Just got back from Costa Rica. This is the first time I have ever visited Latin America. It is also the first time I have ever used a tour company to arrange almost the whole trip for me (I booked the flights myself).
It all started in November. Since I still had a few vacation days left, I was thinking where we should go in December. Turkey came into my mind. But Dave was kind of against it due to tension along Turkey-Syria border at the time. So we decided to go somewhere closer and warmer, and Costa Rica came to the picture.
After a quick research, I had a list of places I wanted to see in Costa Rica. I didn't mind booking flights and hotels myself, but transportation seemed to be an issue. Since neither of us can speak Spanish, the task of renting a car and driving ourselves in a foreign country that people don't speak much English seemed a bit too much. Besides the time we wanted to go there was just before Christmas, why not give ourselves a break, and use a tour company for a change?
When I was researching Costa Rica tour companies, I stumbled on GO! Tours Costa Rica's Tripadvisor review page. The reviews were so good that it made me think they were not real. So not only I read all the reviews, I also looked at the profiles of people who wrote the reviews, to make sure they were real customers, not just friends of GO! Tours who wrote good reviews for them (sorry to be cynical, but I know there are people doing that).
After that, I contacted them by email. Andrey was the one who answered my email. Almost immediately I understood why people wrote such good reviews for them. Time after time Andrey provided quick, detailed and to-the-point response. We were able to customize an itinerary that fit my needs within just a few days, which included:
Day 1: Arrival to San Jose Airport (A) and private transfer to hotel.
Day 2: Private transfer to Manuel Antonio Beach (B).
Day 3: Free day to enjoy the beach.
Day 4: Private transfer to Arenal (C).
Day 5: Arenal Hanging Bridges and Baldi Hot Springs.
Day 6: Private transfer to Sarapiqui (D). Tirimbina Rainforest hike & chocolate tour.
Day 7: Transfer to Tortuguero (E), tour to Tortuguero town and museum.
Day 8: Tour to the canals and Tortuguero Hill.
Day 9: Transfer to San Jose.
Day 10: Private transfer to San Jose International Airport.
The itinerary may not look very packed on paper. But it turned out to be quite packed, especially after we added a few optional tours when we were there.
(To be continued)