Costa Rica FAQ

For more travel details about JOURNEYS worldwide nature and culture explorations see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below. For additional questions regarding travel to Africa, South America, Australia, Asia and the Middle East, call 1-800-255-8735.


Frequently asked questions about Costa Rica

What makes Costa Rica such a special JOURNEYS destination?

JOURNEYS has been offering trips in Costa Rica since 1981, long before eco-tourism was popular. Our programs in Costa Rica have always featured extremely well-qualified local naturalist guides and visits to the best protected natural areas. Costa Rica, as a nation, has set aside a large percentage of the country as protected areas. Over the last twenty years more and more citizens have realized both the ecological and economic benefits of preserving their country as a kind of natural museum of tropical environments. Now there are many choices of lodges and activities ranging from whitewater rafting to bird watching, nature photography, and turtle-nesting night hikes. JOURNEYS has long term relationships with the leaders and facility owners which benefit you as a member of the JOURNEYS extended family. You will feel completely comfortable on a trip with us.

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What will I see in Costa Rica?

You will experience a natural tropical paradise with exotic birds, exceptional wildlife and scenic environments. We always include a sampling of different habitats and geographic regions. Beautifully-sited accommodations open into a world of friendly guides, good food and colorful local culture. You will probably observe an active volcano, watch wild monkeys and parrots and savor tropical fruits you may have never tasted before. There are beaches, islands, cloud forests, white-water rivers, wildlife sanctuaries, mountain ranges and attractive villages.

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Where will I stay?

For the most part, we use excellent quality hotels in cities and award-winning ecolodges in the jungle. Several of the hotels we use have received the highest levels of Green Ratings offered. Lodges prioritize access to natural environments, modest-scale and local ownership consistent with principles of good ecotourism. Expect good meals featuring local specialities. Many, but not all accommodations have swimming pools. Some hotels have internet access.

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Who will lead my trip?

Many of JOURNEYS leaders in Costa Rica have been to the USA, though all are proud Costa Ricans. All speak fluent English. All are trained as professional guides. Some have graduate degrees in biology-related fields and are eager to provide a professional level of insight into your ecological experience. Others have grown up with a continual involvement in interpreting natural features of their country. While Costa Rica is very safe, your guide can advise you of areas requiring special attention. He or she will be in daily contact with the local central office in case any urgent messages or information needs to be relayed to or from your travel group.

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How will JOURNEYS help me prepare for the trip?

We offer the most complete and detailed pre-departure information including checklists, medical information and a booklet outlining preparation and planning concerns. You will have toll-free phone access to our experienced staff of travel counselors who have been to Costa Rica. We will help you avoid known trouble areas. We respond promptly to e-mail. We offer reading lists, currency information, travel gear catalogs, and trip insurance information and more as a part of our service.

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What else should I consider?

Plan your trip as far in advance as possible. Popular lodges book up well in advance. Flights to Costa Rica from the USA through Miami fill very early for holiday period travel. Accommodations also fill very early for holiday travel. You will likely save money on airfare by not traveling in the holiday periods. You can visit Costa Rica all year round and enjoy areas with good weather. July through November is generally the wetter period.

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What makes a JOURNEYS visit distinctive?

JOURNEYS trips in Costa Rica offer small group and individualized experiences that really immerse you in the very most positive aspects of the local cultures and natural environments. Costa Rica's recent popularity has spawned a number of mass-marketed, resort-style operators with rigidly defined itineraries and travel dates. JOURNEYS is an alternative to that. You will meet local Ticos who will reinforce your sense of Costa Rica as a very friendly country. We offer you the flexibility to choose the areas of the country you most want to see as components of your own custom trip. We are specialists in family trips to Costa Rica and we maintain a constant awareness of the best family-oriented facilities. All guides are knowledgeable naturalists.

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What documents do I need to visit Costa Rica?

You need a valid passport. No visa is required for American or Canadian citizens.

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When is the best time to visit Costa Rica?

You can visit year round. The Green Season is from July to October. November can still be wet in some areas on the Atlantic side. Christmas and Easter are extremely busy times when both land and air reservations are required far in advance. April-June is a very nice weather season and it is not too hot in most areas. Birders will enjoy the period from October to March when neotropical migrants swell the population of local resident species.

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What is the most important things to know about visiting Costa Rica?

While Costa Ricans are very friendly and generally honest, you do have to be careful in some areas to avoid being a victim of crime. Some areas of San Jose are rife with pickpockets and snatch and grab thieves. We do not recommend self-drive rental cars which are often robbed or stolen. Lone travelers should be wary of nightclubs and bars in tourist areas. Police are not especially effective or honest. You should not go off hiking, biking or birding alone or without leaving a clear "flight plan" with someone you know well who will seek help if you do not return on schedule. During busy seasons many hotels are overbooked and it can be hard to find any room at all. The best thing you can do to avoid any possible misfortune is to book your trip in advance through a reliable operator, like JOURNEYS, so that you have minimal worries when you arrive and all through your stay.

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