Testimonials of families who traveled with Jose Pablo Ugalde

Don, March 2024

Two couples traveling together
Custom Itinerary- Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio Beach

In early March, 2024, my wife and I and another couple with whom we’ve traveled extensively, enjoyed a private tour of Costa Rica with Jose. Our first stop was near Arenal Volcano with numerous hikes, a river float and an organic farm tour. From there we drove to Isla Chaquita for glamping, kayaking, snorkeling and more hiking. Our final leg was to the beach at Manuel Antonio National Park for more water sports.

Early on we connected with Jose. His upbeat personality and his enthusiasm for the country’s wildlife and ever-changing landscapes was contagious, and we looked forward

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Amy May 2023

Mom of 8 & 4 yr olds, traveled with another couple and their 8 yr old
9 day Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Cloud Forest, Samara beach with eco-Upgrade lodging
We had an absolute blast!  Thank you for planning such an amazing trip for us – it was really a dream come true.
The absolute highlight for us was Jose Pablo.  He was so amazing and absolutely made the trip for us.  I never knew guides like this existing in Costa Rica, and he made the trip so much easier and far more enjoyable.  He was extremely patient and entertaining with our children.  I cannot speak highly enough about him.  Thank you for connecting us with him for this trip.
Some other highlights:
– Hotel Belmar –
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Callie May 2023

Mom of 8 yr old
9 day Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Cloud Forest, Samara beach with eco-Upgrade lodging

We had an amazing trip and my 8 yr old daughter cannot stop asking about when we will see Jose Pablo next!

Kevin, March 2022

Dad of 13 yr old
8 day Rainforest & Arenal Volcano Tour with eco-Tico lodges

We had a wonderful time in Costa Rica! I would say that it was one of if not the best vacation that we’ve been on. Jose Pablo Ugalde was a great guide. He was extremely easy to get along with and took my temperamental teenage daughter in stride. We ate all of our meals with Jose, and we just deferred to him on the soda choices. It was nice because he only took us to sodas that he had tried before and knew the quality of the food. Jose was also very willing to help us practice our broken

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Allison, December 2020-January 2021

Allison, Mom of 10 and 12 yr olds
8 day Rincon de la Vieja Volcano & Samara Beach Itinerary

Traveling to Costa Rica during Covid

We left from Midway Airport. The lines were short and spaced out, everyone was wearing masks, and very few shops/restaurants were open. We flew out with Delta, so the middle seats were open and entering/exiting the plane was regulated. On one of the flights there were a few people that had to sit next to each other and they were offered vouchers for other flights.

When we got to the Liberia Airport, lines were spaced out and everyone was constantly reminded on Covid protocols. Even with those in place, it was very fast

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Pernille, June-July 2019

Pernille, mom of 10, 6, 6, 5 yr olds, traveling with family + grandparents
12 day Rainforest, Volcano, Cloud Forest, Samara Beach Itinerary with combo Tico & Plus lodging

Thank you again for an incredible trip. It was an amazing experience that we will not forget.
First of all, Jose was incredible. Not only was he so incredibly knowledgeable, but his enthusiasm, kindness, humor, and ability to be with the kids were out of this world. Our trip simply would not have been as good had it not been for Jose. He went above and beyond any call of duty in order for us to have a great trip, was always relaxed, and ready with ideas, constantly searching for wildlife and a neverending source of knowledge no

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Simon, April 2019

Simon, dad of 3 yr old and 7 mo old
7 day Rainforest and Arenal Volcano tour with drop off at beach resort booked by family

We had a really great trip and thank you very much for organizing it. Your suggested route worked really well as it was a manageable distance for our kids to be in the car at any one time. Jose was a first rate guide and accommodated the pace we wanted to take. He was extremely knowledgeable about birds, plants and wildlife and got on really well with our 3 year old son. Most importantly he seemed trustworthy which is important when someone is around your kids all day for 5 days.

Sarapiqui was peaceful and just as you noted,

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Natasia, March 2019

Natasia, Mom of 4, 9, 13 yr olds
10 day Volcano, Cloud Forest, Manuel Antonio Beach custom itinerary with Upgrade & one Tico lodging

Not sure where to begin, but the vacation was amazing!
First of all our guide, Jose!!! He was just wonderful. Knowledgable,
patient, and fun. Seemed as excited as we were by the incredible
landscape and animals and made great suggestions to make sure
we saw as much as possible without over taxing the kiddos.
Had a brand new 10+ passenger van that made
the long rough rides up the mountains quite tolerable. Found us
a doctor at 6am when the little one was up all night with a terrible
fever and

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Matthew & Kelly, July 2018

Matthew & Kelly, parents of 9 yr old
10 day Manuel Antonio Beach, Osa Peninsula, Dominical with eco-Tico lodging

We had a wonderful second trip to Costa Rica in early July, this time exploring the Pacific coast; despite our traveling during the rainy season, the weather was, once again, phenomenal, allowing us to do all the adventures we wanted to. Leo picked us up at the airport and was our guide for the first couple of days of our trip before handing us off to Jose Pablo for the remainder of our adventure. Leo was such a kind, thoughtful and big-hearted gentleman and shared with us his incredible knowledge of botany during his time with us including natural

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Steve & Sally, April 2018

Steve & Sally, parents of 5 and 2.5 yr olds
8 day Rainforest, Volcnao tour with combo lodges

Once again our huge thanks to you and to Jose for facilitating such a fantastic trip for our family. As you know we travelled with our daughter Chloe (5) and son Austin (2.5) as well as my sister in law Meg for most of the trip and our itinerary centred around 2 main destinations; the Rainforest, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui (at Selva Verde Lodge) and the Volcan Arenal (at Arenal Observatory Lodge). We had just been to my brother’s wedding at a resort in Mexico and were looking forward to a week of family-friendly adventure, nature and relaxation prior

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John, March-April 2018

John, dad of 8 and 5 yr olds
8 day Manuel Antonio, Osa Peninsula Custom Itinerary with Combo lodges

I wanted to report back about our trip while it’s still close at mind. In short, the trip was fantastic!

First of all, Jose was a wonderful guide for our family. He was warm and friendly, looked after every detail and really did a great job of researching and arranging activities, taking care of logistics, and connecting with us on a personal level. He and Luis were in touch on WhatsApp and shared notes frequently.

Highlights for our super-active kids included a day we spent hiking from Las Caletas to Rio Claro and

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June, August 2017

June, mom of 4 and 7 yr old, traveling with her family and parents
10 day Arenal Volcano, Cloud Forest, Manuel Antonio beach custom itinerary

Our 9-night trip with 2 parents, 2 grandparents plus 4 and 8 year olds, guided by Jose Pablo, was extraordinary. We are ALL sure that we would not have had the trip we did without Jose Pablo and without Jenny’s great approach to family adventure travel.

Jose Pablo met us at the airport, and did EVERYTHING possible to help us have a wonderful trip, facilitating our activities, dining, outings and learning everywhere. And, yes, he really can spot very specific birds and other animals as he’s driving down the road, at which point he would quickly pull over so

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Matthew, June 2017

Dad of 8 yr old
9 day Rainforest, Volcano, Cloud Forest with eco-Tico lodging

We had the most wonderful trip to Costa Rica, in large part because of our guide, Jose Pablo. Almost immediately, he became a member of our family when he met us at the airport and started engaging all of us, especially our 8 year old. We simply can’t imagine having done Costa Rica without him. We left the airport and headed off to Sarapiqui, learning all about Costa Rican culture and history on the drive out. Discovering that we really liked birds, Jose ‘surprised’ us with a lunch stop at a soda replete with bird feeders (along with great

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Kristy, May 2017

Mom of 9, 8 and 4 yr olds
9 day Rainforest, Volcano, Cloud Forest with eco-Tico lodging

We had a fantastic time! Jose was an absolutely wonderful guide, and we recommend him highly!! He recommended activities based on what we said we wanted to experience, and we loved each activity and eatery he recommended. Jose had an uncanny ability to spot very specific birds and other animals in trees as he’s driving down the road, at which point he would quickly pull over so that we could all see – we saw a great deal of wildlife from just traveling (e.g., toucans, iguanas, a sloth, howler monkeys). Jose also introduced us to a wide variety of

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Monica, March-April 2017

Mom of 10 and 13 yr olds traveled with friends with 8 and 10 yr olds
9 day Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Cloud Forest, Samara Beach itinerary from Liberia with Combo lodges

Our trip was fabulous and exceeded all our expectations! Jose was an amazing guide and was able to get all the kids so excited about seeing the different birds or other wildlife! He also gave great Spanish lessons for the kids! We will recommend your company to any one looking to go to Costa Rica!

Michael and Teri, March 2017

Michael and Teri traveled with 2 families, 4 adults and 4 kids (ages 6, 8, 6, 9)
8 day Rainforest, Volcano, Cloud Forest Itinerary with eco-Tico lodges

We had a great time in Costa Rica! Jose was wonderful…we couldn’t ask for a better guide! We would totally recommend him and your tour to anyone. We loved every stop. We really enjoyed Alex and his place [Andrea Cristina B&B] in Sarapiqui. The kids really got a kick out of him. We have no complaints and would love to go on another tour some time.

This is Teri C. – we were the second family traveling with the Michael’s family to Costa Rica.

We had a wonderful time – I cannot think of a better guide that we

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Amy, February 2017

Mom of 11, 9 and 7 year olds
11 day Volcano, Rainforest, Beach itinerary with eco-Upgrade lodges

It was a really big adventure and we made some great memories. Jose was a terrific guide. He was knowledgable about the area but more importantly he was easy to be around and good at providing us the right amount of information, support, suggestions, etc. We have never traveled with a guide before and some of my kids are quite shy and Jose was able to engage them but not overwhelm them. I was also very impressed with his driving skills and overall safety awareness. We also appreciated his ability to suggest activities and scheduling to fit our needs

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Tim, January 2017

Dad of 5 and 7 yr olds traveling also with grandparents
9 day Rainforest, Volcano, Cloud Forest with eco-Plus lodging

Thanks so much for all your help in organizing our recent trip to Costa Rica. As requested, here is some feedback we hope is helpful. In summary, we had a great time and everything seemed very organised and we felt well-informed.

Our guide (Jose):
Overall, Jose was fantastic and we only have great things to say about him. Jose was very personable, relaxed, had a great sense of humour and lots of knowledge on everything Costa Rican. With kids, in-laws and different tastes we were often trying to find activities, dining and times that worked for everybody and

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Trisha, July 2016

Mom of 13, 10 and 6 yr olds also traveling with Grandma!
10 Day Rainforest, Volcano, Cloud Forest Itinerary with Plus and Upgrade Lodges

The trip was perfect! When we left, my youngest, Thomas, was in tears because he loved Costa Rica and would especially miss Jose Pablo. We couldn’t have asked for a better guide, he was knowledgeable, fun, and so great with the kids. Each place we visited was beautiful. We loved rafting [Green Rivers in Sarapiqui] and the Tirimbina chocolate tour in Sarapiqui. La Fortuna waterfall was beautiful as well as the hanging bridges. Silencio del Campo was our favorite hotel, the springs were perfect after a long day. We had fun hiking in Monteverde and really liked the night

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Derek, March 2016

Dad of 15, 12 and 9 yr olds
8 day Custom Itinerary- Rainforest, Volcano, Peace Lodge

Fantastic trip, really special. Copa airlines was great, the kids did well with a boot on one ankle and our youngest with crutches for the first part – all did ziplining and we didn’t really miss out on anything and we all had a blast. Jose Pablo = fabuloso, tuanis! ESO! What a guy and what a guide – really made the trip even better and worthwhile with his knowledge of all things Tico and genuine excitement for the local natural treasures. Copa airlines is great, and yes they do include the exit fee in their fares which was

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Jody, March 2016

Mom of 6 and 8 yr olds
10 day Volcano, Rainforest, Beach Itinerary with eco-Plus lodging

I had promised you some more feedback. Here are a few things I just wanted to point out. Hoping they are helpful to you.

Our guide, Jose, was fantastic! He was friendly, informative and especially great with the kids. He had a huge amount of energy and it really enhanced our entire experience. Our kids really missed him when he was gone.
We were really happy with each place we stayed at (Buena Vista, Playa Negra Guesthouse, Arenal Observatory). I would comment that La Quinta was not as good as the other places. And it wasn’t that it

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Jeneen, March 2016

Mom of 3 yr old
10 day Volcano, Cloud, Forest, Samara Beach with eco-Upgrade lodges

We had a fantastic trip! You do an amazing job with planning and information. I plan complex projects for a living so I’m pretty meticulous about vacation planning, and this whole experience was awesome. I can see why your family loves Costa Rica so much!

Aro Isis in Monteverde – apparently this time of year is “scorpion party season” as the hotel manager told me when we checked out. We found 3 in our room. A huge one on the curtain and then a couple ant sized ones in the towels. We just made sure to check things before using

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Michele, February- March 2016

Mom of 9 and 11 yr olds
23 day Custom Itinerary Tortuguero, Volcano, Cloud Forest, Uvita, Baru, Osa Peninsula, Samara Beach

We had an absolutely wonderful time in Costa Rica, many thanks to you! There are many highlights, and a great many photos, but here are some of the things I thought about mentioning to you as we went along.

Firstly, in terms of how you could improve your service, I have absolutely nothing but praise for you and all the amazing resources you provided. Your website was one of the most comprehensive I came across, and because of that, it kept me coming back. I know I said this before, but I can’t thank you enough for all the time

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Claire, February 2016

Mom of 4 and 6 yr olds
10 day Volcano, Cloud, Forest, Samara Beach with eco-Plus lodges

We had a lovely time in Costa Rica, thanks! You itinerary was precise and your activity suggestions were very helpful. José Pablo was very good at organizing the activities we were interested in, and proposing others that were in the area and might fit into the schedule. He was patient with our lateness, found suitable restaurants that might cater to the adult or kid preferences of the moment, and managed those LONG drives.

In terms of the itinerary and trip notes, my only suggestion is that it seemed to me in such highly touristed destinations as

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Melanie, July- August 2015

mom of 9 yr old
9 day Volcano, Rainforest, Beach itineary with Combo lodging
We did the volcano, rainforest, beach itinerary.
Our guide was Jose Pablo Ugalde, he was awesome! His father is also a guide so he’s been involved as a guide, naturalist, and driver since he was very young.
Day 1 – Jose picked us up at SJO and we headed to Arenal. Stopped at a soda on the way. We stayed at the Arenal Oasis lodge. Small cabins, but clean and homey. We had a fridge and microwave. The breakfasts were very good, and they put fruit out to get birds to come. We saw maybe 12-13
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Sonia, December 2014

Sonia, mom of 9 and 7 yr old
15 day Cloud Forest, Hacienda Baru, Osa, Manuel Antonio with Combo lodging

Dear Jenny and Jose [guide]

We want to thank you both for the most enjoyable two vacations we have ever taken.
In December (2013) we traveled with GFA from San Jose to Arenal, then to Sarapiqui, onward to Playa Negra and finally home via San Jose. The trip was 10 days in total and made such an impression on us that we came home and booked within our first month home a second trip for the following year.
Our second trip, this past December (2014), was longer and took us to the other side

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Juliane, July 2014

Juliane, mom of 6 yr old pictured with dad and guide at Monteverde Cloud Forest
10 day Volcano-Cloud Forest Custom Itinerary with eco-Plus lodging, July 2014

We had a fantastic trip! All the material you sent us before leaving was very useful! We were very well-prepared. There were no glitches in transport or hotels. Everything was smooth and easy.

Jose Pablo was one great guide! I cannot say enough about him. He was fantastic. Besides being a very knowledgeable naturalist, he was perfectly helpful for things we needed. He was a very safe and considerate driver (road sickness). He was super-fun, we all had a great time and our seven-year old bonded with him instantly!! He took us to the authentic, interesting

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Sarah, December 2013

Sarah, mom of 9 and 14 yr olds, pictured at Arenal Volcano
Tour done in reverse with eco-Plus lodging December 2013 - January 2014

“We had a wonderful time on our trip.  All of the accommodations you booked were great!

Here is a quick rundown of our experience. The heat in Cahuita was a bit of a shock, coming from North Carolina in the winter. However, we cooled down and really enjoyed our stay. The black beach took a little getting used to for my 14 year old daughter, but, in the end, she said that Cahuita was her favorite place. We took the chocolate tour that was offered by the Surf Carribean soda. It took us to BriBri, where we had a great

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Katerina, August 2013

Katerina, mom of 13 and 2 yr olds
9 day Volcano-Rainforest-Beach tour, Eco-Tico lodging, August 2013

“Our trip was truly a family adventure.

Despite visiting many places we were able to relax and enjoy our vacation. We were able to structure the days in accordance with our little daughter’s sleeping routine and yet we stayed pretty busy. Showing some pictures to people who recently visited Costa Rica I surprised them at how much we got to see during this short trip. We saw many wildlife species. We got to taste local food. At Alex’s place [Andrea Cristina B&B] it even felt as we lived like locals.

Separate thanks to Jose [guide]! He is a very

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Sue, March 2013

Sue, mom of 10, 8 and 6 yr old
14 day Cloud Forest, Volcano, Rainforest, Beach Itinerary, March 2013

“I wanted to thank you for your work in ensuring we were well taken care of, which we were.

I’m going to share some of my thoughts for whatever they are worth. Firstly, Jose Pablo was incredible. Gracious, kind, KNOWLEDGEABLE. Can’t praise him enough. He was punctual, respectful, helpful…the list goes on.


  • LOVED Arco Iris. We had our own cabin. White faced monkeys were in the tree outside the building that breakfast was in.
  • We all enjoyed the cheese factory.
  • The Bat tour- really good! The guy who runs the place is so passionate
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Kristin, January 2013

Kristin, mom of 6 and 9 yr olds
14 day Cloud Forest, Volcano, Rainforest, Beach Itinerary, January 2013

“We had a wonderful time and the tour exceeded our expectations

Thank You! Jose Pablo [guide] was just fantastic! He’s like an extended family member now! We used him for airport transportation also as did my parents…..he was so reliable and knowledgeable.

We saw so much wildlife that we never could have without Jose….he has a spotting scope which was awesome. The sun shone for us in Arenal so the views were spectacular….a definite highlight was the school visit in Sarapiqui…my girls had a ball meeting the kids and played with them for over an hour….

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Christy, December 2012

Christy, mom of 3 boys ages 10, 8, 7
6 day Custom Itinerary Rainforest and Volcano with drop off at Liberia car rental, December 2012

Jose was fabulous, and we were so thankful to have him as our guide.

We learned so much from him, and he prevented many family squabbles!

I also appreciate everything you have done. You made the planning part very easy – thank you.

Rachel, 2012

Rachel, mom of 3 (5 & 3 yrs, 6 months)
10 day Volcano, Rainforest, Beach tour with a combo of Eco-Basic & Eco-Plus lodges

“Thank you for planning the best vacation ever!

We had an amazing time: the places were breathtaking, the people were kind, everything was perfect! We enjoyed everywhere we stayed- each had their own charms. […] I think we enjoyed the hikes through the jungle the most. The hanging bridges were just indescribable. We loved the volcano, hopefully when we go back (we MUST go back!) it will be active again. The food was muy delicioso! The breakfast at Andrea Christina was among my favorites, just something about sitting outside in that garden eating fresh fruit and eggs with homemade bread-

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