Costa Rica with Overseas Adventure Travel

On June 6, ’03, we left on the 13-day “Real Affordable Costa Rica” trip with Overseas Adventure Travel (One Broadway, Ste. 600, Cambridge, MA 02142; phone 800/955-1925). We paid $4,235 for two persons, including air from Las Vegas. The price also included $368 in trip insurance.

The trip was advertised as an adventure trip, and adventure we got aplenty. We had never taken this kind of trip before. We really did not know what we were getting into but have to admit that we enjoyed it tremendously.

We were a group of 15 people (they never book more than 16 per trip) and we traveled in an air-conditioned Toyota minibus, which was always kept sparkling clean. We stayed at lodges, small hotels and ranches in out-of-the-way locations.

We actually spent the whole trip in the country and rainforests, hitting San José, the capital, only on the way in and out. There, we stayed at the modern Courtyard Marriott Hotel. As we stayed two nights in each place, there was not too much packing and moving around, which made for a much more comfortable trip.

One thing that I found lacking in most of these lodgings was an adequate reading light over the bed. As television was not available in any of these rooms, except in one place, reading was about the only entertainment that we had after dark, besides enjoying the company of our fellow travelers.

But that was of minor importance if you consider that we really saw Costa Rica in a way people on the larger bus tours did not. As an example of that, we ran into a large tour group on one of our stops and later met them again at lunch. In the intervening hours we had gone to an interesting big cat and wildlife preserve and they had been taken to a gift shop!

Some of the highlights of the trip were whitewater rafting on the Sarapiqui River; horseback riding to a natural spa where we took hot mud baths, and gliding on steel cables through the canopy 180 feet above the floor of the rainforest.

For the latter, we each were strapped into a contraption of pulleys and wheels, given heavy-duty gloves for braking and then went soaring between the trees. Once you get the hang of it, it is a wonderful and unique expertience, and in the hands of experienced guides you really are quite safe.

Of course, bird-watching was a daily activity, thanks to our very able, knowledgeable and charming guide Celeice Reed, who could identify most of the birds we saw every day. We also took two jungle river cruises and saw some really huge crocodiles.

Then there were walks in the rainforest, walks over shaky suspended bridges and more walks to get close to several volcanoes of which Costa Rica has plenty. For these reasons, this is not a trip for everybody. People who are not comfortable with physical exertion probably should not go on this trip. Of course, any of the planned activities can be skipped, but that would diminish the fun of the whole venture.

Another special feature was a cruise across the Gulf of Nicoya, which took us to a private reserve where we were the only visitors. There we could kayak, swim, relax or go on a nature hike. A great lunch was served, the best of the whole trip, and we were entertained by marimba music — really very classy.

A word about the climate — we went in the rainy season, and there was hardly a day without a heavy downpour, which usually occurred in the afternoon and evening. We really got soaked to the bones several times. Because of the weather and heavy cloud overcast, we did not see Poas Volcano and the advertised spectacular views and waterfalls at all. I would suggest visiting Costa Rica in the dry season, which lasts from December until April. Temperatures are in the 80s year-round and humidity is high, more so in the mountain regions.

OAT’s pre-trip information was very good and covered all the bases. Altogether, we were very happy with this trip and will certainly consider another one with this company.

Las Vegas, NV