Natural Magic - Costa Rica Family Holiday Trip Notes

    • 15
    • QCFR
    • 5.00 out of 5
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $2,365
      CAD $2,395
      AUD $2,490
      EUR €1,730
      GBP £1,490
      NZD $2,950
      ZAR R22,665
      CHF FR2,135
      *
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    • Family, Wildlife
    • Original
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Last Modified: 21 Mar 2014
Natural Magic - Costa Rica Family Holiday
Trip code: QCFR
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Costa Rica stands on the isthmus of Central America, between the Caribbean and the Pacific. A cordon of volcanoes testifies to the volatile underground forces at play. The result is an extraordinary variety of landscape, climate and ecosystem - particularly tropical forest. National parks, wildlife refuges and private reserves protect over twenty five per cent of the country - more than in any other in the world. Along with the surrounding “buffer zones”, these areas harbour around seventy five per cent of all species in Costa Rica, including many that have long since disappeared in neighbouring countries. The richness of its colourful bird population is enough to stir enthusiasm in even the least ornithologically interested visitor!
This trip is operated by our trusted local partners, The Adventure Company.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesFinish point description
ThemesGroup sizeFinish point instructions
MapYour fellow travellersEmergency contact
ItinerarySingle travellersEmergency funds
Also available to purchaseAccommodationVisas
Itinerary disclaimerMeals introductionIssues on your trip
Culture shock rating MealsWhat to take
Physical ratingTransportHealth
Included activitiesGroup leaderSafety
Optional activitiesJoining point Travel insurance
Money ExchangeJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel
Spending moneyJoining point instructionsA couple of rules
TippingArrival complicationsThe Intrepid Foundation
Departure taxFinish point Feedback
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
Family, Wildlife
Map
Natural Magic - Costa Rica Family Holiday
Itinerary
Days 1-2 San Jose
The trip begins at the hotel in San Jose. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned for this day.
The capital of Costa Rica, San Jose stands at the heart of the country in the fertile Central Valley, where the majority of the Costa Rican population is concentrated.
The following day, meet your leader and the rest of the group and we will set out on a guided tour by bus around the sights of the city, including visits to the National Museum and 'INBio Park', an educational and recreational centre. We will also visit the Doka Estate for a guided tour of the coffee and plantation sugar cane mill, as well as the butterfly farm. This provides a fascinating introduction to the natural history of Costa Rica by way of interactive exhibits and interpretive trails through assorted habitats.
Included Activities
  • Museo Nacional de Costa Rica
  • San Jose - Butterfly farm
  • Doka Estate
  • National Institute of Biodiversity
Accommodation
Tryp Sabana (2 nts)
Days 3-4 Tortuguero National Park
Today we depart early and stop for breakfast en route before boarding a launch to navigate the waterways into the Tortuguero National Park (approx 2 hours).
Los Canales 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 km) through dense rainforest. Every now and then you 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 marks the flight of a kingfisher; anhinga and several species of heron can be seen perching in the shadows along the water’s edge, waiting to strike.
Our riverbank lodge stands amidst Caribbean rainforest where tonight you’ll fall asleep to the unearthly cry of the howler monkey, and wake in the morning to the screech of toucan and oropendula.
This area has long been associated with the catching of turtle (tortuguero means turtle-catcher). The original indigenous inhabitants used turtles as a sustainable resource, but the arrival of Europeans led to major exploitation. Tortuguero National Park, established in 1970, is now 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. Lesser numbers of the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, plus loggerheads, and giant leatherback turtles also nest within the park at different times of year.
We will go on excursions by boat and on foot, using the experienced eyes of the boatman or guide to maximise opportunities of spotting wildlife.
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.
Included Activities
  • Tortuguero National Park - Walking Tour
Accommodation
Pachira Lodge (2 nts)
Days 5-6 Sarapiqui
After breakfast we transfer by boat back to Freeman (2 hours) keeping your eyes open for more animals and birdlife. We then transfer to the Sarapiqui area, passing palms (used to produce palm heart), banana and papaya growing along the roadside (approx 2 hours drive). We will stop for lunch and have time to stretch our legs before continuing (approx 1.5 hours) to our destination - Sarapiqui.
On the banks of the Puerto Viejo River and next to the Braulio Carrillo National Park, this budding town is surrounded by virgin forests, and 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 impressive. A biological research station and several nearby forest lodges have made this undisturbed habitat accessible to scientists and travellers.
The rest of the day and all of tomorrow are free to relax and enjoy this area. The first choice of most families is to take an optional full day rafting trip along the Pacuare River for some exhilarating fun. The level of rafting here is very suitable for families, but please note that the minimum age is 12 years. Alternatively, you could take a boat trip to observe the flora and fauna of the area or if you prefer a land-based activity, you could horse ride or hike in the forest.
Optional Activities
  • Sarapiqui - Horse riding - USD35
  • Rafting - USD60
Accommodation
La Quinta de Sarapiqui (2 nts)
Days 7-8 Arenal Volcano
Today we travel to Arenal (approx. 2-3 hours).
The Arenal volcano soars out of the surrounding countryside to 1633m in a perfect cone and to many people, illustrates perfectly what they expect a volcano to look like. The scenery consists of primary cloud forest and rainforest – this is a land of rivers, lakes and volcanic thermal hot springs.
The volcano’s inner workings also mean that the area has 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 foliage, an ideal chance to relax.
This morning we head out for a guided tour in Arenal National Park. The trails of this national park pass through interesting dwarf cloudforest where the rich bird life includes several species of hummingbird and Costa Rica’s national bird, the clay-coloured robin; renowned for its melodious song.
The afternoon is free for optional activities in the local area. You may want to head further afield and take a day trip to Cano Negro; a wildlife refuge, great for migratory and resident birds as well as river wildlife – both mammals and reptiles. Horse riding is also available in the Arenal area.
Included Activities
  • Arenal National Park
Optional Activities
  • La Fortuna - Baldi Hot Springs - USD25
Accommodation
Hotel San Bosco (2 nts)
Days 9-10 Monteverde
Today we transfer along the Arenal Lake - a famous hangout for avid windsurfers - via Tilaran to Monteverde de Santa Elena (approx 4-5 hours). There are some great views across the lake looking back towards the Arenal Volcano as well as some arty wayside stopping points offering great homemade cakes and refreshments.
As we climb up to Monteverde you’ll feel the climate becoming cooler and see the difference as the vegetation changes from tropical to cloudforest. On the surrounding hills are a number of coffee plantations as the area is famous for producing some of the best coffee beans in the country, with many of the growers belonging to fair-trade co-operatives. In the afternoon there may be time to visit a butterfly farm (optional).
Monteverde was founded as an agricultural community in 1951 by a group of North American Quakers; they cleared virgin forest to create verdant pastures ideal for dairy farming. These environmentally aware settlers were conscious of the danger that unrestricted settling and farming could cause to this precious habitat. Consequently they established a small privately-owned wildlife sanctuary, which has since grown to become the internationally-renowned Monteverde Cloudforest Biological Preserve. These forests are similar to rainforests, but instead of relying on rain for essential moisture, adequate water comes from the semi-permanent cloud that covers the region. It is lush and full of wildlife. This is 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. Be sure to keep an eye out for the resplendent quetzal, one of the most elusive birds in the world.
The next day we'll explore the forest which is home to the reclusive resplendent quetzal, the blue-crowned motmot, the emerald toucanet and some 30 species of iridescent hummingbird - to cite but a few of the 400-odd bird species recorded here! As if this were not enough, more than 100 mammal species, 1200 amphibian and reptile species and many thousands of insect species live here, all in addition to an astonishing variety of plant life.
One of the highlights for many is the chance to see the forest from the height of the canopy instead of always looking up into the trees. As an included activity we will 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 a number of other, optional activities you may be interested in doing including horse riding, visiting orchid farms and the thrilling ‘Sky Trek’ where you zipline with harnesses on ropes between platforms in the trees.
Included Activities
  • Sky Walk, Monteverde
  • Cloud Forest Reserve
Optional Activities
  • Monteverde - Horseback riding - USD30
  • Sky Trek - USD66
Accommodation
Hotel El establo (2 nts)
Days 11-13 Manuel Antonio National Park
Departing Monteverde, we descend to the Pan-American Highway which we follow southward across the flat coastal plain. Our journey takes us along a coastline of fine sand beaches, separated by the occasional area of mangrove and endless plantations of African palm. Our journey ends at Quepos, a sport-fishing centre and the gateway to Manuel Antonio National Park (approx. 6 hours drive plus stops).
Manuel Antonio NP stands a few kilometres south of Quepos on the shores of the Pacific. During our time in the region, we’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, with the ocean crashing in on the beach and white-faced capuchin monkeys peering out from the trees.
Included Activities
  • Manuel Antonio National Park - entrance
Accommodation
Punta Leona Hotel (3 nts)
Days 14-15 San Jose
We retrace our steps northward along the coastal road, stopping en route at Carara Biological Reserve.
Here we walk for two or three hours through the rainforest in the hope of seeing the rare scarlet macaw and the black and green poison dart from. Carara's position between the dry tropical forest of the north and the wet rainforest of the south endows it with a uniquely high diversity of flora and fauna.
Continuing onwards from Carara, the route turns inland to follow the main Pacific Highway through the agricultural towns of Orotina and Atenas back to San José for your final night (approx. 5 hours drive plus stops).
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Included Activities
  • Carara Biological Reserve
Accommodation
Tryp Sabana (1 nt)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • Catamaran Island Adventure & Snorkelling - Manuel Antonio (inc admin. fee GBP15) (OTCR)
  • Manuel Antonio - Mangrove Kayaking (inc admin. fee GBP15) (OTCO)
  • White water rafting (Sarapiqui) class II-III (inc admin. fee GBP15) (OTCR)
  • Balsa River rafting - Arenal (OTCR)
  • QCFR - Natural Magic - Single supplement (QCFR)
    Itinerary disclaimer
    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. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
    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.
    Culture shock rating

    Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
    Physical rating

    Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Optional activities
    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.
    Money Exchange
    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 US$100 per day.
    It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US$ dollars is the most readily changeable currency.
    VERY IMPORTANT:
    US$100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other US$ bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.
    Spending money
    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    Tipping
    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 to the nearest S/5. 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 S/10 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 S./3 to S/6 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 US$2-US$4 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 US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
    Departure tax
    Please allow US$26 for international departure tax from Costa Rica.
    Important notes
    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.
    LOCAL PARTNER:
    This trip is operated by our experienced local partner, The Adventure Company.
    AGE RESTRICTIONS:
    Age restrictions apply to this trip: minimum age 7
    Please note – the minimum age for the white water rafting on the Pacuare River is 12 years
    Group size
    Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
    Your fellow travellers
    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. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
    Single travellers
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
    A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.
    Accommodation
    Tryp Sabana (3 nts), Punta Leona Hotel (3 nts), Pachira Lodge (2 nts), La Quinta de Sarapiqui (2 nts), Hotel San Bosco (2 nts), Hotel El establo (2 nts)
    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, 3 Lunches, 2 Dinners
    Budget for meals not included:
    USD 250.00
    Transport
    Bus, Boat
    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.
    Joining point
    TRYP San José Sabana Hotel
    Avenue 3, calles 38 y 40
    San Jose
    COSTA RICA
    Phone: +506 2547 2323
    Joining point description
    Situated in the heart of San Jose, Tryp San Jose Sabana is close to Museum of Costa Rican Art, Spirogyra Butterfly Garden, and Gold Museum. Also nearby are National Theater and Jade Museum. Dining options at this eco-friendly hotel include a restaurant and a bar/lounge. A complimentary breakfast is served each morning. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available in public areas and an Internet point is located on site.
    Rooms have city views. The 98 air-conditioned guestrooms at Tryp San Jose Sabana include iPod docking stations and laptop-compatible safes. Beds have down comforters and premium bedding. Complimentary wireless high-speed Internet access is provided. 37-inch LCD televisions are equipped with cable channels and free movie channels. All accommodations provide desks, safes, and direct-dial phones with voice mail; local and international calls are free of charge (restrictions may apply). Bathrooms offer showers, hair dryers, and complimentary toiletries. All units feature coffee/tea makers and complimentary bottled water.
    Joining point instructions
    For those who have pre-booked your airport arrival transfer, please look out for your representative who will be waiting in the arrival hall holding a placard bearing The Adventure Company logo. You will then be guided to the waiting vehicle. If you cannot locate your representative or if your flight is delayed please call the following number: 00 506 2280-6705.
    The official airport taxis are orange. You can purchase a ticket at the kiosk in the Arrivals Hall for these taxis. Other official taxis (red with yellow triangles) have a meter (maría) and their prices are lower. A ride to San José costs between $12.00 and $15.00. Avoid the collectivos (mini buses) that frequently transport as many people as possible to several hotels, you not only have to sit in a tight space, but you are also in transit for a long time. Unofficial taxi drivers sometimes charge less, but often charge more than the current prices. You can purchase tickets from one of the kiosks in the Arrivals Hall.
    Arrival complications
    We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
    Please also make sure have a copy of the local operators Emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
    Finish point
    TRYP San José Sabana Hotel
    Avenue 3, calles 38 y 40
    San Jose
    COSTA RICA
    Phone: +506 2547 2323
    Finish point description
    Situated in the heart of San Jose, Tryp San Jose Sabana is close to Museum of Costa Rican Art, Spirogyra Butterfly Garden, and Gold Museum. Also nearby are National Theater and Jade Museum. Dining options at this eco-friendly hotel include a restaurant and a bar/lounge. A complimentary breakfast is served each morning. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available in public areas and an Internet point is located on site.
    Rooms have city views. The 98 air-conditioned guestrooms at Tryp San Jose Sabana include iPod docking stations and laptop-compatible safes. Beds have down comforters and premium bedding. Complimentary wireless high-speed Internet access is provided. 37-inch LCD televisions are equipped with cable channels and free movie channels. All accommodations provide desks, safes, and direct-dial phones with voice mail; local and international calls are free of charge (restrictions may apply). Bathrooms offer showers, hair dryers, and complimentary toiletries. All units feature coffee/tea makers and complimentary bottled water.
    Finish point instructions
    From the hotel to the airport you can book a taxi via the hotel, our San Jose hotel near Poas Volcano National Park is just 20 minutes from Juan Santamaria International Airport. A taxi will cost you approximately 15USD.
    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 all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    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
    Issues on your trip
    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.
    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 and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
    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.
    You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
    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
    Health
    All Intrepid 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, Intrepid 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.
    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. 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 group 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 group 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:
    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 the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides 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 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.
    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 group 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.
    Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
    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:
    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.
    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.
    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$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
    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.
    Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.