PANDEMIC TRAVEL Priscilla Jimenez and her team assembled a magical trip to Costa Rica for our family in May 2021. Pre-pandemic my husband and I were travelling without our 20-year old daughter and on a shorter trip. Rescheduling the trip to a date 14 months later worked out well, as we were able to include her and spend time in places like Monteverde, that were usually filled with tourists. We were relieved that all of our previous payments were still in place. Only one company had gone under we were told, but it did not seem to change our costs. Adding the daughter and additional days increased the cost!
Covid-19 prevention was always top of mind for all the people that we encountered in our travels, especially those connected with Priscilla’s team. We are fully vaccinated so we had few concerns but were happy to comply with their requirements. Their operations group send us a daily email with the next days or days activities and timing. What a nice luxury! One day I even wrote back and asked for a dinner recommendation in La Fortuna and they made us a reservation in a fantastic restaurant. The other positive aspect for us, the travelers, is that no place was crowded. At all.
We visited the Osa Peninsula, Arenal and Monteverde and found each to be fascinating in its own right. We flew into Pt. Jimenez on the Osa Peninisula and then stayed at Bosque del Cabo, a somewhat remote eco-lodge in the heart of the rainforest. The variety of wildlife was remarkable. The lodge has an outstanding tropical biologist on staff who took us on two amazing guided hikes that the planner recommended. We learned so much. The only drawback is that their birding guide was not available because so few people were visiting, but Priscilla’s team did not know that. It wasn’t until later in the trip that I realized just how much we missed. The food was outstanding as well!!
From there we went to Arenal and were provided excellent shuttle service by Priscilla’s company. Turns out that the shared shuttle was private. That happened several times. We are so glad that the company chose to honor their commitment rather than just make us wait until more people showed up. We heard about other companies doing that to other tourists.
The activities that our planner recommended were all enjoyable and interesting. Importantly, the guides are terrific, knowledgeable and enthusiastic and they help make the experience. At Arenal we visited the Sky Park for the Nature hike and the zip line – so much fun. We went white water rafting on the Sarapiqui, which is only an hours drive away. The guide was skilled and fun and the water was wonderful. She booked the twilight tour for Mistico Hanging Bridges and we did not even realize it would turn into a night tour. Amazing. Great surprise! She also worked in a Chocolate tour (Rainforest Chocolate) that was so much fun.
In Monteverde we had guided hikes at Monteverde Cloud Forest and at Curi Canche Reserve. The latter may have been the highlight of the trip in part because they booked the best guide imaginable. His enthusiasm and engagement with us was fantastic. We also visited the Orchid Garden on our own at their recommendation and loved it. Kinda surprised about that one.
I also want to give a shout out to our shuttle driver on almost every drive, Mauricio. Terrific driver, extremely knowledgeable about all things Costa Rican from plants to history, and a real pleasure to spend several hours with in the van.
The paperwork and insurance to go to Costa Rica can be confusing. We used Trawick for that specific insurance requirement. To return to the US, we found the lab paperwork to get the required Covid test was also a bit frustrating and it seems to be changing. Priscilla’s team organized a very convenient lab testing site and helped us sign up for the antigen rather than the PCR, saving us money.
All in all we hope to go back someday and will surely work with this group as well!
I can’t say enough about the trip Priscilla helped me plan for my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary. We were traveling with 10 people, 4 active, teenagers who are up for any adventure and my Father who has PSP (Progressive Supranuclear Palsy) a neurological brain disease. My father did not want his disability to stop the adventure or fun for his Grandchildren. Priscilla found us the perfect home, Stu Casa located in Las Catalinas located on an amazing beach where we could watch the sunset daily, take day trips scuba diving, surfing and fishing. After 5 days, we moved to The Monteverde Cloud Forest staying at Hotel Senda where we explored the sky walk, did zip lining and went on endless hikes.
The house, hotel, restaurants and activities were amazing, but what really made this trip special for us was the planning that Priscilla did in finding us the perfect Naturalist/Guide (Eddie R) and Physical Therapist (Alonso V.) to travel with us for the 10 days we were away. Alonso provided my father with the best care possible and had the knowledge and ability to help my father do things he has not been able to do like taking short walks on the beach, and working with him in the pool. Having Alonso with us allowed my mom to get the vacation she so needed and allowed my Dad to enjoy himself and took all the daily stress away from PSP.
Eddie, the Naturalist Guide was so knowledgeable and personable. From the moment we met him at the airport the kids were engaged and interested in learning about Costa Rica. Eddie made sure everything was just perfect all week and when we were out hiking he not only helped us find the monkeys, Quetzals and sloth but educated the kids on the Cloud Forest and environment.
Thank you again for helping us plan such an amazing trip!
Priscilla Jimenez planned a perfect trip for our family of 14! From the moment I contacted Priscilla, she was friendly, professional and eager to help in the most genuine way. The adults on our trip ranged in age from 40s to 70s, while the kids ranged from 5-16. Priscilla was able to suggest activities and excursions that appealed to each generation — not an easy task! For example, on one day she arranged for some of the adults to visit an organic farm while the rest of the group went canyoning (a crazy adventure that was a highlight of the trip!). She also organized activities suitable for the entire group, including whale-watching and visiting the famed Mistico hanging bridges.
Priscilla was also able to get creative when it came to accommodations. For instance, when there were no 2-bedroom suites available at one hotel, she suggested an alternate setup (a 4-bedroom condo) that ended up being ideal and in many ways, even better than our original request. She also ensured we were set up with guides and drivers throughout the trip; each was wonderful but we can’t say enough good things about Fernando, our guide in Arenal. He is truly a gem (friendly, knowledgable, good natured and excellent with children)! Each night, he reminded us of the next day’s activities, where and when to meet, what to bring, and so on. It allowed us to just check out and relax, knowing that he was handling all of the logistics.
Thanks to Priscilla’s thoughtful planning, we felt like we had two vacations in one: first in Arenal, where we were super active, then in Manuel Antonio, a coastal town where we mostly hung on the beach. The hotels were perfect for our group, as were the restaurants she recommended ahead of time. Priscilla was also very helpful in answering my emails during the trip about tipping, for instance, or in dealing with last-minute changes regarding pick-up times. She was also thoughtful enough to gift my parents a lovely coffee-table book in honour of their 50th wedding anniversary (the reason for our trip).
Overall, Priscilla exceeded our expectations and I would highly recommend her for any Costa Rican adventure!
We just came back from Costa Rica and it was by far the best trip we have taken. Not only is Costa Rica an amazing country, but our travel specialist helped plan a trip that exceeded our expectations. Having never been to Costa Rica before, our naturalist guide joined us as we moved around and educated our family on everything Costa Rica. Our kids learned so much about the country.
I don’t have too much to say because everything went perfectly according to plan. I feel I planned this trip later then Normal and didn’t have too much time to research it myself, so I really relied on her expertise. I wanted it to be perfect as I was traveling with my 83 year old Mother and sister and brother-in-law I pestered her a little, needing reassurance that I was selecting the right trip with the season and getting value for our money as I was not just spending my own money! She took all my questions seriously and understood how important this trip was for me to Insure my Mom had a great trip. Our rooms were extra nice and transportation was perfect to all the various places.
Natalie Ewing spoke with us at length in planning our trip. We said we wanted a very active vacation with our kids — horseback riding, river exploring, zip-lining, rafting–and she and Priscilla designed a terrific itinerary with 3 separate destinations within Costa Rica. On the ground, we called upon them when our son was having trouble finding things on the menus that he liked to eat, and they arranged for a delivery of peanut butter and a loaf of bread to one of the tiny airports we used.
Natalie and Priscilla’s team did a marvelous job in arranging our 2 week trip to Costa Rica. All of the accommodations were superb. They arranged several excursions for us that were well done, informative and fun. All of the in-country travel arrangements came off without a hitch. They truly made it a stress free vacation for the 8 of us that traveled together. Our travel specialist, Priscilla Jimenez, worked with us from the beginning to provide a customized trip. Throughout the planning process she provided great information and tweaked our trip to meet the needs of the group. She planned activities and locations that we wouldn’t have known about if we planned our own trip. The daily emails/letters we received during the trip about scheduled activities or moves were greatly appreciated. We would recommend Natalie to any of our friends planning on traveling to Costa Rica.
We took a trip to Costa Rica planned by Natalie Ewing and Priscilla Jimenez from Feb 26th to March 9th, 2018. We flew into San Jose and spent the first night in a downtown hotel before being picked up by our two fantastic guides, Federico and Minor the following morning. From then on, we had a great time exploring the beauty and wonders of the country. We took our time getting to our first destination – Kura Design Villas in Uvita. Wow, what a beautiful setting and what wonderful accommodations. This place is breathtakingly beautiful and they made sure we had the best room on the property. The sunsets were spectacular every evening! While there we spent a day on the water snorkeling and fishing and another day lounging on a beautiful private beach. Federico and Minor also made sure we found some great local spots to eat – we especially loved the ceviche and all the fresh fruit. At every turn our guides made sure to point out interesting flora and fauna as well as helping us to communicate with our limited Spanish. They were incredibly knowledgeable and quickly learned what we liked and made sure to attend to our every need. When the inevitable small mishaps occurred, they would spring into action and make sure we got right back on track. We left the Dominical region and moved on to visit the native Boruca reservation. After a refreshing break at one of Costa Rica’s many waterfalls, we then headed north to Perez Zeledon and the Hacienda Alta Gracia. Another fantastic property where we spent the next several days exploring, horseback riding and hiking to another spectacular waterfall. They even arranged for a private aircraft to help us get back to San Jose to take care of a medical issue and return without missing a beat. From Alta Gracia we flew over the volcano and landed in Arenal where we were reunited with our guides and stayed at the Nayara Hotel, another beautiful property. We enjoyed a zip line excursion over the rainforest followed by another great hike with plenty of stops to see some amazing birds. After a few fantastic days in Arenal we headed to the Nectranda Cloud Forest garden where we had a private tour and a nice lunch with the proprietors and a few other guests. Our guides and trip planners did a fabulous job every step of the way and took us to a number of places that we would have been hard pressed to find on our own. More importantly, they really listened to what we liked and picked up on our cues so that our every need was promptly attended to. We can’t say enough good things about Federico, Minor, and Natalie who helped us with all the planning and logistics. We heartily recommend her and her team and look forward to having them plan our next visit to see the country.
Traveling as a family of six is not easy! We have four children between the ages of 8 and 15…each more adventurous than the next. We needed a vacation that would keep them entertained, but also allows us the leisure time we really needed. Natalie and her team were the perfect fit. They put together a perfectly balanced vacation. Everyone was happy! Based on the feedback we provided, they suggested we spend our week in two areas – Arenal (volcano and rainforest) and Manuel Antonio (beach). In Arenal, we swam in thermal hot springs, zip lined through the rainforest, walked the hanging bridges of the rainforest canopy and went white water rafting. In Manuel Antonio, we spent quality time at the beach, surfing, boogie boarding and relaxing. Costa Rica Expeditions arranged all of our travel details – flights, hotels, activities, transfers to and from. Natalie and her team (Priscilla and Alberto) took care of all the details. In Arenal we stayed at the Tabacon Resort and in Manuel Antonio we stayed at Tulemar – both were great recommendations. They were always one step ahead of us, ensuring that we were ready for our next days’ adventures. Any questions or concerns we had were addressed right away. They really went out of their way to make sure our vacation was memorable. All we had to do was sit back and enjoy! It was a fabulous family vacation. I would highly recommend Natalie and her team.
Natalie and Priscilla on her team were amazing. She made numerous adjustments to the itinerary for us as our plans kept changing during the planning stage. During the trip, the team was available and responsive when we had questions. We asked for a charter plane to take us from Playa Samara to Arenal so that we could avoid the long travel time in a car – what a great way to see the country! And the cost was extremely reasonable. The vendors for the activities were all first-rate and in a country where there are no governmental controls over the safety of zip lines, it’s nice to know that we were in the hands of the best!
Natalie Ewing and Priscella on her team gave us the trip of a lifetime! I was planning a trip for 10 people and Costa Rica Expeditions came to the rescue. The 6 adults and 4 children had a trip that exceeded all expectations! Every detail was taken care of. I would use Natalie again and I’m only sad that they cannot plan a trip to other countries for me!
Both Natalie and Priscilla were wonderful to work with. This was our first trip to Costa Rica, and everything was planned perfectly. From airport transfers to car rentals (with pre-loaded destinations) to wonderful family friendly hotels and resorts…there was nothing they didn’t think of. All of our excursions were amazing, as were all of the restaurant recommendations. When we go back to Costa Rica in the future, we will absolutely use them again. They were the best!!!! I plan on referring them to any and all friends we have headed to Costa Rica. They planned a perfect family vacation for us, all while staying within our budget. Thank you so much for the referral! Pura Vida!!!
Michael Kaye, Natalie Ewing, and their team use the best guides and small groups. We really appreciated that – it makes all the difference.
We vacationed during the high season (early March 2016) but made our travels plans late (January), but their team was able to accommodate us pretty well.
The flora and fauna of the hotel Monteverde Lodge & Gardens were stunning. I sort of expected that, but it was even nicer than I had expected. In Arenal, our top hotel choices were booked and stayed at El Silencio del Campo – this was even more amazing!
If you want to have the assurance that everything will work out well and not worry, use Michael Kaye, Natalie Ewing, and their team.
Our trip to Costa Rica planned through Costa Rica Expeditions was perfect. Every aspect of the trip was amazing and impeccably planned. The coordination of every piece of the trip was flawless. Every driver and guide was where they were supposed to be at the exact time they were supposed to be there. I never had a single concern about our activities or transfers as they were all just as my trip planner said they would be. We loved everything we did and everyone we met along the way.
While all of the staff and guides were great, I have to give a special acknowledgement to two members of the team who really went above and beyond to make our trip even more special: our transfer guide Eva who travelled with us from San Jose to Monteverde and our river guide Leonardo at the Tortuga Lodge. Both Eva and Leo’s knowledge and enthusiasm was contagious and we will always hold the days we spent with them among our fondest memories.
We plan to visit Costa Rica again in the very near future and we will definitely use Costa Rica Expeditions.
We’ve traveled with many different travel experts and Costa Rica Expeditions by far exceeded my service expectations. We had a compact, yet very complicated travel itinerary involving numerous activities on a tight timeline combined with private light charters to get us quickly from one destination to the next. They listened closely to our requests and made things happen from private zip-line tours to last minute requests for a bike tour around Arenal volcano. From the planning process to execution, Costa Rica Expeditions was incredibly thorough with outstanding communication and service, making it a seamless experience for us and allowing us to thoroughly enjoy our vacation. It clearly is a team effort at Costa Rica Expeditions, with members closely monitoring every aspect of our trip. They certainly set the bar high for other travel experts!
WOW truly sums up our experience with Michael Kaye and Natalie Ewing of Costa Rica Expeditions in planning and enjoying our recent two week trip to Costa Rica. They not only met the very high standards required to get a spot on Wendy’s list (and we know how high those standards are having planned wonderful trips with several of her experts)—they managed to exceed them. (As they may well attest, I am not an easy client, so this is really very high praise!) At the planning stage, Natalie did a masterful job in putting together an itinerary in which my husband and I were able to see the vast variety of wildlife and nature Costa Rica offers and experience the very special lodges she suggested—all specifically tailored to our interests and requests. Two things were particularly noteworthy about the planning process. First, I asked about an accommodation I had read about that CRE had not used before. Before booking us into it, Natalie travelled there herself to check it out and make sure it was a place that CRE could stand behind. I have never had a travel agent do that before! Second, Natalie took the time to have detailed discussions with me and was able to communicate to me exactly what the nature of the accommodations and the activities were in each place so I could make knowledgeable choices. All expectations were perfectly managed.
Once we arrived, the trip was flawless. CRE’s special touches and relationships were apparent everywhere we went—from insuring that we were assigned to rooms with wonderful views, to surprising us with meals planned especially for us in beautiful locations, to stocking our room with food and wine. In fact, every lodge knew our food preferences before we even arrived! The guides and drivers CRE provided were superb and truly taught us to see and appreciate nature and wildlife in new ways. One thing that was very special was the opportunity to participate in a program sponsored by CRE in a local village assisting the children there with English language skills. The kids were incredible! From the beginning to the end, CRE was instantly available to answer any questions, provide for any needs, or just check in to make sure everything was OK. By the end of the trip, we viewed Michael and Natalie as friends and we have continued to keep in touch. We recommend them highly.
Oh my gosh, what a wonderful experience of Costa Rica we had from Costa Rica Expeditions! Our March 2011 trip was only partially an expedition to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We also went to visit our daughter who was studying for a semester at the Universidad Nacional in Heredia. Although Heredia, a suburb of San José, was not on most people’s travel itinerary, CRE secured us two WONDERFUL hotels there for the beginning and end of our trip. They tailored our program to allow us to be totally self-directed while with our daughter for two weekends. In between, when we explored the country at large for almost two weeks, they put together a fantastic variety of activities—with individualized transportation—in key parts of Costa Rica, giving us a sense of this beautiful and friendly country and its people. We rafted on the Pacuare River, observed a banana plantation, visited Tortuguero National Park (yes, the Tortuga Lodge alone is worth the visit), tutored kids in English in a local school, hiked in the Monteverde cloud forest, zip-lined across amazing landscapes, traversed the hanging bridges in the Arenal area, and luxuriated at an ecolodge on the Osa peninsula. I would not hesitate to recommend CRE to anyone who wants a truly personalized and in-person experience of Costa Rica! A special shout-out to all the guides and drivers who shared their knowledge, experience and love of their homeland with us.
My wife and I have had two trips arranged by Costa Rica Expeditions and are planning a third. And probably more. They do a very good job of matching what we want to do with the locations to do them. They are good at making sure we time our trip to our “list” of what we want to see and do. The drivers have been wonderful. Not only are the locations where we stay wonderful, but the people there have become friends such that when we return it is not just for the sights but for the people.