jp2 - The issue with my co-worker was compounded by the fact when we rented the cars you have to give you license and passport so they can make a photo copy. Well they forgot to give it back to him and he forgot to ask for it! So, stopped for speeding with no license and no passport. Sounds like a mandatory trip to the local police station. Nope! He paid $120usd to the officer and they let him go, lol.
I have not used VacationCity. I always reserve online either from the rental company website or through expedia. I've never been able to get a quote with the CR insurance included. I'm sure if you call the rental agency in CR they will tell you the exact rate. A good way to do it is to go to expedia, enter the dates and location you want to rent the car. They will list every company that has vehicles available with the rate. Choose the cheapest one and then go to that companies website. More than likely it may be cheaper because you will not have to pay an expedia fee (normally only $5usd so not that much anyway).
I always rent a four wheel drive vehicle they have a 5 person one, usually something like a toyota RAV4 and works great and reasonably priced. I'm not sure the roads you are driving on but CR is not know for their infrastructure and in September all the rivers will be very deep from the summer rains. Do not try and cross them! I've seen rivers I easily crossed in January become so swollen in June/July, I would have been swept away.
BTW, I also recall using Alamo and they would good as well.
As a side note, the rental companies will try and push a GPS on you at the counter when picking up the car. I never rented one but I've heard people returning theirs at the counter, telling the agent it did not work well. A good road map and a good sense of direction (compass) will save you some money.
Have a great trip! Look forward to your reviews.
WARNING: DO NOT GO HERE!!
My friend and I spent 3 months in Costa Rica volunteering with various animal organisations. Back in the UK we are qualified animal behaviourists and Zoologists so suffice to say we know a thing or two about correct animal welfare.
We were disgusted by Rainsong. The 'sanctuary' is merely Mary's garden crammed with tiny cages and junk. The animals have no behavioural or environmental enrichment or stimulation. Their cages are baron, covered in old and moldy food and disgustingly dirty. Some of the monkeys - an extremely social species - have collars on and are kept isolated from one another and are locked in tiny crates during the evenings! There is litter and rubbish scattered everywhere. And the activity books and stickers she asks for in all of her emails are in stacks all around, gathering dust and growing mold. We kept what we brought and gave it to the local children at our hostel.
Mary herself is a disgrace. She is obscenely rude and vulgar! Within minutes of arriving she was shouting and swearing about how religion is a load of s**t, and how F***ing useless and worthless volunteers are! These are people who come from all over the world to give up their time and money to HELP, and she has not got an ounce of gratitude for them but is more than happy to take their money! Most of which goes towards buying her own cigarettes!! Yes, she was witnessed taking tour money from a visitor and handing it to a volunteer saying - go and fetch me some cigarettes. People who try and defend her say she is miss-understood but has a big heart - we saw NO evidence of this!! The manager even told us that in the past 3 weeks every volunteer who came had left within the first 2-3 days, leaving from disgust and abuse.
The 'accommodation' is foul. For anyone who would like pictures of what she portrays as a 'camp hut' I am more than willing to send them. This was not the accommodation we saw on the website before we left. Past volunteers who we spoke to even had ticks in their armpits and groins from using the shower! I am well prepared to 'rough it' for a good cause, but this place was revolting. Mary also told us that the goats and pig had gotten into the camp huts and urinated and defecated everywhere, and that we will have to clean it all up and wash out the 'mattresses' (3 inch thick yellow sponge). At 5 o'clock in the evening, with barely an hour of light left I've no idea how she expected them to dry in time to be used to sleep on that night.
When we discussed our reservations with Mary she went through the roof! Shouting, swearing, calling us names and acting disgracefully. When we said we wouldn't put up with being spoken to in such a manner she told us to get the f**k off her land. This was maybe 2 hours after arriving, the last bus into town had long gone, and it was dark. Yet she had no problem throwing us out in a strange place with nowhere to go. Don't give me the - she an animal person, not a people person rubbish - she has no compassion full stop!
The next day we contacted the local police. Just the mention of her name and they knew EXACTLY who we were talking about. Don't believe the rubbish some people spout - she is NOT thought highly of by the locals, and the police want her shut down. The police wouldn't even confront Mary as it wouldn't solve anything, and they knew just how crazy she would go, and even told us that she has threatened volunteers with machetes in the past!! But were happy that people are beginning to report her so they can build a file against her, as so many are just leaving unhappy without a word so nothing can get done.
The bottom line is this. This woman is seriously disturbed and we were told by numerous people that she is clinically insane! The animals in her 'care' have NO quality of life, and she should NOT be allowed to work with them. I don't care how many times she cries wolf about the lack of money or staff - it does not take hundreds or dollars or 30+ people to simply CLEAN the animal cages and provide them with the correct diet and stimulation!
To those people who have the audacity to defend her - you should be ashamed of yourselves!! The woman and her 'sanctuary' are an abomination! The animals haven't been rescued, they have been condemned!! If people really want to help, then help us close this place down and save alot of animals from this needless misery!
We were more than warn about the danger of this bus stop. And dreading it. But it's an outdoor kind, with bus parking on each side of boarding sidewalk under a roof. Although we never let any of our belongings out of our side and were careful not to do anything stupid, we never felt in danger of anykind.
The man that got closer to me was trying for the third time to sell me cheap watches. But I think he knew I wasn't interested and even tho I didn't spoke spanish, he engage in a nice little chat. I understood about 4 words of what he said, but it didn't bother either of us. He left after 2 minutes, smilling and waving.
The other one, and he was in fact the first one we encountered coming in for the first time from our taxi that drop us off at the wrong station (500 meters from the correct one). Although I was sure at first he was going to trap us in an alley to sell our eyes and kidneys, he kindly took us to the correct station, pointing where to buy tickets and where the bus was. Quite friendly after all and I think we didn't made a good impression... being very afraid to loose our precious organs!
Be careful, but don't be alarmed.
See the website below for more information on ways of preventing crime from happening to you.
These are the reccomended vaccinations from the Ontario Government to travel to Costa Rica.
Hepititis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause permanent liver damage. It is contracted through contaminated drinking water, ice cubes or other food related items. Commonly found in the Caribbean and Central America, it is always a possiblity. Although most adults will recover from this infection, it is preventable by vaccination.
Hepititis B is a sexually transmitted disease found throughout the world. Like Hep A it is a virus that attacks the liver, but unlike Hep A it is very likely to cause permanent damage. The vaccination for Hep B can be taken in combination with the Hep A vaccination. These vaccinations will provide a lifetime of immunity if the full course of 2 (Hep A only) or 3 (Hep A/B combined or Hep B alone) are taken.
Typhoid fever is a bacterial disease that can be life threatening. Again it is preventable by vaccination. This vaccination is good only for 3 years.
Vaccinations can get gotten at your doctor, a travel clinic or a pharmacy (then take to a doctor for injection).
This is not a subject the travel agents or tour operators like to discuss, but I feel it is necessary. If you are traveling to a country where there is poverty, there is theft. This is not limited to any particular country, it can happen anywhere. Travelers who are informed and aware can make wiser choices.
I live on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Robberies have increased so we have formed citizens groups who work with the police and the public for prevention of crime and help for the victims. Private guards have been hired to patrol the beaches and the streets. Fortunately physical harm is rare, but often valued possessions left vulnerable are nabbed. There are things you can do to protect yourself:
RULES FOR DAY OUTINGS:
1. DO NOT CARRY ANYTHING YOU DO NOT IMMEDIATELY NEED!
I cannot emphasize this enough. When you are on an outing, whether it be the beach or a bike ride:
a. Take only the money you may need to spend - no more.
b. Do not carry your passport. It is legal and wise to carry a copy which shows your entry stamp.
c. Do not carry a backpack or purse, it attracts criminals as they imagine what valuables you might have inside. Use clothes with pockets and take a pocket sized camera.
d. When you go to the beach, take no more than a towel, water bottle, sunscreen and a book. I use a crappy looking beach bag to carry it all.
Do your picture taking on a different occasion and return the camera to your hotel before you go to swim.
2. Avoid isolated areas at night. I never walk the beach alone at night but I am comfortable going anywhere on the beach in the day time - because I do not bring valuables.
3. Don’t leave anything of value in sight, in your unoccupied car. A rental car with a trunk is preferable.
4. Always lock doors, shutters, windows, do not leave anything vulnerable - even for a few minutes.
If you follow these simple rules when on an outing, you can forget about theft and just have fun.
During my Trip (July 2009) Some of Costa Rica's Roads were still heavily damaged from the earthquake and so I reccommend you call someone at your destination and make sure you get good directions or at least talk to someone that has come and gone to your next point in your trip. You don't want to head out and find out two hours into your trip that the roads are closed. Everything pretty much leads in and out of San Jose so you would have to drive back another 2 hours back to san jose and find a different direction. This is not true of every city/town, but it is true of many.
Be very careful on the roads. They arent very well made up in some places and the drivers all seem to have a death wish. They disregard road warning not to over take Some of the lorries we observed had VERY bald tyres no chance of stopping
Make sure you watch out where you are going, and when. They have only 8,000 police for 4.3 million people, the worst in the globe ratio wise. Everything is on good faith, However, the poverty economy and lower end lifestyle leaves people to rob and plunder. Per capita income is $13,000. It is said that if you leave your house over one day, it may be vacated of most items. Not to put a scare into you, but you should be aware of your surroundings. These are gentle people, but poverty can created desperate people and crime.
Just one month before our trip, there was a 6.1 earthquake about mid country north of San Jose. It killed 40 people. The supposed after effect was down in Limon, coral reefs upheaveled a bit, and all trash service stopped. But then it seemed like maybe some of this damage was form 2004, or even maybe before that. The railroad, even though not too functional, had torn up tracks; now closed for good. Then the floods of torrential rains came right behind whenever that quake was, and wiped out some agricultural land. Next is a possible volcano eruption of Izura near Turrialba and close to SAn Jose about 20 miles.
It may not be Easy to get help. From what I noted, there are not any service stations that you as a "foreigner" would trust to get work done, properly and swiftly. It looks like the process is slow, and the quality probably less than desired. Be careful if you drive the roads. There is not AA around out here.
Due to the earthquake from over four years ago, the tour guide said the trash trucks could not pick up rubbish. The people threw it alongside the roads. It is not yet picked up, if ever. Then the railroad also broke down with separated tracks. Cleanliness is not a forte here, but should they be conscious?
They go from one side of the country to the other. As a result of the earthquake in 2007, the lines were broken, and service to San Jose ceased for a while. It is fragile in that there is only one line going through the terrain; up and downhills and over waters.
We did not have a chance to see the Irazu Volcano due to thick fog and heavy rain. The park was open, but they were turning back all the cars because of the bad weather. On the way to the volcano the weather was changing from sunny to rainy and foggy, but we were hoping that once we get there there would be a break in the clouds that would allow us to see the volcano.
Unfortunately, this was not the case and we had to turn back. You never know how the weather is gonna be like until you get there, so be prepared and don't be too disappointed if you will not see the volcano.
During my stays in Costa Rica over several months of time there were routine blackouts throughout the country. On television following these they showed incidents of cars crashing into one another as the drivers evidently do not treat an unlit traffic intersection as a four-way stop. They assume that no light signal gives them the right of way without thinking that other drivers approaching from the crossroad have assumed the same thing.
On Conchal and other places, be very careful of vendors. They don't work for the resort (www.paradisusplayaconchal.travel/) but wait outside to take advantage of tourists. They will use phrases like 'welcome to my country' and show you things like: 'here is the beach, here is the ocean,' and expect a commission from everything you do on your vacation. This drives up the prices for the business owners in the area. They are a dark spot in an otherwise beautiful place. They will charge you double the amount of the actual price for a tour or renting ATV or Jet Ski. They stand outside of the resort and will follow you. Just tell them that you do not need their services. If you are looking for a service like horseback riding or a tour, go directly to the owner to ask. These guys are a menace and potentially dangerous. I would advise calling the resort first to inquire if they've been removed. 1-866-43-Melia. We finally had to complain on our last trip and have heard that they can become aggressive and abusive.
San Pablo De Turrubares, Costa Rica (Formerly La Finca Que Ama Hotel)
Good for: Business
I don’t know how many of you have stayed in an all inclusive hotel before... but this resort was so...more
Very friendly an to other d helpful staff. The newer rooms are excellent. good value relative...more