Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Mary Ann Smith and her husband river rafting in Costa Rica.

Mary Ann Smith and her husband earned their guides’ praise with their rafting prowess.

We had a fabulous trip to Costa Rica the end of February. It was planned for us by Irene Edwards, and she could not have planned a better trip for us. Our driver, Jonathan Ramirez, was a wonderful driver even through dense fog. He was guide, translator, and driver — I would highly recommend him to anyone. Visiting the Nectandra Cloud Forest was magical with the mist and educational with our expert guide, Arturo. It was great to start there to understand the ecological mind set of Costa Rica.

Our time at Nayara Tented Camp was beyond wonderful. We’d never stayed in something so luxurious and we enjoyed every moment. Irene had balloons, a card, and a bottle of champagne in the room to celebrate my 80th birthday when we arrived. We also really enjoyed kayaking on Lake Arenal with Jonathan, doing the zip lines over the trees, and the Hanging Bridges Park. Thanks to the seminar on taking photos with cell phones, we got some wonderful pictures of waterfalls, birds, the yellow pit viper, and the red dart frog. We also enjoyed the chocolate tour immensely and our friends enjoyed the chocolates we made and brought home.

While on the drive from La Fortuna to Manuel Antonio, it was very interesting to see the countryside with coffee beans growing and all the tropical plants (under netting) that they grow for export. Upon arrival at Arenas del Mar we enjoyed another lovely room with a beautiful view, plus a great restaurant, a private beach, and great service. Our whitewater rafting on the Savegre River was one of our best days. Jesus and Juan were great guides and despite the early questions about being able to do it at our age, they kept saying “excellente” as we went through the rapids. We loved it!

Irene had arranged for us to fly back to San Jose from Quepos rather than driving, which was a wonderful way to end the trip with views of the mountain range and 30 minutes of flying versus several hours of driving. It was more than we could have imagined!

Helaine and Steve Green on a bridge in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica.

Helaine and Steve Green share a moment on a bridge in the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

Irene Edwards tailored our trip to Costa Rica with our preferences and budget in mind. From the hotel accommodations, our dietary preferences, to our goals of what we wanted to see, photograph and experience, all bases were covered. The staff at all hotels were extraordinary, so kind, so helpful, their goal being to provide their guests an amazing experience. All rooms were lovely too.

The most outstanding journeys were with our guide Oscar, who had amazing telescopic equipment and a vast knowledge of the local flora and wildlife. He made our Monteverde Cloud Forest visit one that we’ll always cherish. From the night walk where we saw the craters of the moon, to hidden wildlife and flora, to the Cloud Forest Bridge walk the next day, to the farm the following day where we saw rare birds, even driving us to different restaurants every night, he simply couldn’t do enough for us. We felt like we made a new friend. The drivers to all locations were great too. Then we bid him farewell at Manuel Antonio.

The Arenas Hotel was nice and staff were really helpful there too. The food at The Arenas was very good and staff again did everything to please. We hired a guide upon the recommendation of the hotel for Manuel Antonio National Park. We saw white faced monkeys and iguanas as well as a beautiful beachfront.

Our most extraordinary experience was on the Osa Peninsula. Ferried by a small boat to a remote jungle on the beach, we felt we had arrived at heaven on earth. Although there’s no air conditioning, and some physical restrictions apply, it became clear why. This establishment is eco friendly. We in the USA and other countries should be following their lead to preserve our environment. Solar panels provide all electricity, most food is grown on the premises (it was the most delicious and creative of all the places we stayed), and the staff truly became our best friends. We awoke to a chorus of howler monkeys and birds every morning. We thought we’d arrived in the Garden of Eden. To be honest, it was extremely hot and humid, but after spending a day there, we never wanted to leave. We hiked to the farm, took a separate tour with bird specialist Valeria, who could whistle all bird calls and and was outstanding! I had an allergic reaction to numerous bug bites on my abdomen and needed Benadryl and other medications. The staff arranged to have them delivered via boat to the hotel. They put an extra fan in our room to provide comfort. We never asked for it but they were so concerned for my welfare. We made some special friends while there as well and exchanged contact information.

When it was time to leave, we were ferried back to the dock at which we started, to be driven to our final hotel, Los Suenos Marriott, where we attended a cousin’s destination wedding.

How to sum it up? Thank you Irene Edwards for arranging an extraordinary experience for us. We’ll cherish the memory of that journey forever!

We experienced a Costa Rica trip orchestrated by Irene Edwards, and it was perfectly attuned to our needs. We had four nights in February 2024 in the Arenal area and 3 in Monteverde, guided and supported by our driver and naturalist, Jonathan Ramirez. Irene thought of everything—from a packing list (hiking shoes, flashlight, bug spray and binoculars) to restaurant recommendations. This was truly tailored to our needs and could not have been improved upon! The highlights were the nightfall experience at Salvia in a private reserve, a guided tour of a sloth reserve, and the perfect Hotel Senda (simple, tasteful, comfortable and private cottage in a beautiful garden, adjacent to a reserve, with a fantastic restaurant).

Irene made our trip to Costa Rica AMAZING! She planned a fantastic 8 days for our large family of seven people with a wide variety of ages and expectations. Although we traveled through the very busy holiday season (post-Christmas through the New Year), she made sure everything went smoothly start to finish. We seamlessly transferred to multiple locations, airports, hotels, boats, small airplanes and various activities with ease. It was such a nice mental vacation to have all of these details outsourced to a true professional and local. We ate well and had a wonderful experience all around.

We chose an active itinerary; hiking through national parks, fishing, horseback riding, snorkeling, zip lining and more. Our hiking guide was an absolute encyclopedia of knowledge. Hiking (both day and night trips), we saw lots of wildlife, 3 different types of monkeys, macaws, sloths, tiny frogs, cool spiders and snakes, hundreds of birds, a wide variety of fish, sea turtles and dolphin.

The perks of this trip were many! After our fishing trip, the hotel turned our catch into a fantastic fish taco and ceviche lunch. After our snorkel trip, we were greeted with drinks and fresh fruit for the ride back. After my daughter’s birthday dinner, there was an absolutely gorgeous hand-made vanilla and strawberry cake and the most beautiful tropical floral arrangement. She was beyond thrilled! A high bar when you are 13! :)

The people were the best part of the trip for me personally. Every guide or staffer we encountered was a happy occasion. Pura Vida is not only a “catch phrase,“ it is lived. There is a lot of joy to be found in Costa Rica. We will definitely return…as we all felt we had hardly scratched the surface in our 8 days there.

P.S. We had to make several changes to our plans while we were on the road due to weather conditions, logistics, the temperament of children (and adults!) etc…. Irene took it all in stride and helped to make various rearrangements with genuine grace and ease. We are truly grateful for this experience and her expertise.

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