designed for vertigo suffers, but provides a fantastic chance to get in amongst the foliage and experience the forest from a great vantage point. Monteverde also has loads of other optional activities to get stuck into – watch winged, coloured jewels of the forest in the Butterfly Garden and the Hummingbird Gallery, gallop through the forest on a horse, visit an orchid farm, or whizz through the forest on ziplines between the trees on the thrilling ‘Sky Trek’. There might also be the option to hike through the forest as dusk, watching all the nocturnal creatures begin to stir.
                Accommodation
                Hotel El establo or similar (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast
                Day 11 Central Pacific Coast Area
                Departing Monteverde, descend to the Pan-American Highway, which you’ll follow southward across the flat coastal plain. Your journey takes you along a coastline of fine sand beaches, separated by the occasional area of mangrove and endless plantations of African palm. Your journey ends at Quepos, a sport-fishing centre and the gateway to Manuel Antonio National Park (approximately 6 hours plus stops). The Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon first documented this area in 1519 during his (unsuccessful) search for the Fountain of Youth. Your accommodation is near the Pacific Ocean and the tropical forest, and part of the property has been officially declared a Wildlife Reserve thanks to its biodiversity in plant species and fauna, such as spider monkeys, sloths, coati, and armadillos. Soak up some rays and relish the spoils of this unique beach setting, where lush rainforests sprawl gently towards the sand and white-faced capuchin monkeys peer cheekily from the treetops.
                Included Activities
                • Manuel Antonio National Park - entrance
                  Optional Activities
                  • Zip Lining (Canopy Tour ) - Central Pacific Coast - USD68
                  • Kayak Tour - Central Pacific Coast - USD80
                  • Catamaran Cruise - Central Pacific Coast - USD132
                  • Horseback Riding - Central Pacific Coast - USD92
                    Accommodation
                    Punta Leona Hotel or similar (1 nt)
                    Meals
                    1 breakfast
                    Day 12 Central Pacific Coast Area
                    Manuel Antonio National Park stands a few kilometres south of Quepos on the shores of the Pacific. Incorporating 12 small islands scattered just off the coast where migrating whales can sometimes be observed, the park is home to hundreds of mammal and bird species in a region of lagoons and fertile mangrove swamps. During your time in the region, you’ll enjoy a three-hour guided walk along the trails within the park and have plenty of time to relax on one of the idyllic palm-lined bays. The turquoise seas are perfect for swimming, kayaking, sailing or fishing. It would be easy to spend your whole time here in, or by, the water.
                    Accommodation
                    Punta Leona Hotel or similar (1 nt)
                    Meals
                    1 breakfast
                    Day 13 Central Pacific Coast Area
                    Enjoy another day at your leisure to explore the area. There are plenty of opportunities to join optional activities or simply relax and enjoy the hotel facilities. Your leader will be there to give you a run down of the options and lend you a hand. For those that love the water, you could take a catamaran tour out to hidden beaches, looking out for dolphins, snorkelling in the warm waters, jumping off the top deck, and luxuriating in a Costa Rican sunset. For something a bit more active, then paddling a kayak along inlets and small islands to secluded sandy beaches is just the thing. Back on land, there’s amusements like tennis or mini-golf at the accommodation, or you could horse ride and zipline, taking in as much of this incredible natural environment as possible, before you leave it behind and return to city life tomorrow.
                    Accommodation
                    Punta Leona Hotel or similar (1 nt)
                    Meals
                    1 breakfast
                    Day 14 San Jose
                    Retrace your steps northward along the coastal road to San Jose, stopping en route at Carara Biological Reserve. Here you’ll walk for two or three hours through the rainforest in the hope of seeing the beautiful, rare scarlet macaw, as well as the tiny black and green poison dart frog. Carara's position between the dry tropical forest of the north and the wet rainforest of the south means it’s blessed with a uniquely high diversity of plants and animals. Continue on from Carara, where the route turns inland to follow the main Pacific Highway through the agricultural towns of Orotina and Atenas. You’ll then arrive back in San Jose for your final night (total driving approximately 5 hours plus stops). Before you finish up your trip, be sure to hit the city's colourful and lively markets for some last-minute souvenir shopping, then get the group together to celebrate the end of this family adventure with one last Costa Rican meal.
                    Included Activities
                    • Carara Biological Reserve
                      Accommodation
                      Tryp Sabana or similar (1 nt)
                      Meals
                      1 breakfast
                      Day 15 San Jose
                      This Costa Rica Family Holiday comes to an end today. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
                      Meals
                      1 breakfast
                      Itinerary disclaimer
                      ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

                      A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only and are subject to availabilities. For our families we have priced an all inclusive package including entrance fees, transport and local guide where relevant to assist you with budgeting the exact amount required on tour. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. The optional activities listed in your itinerary are activities that are available to you as a guideline and have been checked locally. The decision to partake in any activity not listed above is entirely at your own discretion and risk. If you do have any complaint about or problem with, any such optional activity your claim should be directed to the activity provider and not to us.
                      Physical rating

                      Included activities
                      Museo Nacional de Costa Rica
                      San Jose - Butterfly farm
                      Doka Estate
                      National Institute of Biodiversity
                      Walking tour of Tortuguero National Park
                      Arenal National Park
                      Sky Walk, Monteverde
                      Manuel Antonio National Park - entrance
                      Carara Biological Reserve
                      Important notes
                      Please note that these trips are for adults and children travelling together and there must be at least one child under 18 with you.
                      Minimum age for children on this trip is 5 years old.

                      A discount of 10% applies on this trip to children 14 years and under at time of travel.

                      Group size
                      Maximum of 20 travellers per group.
                      Your fellow travellers
                      GROUP TRAVEL
                      As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

                      A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.
                      Accommodation
                      Hostel (2nt), Hotel (10nt), Lodge (2nt)
                      Accommodation is clean and simple. You'll mainly stay in small, locally-run, 2-3 star hotels and guesthouses, which reflect the character of the area,generally these will be a twin room with private facilities. Sometimes you'll stay in larger, more comfortable hotels or occasionally rustic accommodation with basic facilities. We use a variety of accommodation on most trips; chosen for their value for money, location and atmosphere. We also try and incorporate unique accommodation experiences, such as a night with a local tribe, or sleeping under the stars in the desert.

                      GENERAL ROOMING CONFIGURATIONS:
                      Family of two - All family groupings of two will be put into a twin room.

                      Family of three - Wherever possible we will put you in a triple room. Please be aware that in some places triple rooms are in short supply. This means that, in practice, a triple room will often simply be a twin room with a mattress on the floor or a further bed squashed in. Where it is impossible to provide a triple room, you will have to decide which of your party takes the single room.

                      Family of four or more - You will most likely stay in two twin rooms. If and wherever possible we will aim put you in a quadruple room. Whilst we will do our very best to ensure that families are roomed close together (in some cases, we can arrange adjoining rooms), we can’t guarantee this. Most family holidays occur during peak season and we sometimes have little to no control over where you will be put. You need to come prepared for this.
                      Meals introduction
                      While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
                      Meals
                      14 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
                      Money matters
                      The official currency of Costa Rica is the Colon (CRC).

                      With ATMs being widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money in Latin America (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Please check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.

                      Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day.

                      It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US dollars is the most readily changeable currency.

                      VERY IMPORTANT:
                      USD100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other USD bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.

                      SPENDING MONEY
                      When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

                      If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.

                      The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

                      Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.

                      Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest USD2-USD4 per passenger per day.

                      Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We suggest USD1-USD2 per day for drivers.

                      Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline USD2-USD4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

                      In total, we recommend you budget approx USD5-USD10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

                      Please allow US$26 for international departure tax from Costa Rica.

                      Budget for meals not included: 180.00

                      EMERGENCY FUNDS
                      Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
                      Group leader
                      All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

                      Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
                      Safety
                      Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

                      We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

                      Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

                      For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

                      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us/safety

                      FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
                      Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

                      TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
                      Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

                      SEAT BELTS:
                      Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

                      PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
                      While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

                      LIFE JACKETS:
                      While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.

                      WATER SAFETY:
                      Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
                      Joining point
                      Tryp Sabana
                      Avenue 3, calles 38 y 40
                      San Jose
                      COSTA RICA
                      Phone: 506 25472323
                      Fax: 506 25472324
                      Joining point description
                      Offering attractive accommodation with free Wi-Fi, Tryp San Jose, Sabana is located 50 metres from San José’s Pan American Motorway and La Sabana Park. It features a gym and a restaurant.
                      Each air-conditioned room at the Tryp San Jose has contemporary décor with carpeted floors. All rooms come with a flat-screen TV and a coffee maker with Costa Rican coffee. Some rooms have a small seating area.
                      There is a bus stop just 5 minutes’ walk from the Tryp San Jose, Sabana, while Tobias Bolaños International Airport is 6 km away. Tryp San Jose, Sabana offers easy access to the 32 and 166 Motorways, and is a 20-minute drive from Braulio Carrillo National Park.
                      Joining point instructions
                      If you have booked an arrival transfer the driver will be waiting for you right outside the customs area holding a Family Adventure Company sign. If they are not there please wait in this area otherwise it will be difficult to locate you. If you have waited for 30 mins and no one has arrived please call the emergency contact number 24/7 is (507)8426-4024. If your flight has been delayed the driver will be aware of this and will adjust your arrival pick up accordingly.

                      A taxi ride from the airport to San Jose costs about $25 (more information on the cost of travel by taxi). The official airport taxis are orange and they charge a slightly higher rate than the official city cabs, which are red. You can catch a red cab by walking away from the airport and past the parking garage, but you will only save a couple of dollars. A fixed price may be negotiated before you agree to the cab ride.

                      Finish point
                      Tryp Sabana
                      Avenue 3, calles 38 y 40
                      San Jose
                      COSTA RICA
                      Phone: 506 25472323
                      Fax: 506 25472324
                      Finish point description
                      Offering attractive accommodation with free Wi-Fi, Tryp San Jose, Sabana is located 50 metres from San José’s Pan American Motorway and La Sabana Park. It features a gym and a restaurant.
                      Each air-conditioned room at the Tryp San Jose has contemporary décor with carpeted floors. All rooms come with a flat-screen TV and a coffee maker with Costa Rican coffee. Some rooms have a small seating area.
                      There is a bus stop just 5 minutes’ walk from the Tryp San Jose, Sabana, while Tobias Bolaños International Airport is 6 km away. Tryp San Jose, Sabana offers easy access to the 32 and 166 Motorways, and is a 20-minute drive from Braulio Carrillo National Park.
                      Emergency contact
                      In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local Costa Rican-based ground representative: Costa Rican Trails can be reached on Tel:+506 22806705.

                      For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist. For further contact details please use the following page:

                      For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

                      While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

                      We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

                      You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

                      Costa Rican Trails: +506 88806399
                      Visas
                      Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

                      COSTA RICA:
                      Australia: Not required
                      Belgium: Not required
                      Canada: Not required
                      Germany: Not required
                      Ireland: Not required
                      Netherlands: Not required
                      New Zealand: Not required
                      South Africa: Yes - in advance
                      Switzerland: Not required
                      United Kingdom: Not required
                      USA: Not required
                      What to take
                      What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

                      Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

                      Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

                      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf

                      CLOTHING & EQUIPMENT:
                      Below is a suggestion of what you might find useful to take on this trip. Be prepared for a variety of temperatures and to protect against mosquito bites, you should pack some light-coloured, closely woven clothes with long sleeves/legs - mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours so avoid wearing dark blue or green t-shirts. Please note - If you visit between August and October and are interested in the nesting ground of the green turtle, it is necessary to wear dark colours.

                      * A windproof/ waterproof jacket/kagoul
                      * Warm mid-layer (fleece or wool) - for cool evenings
                      * Lightweight walking/trail boots
                      * Trainers/sandals for relaxing
                      * Sun-hat
                      * Swimsuit & towel
                      * Binoculars for wildlife viewing
                      * Torch.
                      * Sunglasses, sunscreen and lipsalve
                      * Water bottle
                      * Insect repellent
                      * Personal first aid kit

                      Some plastic bags (or dustbin liners) to protect the contents of your baggage from dampness. Humidity or dampness can be a problem for cameras - a plastic bag can help to protect it. A laundry service may be available in some hotels, but we recommend you take bio-degradable travel detergent so you can wash clothes as you choose. Universal bath plug may be useful.

                      WATER BOTTLE
                      Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
                      Climate and seasonal information
                      PRICES IN COSTA RICA
                      Costa Rica is a country which, in parts, is more developed compared to other Latin America countries. A high standard of living means that prices of food and activities can be as high as what you would expect to pay in the US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, etc; and you should budget accordingly. This also means high standards of service, well maintained gear, clear paths and signalling and well trained local guides that allow you to make the most of every activity.
                      Health
                      All Geckos travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Geckos Adventures reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

                      You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
                      Travel insurance
                      Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

                      When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

                      If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

                      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
                      A couple of rules
                      Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

                      Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                      Responsible Travel
                      We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.

                      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

                      Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.

                      The Intrepid Foundation
                      Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

                      The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

                      http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

                      Feedback
                      After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

                      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback