‘Extraordinary’ guide in Costa Rica

By Gail Riba
This item appears on page 30 of the April 2017 issue.
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While staying in Costa Rica for a month in January-February 2017, my husband, John Doellinger, and I spent the first week on a tour with Natural Habitat (Boulder, CO; 800/543-8917, www.nathab.com). For weeks three and four, we rented a condo in Playa Langosta, Guanacaste, through Airbnb. However, for the second week, Jan. 21-28, we were on our own in La Fortuna, near Arenal Volcano. 

On our first day in La Fortuna, we just wandered through town to explore. The second day, we went to Paradise Hot Springs (paradise hotspringscr.com), where we signed up for a night tour through the concierge at the hotel. It was on that tour that we met Jason Torres, an extraordinary naturalist guide.

Jason was our guide for the night tour (on which, along with seeing other wildlife, we saw more than one red-eyed tree frog!), and by the end of the night we knew we had found the guide we wanted to use for the rest of this portion of our trip. We were lucky he was available.

The next day, we traveled in Jason’s car for a private tour of the Arenal Hanging Bridges. He not only told us about the bridges, he pointed out animals and birds we would have missed if we had just visited on our own. Toward the end of the trip, a juvenile howler monkey jumped onto the bridge and passed right by us!

At the end of the tour, we asked Jason to drop us off in town, where we had dinner at a place he had suggested: Nenes Restaurant (La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica; phone +506 24 79 91 92, www.restaurantenenes.com). The food was excellent.

The third day, we were up early for a 7:25 pickup for rafting on the Río Peñas Blancas (White Cliffs River), with Jason as our leader. We joined three other people on a tour that he was already signed up to do for a company called Rainforest Adventures (Barrio Escalante, Avenida 7, Calles 29 y 31, San José, Costa Rica; phone +506 22 57 59 61, www.rainforestadventure.com).

Once again, he was able to point out things we would have missed. John helped paddle, while I just enjoyed. After the rafting, we stopped at a farmhouse for coffee with fried bananas and cheese plus a cake made with cassava, with guava jelly at the bottom and coconut on top — delicious!

Our final day with Jason was a trip to Poás Volcano, an active volcano with a caldera. Since the drive took almost two hours, we had to leave early. The cloud forest was at an altitude of 8,000 feet, so we dressed warmly, but when the sun came out, the layers came off.

I had been to Poás before, but this was John’s first time. However, it was Jason who told us about La Paz Waterfall Gardens (www.waterfall gardens.com), a spot nearby that we visited later. In addition to a butterfly garden, La Paz had an aviary with toucans and scarlet macaws, snakes and much more.

We hiked 3.5 kilometers to five different waterfalls, taking a break in the middle for a very good lunch in a cafeteria at La Paz. Jason offered to take us to some other towns on the way home, but we chose to end the day at 5 p.m. because of the 2-hour drive back to La Fortuna.

The night tour cost $50 per person, but we got a senior rate and paid $70 for both of us plus entry fees for the Hanging Bridges. We paid $55 apiece for the float trip. 

For our day at Poás Volcano and La Paz, we paid a total of $180 plus entry fees. This included Jason’s services as a guide and driver for 12 hours.

We consider Jason, who’s certified by the Costa Rica Tourism Board, to be a real find. He also handles cave trips, zip-lining, bird-watching, etc. 

Jason Torres (phone 506 8599 0675, jtorrescostarica@gmail.com) has WhatsApp (www.whats app.com) on his phone — excellent for communicating for free internationally. He also has a Facebook page under “Jason Costa Rica Tour guide.”

GAIL RIBA

Wimauma, FL 

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While staying in Costa Rica for a month in January-February 2017, my husband, John Doellinger, and I spent the first week on a tour with Natural Habitat (Boulder, CO; 800/543-8917, www.nathab.com). For weeks three and four, we rented a condo in Playa Langosta, Guanacaste, through Airbnb. However, for the second week, Jan. 21-28, we were on our own in La Fortuna, near Arenal Volcano. 

On our first day in La Fortuna, we just wandered through town to explore. The second day, we went to Paradise Hot Springs (paradise hotspringscr.com), where we signed up for a night tour through the concierge at the hotel. It was on that tour that we met Jason Torres, an extraordinary naturalist guide.

Jason was our guide for the night tour (on which, along with seeing other wildlife, we saw more than one red-eyed tree frog!), and by the end of the night we knew we had found the guide we wanted to use for the rest of this portion of our trip. We were lucky he was available.

The next day, we traveled in Jason’s car for a private tour of the Arenal Hanging Bridges. He not only told us about the bridges, he pointed out animals and birds we would have missed if we had just visited on our own. Toward the end of the trip, a juvenile howler monkey jumped onto the bridge and passed right by us!

At the end of the tour, we asked Jason to drop us off in town, where we had dinner at a place he had suggested: Nenes Restaurant (La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica; phone +506 24 79 91 92, www.restaurantenenes.com). The food was excellent.

The third day, we were up early for a 7:25 pickup for rafting on the Río Peñas Blancas (White Cliffs River), with Jason as our leader. We joined three other people on a tour that he was already signed up to do for a company called Rainforest Adventures (Barrio Escalante, Avenida 7, Calles 29 y 31, San José, Costa Rica; phone +506 22 57 59 61, www.rainforestadventure.com).

Once again, he was able to point out things we would have missed. John helped paddle, while I just enjoyed. After the rafting, we stopped at a farmhouse for coffee with fried bananas and cheese plus a cake made with cassava, with guava jelly at the bottom and coconut on top — delicious!

Our final day with Jason was a trip to Poás Volcano, an active volcano with a caldera. Since the drive took almost two hours, we had to leave early. The cloud forest was at an altitude of 8,000 feet, so we dressed warmly, but when the sun came out, the layers came off.

I had been to Poás before, but this was John’s first time. However, it was Jason who told us about La Paz Waterfall Gardens (www.waterfall gardens.com), a spot nearby that we visited later. In addition to a butterfly garden, La Paz had an aviary with toucans and scarlet macaws, snakes and much more.

We hiked 3.5 kilometers to five different waterfalls, taking a break in the middle for a very good lunch in a cafeteria at La Paz. Jason offered to take us to some other towns on the way home, but we chose to end the day at 5 p.m. because of the 2-hour drive back to La Fortuna.

The night tour cost $50 per person, but we got a senior rate and paid $70 for both of us plus entry fees for the Hanging Bridges. We paid $55 apiece for the float trip. 

For our day at Poás Volcano and La Paz, we paid a total of $180 plus entry fees. This included Jason’s services as a guide and driver for 12 hours.

We consider Jason, who’s certified by the Costa Rica Tourism Board, to be a real find. He also handles cave trips, zip-lining, bird-watching, etc. 

Jason Torres (phone 506 8599 0675, jtorrescostarica@gmail.com) has WhatsApp (www.whats app.com) on his phone — excellent for communicating for free internationally. He also has a Facebook page under “Jason Costa Rica Tour guide.”

GAIL RIBA

Wimauma, FL