First, I want to say that we had a wonderful trip. Desafio Adventure Co. was very accomodating and we never worried about a thing while on our vacation.
This review is to help you when planning your vacation with them and what we would do differently. We chose the Jungle/Lava/Beach Package - 8 days and 4 locations
- Transportation is always on time and the drivers are safe
- The Whitewater Rafting on the Rio Toro(Class 3 and 4) was outstanding. The guides were fun and kept us safe and laughing. Wear your teva sandals, no flip flops. You will be soaked. Bring a change of clothes.
- The Canyoneering/Rapelling down the waterfalls was wonderful and a great work-out. We had never done this before, but never felt scared with our guides. They took their time to show us exactly where to jump, how to climb and use our gear properly. Wear your running shoes with good tread on the bottom, lots of sharp, slippery rocks. You will get VERY wet. Bring a change of clothes and waterpak. No h2o until the end and your muscles will be thirsty.
- Baldi Hot Springs was PERFECT! There are several springs to choose from with waterfalls, granite pool bars and peaceful spots just for 2. Tthere are also huge waterslides in the back of the complex for the kids. It was raining when we went and I must say that is the BEST time to go! The cold rain in the evening while you are soaking in the hot springs is such an experience, not to be missed.
- Horseback Riding through the mountains was very quiet and the horses are well trained. Nixon was our guide and he is quite a character. He made us laugh and put flowers in my helmet that smelled so good.
- The Boat Ride in Samara Beach Town...we couldn't do the scheduled snorkling bc the water was too rough, so they took us out to watch the dolphins. It took about 45 min. but we found them...ALL of them. There were about 100! They were schooling all around us and jumping and spinning in the air. Too cool!!
THE NOT SO GOOD:
- The Wildlife...we only saw about 6 monkeys, a few birds, butterflies, dolphins, lots of dogs in the streets. We didn't see any toucans,snakes, sloths or frogs... BUT Desafio did include these photos in our CD from the photos taken on the rafting tour and canyoneering. Loved them! If I had a choice I would trade the Zip Lining for an Eco Tour to spot more of the wildlife away from the beaten trail.
- The Hotels...Desafio will offer you the option of choosing Upper, Mid or Lower level hotels for your stay. We chose lower bc we thought we wouldn't be in our room very much. The" La Fortuna" was good, no complaints. The town of La Fortuna was great and lots of shops and things to do in the area (like the hot springs). But then it went down from there...The "Rustic Lodge" in Monteverde had no ac and no tv. I don't mind not having tv, it is rustic after all. But it rains alot, so you may want to watch a little tv. The worst part though was the walls were paper thin and you could hear everything your neighbors were doing. From using the bathroom, to other things =P The people were nice though and breakfast was good. There is also nothing to do in the area, so we would probably skip this loca next time. The "Giada Hotel" in Samara smelled of mold really bad. All of my leftover clean clothes even had to be washed, it was bad. They had 2 small pools which was a plus. Another location that is very boring. We surfed and made the best of it. But the beaches are not the kind that we are used to in Florida. Lots of driftwood and hot black volcanic sand. 1 day is all you need there.
The "Los Volcanos" in Alajuela was our last stop. One word...hostel. No privacy, in the loud city, motorbikes, horns constantly and very dirty bathroom. We were only there 1 day thank goodness. Nothing in the city was very good, polluted.
So I highly recommend the Upper level hotels. I saw some of these resorts along the way and other guests said they are sooo much nicer and more remote than ours.
- The Zip Lining in the Cloud Forest...we were not very impressed with this. The company that provides this tour is SkyTrek, not part of Desafio. The guides were all about getting you hooked on and getting through it as fast as possible. They played around too much. They would jump up and down on the bridge and make the entire tower shake. Didn't seem to care that I had a HUGE bee stinging me or offer help from their first aid kit. The views are incredible but zip lining is not that challenging. Good for families I suppose.
- Planning...I own an Event Planning Company, so I make certain every detail is considered. The only detail I think Desafio should include with your itinerary is what to wear and what to bring for EACH adventure day, not just a general "what to bring on your entire vacation" list. We really had to think about each day and made the right decisions, but some folks didn't. Some forgot their shoes or change of clothes or waterpacks and became dehydrated. Other than that, they've got you covered!
Overall our vacation was AWESOME and we had a blast. I hope this review had been helpful and I would definitely recommend going with Desafio for your Costa Rican vacation!
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