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 of the Costa Rica: San Jose, Monteverde, Dominical, Drake Bay/Osa Peninsula, Manuel Antonio and finally San Jose.
Our itinerary in 2013 was exciting and full of sloths, Howler Monkeys (in Sarapiqui they woke us every morning being on the other side of the river), a chocolate plantation (ChocArt), gorgeous black beaches at Playa Negra Guesthouse. Our son even learned how to swim in the pool at the Guesthouse. I could go on about all of the adventures but that might takes days as our friends can attest who listened to our raving about Costa Rica.
This past December (2014) we took 14 days and began where our last adventure left off: Hotel Buena Vista outside of San Jose when Jose (our most amazing guide and honorary member of our family now) picked us up. He had been with us the previous trip and the kids were so excited when we told them Jose would be joining us again. He is a truly wonderful man and guide and the kids learned so very much from him.
Monteverde was gorgeous and so very different from what we had encountered the previous trip. We had no idea how amazing a cloud forest was. We even saw a quetzal on our hike…amazing for an aspiring family of birders 🙂
After a few chillier than expected days at Monteverde we traveled on to Domincal. On the way down there we saw Scarlet Macaws along the road that were so majestic I still dream about them. Dominical was exciting with more birds, bats and hermit crabs. The highlight of the trip, if I have to label one, was the trip from Sierpe to Drake Bay/Osa Peninsula. Both of the kids (who are so very different in temperament) recalled the 4 days in Drake/Osa as their favourite. We saw scorpions, anteaters, more macaws and toucans and experienced the mangroves … among so many other things.
We spent two nights on the way back home in Manuel Antonio. Of all of the towns we visited, this was not our favourite. It’s not bad but I think we had been spoiled by Drake Bay and Osa.
Sitting here a month after having returned, I can say that we would like to continue our discovery of Costa Rica next December yet again. This country and its people are amazing and we are so lucky to have found GFA and Jose to show us this bit of heaven on earth.
Warmest wishes,
The ILLNER Family