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Travel stories

Travel memories from Costa Rica

Jun 25, 2020 by Jamie Mc Laughlin

For traveler Danielle and her fellow traveler Stefan, our Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & Wildlife tour is “easily our favorite we’ve ever been on!” (And when you watch her video from her trip, it’s not hard to imagine why.) Click play to see some of her most memorable moments, and then read on to find out why visiting Costa Rica on tour was such a special, life-changing experience.

Local guides brought everything to life

Both of our Go Ahead Tour guides were wonderful. One guide who stuck out was for an excursion along the river in Tortuguero. He had grown up swimming in those rivers, and I’m sure had seen the local animals there millions of times, but his excitement whenever we’d spot a bird or monkey was palpable. The passion the guides have for their wildlife is contagious and made it even more fun to be out with them spotting animals.

Every lodge was top-notch

All the accommodations were so unique and comfortable. One of my favorite experiences was arriving at the jungle lodge in Tortuguero—I’m certain I would not have been able to find that on my own, let alone figure out how to get there! We were in small boats winding through a jungle toward a village that can only be reached by the water. We pulled into a dock and were greeted by howler monkeys climbing all over the canopy above the lodge. The cabins were tucked into the lush jungle with blue crabs scuttling around—it was the PERFECT first impression to start off our trip.

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Howler monkeys in Tortuguero

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Boating through the wet forest in Tortuguero

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Hanging out at the hotel pool in the Arenal Region

Go Ahead made planning easy

I’m an over-planner when it comes to traveling, so giving up that responsibility can always be a little stressful. But the perks of doing a guided tour with Go Ahead, particularly in a country where I didn’t speak the native language well, were incredible. Finding reliable transportation to and from different cities and picking the perfect accommodations would usually take up the biggest chunk of planning, and that was all taken care of for us. I would tell anyone considering a Go Ahead Tour to do it! Pick visiting a location where it makes sense to trade the freedom of planning your own trip for a curated experience. It takes the pressure of schedule, transportation, and language off of an international trip.

The itinerary got an A+

After traveling on our own, our biggest concern about signing up for this guided tour was trusting that the assigned activities would be worth our time, or that they would compare to what we would have decided to do on our own. But, the tours and excursions were amazing and so worthwhile! We even signed up for a few extra excursions, and there was ample time to explore on our own. It was a good balance.

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A dance performance outside Heliconia Ranch

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Danielle's group members taking in views of the Monteverde cloud forest on the Sky Walk excursion

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The village market in Tortuguero

Volcanoes, thermal springs...enough said.

Hiking up a volcano during the day in the Arenal Region and soaking in the thermal springs at night was a highlight. I appreciate that the hike was picked to suit everyone’s skill level.

The cloud forest was magical

Another highlight was getting to walk through the cloud forest in Monteverde on the Sky Walk excursion. It’s everything you imagine as a kid growing up reading about rain forests. There was gorgeous nature, and the sky bridges let you be along the treetops, which was magical.

It was as immersive as it gets

The nature, animals, and people of Costa Rica made it a place that will always stick out to us. The country is gorgeous! I also loved hearing insight from our guide about the history of the people who live there, what day-to-day life looks like, and their efforts to protect the environment and animal habitats. It was so inspiring! This was easily the most immersive trip we’ve been on.

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Danielle planting a tree at Heliconia Ranch

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The lodge in the Arenal Region (with the Arenal Volcano in the distance!)

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An iguana having a snack at a rest stop

Experts ensured there was no language barrier

On a guided tour with a native speaker, you can travel with confidence knowing that you can understand what’s going on from place to place. You also get insight about the culture, history of the area, and insider local tips, which was one of our favorite parts aside from just sightseeing a new place.

It changed her perspective

I travel because I love seeing different places and experiencing different cultures, traditions, and foods. It’s also very fun to get outside your daily routine and comfort zone to see what other parts of the world look like. It’s changed my perspective on a lot of things. Mainly it’s given me inspiring lessons on how to live life differently. After seeing how certain cultures cook, treat each other, treat their environment, create music, etc., I have a broader understanding of how much we can learn and grow from one another. Of course it is also amazing to check areas off your bucket list or see gorgeous views you won’t get anywhere else! It makes you want to do what you can to protect or support those areas and encourage others to do the same.

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Standing next to the Caribbean in Tortuguero

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A tiger heron spotting in Tortuguero

Danielle’s Costa Rica packing tips

The things we used the most and were SO glad we brought were:

  • Complete first aid kit that included headache, motion sickness, and pain killer medication. We bring that same kit with us any time we’re traveling in countries where you’re not sure when or if you’ll be near a pharmacy.

  • Hand sanitizer, Travelon soap sheets, and tissues are a must!

  • A waterproof jacket and hiking shoes. While walking around in the cloud forest, it was great to just soak in the sights without having to worry about getting wet. Also, having waterproof shoes for getting on and off boats during a long travel day was very convenient.

  • Binoculars for sure!

Have you ever been on tour in Costa Rica? Share you favorite memories on our Facebook page!


Traveler stories
About the author | Jamie Mc Laughlin
It was Jamie’s homestay in Germany that made her fall in love with travel (and her studies in Florence that really sealed the deal). When she’s not writing and sharing the magic of seeing the world with others, she’s usually on the lookout for her new favorite memoir, testing out recipes at home, or visiting her family on Cape Cod.

Put Costa Rica on your travel wish list

Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & Wildlife
with Manuel Antonio & San José extension
9 or 12 days
218
On sale from
$2,249$1,899*

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