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Planning the Trip - Gap Adventures "Best Of" Tour?

Silver Spring...
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Planning the Trip - Gap Adventures "Best Of" Tour?

My husband and I are considering a trip to Costa Rica with our 15 yr old. We're not real experienced with international travel (but have traveled independently to Bermuda & Aruba), tend to be a little wary, and know very little Spanish between the 3 of us, so we are looking at the various tour companies.

It's tricky to find the right combination of (reasonable) price, interests, pace, some other peer companionship for our teenage, etc. So, we're looking at the "Best of..." tour offered by Gap Adventures. The price is about $860 pp (since there are 3 of us) for 10 days. It appears to be pretty much of a skeleton plan for transportation and accommodations (which come with breakfast), and just a couple of other things. The rest is for us to choose, arrange and pay for separately. We won't be traveling with a fixed group, but will be "group"ed with others for the transport and in any of the group activities we select.

We like the itinerary, because, without too much schlepping around time, it includes the Atlantic Coast (Tortuguero), the Arenal volcano area, the Pacific Coast (Guanacaste/Beach Area) and San Jose, so we will have a few days at each location to look around and do fun things. The accommodations are supposed to be at Gap's highest of 3 categories ("comfort").

This sounds like a good plan for us and are wondering really basic things like:

1. Is there benefit with going with this sort of plan vs. going it alone, maybe in terms of pricing, a little bit of support and guidance in dealing with the various service offerers (transport & lodging sources), etc.?

2. Is there any obvious or probable drawback to this approach, that may not be apparent to us?

Costa Rica
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1. Re: Planning the Trip - Gap Adventures "Best Of" Tour?

I went to the GAP site but couldn't find any tour called "Best Of". I found one that is similar for about the same price for 9 days so I looked at that. Overnight San Jose, 2 nights Arenal, 2 nights Monteverde, 2 nights Manuel Antonio, 1 night San Jose.

GAP tours are good but you need to fully understand what you are/are not getting. For instance, this tour doesn't include any meals. It includes one hike at Arenal , a sugar cane and coffee tour and a tour through the Santa Elena cloud forest. So what will you do with the rest of your time in these places? Plus if you go on an unscheduled activity, you would have to use a taxi or a tour agency which would add to the cost. No activities included for Manuel Antonio. So it will cost you much more than the quoted price.

This trip is pretty "standard" for people their first time in Costa Rica. I would just do this on your own -- it's easy, really.

1. Find hotels that look good to you in each location

2. Arrange transportation through Interbus or Gray Line or Shuttle Costa Rica

3. You're done.

Don't worry about any tours or excursions - you can book these once you are here. It is really easy.

For more information about these three places: www.arenal.net

www.monteverdeinfo.com www.manuelantoniopark.com

For shared van shuttle - www.shuttlebus.co.cr for Interbus or websites for the other two. Also check www.anywherecostarica.com Anywhere Costa Rica can also plan a trip for you as well as Costa Rica Guide.

For transportation, you can also fly or hire a private driver but the shuttle is easy and convenient. All these places have an excellent tourist infrastructure with many English speakers. You will be fine.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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2. Re: Planning the Trip - Gap Adventures "Best Of" Tour?

It sounds like a low price...way to cheap...maybe they include just the basic...my best advice...get your pen seat down and design a good itinerary...then ask for hotels and tours here at the forum...then you can boo directly...most of the time cheaper than dealing with any tour company...


Silver Spring...
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3. Re: Planning the Trip - Gap Adventures "Best Of" Tour?

Thank you, both of you, for your comments. You make it sound very easy, so we will take a shot at some independent planning. I notice that both of you write quite a bit on the forum, so I'll check out your advice to others too. I'm sure there is a lot of good info in those write-ups too.

La Fortuna de San...
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4. Re: Planning the Trip - Gap Adventures "Best Of" Tour?

I've been to many place where GAP has tours and even their "highest ranking" of a hotel is not necessarily what you'd think of in the US. All you need to do is figure out:

a) What areas do you definitely want to go do

b) How much time do you want to spend in each area

c) Transportation (shuttles, private drivers, flights, etc)

After that, TripAdvisor has FANTASTIC reviews on hotels and you can even search your dates and find out what's available. It really is easy to get around here! You will all have a great time! :-)

Wendy, La Fortuna, CR

Silver Spring...
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5. Re: Planning the Trip - Gap Adventures "Best Of" Tour?

Thanks, Wendy!

Houston, Texas
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6. Re: Planning the Trip - Gap Adventures "Best Of" Tour?

What did you end up doing? I was thinking of gap too but wondered if it worked for you.

7. Re: Planning the Trip - Gap Adventures "Best Of" Tour?

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