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“Hanging Bridges Tour - Arenal”
Review of Costa Rica Wonderland Tours - CLOSED

Costa Rica Wonderland Tours
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Owner description: Costa Rica Wonderland of La Fortuna, is a travel agency and tour operator specializing in eco-adventure tourism and travel. We are proud to be the foremost provider of eco-adventure travel in the Northern Region of Costa Rica—our home—as well as the rest of the country. We provide consulting and custom travel arrangements and packages.
Atlanta, Georgia
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Hanging Bridges Tour - Arenal”
Reviewed 13 February 2013

My wife and I spent the first few nights of our Costa Rican honeymoon visiting the Arenal area. One of our first tours was the hanging bridges with Andre from Costa Rica Wonderland Tours. Andre did a great job and we saw a lot of amazing wildlife including howler monkeys, multiple birds, an eyelash viper, leaf cutter ants, and many others. Andre made the tour very enjoyable and was sure to point out plenty of things we would have missed.

Visited February 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank UGABuckeye
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

6 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
West Chicago, Illinois
Level 5 Contributor
83 reviews
32 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
“Tauck Costa Rica Adventure Tour – Jan 25, 2012 to Feb 2,2012”
Reviewed 4 February 2012

Tauck Costa Rica Adventure Tour – Jan 25, 2012 to Feb 2,2012

This is an 8 day trip beginning with a flight into the Liberia Airport of Costa Rica. Day one starts with an evening cocktail dinner. Most people arrived a day early. Breakfast on day 1, the next day, is included but lunch is on your own. We stayed at Playa Hermosa, Bosque del Mar Hotel, which is on the beach. Note that there is no sundry shop at this hotel nor is there convenient access to an ATM. Both facts are true throughout the trip suggesting that travelers bring in all of the cash they will need and double check their miscellaneous little items before they leave. You will need no Costa Rican currency. With this Tauck Tour the only cash you will need is the driver tip and the tour director tip. Everything else is included – all meals, maid tips, restaurant personnel tips, baggage handler tips, local guide tips, etc. Every stop we made accepted US currency and/or a charge card. We never even saw Costa Rican currency (1 US dollar = 500 colons).

The beach at Playa Hermosa is beautiful, but the water entry can be a little rocky. In any event, a day on this beach, before starting the adventure was relaxing, curing the airline travel pains. Snorkeling and fishing trips can be arranged on the beach for those who want some action.

Day 2 was a bus ride to Vandara where you could get a massage, swim in a thermal pool, hike through an organic garden, and do a Vandara, aka Tizate, Wellness Garden canopy zip line. The zip line experience here was outstanding with about 18 of the 32 people on the tour zip-ing the canopy. The age range went into the 70s. Anyone can do it. The specific skill set required you to hold on to the two support straps connected to a double pulley with your weak hand and to place your strong hand lightly on the lower cable (this site used two cables with your support pulley riding both). Both hands were heavily gloved with leather. Your strong hand, resting on the cable, was positioned behind your head and used to brake. Just a little downward pressure with this hand slowed your descent on the cable. Anyone can do it. The only challenge was to maintain your head away from the cables and keep your ankles crossed. Neither was difficult and you could actually look forward and down during the zip. This was a great experience that almost anyone can enjoy. The key about this zip line is that you felt like you had some control and the double cable provided a degree of security that single cable zip lines could not provide. It is important to thoroughly research any zip line that you use for safety policies or make sure that your tour company has done it for you. Tauck makes significant efforts to assess the safety and the reliability of their excursions. Our tour director talked about how this and every tour is constantly being tweaked by Tauck based on client feedback and changes in local conditions, e.g., using vans to get to the summit because the road is getting too challenging for a tour bus.

Day 3 started with a bus ride to Monteverde, a cloud forest. It was sunny! Luggage went out at 7 AM with an 8 AM departure. These times were standard throughout the trip as we changed lodges every other day. The Monteverde cloud forest trek included 8 suspension bridges over the forest canopy. This was a moderate hike that everyone enjoyed. The evening included a talk by the founding Quaker of Monteverde. Two nights were spent at the Monteverde Hotel. The hotel had a couple short hiking trails for the early riser to enjoy before the day’s excursion.

Day 4 found us visiting a Serpentarium(snakes and turtles) and a Butterfly Garden in the morning. The afternoon included a moderate hike in the rain forest where we spotted a quetzal – a beautiful bird. The gift shop at the rain forest was the best we encountered so far.

Day 5 put us en route to Tilajari via a bus ride and a 45 minute boat ride across Arenal Lake at the foot of the volcano Mt. Arenal. The afternoon had an option for another zip line run, the Sky Tram / Sky Trek jungle canopy. Half of the group took the single cable zip run that had cable runs of up to a couple thousand feet at an elevation of up to 600 feet. This ride was exhilarating fast. However, there was little opportunity to “see” the forest as the position under the cable was basically reclined with your ankles crossed, your legs lifted up, and your hands holding the pulley mechanism directing parallel to the cable. You were basically laying back and screaming for dear life. The people taking this ride enjoyed it, like a roller coaster ride. But they preferred the earlier double cable zip which at least gave you a sense of control and an opportunity to see what was below you. The non-zippers also road the cable car to the top of the mountain, hiked a trail, and then returned by cable car. We would spend two nights at the Tilajari Lodge. This lodge sat on a bend in the San Carlos River with beautiful grounds. Iguana and numerous birds could be observed around the open air restaurant.

Day 6 included a float trip down the Penas Blancas River which joined the San Carlos River. We spotted holler monkeys, crocodiles, and significant bird populations. This was an easy relaxing trip and one of the tour highlights. The boatmen were able to get the monkeys hollering at us; these monkeys are really loud. We visited a local family on the river whose patriarch, Don Pedro, turned 100 the day we showed up. We were fed and given free access to the family home which had no electricity and a dirt floor. It showed us how Costa Ricans live out in the wilderness and how happy they were. Large iguanas were also plentiful this day. The afternoon was free, our first downtime; we napped!

Day 7 was the bus ride to San Jose. En route we went through San Ramon visiting a museum and a church. The afternoon included a tour of the Doka Estates coffee plantation. The evening included a spectacular dinner at the Museum of Gold where we had a private tour with the museum all to ourselves. We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Jose this evening.

Day 8 was a transfer to the airport in the morning. The San Jose airport is modern and comfortable with free Wifi. Arriving at 10 AM found an empty airport and a quick easy stroll through check-in and security. By 11 AM the airport was getting pretty busy and I would guess that the check-in lines and security lines would be longer. There is a $28 airport exit tax which we paid at the Intercontinental Hotel with a $4 service charge. Our early arrival at the airport probably wasted the service charge. But those arriving later in the morning would have encountered long lines to pay the exit tax. I and Tauck recommend paying the exit tax at your hotel to avoid any hassles at the airport.

In general, there was very little shopping opportunity on this trip. It is an adventure tour. There were souvenir shops at some of the attractions (not the first two lodges) where you could pick up the standard items: baseball hats, tee shirts, and knick-nats. The hiking was moderate and one woman, who had double hip replacement surgery 6 months prior, managed all of the hikes using her trekking poles. I would always recommend using at least one trekking pole for hilly terrain hiking as even one pole eases the knee and back strain and provides a little more balance and stability on uneven or slippery ground. Our weather was beyond excellent but most tours would encounter a little more dampness, mist, or rain on their cloud and rain forest hikes.

Most of the travelers were on their nth Tauck Tour and it was easy to see why. The tour ran with precision; sure we ran late or early depending on factors not controllable. The diversity of the experience was outstanding: viewing the countryside, great food, observing the locals, wild life viewing, museums… Playa Hermosa was hot! At sea level this area is tropical and we wore shorts the first couple days. Once your trip moves up to the cloud forests and the rain forests, the temperature becomes more moderate and light hiking slacks and long sleeves (you may roll them up) are the most comfortable. The high country typically has temperatures in the 70s with a steady breeze during this time of year. We were more prepared for hot weather, a mistake. At this time of year, the best clothing is the camping/hiking outfits with zip off leggings in pants and roll up sleeves on shirts, a rain jacket/poncho packed, a hat, and a comfortable backpack to carry the options. There is a lot of bus and van time on this trip over curvy bumpy gravel roads. I wished I had a neck pillow or neck brace at times. Dramamine, or other stomach stabilizer, would be valuable to people who suffer motion sickness. The food at all three lodges was superb. Playa Hermosa and Tilajari had open air restaurants. Monteverde was enclosed because the area had high winds in the evening and early morning with blowing mist or rain. Lunches were too much! I would have preferred quick light lunches while the tour provided a “meal” for most lunches. The locals were super friendly. The local guides were excellent in knowledge, public speaking, and in English. Free Wifi was available at the first three lodges – not the International in San Jose. The trip was in the northern area of Costa Rica which is very safe. The southern areas are experiencing a little more crime as the Columbian Cartels try to move drugs north to the US. Some of this crime is moving into the central and northern areas and is being addressed aggressively by the Costa Rican police – there is NO army! We observed a police presence as we traveled to San Roman and San Jose.

My key concepts of wisdom are:
-Bring your US dollars for everything that you need.
-Don’t expect access to sundry items. Check your packing list and update your toilet kit.
-Dress for cooler weather and be prepared to strip a little off at the beginning.
-Bring your sunscreen; you are 10 degrees north of the equator.
-We encountered few bugs. I got a few bug bites while hiking through grass on the way up to the Vandara zip line. So bring an anti-itch cream or scotch tape to reduce the itching. Tell your brain to spray on some citronella mosquito repellant over your sunscreen each day. It works, it doesn’t smell bad. If you hit a bad season, you might want to consider deet. I only regret not spraying at Vandara. We did spray ourselves before the float trip, but I don’t think it was necessary. Better safe than sorry.
-Figure out how to limit your diet – or get fat!
-Be prepared for 1 ½ hour bus/van rides over poor roads.
-Ride a zip line unless you are over 80.
-Don’t expect good shopping; this is an adventure tour.

Visited January 2012
Helpful?
17 Thank KenFromIllinois
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Our tour guide added local insight that touring on our own would have missed.”
Reviewed 22 December 2011

My husband and I took our honeymoon in the Arenal area and arranged tours with Wonderland. Our guide, Walter Solorzano, was a pleasure to get to know and we grately appreciate his insight, at the tour sites and during the travel to/from our hotel. We booked the Combiniation tour which included many highlights of the area. During this time we enjoyed talking with Walter about the culture and history of Costa Rica and became inspired to return to explore a more 'off the tourist-beaten' path. Thanks to Walter for a wonderful day!

Visited November 2011
Helpful?
2 Thank JMac26_2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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