Trip to Costa Rica - Aug 14 - Aug 18, 2019
We had just 4 nights to explore outside of San Jose and no time to plan, so we took a chance on Kimkim and Randall after randomly finding Kimkim online. Randall put together a plan based on the info we gave him, tweaked a few things at our request and then put it into action via the local contractor Coast to Coast Adventures. Every activity on the pretty busy schedule went off without a hitch -- ALL drivers arrived on time (or early!), ALL activities were pretty much as described, ALL hoteliers were expecting us and the rooms were as described, and ALL the guides for the various activities were well-trained, knowledgeable and personable.
- Day 1 La Fortuna Arenal Volcano nature walk; Tabacon Hot Springs
> The nature walk was less of a hike than we were hoping for, but really beautiful scenery around the volcano and Nestor, the guide, was very knowledgeable and great at spotting birds/wildlife.
> Of all the experiences Kimkim/Randall/Coast to Coast Adventures arranged for us, we might have skipped Tabacon Hot Springs just because it was very expensive, crowded and super touristy (we live in Japan and the hot spring experience here is very, very different!), but it was good for a laugh just the same, with the wall of water and hidden nooks and crannies. Other visitors, beware -- the footing around some of the pools is very slippery and we really recommend water shoes or flipflops or something grippy to keep you on your feet. We were both fine, but we saw a visitor in bare feet slip and fall hard on some tiles, banging his head and tailbone pretty hard. A medic was called to tend to him.
- Day 2 La Fortuna Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge boat trip
> Hermann, the boat driver, didn't speak English but he was REALLY good at spotting wildlife even as he drove the boat, and Gustavo the guide was good at both spotting and explaining. This was a brilliant day -- we saw SO MANY birds/animals. Sloths, 3 different kinds of monkeys (we were actually treated to a big monkey drama as 2 troupes of white-faced monkeys shrieked at each other across the river), "Jesus Christ" lizards, snakes, tiny little bats, one caiman, and an incredible number and variety of birds. TAKE YOUR BINOCULARS if you do this trip. They were glued to my face the whole time. It was a rainy day but the boat had a roof and we were very comfortable. A tasty homemade lunch was also provided after the morning voyage.
- Day 3 La Fortuna & transfer to Santa Elena - Kayaking on Lake Arenal in the morning
> The kayaking was fun and easy, and the guide, Joseph/Jose was one of the nicest guys we encountered. Earnest, hardworking, friendly, knowledgeable, curious -- he was a great representative of Costa Rica. We really enjoyed spending the morning with him, while the views of the volcano towering over the placid lake were pretty spectacular.
> The bus/boat/bus trip to Santa Elena was a laugh -- the boat pulled up on a completely undeveloped shoreline and we were asked to get out with our bags. Without explanation, we were led down a dirt path, across a makeshift bridge and up to a dirt road were, magically, a bus appeared! Then off we went on the bumpy, mostly unpaved road to Santa Elena. Loved the green green green views of farms and jungle along the way. BEAUTIFUL Costa Rica...
- Day 4 Santa Elena / Monteverde Cloud Forest
> Morning hike in the reserve was great but here we did find our guide to be a bit ... what... jaded? Too used to tourists, maybe? Bored? All the same, he did spot some fantastic wildlife for us that we would never have seen on our own, including the Resplendent Quetzal (several, in fact...) WOW! On this hike, we found there was a lot of standing around -- we might have liked a smaller group that went a bit further afield.
> "Night walk" -- it POURED rain on us, but we were prepared with rain gear, etc. The animals were not so keen to be out in the rain, so it was harder to spot things, but we saw snakes, spiders, Costa Rican porcupines and sloths all the same...
> Our B&B -- Grace & Renzo B&B -- was excellent. We talked a lot with Grace and enjoyed their hospitality.
- Day 5 Aventura Ziplining and transfer back to San Jose
> Great thing for thrill seekers! Screaming through the canopy -- don't miss the Mega Tarzan Swing -- HEART STOPPING! Good fun for us and the weather cooperated. We enjoyed getting to know other travelers in our group.
> The Interbus transfer back to San Jose was punctual, comfortable, and uneventful.
SO, overall, we had a fabulous trip thanks to Randall, Kimkim, and all the local service providers. Randall arranged exactly what we asked for -- a taste of Costa Rica on a limited time budget -- so all in all, we are very satisfied.