Costa Rica - Walks and Wildlife Adventure Holiday
Costa Rica, Discovery, 15 days - from £1,695 (land only) - from €2,375 (land only) - from $2,740 (land only)
By: Hazel Mitford, Harrogate, UK
Just back (April) from an amazing holiday in Costa Rica, with Joe Bernini as our Guide. Costa Rica was stunning but Joe really made our holiday. He was inspiring, enthusiastic, a good friend to everyone (a great achievement as the group was made up of different personalities), very organised and kind. We trusted him completely and had an emergency arisen I know he had the strength of character and authority to deal with it.
His talent as a cook ensured the sandwiches we enjoyed were amongst the best meals we had. He would ask politely of an available kitchen and cook imaginative fillings; a sort of ratatouille, an aubergine dish, handfuls of fresh herbs and more conventional ingredients - all stored in ziplock bags to be produced at lunchtime. The ultimate delicacy was a chocolate coconut biscuit topped with Nutella and chocolate nibs (his own personal supply). I dream about them still!
As a linguist he not only had perfect English, but on the few occasions we had a longish journey in the minibus, he taught us Spanish with humour and patience. He played recordings of individual Costa Rican birds to us so we could learn their language too. These journeys were always fun as he also ensured there were frequent stops; for photos, for some empanadas (little pasties), fresh strawberries, chilled coconut drinks etc using any opportunity available. When snorkelling he explained different techniques we could try. When we needed a post office or a supermarket, he found one. When the backs of my legs were sunburned he gave me a soothing cream without me even mentioning it. On at least four occasions members of the group lost belongings. Joe would ring the last place of known possession and establish the item's whereabouts. He then made arrangements for owner and belonging to be reunited at some considerable inconvenience to himself in each case.
Joe's knowledge of the wildlife of Costa Rica was detailed and fascinating. He knew so much about individual species. However he also delighted in finding species he didn't know and by the evening meal he would have identified them. He took us on extra night walks during which he made some stunning finds, and his day walks were brilliant too. Finally when we returned home he emailed us all to check we were back safely, and to ensure we have lasting happy memories will put some photos in Dropbox for us to enjoy.
A perfect ambassador for a wonderful country.
By: Kathy Dale and Dave Hirst, Aberdeenshire, UK
We've finally done another exciting KE adventure! Just returned from the Costa Rica Walks and Wildlife trip which we would highly recommend. We saw over 150 species of bird, mammal, amphibian, reptile, fish and invertebrate, not to mention the plants! We had an excellent guide and the itinerary was fantastic. The animals are very easy to see and photograph as there are so many national parks and they are not afraid of humans as they have not been disturbed there for decades. My favourite was the Corcovado National Park, followed closely by Los Campesinos. So many great places to explore - will have to plan for next year now!
By: Nan Pratt, Swindon, UK
I am thrilled with this holiday. It gave an excellent and varied introduction to Costa Rica. Wonderful!
The aspects I most enjoyed were: variety of locations from tropical rainforest to 'alpine' conditions, quality of our leader, different types of accommodation, including log cabins - particularly close to the forests / Pacific / the wild, meeting Ticos, especially those who are endeavouring to improve their lot with ecotourism off the beaten track, swimming in plunge pools, hot springs, the Pacific ocean (and hotel pools), walking through a wide range of ecosystems and landscapes, observing birds, mammals, sea-life, Gallo pinto! small group, sunsets.
Walter (our leader) was enthusiastic to show us as much as possible. His knowledge of wildlife and love of his country are exemplary. He appreciated our different needs and interests and tried effectively to engage us all.
There was even more diverse habitats than I expected. The level of walking was never too difficult - I feared it may have been. This was a superb experience. I loved every moment, even when I was physically stretched.
By: Christina Schonherr, Edinburgh, UK
The trip was well organised and we didn't have to worry about anything. Our guide Walter was really excellent, knowledgable and happy to share his knowledge with us, he never tired of trying to find the animals for us.
My original holiday had to be cancelled and I was rebooked on this one. I got really great help from KE staff (thanks a lot!) and the holiday was really a success!
A friend recommended KE Adventure Travel to me. I picked this trip as it was a nice combination of hiking, getting to know the country and wildlife. I really enjoyed the holiday and would highly recommend this trip to anyone!
By: Gorden Eldridge, Belgium
I have been on many, many walking holidays and have had some excellent guides on past trips with other companies, but Joe Bernini is far and away the best guide I have ever had on any trip. Joe has a passion for nature, for his country and its history. All good guides are knowledgeable, but Joe shares his with a warmth and excitement that is truly infectious. Everybody simply gets caught up in it and becomes excited about each new thing the group encounters. I can remember numerous occasions when one of his explanations started with "Remember when we saw". It is like he was born to work in the tourism and hospitality field. Joe went far, far beyond any guide I have ever experienced in keeping his promise and most of the time we did not even have to directly ask for what we wanted. Somebody mentioned they wanted to try Costa Rican chocolate. Next thing we knew we were in a chocolate outlet where we could taste and purchase local chocolate. I said I didn't really like cassava (a type of tapioca/arrowroot) ...next thing I knew, Joe had bought some fresh cassava and then that night he had the hotel kitchen prepare it in a way he knew we would all really like. Two people in the group caught a cold and were coughing. Joe bought herbs, honey and lemon and personally made them a herbal throat tea, not just once, but each night. At lunch one day, somebody asked if the restaurant had guacamole. They didn't. Joe disappeared and a few minutes later came back with fresh avocados he had bought just outside the restaurant. It felt like we were visiting a friend who was hosting us in his country for the first time and sincerely wanted us to have the best experience possible. You are lucky to have Joe working for you. It is people like him that will keep people coming back to Costa Rica and will ensure that the next time they do come back, they are likely to choose KE Adventure Travel as their tour company.
By: Alan Helmore, Northumberland, UK
The nature of the accommodation varied from hotel to more basic eco-lodges but all were clean and friendly and the food excellent.
Joe Bernina (our guide) cares deeply about his country and its natural history. His enthusiasm was infectious and he regularly went out of his way to improve the quality of the experience. He regularly bought local foods and drinks for the group so that we could experience the tastes of the country outside of the main trip itinerary. The driver Sherman was also very helpful to the group as well as being an excellent driver.
I would recommend this trip to anyone interested in wildlife. The guides expertise in spotting birds and mammals in the tree canopy was excellent and he made a great trip into an unforgettable one. The trip exceeded expectations due mainly to the enthusiasm of the guide and his extensive knowledge of Costa Rican wildlife.
By: Linda Helmore, Northumberland, UK
Loved all the eco lodges. Often basic but clean and comfortable and had the freedom of being without the impact of all modern technology. (Although wifi was mostly available for those who needed it). Particularly loved El camposino and Marenco Hotel in the Corcovado. The last 2 nights at Laguna Lodge in Tortoguero National Park went smoothly and we saw wildlife that we hadn't seen in the rest of the trip. e.g. 2 toed sloths and red eyed tree frogs.