Costa Rica Natural ParadiseTravel Tips & FAQs

This tour has 100 Travel Tips.
Back to tour page.

Caret DownCaret Up RedActivities

Activities

Caret DownCaret Up RedAnnouncements of Planned Activity

Announcements of Planned Activity

The schedule of most activities is indicated in the Day by Day itinerary. Caravan does not post bulletins with this information in hotel lobbies, as Caravan feels that such bulletins are not in keeping with Caravan standards nor with your right to be treated as an individual guest at the hotels.

Caret DownCaret Up RedItinerary Routings and Timings

Itinerary Routings and Timings

Caravan itineraries are carefully constructed to show you as much as possible at a pace that you will find comfortable. Your Caravan Tour Director has been instructed to follow these departure times and routings exactly, and may deviate from them only in cases of extremely bad weather, extraordinary traffic conditions or other exceptional circumstances.

Caret DownCaret Up RedOptions

Options

Caravan does not recommend or endorse any options that are not already included in your tour price. Please be advised that any additional options you purchase, you do so at your own risk, and they may not be covered by travel insurance.

Caret DownCaret Up RedShopping

Shopping

Caravan believes shopping can be a vacation highlight. It is against Caravan policy to shop-steer (bring the group to a shop in return for a payment). With Caravan, you do not waste time in high priced tourist traps and you have ample time to shop plus the freedom to choose when and where to shop. We suggest you obtain a contact number and e-mail address from the vendor in case you have any questions about your purchases. When mailing purchases, please be sure to insure the packages, and obtain clearly written receipts from the places of purchase. Caravan does not endorse or recommend any shops. Even if Caravan passengers may have repeatedly done business over the years with specific shops, those shops cannot represent themselves as being endorsed by Caravan.

Caret DownCaret Up RedSightseeing Changes

Sightseeing Changes

Occasionally, holidays, etc., may require a change in the sequence of your sightseeing in a given city. Your Tour Director will advise you in advance if any change is necessary.

Caret DownCaret Up RedVolcanic Hot Springs

Volcanic Hot Springs

The volcanic hot springs has 9 thermal pools. Each pool has a different temperature and is located in a beautiful setting next to the volcano with many tropical plants and flowers. The top 4 pools have spectacular views of Arenal Volcano. The hot springs have been recently remodeled, and now have more exotic foliage, more pools, and a spa with massage services and volcanic mud facials. The hot springs are located ten minutes driving distance from your resort. The admission charge is included in your Caravan tour.

Caret DownCaret Up RedManuel Antonio National Park Beach

Manuel Antonio National Park Beach

You will have approximately two and 1/2 hours to visit Manuel Antonio Beach. There are 3 crescent shaped beaches along a path within the park, and you will have a chance to walk to all 3 beaches if you wish.

Caret DownCaret Up RedRainforest Aerial Tram Ride

Rainforest Aerial Tram Ride

The aerial trams last 90 minutes and are approximately 2 kilometers long. The cost for the aerial tram are included in your Caravan tour.

Caret DownCaret Up RedBoat Rides

Boat Rides

All of the boat rides last from 1 to 2 hours. The boat rides will make photo stops, but do not make any stops where you get on and off the boat.

Caret DownCaret Up RedBoat Details

Boat Details

The pontoon boat used in Cano Negro is privately chartered by Caravan and allows ample room for moving around for the many photo opportunities. All boats used by Caravan have life preservers for each passenger. The cost for the boat trips is included in your Caravan tour.

Caret DownCaret Up RedActivities in Costa Rica if Arriving a Day Early or Staying a Day Longer

Activities in Costa Rica if Arriving a Day Early or Staying a Day Longer

Some clients participate in rafting tours or zip-line canopy tours. Caravan feels that these activities sometimes can be risky and dangerous. Others sign up for tours of Lankaster Gardens to see flowers, or horseback riding trips. There are travel desks at the hotels and numerous travel agents in San Jose, Fortuna who can arrange activities for you if you wish.

Caret DownCaret Up RedZip-Lining in Costa Rica

Zip-Lining in Costa Rica

Caravan does not endorse it as there have been injuries and fatalities, even though rare. However, the travel desk at your hotel or a local Costa Rica travel agent can arrange it. Please bear in mind that travel medical insurance (such as Caravan's Travel Protection Plan) often does not cover any injuries sustained in these kinds of activities and the zip-line companies will ask you to sign a waiver accepting responsibility.

Caret DownCaret Up RedGolf in Costa Rica

Golf in Costa Rica

In San Jose, several golf courses are available by taxi from your hotel. In Guanacaste, the Hacienda Pinila Golf Course is available by hotel shuttle from the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort.

Caret DownCaret Up RedFishing in Costa Rica

Fishing in Costa Rica

You can charter a deep sea fishing boat while you are staying on the Pacific Ocean. Quepos, has world class deep sea fishing. Chartered deep sea fishing boats are available for prices from $500 to $1,000 or more a day. If you decide to go fishing, please wear your life jackets at all times.

Caret DownCaret Up RedAirport, Arrival and Departure

Airport, Arrival and Departure

Caret DownCaret Up RedAirport Security Checks

Airport Security Checks

Security at airports these days can be time consuming. Please make sure to arrive at least 2 hours early to allow time for security checks.

Caret DownCaret Up RedArrival Hotels

Arrival Hotels

Hotel rooms sometimes may not be available for immediate occupancy upon arrival at the beginning of the tour. The usual check-in time for Costa Rica hotels is 4:00 p.m., although rooms are often available earlier. If your room is not available upon arrival, you may wish to leave your luggage with the hotel’s bell captain until your room becomes available.

Caret DownCaret Up RedCosta Rica Immigration

Costa Rica Immigration

After exiting your plane, you will first arrive at the immigration desk, and present your passport and a Costa Rica immigration form. (This form is provided to you by your airplane. On the form, you will write your name, passport number, nationality, occupation, and the motive for your visit - tourism or business.) After you are approved in the immigration computer, you take the escalator or elevator downstairs to the baggage claim area.

Caret DownCaret Up RedSan Jose, Costa Rica Baggage Claim

San Jose, Costa Rica Baggage Claim

When you arrive at the baggage claim area, you will find free luggage carts and clean restrooms. You can pick up a free map here at the Tourist Information booth.

Caret DownCaret Up RedCosta Rica Customs

Costa Rica Customs

After you pick up your suitcase at baggage claim, you must stop at the customs table and put your suitcase on a conveyor belt through the scanning machine. This takes about ten seconds. Then the customs agent will signal you to exit the customs area.

Caret DownCaret Up RedCaravan Greeter at San Jose International Airport

Caravan Greeter at San Jose International Airport

When you exit the customs area, you will see the Caravan airport greeter waiting for you with a large Caravan sign. Your greeter will escort you to your private airport shuttle bus. Your shuttle bus ride to your hotel takes approximately 30 to 40 minutes.

Caret DownCaret Up RedCaravan Greeter for Domestic Flights in San Jose

Caravan Greeter for Domestic Flights in San Jose

The airport greeter is stationed at the San Jose international airport terminal only, and can only meet flights at the San Jose international airport terminal. He cannot meet local flights at domestic terminals or at charter hangers. He can only meet international flights on regularly scheduled airlines. If you are taking a local domestic flight with Sansa airlines, or are arriving by private charter plane to a private hanger, please walk approximately one block to the international terminal arrivals area (ground level) to take your airport shuttle. If you are taking a local domestic flight with NatureAir aircraft into Pavas domestic airport, the Pavas airport is very close to your hotel, so it would be quicker for you to take a taxi directly to your hotel.

Caret DownCaret Up RedAirport Transfer when Arriving a Day Early

Airport Transfer when Arriving a Day Early

If you arrive a day early, there will not be an airport greeter, so in that case please pay for your taxi at the taxi booth inside the airport, just before the exit. This taxi booth sells taxi fares at a fixed rate for the official airport taxis. The official airport taxis are usually in better condition than the other taxis outside the airport, which are known as piratas, or "pirate taxis." The official taxi rate is currently $35 for 1 or 2 passengers traveling from the international airport to San Jose hotels. Caravan does not reimburse taxi fares for passengers arriving or departing on different days.

Caret DownCaret Up RedCosta Rica Airport Exit Tax

Costa Rica Airport Exit Tax

The Airport Exit tax is included in most air tickets. Please check with your airline to see if it is included. If it is not included, then this is payable when you depart Costa Rica by air but can be paid for in advance. As you exit the airport, you also notice a booth that sells an exit tax form. This form is required for travelers flying out of Costa Rica on an international flight. The cost is $29 for most foreign visitors, and $42 for Costa Ricans. However, you do not need to buy this exit tax form if you will be departing from Costa Rica in a bus or car. If you plan to fly out of Costa Rica, it is a good idea to buy this exit tax form now, before you exit the airport. It will spare you from waiting in an extra line to buy it when you fly out of the country.

Caret DownCaret Up RedAirport Porter Tips

Airport Porter Tips

If an airport porter assists you with your suitcases, please tip the airport porter $2 per person or more in the United States, and $1 per person or more in Costa Rica, depending on the amount of your luggage.

Caret DownCaret Up RedCaravan Does Not Arrange Airline Transportation

Caravan Does Not Arrange Airline Transportation

Airfare is not included or sold by Caravan Tours. The following is a list of airlines that service this tour: American, Delta, Iberia, JetBlue, Lacsa, Martinair, Southwest, Taca, United, and USAir. Reserve your flight to San Jose, Costa Rica (airport code SJO), and not San Jose, California (airport code SJC). Try to schedule flights with as few connections as possible. If you have connecting flights, please allow enough time between flights so you can comfortably reach your connecting gates.

Caret DownCaret Up RedArrival Transfers

Arrival Transfers

Caravan's vacation packages include complimentary arrival transfers from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José, Costa Rica to your hotel in San José on the day the tour begins. These transfers are only available on the day the tour begins. Please see Costa Rica FAQ’s “Airport Information” for more detailed information for all incoming passengers. Tour members arriving on earlier days will need to arrange transfers on their own. After you clear customs, Caravan’s representative will meet you at the taxi stand, about 20 feet from the international terminal, with a “Caravan” sign. You may have to wait a couple minutes as your representative might be transferring another client. Please be sure to call the Caravan office before your flight to make sure that we have received your correct flight information. The airport representative is available to meet all flights with Caravan passengers, but will only meet your flight if we have received your flight information and are expecting you on that flight. If you miss your flight please call the Caravan office at 800-227-2826 or 312-321-9800 to notify us. Driving time to your hotel can run from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on traffic. If you take a taxi, use “Taxis Unidos Aeropuerto,” the official taxi service, and expect to pay $25.00 U.S. Dollars per taxi, plus tip. To enter Costa Rica, you will need a U.S. passport valid for 6 additional months after the date of your arrival into Costa Rica. A 3 month tourist visa is automatically issued to U.S. citizens after clearing Costa Rica customs. Non U.S. citizens, please check passport and visa requirements. Note: It is recommended that children under 18 years old traveling internationally without both parents or legal guardians, carry a notarized letter of authorization signed by the missing parent(s) or guardian(s). A notarized birth certificate showing only one parent, a parent’s death certificate, or a court order of child custody may also be permissible. Failure to have proper documentation could result in denial of boarding by the airline, due to international child protection laws.

Caret DownCaret Up RedDeparture Transfers

Departure Transfers

Caravan's vacation packages include complimentary departure transfers from your hotel in San José to the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José, Costa Rica on the day the tour ends, scheduled to arrive at the airport at 5:00 a.m, 7:00 a.m, 9:00 a.m., and 11:30 a.m. These transfers are only available on the day the tour ends. If you wish to extend your stay in Costa Rica, you will need to transfer on your own, at your own expense. Please ask the hotel bellman to arrange a taxi. Expect to pay $25.00 U.S. Dollars per taxi, plus tip. The driving time from the hotel to the airport is approximately 30-60 minutes, depending on traffic. Please advise the Tour Director if you will be taking your own taxi separately.

Caret DownCaret Up RedClothing, Luggage and Packing

Clothing, Luggage and Packing

Caret DownCaret Up RedBinoculars

Binoculars

It is recommended that you bring a pair of binoculars for bird watching and animal viewing on all visits to Costa Rica’s parks and reserves.

Caret DownCaret Up RedClothing

Clothing

In Costa Rica, the dress code is very casual. A coat and tie is not required for any activities on tour. Dress for dinner is “smart casual”. Caravan suggests clothing for warm and hot weather: 2 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of shorts, 3 changes of shirts, a rain poncho, a swimsuit, and a sweater or jacket for the air conditioned bus. Quick dry clothing (especially a pair of convertible pants that zip at the knee to convert into shorts) is recommended for your visit to the rainforest. All of the hotels offer laundry services for a fee. If you prefer to do your own laundry, there are self-service laundromats in Fortuna. Other must haves are a small flashlight, bug spray, tissue and sanitary paper products, sun screen, and a reliable travel alarm. When traveling in Latin America, you might also want to pack a washcloth. A few large “baggies’ are always useful for keeping clothes, books and camera free from damp in humid conditions. Some passengers take along something to do during the longer bus rides, especially those traveling with children.

Caret DownCaret Up RedComfortable Shoes

Comfortable Shoes

The best friend you can have while sightseeing is a comfortable, sturdy pair of walking shoes. Caravan recommends footwear that has a bit of a tread and will not slip on wet surfaces. Walking shoes, sneakers or active sandals are all acceptable. If you wish to join in any of the hikes, please be sure that the soles of your shoes have good traction. Delicate sandals or high heeled shoes are not appropriate for walking in Costa Rica streets.

Caret DownCaret Up RedFlashlight

Flashlight

We suggest you bring a good flashlight and keep it by your bedside at night.

Caret DownCaret Up RedLuggage

Luggage

As noted on the General Information page of the Caravan brochure, all handling of one piece of luggage is included in your tour cost. Due to space limitations and for your own convenience, it is suggested that you bring only one piece of luggage. Most airlines limit suitcases to 60 linear inches (width plus depth plus length) and 50 pounds in weight. A second piece may be stored under the coach, but an additional $30 per piece service charge will be collected by your Tour Director to cover the handling of this extra baggage. A day bag (i.e. a backpack, camera bag or tote bag) may be personally carried on board the motorcoach in addition to a purse or handbag. Each tour member is personally responsible for handling his or her individual carry-on bag at all times. Please do not ask your tour director to lift your carry-on bags for you. If a tour member cannot personally handle his or her carry-on bag without assistance, it will be checked and the additional luggage fee will be charged. For the comfort and safety of all tour members, wheeled bags are generally not acceptable as carry-on luggage, and must be checked and counted as additional luggage. Unlike an airplane, the motorcoach does not have sufficient room to store this type of luggage in the passenger area.

Caret DownCaret Up RedLuggage Tags

Luggage Tags

Please attach your Caravan Luggage Tag to your main piece of luggage prior to leaving home for the airport. This will assist the Caravan Airport Representative in identifying you as a Caravan client as you exit Customs at the airport. Please be sure to place the Caravan Luggage Tag on only your main luggage, which will be stored in the baggage compartment of the motor coach. Please do not place the tag on your carryon luggage.

Caret DownCaret Up RedCommunications

Communications

Caret DownCaret Up RedCell Phone Use

Cell Phone Use

Out of courtesy to your fellow tour members, please restrict cell phone conversations to emergency use only when you are on the motorcoach. Please also remember to turn off ringers; cell phone conversations and ringers are intrusive and can spoil other passengers' enjoyment of the tour. Outside the USA, using your USA-based cell phone can often result in very high roaming charges for voice and data. Some companies will allow you to add a temporary international data and/or voice plan to cover calls made from abroad. Please contact your service provider for information regarding cell phone reception areas, calling costs and surcharges. To reduce your data usage while out of the country you may also take the following precautions; power down your mobile phone entirely and change the settings on your phone so data is not automatically updated.

Caret DownCaret Up RedContacting You While on Tour

Contacting You While on Tour

Caravan does not recommend having mail sent to you on tour as delivery is unreliable and mail often fails to arrive. Caravan has sent you a hotel address list which includes the hotel telephone number for your friends and family. In addition, all hotels have internet access for a fee. In an emergency, if a caller cannot reach a Caravan guest at a hotel, please contact Caravan directly at 1-800-227-2826. If the office is closed, you will have an opportunity to speak with an emergency operator who can connect you with a Caravan staff member on duty. Caravan will do its best to assist in relaying an emergency message. We also ask callers to continue to try to reach their traveler independently.

Caret DownCaret Up RedInternet Access

Internet Access

Internet service is available for a fee at your hotels in San Jose and Guanacaste and Quepos. In Fortuna, internet service is not reliably available at your hotel but is available at internet cafes in town.

Caret DownCaret Up RedMailing Cards or Letters

Mailing Cards or Letters

When sending letters or postcards, the most reliable method is to mail the item yourself. If you would like the hotel to assist you, we suggest that you purchase the postage from the front desk and affix it to the mail yourself. All hotels either have boxes where mail can be deposited or you can give your stamped mail to the front desk and they will include it in their outgoing mail.

Caret DownCaret Up RedPhone Calls

Phone Calls

Please note that the cost of your phone calls can jump considerably for calls placed from your hotel—whether dialed direct or placed through the hotel operator—if you have the charges billed to your room. The most economical way to make calls is to use a prepaid calling card (if you purchase a prepaid calling card outside of Costa Rica, be sure to obtain the correct access codes). Your mobile phone provider may also have short term international plans. Please check with your individual provider for costs and signal coverage.

Caret DownCaret Up RedFood and Beverages

Food and Beverages

Caret DownCaret Up RedAlcohol Purchase: Religious Holidays

Alcohol Purchase: Religious Holidays

Please note that the sale of alcohol may be restricted in most bars and restaurants over the Easter period and other religious holidays.

Caret DownCaret Up RedMeals

Meals

Meals included in the land price are indicated at the beginning of each day by B (Breakfast), L (Lunch), D (Dinner). All meals in Costa Rica are included, beginning with dinner on the first day of your tour and ending with breakfast on the last day. Most meals are served buffet style.

Caret DownCaret Up RedSpecial Diets

Special Diets

While Caravan will make every effort to communicate specific dietary requests to the hotels and restaurants on tour, we cannot guarantee these requests will be honored. Most of the meals provided in Latin America are buffet style, which we have found allows for maximum flexibility for our tour members. Your Caravan Tour Director will be happy to talk with the various kitchens to determine how (and with what ingredients) dishes have been cooked, but please keep in mind that variety may be limited, especially in remote areas, including for vegetarian requests. For tour members concerned about cross-contamination for vegetarian, Kosher or gluten free diets or for passengers with food allergies or sensitivities, Caravan cannot guarantee food will be prepared free from certain ingredients (i.e. nuts, animal fats, wheat, dairy etc.). For most destinations, meals typical to the region will be served. Included meals are usually local or continental and are never Indian or other specialty Asian cuisine. In certain countries and regions it may be difficult to find Indian or vegetarian meals.

Caret DownCaret Up RedWater

Water

The best way to enjoy your flight and your vacation is to drink lots of water! At sea level, the human body loses about two quarts of water a day through air expired from one’s lungs and through the skin. At flight levels and higher mountain elevations, this loss can be up to 100% greater. This water has to be replaced. Therefore, to avoid dehydration and its symptoms, do as experienced flight crews do: drink lots of plain bottled water. Simple, and effective. Tap water is safe to drink in most, but not all, of Costa Rica. Most people consider the hotel tap water safe for brushing your teeth and drinking beverages with ice cubes. For larger quantities of water, and in rural areas, bottled water is recommended instead of tap water. Caravan provides purified water at all meals in Costa Rica, and free bottled water on the motorcoach.

Caret DownCaret Up RedGeneral Travel

General Travel

Caret DownCaret Up RedWelcome to your Caravan Adventure!

Welcome to your Caravan Adventure!

We hope you find this information useful in planning your adventure. It can be helpful to be prepared in advance for some differences in the travel experience outside of the United States. You may find, especially in smaller communities, that plumbing, heating, ventilation, utility and telecommunication infrastructures are not as reliable as we have come to expect back home. This can mean hot water is not always available or that air conditioning may not work as efficiently as we would like. Our vendors are continually working to upgrade facilities but they themselves are often limited by local conservation initiatives and the existing public infrastructure. You may also see a difference in attitudes toward maintenance of public and private spaces. Please be alert to your surroundings. You may find that sidewalk potholes are not filled in or roped off, or that slippery surfaces have no warnings posted. Beaches and hotel pools are rarely patrolled by lifeguards, so please exercise caution and personally supervise your children. Differences in climate and land use often translate to different staple foods and flavors. Even familiar foods may taste different as a result of varied farming and grazing practices. Please be cautious around any animals and birds, domestic or exotic. They have become accustomed to human company but may still bite or scratch if approached. It is also not unusual to have insects or lizards visit your room, especially in park or beach areas. If you have any concerns, please let us know. We want your vacation to be a memorable adventure in the best possible way!

Caret DownCaret Up RedChildren on Tour

Children on Tour

Children age 5 and over are welcome on tour when accompanied by an adult. Usually, children travel during the school vacation months of June, July and August, and also during spring and winter school breaks.

Caret DownCaret Up RedDrivers License

Drivers License

You can drive with your normal driver's license in Costa Rica for 3 months after your entry into Costa Rica. There is no such thing as an international driver's license, although there is an international driving permit which you can buy for $10 at an American Automobile Association office. These permits are valid for one year after date of issue, and are valid only when accompanied by a valid driver's license. It is not necessary to buy an international driving permit for a visit of under 3 months to Costa Rica.

Caret DownCaret Up RedElectricity

Electricity

Electricity in Costa Rica Is 110 volts, the same as in the United States.

Caret DownCaret Up RedElevations on Tour

Elevations on Tour

Poas Volcano at 8800 feet on the second day of your tour is the highest elevation. San Jose is at 4,000 feet elevation. The town of Fortuna, by Arenal Volcano, is at 200 feet elevation. Quepos, Manuel Antonio and Guanacaste are at sea level.

Caret DownCaret Up RedFor Your Security

For Your Security

A practical suggestion before you leave home: make a list of all your credit cards, passport and airline ticket numbers. Make two photocopies: take one with you and carry it separate from your luggage for your reference in case these items should get lost or stolen while traveling. Leave the second copy with a family member or friend at home—in case of emergency or if you should lose both the copy and the items noted.

Caret DownCaret Up RedLanguage Spoken in Costa Rica

Language Spoken in Costa Rica

Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica. English is taught as a second language in Costa Rican schools. Your Caravan Tour Director, local guides and most hotel receptionists are bi-lingual, speaking both English and Spanish.

Caret DownCaret Up RedLost and Left Behind Items

Lost and Left Behind Items

Before leaving any hotel or motorcoach, please check that you have not left any personal belongings behind. Hotels and motor coach companies have a very high lost & found volume and items are often discarded quite quickly. If located, international customs and shipping charges often exceed $100 for even a small item. If your item is found, please allow several days before the item is prepared for shipping. Lost cash is not covered by most insurance plans and many insurance plans cap coverage for expensive items such as jewelry and electronics. Most travel insurance plans offer secondary coverage, directing travelers first to claim on homeowners or renters insurance policies.

Caret DownCaret Up RedNo Smoking

No Smoking

Smoking is not allowed while on motor coaches. On days where motorcoach travel is involved, frequent stops are made affording time for smoking outside of the coaches. By law, smoking has been banned in many establishments (bars, restaurants, public parks etc.) in Costa Rica. Please note that any damage done to property must be paid for before departure from the hotel. This includes a cleaning fee for smoking In a no smoking room. Such charges can amount to several hundred dollars as hotels cannot offer the room for several days after smoke exposure. Caravan does not cover such charges. Damage discovered after departure will be charged by the hotel.

Caret DownCaret Up RedProvinces Visited on Tour

Provinces Visited on Tour

We visit five of the seven provinces in Costa Rica on the tour: San Jose province, Alajuela province, Heredia province, Guanacaste province and Puntarenas province.

Caret DownCaret Up RedRecording Devices

Recording Devices

Should you plan to use a tape recorder, video recorder, camcorder, cell phone or other recording device while on tour, please be sure to ask the permission of any guides or your Tour Director before recording. You may find that some guides object to having their comments recorded, or they may be guiding you through a place which forbids recorders to be used. So, please, always ask first.

Caret DownCaret Up RedSecurity

Security

As in many major tourist cities around the world, there are professional pickpockets and robbers in San Jose; so please be very careful when walking in the city. If you walk outside your hotel, do not carry a purse or camera and do not wear jewelry. If you carry a wallet, please watch your wallet carefully. If you wish to explore the city center of San Jose, please be careful crossing the street as cars often do not stop at red lights and there are very steep gutters. Please also watch the sidewalks carefully, as there are often large holes in the sidewalk, and missing manhole covers. Caravan recommends against using the public buses. When traveling by taxi, only travel with the official taxis that work with your hotel or any other hotel that you may be visiting. Please use extreme caution if you walk in San Jose after dark. At any time of day you should not walk in a small area of downtown San Jose called the Zona Rona (red light district). When traveling away from home, it is always a good idea to leave your valuables at home, do not bring expensive jewelry or watches with you. On smaller roads and tour routes off the beaten path, your tour group may be accompanied by government provided security in response to isolated incidents over the years.

Caret DownCaret Up RedSurvey Forms

Survey Forms

We ask your kind cooperation in completing the survey forms which will be mailed to you at the end of your tour, as the information gleaned from these has been most helpful in maintaining the quality of our offerings to the traveling public. If, for some reason you misplace your form or do not receive one, please write or call us and we will be happy to send a survey form to you. Write us at: Caravan Tours, Inc. 401 North Michigan Avenue Chicago, IL 60611 or call Caravan at 1-800-CARAVAN (1-800-227-2826)

Caret DownCaret Up RedTime Zone

Time Zone

Costa Rica observes Central Standard Time all year round. Because Costa Rica does not observe Daylight Savings Time, in the winter it shares the same time as cities in the Central Time Zone such as Chicago, Houston and Winnipeg. In the summer, Costa Rica time is one hour earlier than Central Time Zone areas which observe Daylight Savings Time.

Caret DownCaret Up RedAdvice on Purchasing Timeshares and Real Estate

Advice on Purchasing Timeshares and Real Estate

We strongly caution against purchasing real estate or timeshares during your vacation with us. Instead, we suggest you use the experience for the purposes of orientation and information gathering. If you are interested in such a purchase, we suggest you return for at least one more visit and seek the guidance of a lawyer.

Caret DownCaret Up RedTipping Suggestions

Tipping Suggestions

Tips to hotel porters, restaurant waiters for included meals and local guides are included in the tour price. Tips to the Tour Director, driver and hotel maids are not included. We do not include these tips in the price of the tour as we realize, in an unsupervised work environment, tips provide a strong incentive for exceptional service. Many tour members have requested guidelines, so in response to their requests, we offer the following suggestions: Most tour members compute these tips by allowing a certain amount per day based on the service they have received. If you feel that service has been superior, you may wish to leave an appropriately more generous tip. US $5 to US $8 per traveler per day for the Tour Director US $3 to US $5 per traveler per day for the Driver These tips should be handed directly to the Tour Director and Driver on an individual basis. As tips are a personal matter, we request that no group collections be made. Personal checks are difficult for Tour Directors and Drivers to deposit - cash is best! Tips to water craft personnel, local guides, waiters, porters and bellmen are also included in the tour price. Tips to airport porters on flights not arranged by Caravan are at your own discretion.

Caret DownCaret Up RedTravel Companions—Addresses

Travel Companions—Addresses

Caravan has included a name and address section in this itinerary so that you may record the names of the new friends that you make among your travel companions. Caravan distributes a list of passengers names. Due to respect for personal privacy. Caravan does not distribute a list of passenger addresses nor list the cities and states in which they reside.

Caret DownCaret Up RedWeather

Weather

Temperatures in all seasons may range from evening lows of 45 to 60 degrees to daytime highs of 70 to 85 degrees, depending on elevation and precipitation. Generally it is cooler in San José and mountain areas, and warmer in coastal areas.

Caret DownCaret Up RedCar Rental in Costa Rica

Car Rental in Costa Rica

You can rent a car from car rental agencies in San Jose or Fortuna. The roads in Costa Rica are very difficult to maneuver if you don't know exactly where you are going. There are no signs on many of the roads, and you have no idea where to turn. Also, the roads are very narrow, and the car accident fatality rate is the worst in the entire world. The accident rate is especially high in the San Jose area. You cannot safely leave your suitcases, or anything at all, unattended inside your locked car trunk, not even for one minute. In at least two recent occasions, Costa Rica police have discovered a ring of car thieves who open locked car trunks, and the thieves possessed keys to all makes and models of rental cars. If you decide to drive, please be forewarned that the car rental companies in Costa Rica have different rules than the U.S. First, you must purchase mandatory liability insurance for at least $15 a day, which is not included in most car rental price quotes. Second, you will be charged for any scratch or dent to your car, even if the scratch is caused by normal road conditions. Third, you will be charged for any mechanical problem with the car, such as a problem with your engine or clutch, that arises during your car rental. Fourth, the car rental agency optional "comprehensive" insurance does not cover the first $2,500 of losses if the car is totaled or stolen.

Caret DownCaret Up RedHealth and Medical

Health and Medical

Caret DownCaret Up RedTravel Protection Plan

Travel Protection Plan

Purchasing travel insurance can save you tens of thousand of dollars should the unexpected happen. Please keep in mind that most medical travel policies, including Caravan’s Travel Protection Plan, offer secondary medical coverage. In other words, the insurance will reimburse you for costs not covered by your primary medical insurance policy. In most cases, this does mean you will have to pay the hospital or doctor directly for your medical treatment and submit your claim for reimbursement on your return. Coverage for injuries or illness on tour generally requires a doctor visit while on tour as well. If you elect not to purchase a travel insurance plan (either from Caravan or an independent policy), please verify your existing medical coverage as many policies (including Medicare) do not include coverage for treatment outside the USA.  If you need to cancel all or part of your reservation, please call Caravan (or your Travel Agent) as soon as possible at 800-227-2826 or 312-321-9800 outside the US & Canada. You must cancel any flight arrangements directly with your airline (or Travel Agent). Any additional travel arrangements must also be cancelled with the providers directly. Any claim under Caravan’s Travel Protection Plan for flight costs should be directed to the insurance company, RoamRight at 866-892-2382 or (outside the US & Canada) 201-537-9871. For more information please see: www.caravan.com/page/terms-of-travel A Description of Coverage which fully details the coverages, provisions, reductions, limitations, exclusions, and termination provisions is available at: www.roamright.com/plans/caravan

Caret DownCaret Up RedFitness to Travel

Fitness to Travel

Caravan can make no determination of your physical, mental or emotional fitness to travel nor guarantee your successful ability to manage a tour. If in doubt please consult your Doctor. While every tour is different in landscape and activities, all tours include some walking every day. All tours include travel by motorcoach, participants should expect to climb on and off the motorcoach several times a day. The average temperature, humidity level and altitude should also be taken into account when considering whether a Caravan Tour is right for you.

Caret DownCaret Up RedFitness to Travel - Able Bodied Companion

Fitness to Travel - Able Bodied Companion

If you need assistance with any personal care; including walking or wheelchair pushing, you must bring a companion to assist you. Caravan’s driver, tour directors and tour members cannot offer this assistance. Caravan’s tour directors must take care of a large group of other tour members and cannot offer any special supervision or monitoring of clients. Companions to travelers with cognitive difficulties should keep in mind that multi-day itineraries with rapidly changing environments can increase anxiety and distress. We recommend you review the itinerary with a doctor prior to travel.

Caret DownCaret Up RedHandrails & Walkways

Handrails & Walkways

Caravan has worked closely with the various visitor centers, nature trails and boat dock owners to ensure the installation of handrails. Please take advantage of these handrails to help maintain balance or navigate wet and slippery pathways. Many hotels and resorts have natural walkways running throughout their grounds. These walkways are not always evenly paved or a level surface, please exercise caution when walking on these paths. Please exercise extra caution in pool areas where surfaces are slippery.

Caret DownCaret Up RedMedical Matters

Medical Matters

Another “before you leave” reminder: If you regularly take medicine, be sure that you bring along an adequate supply to last the whole trip. Please keep a second supply of essential medication in your carry-on bag or in your purse as insurance if your baggage is misplaced or delayed. If you wear glasses, a second pair, or a prescription from your eye doctor, is recommended for emergencies. If you use needles or other sharp disposable instruments, please be sure to bring along a sharps disposal container. If you do not have one, please ask your tour director if your hotel can supply one. Please do exercise special care when disposing of these items. Smaller items such as blood lancets can easily be lost and can injure housekeeping staff. All travelers, especially those with blood sugar related conditions, may wish to take along a small supply of snacks. Very occasionally the tour might experience a delay, causing the next mealtime to be delayed. Please be sure to let your Tour Director know if you have any medical condition that may require special attention. The information you give your Tour Director will be treated confidentially. A mandatory Yellow Fever vaccination may be required if you have recently visited an affected country. Please call your airline or the consulate in question if in doubt. At the time of printing, the USA and Canada are not on any affected list. Caravan does not have any doctors on staff and cannot give medical advice, so please consult your doctor at your earliest opportunity if you have any concerns. An unexpected hospital stay or emergency evacuation can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Please verify your medical coverage before leaving home, because many health insurance policies (including Medicare) do not cover policy holders for treatment outside the USA. Non-USA residents may also find they have no medical coverage when touring in the USA.   Short term travel medical coverage policies can be purchased from a number of sources prior to departure, including Caravan. (See Caravan’s $99 Travel Protection Plan). Most forms of travel insurance offer secondary coverage, meaning you pay the provider directly and seek reimbursement on your return home. Some travel insurance plans have exclusions on pre-existing conditions. Some plans restrict cancellation coverage to specified medical conditions. And some charge more based on age or destination. Read your description of coverage carefully!

Caret DownCaret Up RedMedical Matters - Staying Healthy on Tour

Medical Matters - Staying Healthy on Tour

Please remember that not all travel illnesses are transmitted through food and water. There are various highly contagious strains of “stomach flu” that are easily transmitted by person-to-person contact. The viruses and bacteria can survive on a hard surface for several days and once an outbreak is underway, it is very difficult to extinguish. Health authorities are agreed that the best way to avoid getting sick is to pay close attention to hand washing. Frequent cleansing, beyond one’s usual regimen, can help minimize exposure to sickness that might otherwise spoil your tour. Please take along a good supply of moist towelettes and/or hand sanitizer for times when soap-and-water hand-washing facilities are not available. Some travelers have found products such as Immodium or Peaceful Mountain’s Stomach Rescue to be very helpful for stomach problems. Caravan makes every effort to minimize the possibility of tour members becoming sick during their tour, but we cannot offer any refunds to clients who become sick during a tour (except where provided by our Travel Protection Plan). We recommend that you bring a small first aid kit—medications may be hard to find when you need them most for headaches, stomach upsets, diarrhea, insect bites, motion sickness and sunburn. It’s wise to pack plenty of wet wipes and hand sanitize. Mosquitos are prevalent in the region and we recommend you bring a supply of mosquito repellent. Don’t forget a good supply of disposable plastic grocery bags, which are very handy for personal trash disposal and temporary storage of wet clothes or swim wear.

Caret DownCaret Up RedInsect Bites

Insect Bites

Mosquitoes and “no-see-ums” are sometimes present at dusk and in the evenings. While the majority of mosquito bites are mere annoyances, certain mosquitos can transmit illness. Lightweight long sleeve pants and shirts can help prevent bites, but the most effective defense against mosquito bites is mosquito repellant. There are a variety of effective repellants available for purchase. Traditional mosquito repellants use DEET as the effective ingredient, often in different concentrations. Other more “natural” repellants include Avon Skin So Soft oil or mixtures of essential oils like lemon grass, citronella or oregano. Oil based repellants are often available at health food stores or grocery stores, either as a spray or a wrist band. A pre trip regimen of Vitamin B-1 has also shown some effectiveness in reducing mosquito bites. Please consult with you doctor before beginning any vitamin program. Insect repellant can also prevent bites from no-see-ums. You may not be aware of the insects until the next day when small, red and itchy bites appear. Out of courtesy to your fellow passengers, please refrain from applying insect repellent until you have disembarked from the motorcoach.

Caret DownCaret Up RedTravel Vaccines

Travel Vaccines

At the time of writing, there are no vaccinations required to enter Costa Rica or Guatemala from the US or Canada. The governments of Guatemala and Costa Rica require proof of yellow fever vaccination only if you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever. This does not include the US, but does include several South American countries and African countries. In some cases these vaccines must be administered at least 1-2 weeks before travel. Please call your airline or the consulate in question if in doubt. Caravan does not have any doctors on staff and cannot give medical advice, so please consult your doctor at your earliest opportunity if you have any concerns. The CDC recommends that all travelers stay up to date on all routine vaccinations and consult with your personal physician if you have any questions or specific health concerns. The CDC has extensive information on their web site: www.cdc.gov/travel or you may call them at 800-232-4636.

Caret DownCaret Up RedDrinking Water

Drinking Water

Visitors are advised not to drink water from the faucet. Bottled water is provided by Caravan and purified water is available at the restaurants and hotels. You are also advised not to use ice or ice products unless you are sure the products are made from purified water.

Caret DownCaret Up RedHotel Rooms

Hotel Rooms

Caret DownCaret Up RedRoom Assignments

Room Assignments

Room assignments are made at random by the hotel. If you have a special request, such as a preference for two beds, please advise Caravan before the tour begins or inform your Tour Director at the beginning of the tour. Caravan is always happy to try to fulfill your special requests, although no guarantees can be made. All tour members are treated equally in regard to special requests. The room requests are made by the Caravan office and accommodated by the hotels when possible. If you are part of a group, we will do our best to place you in rooms near to each other as much as is possible. Sometimes, space limitations and the need to be fair to all tour members can mean larger groups may have to be split from each other. If you have any special group needs, please see your tour director. We do ask that any special group activities be conducted in private.

Caret DownCaret Up RedSingle Rooms

Single Rooms

As shown on the General Information page of the Caravan brochure, a limited number of single rooms are available on all tours at the single room charge shown on individual itinerary pages. Single travellers should expect to have a “seat companion” on the motorcoach.

Caret DownCaret Up RedTriple Rooms

Triple Rooms

Triple rooms usually offer two double beds. Cots and rollaways are not always available and local fire code regulations often limit the number of beds in a room.

Caret DownCaret Up RedHotel Bedding

Hotel Bedding

In San Jose and Guanacaste, most rooms have 2 queen beds. In Fortuna (by Arenal Volcano) and Manuel Antonio, most rooms have 2 double beds.

Caret DownCaret Up RedRefrigerators at Costa Rica Hotels

Refrigerators at Costa Rica Hotels

There are refrigerators in the rooms at your San Jose hotel. At other hotels, you can request to place personal items in the hotel kitchen refrigerator, if necessary for medical reasons.

Caret DownCaret Up RedLaundry Services

Laundry Services

All of the hotels offer laundry services for a fee. If you prefer to do your own laundry, there are self-service laundromats in Fortuna.

Caret DownCaret Up RedMoney

Money

Caret DownCaret Up RedCurrency

Currency

The currency in Costa Rica is the colon, also referred to as colones. The current rate of exchange as of November 01, 2019, is $1 U.S. dollar to 560 Costa Rica colones. The currency exchange rate fluctuates every day, usually within a range of 550 to 580 Costa Rica colones to the U.S. dollar. U.S. Dollars are accepted in most stores and restaurants in Costa Rica (though US coins are not accepted). However, small snack shops and street vendors prefer colones. It is advisable to exchange about U.S. $20 per person into Costa Rica colones for “walking around money”. It is difficult to exchange traveler’s checks in Costa Rica. It is, however, easy to obtain money from ATM machines in most towns, or to use credit cards in the stores. Please bring dollar bills that are in new condition, without any rips, stains or marks. Bills are not accepted if they have rips, stains, marks or in old condition.

Caret DownCaret Up RedHotel Incidental Charges

Hotel Incidental Charges

Many hotels require a credit card upon check in to secure incidentals, minibar or restaurant charges. If you make any telephone calls from your hotel room or incur any extra room charges (i.e. drinks or in-room movie charges), please be sure to pay the hotel for your incidental charges before you leave. Caravan will forward any unpaid hotel incidental invoices.

Caret DownCaret Up RedMotorcoach

Motorcoach

Caret DownCaret Up RedMotorcoach Safety and Motorcoach Restroom

Motorcoach Safety and Motorcoach Restroom

While Caravan coach drivers are renowned for their friendliness, for your safety and the safety of your fellow travelers, please refrain from conversing with your coach driver while he/she is driving, so that their full attention can be on the road ahead. The motorcoach restroom is provided for your comfort, and should always be unlocked and available, although it is recommended just for emergencies and necessity. We understand that everyone’s needs are different. For your safety, please try to avoid using the restroom while the motorcoach is moving unless necessary. The coach driver may need to make a sudden stop or navigate a curve without any warning. While the bus is moving, it can be hazardous to walk down the aisle of the bus or to use the bathroom. Please be extremely careful if you must do so. Please note that if you move about the motorcoach or use the restroom while the motorcoach is moving, you do so at your own risk. While the motorcoach is parked, restrooms outside of the motorcoach are recommended, if comfortably available.

Caret DownCaret Up RedSeat Rotation

Seat Rotation

To ensure fair and equitable seating for all members of the tour, seating is usually rotated once or twice a day in a clockwise direction. Your Tour Director will advise you of their procedure. We regret we cannot fulfill any requests for a front seat for passengers, even when medically recommended. Please contact Caravan as soon as possible if you have any special needs, to discuss other options. Single travellers should expect to have a “seat companion” on the motorcoach (i.e. there will probably be another tour member seated next to you). Larger groups of travellers may be temporarily separated as the group rotates around the coach. We recommend that families or groups who want to stay together in the seat rotation either sit in front of or behind each other, and not across the aisle from each other. Please note that Caravan reserves the two seats on the motorcoach behind the driver for the tour director.

Caret DownCaret Up RedTour Commentary

Tour Commentary

Your tour director may add considerable commentary during your time on the motorcoach. If you prefer quiet time, you might want to pack a comfortable pair of ear plugs or headphones and a restful eye mask. Please be mindful of others when talking with your companions while the tour director is speaking. Even low volume conversations can make it hard for others to hear the commentary.

Caret DownCaret Up RedType of Motorcoach

Type of Motorcoach

You will travel in a modern, air conditioned Mercedes motorcoach with a restroom in the rear. The motorcoach has a seating capacity for 48 passengers, and Caravan groups have a limit of 44 passengers.

Caret DownCaret Up RedPassport, Visa and Customs

Passport, Visa and Customs

Caret DownCaret Up RedProof of Citizenship

Proof of Citizenship

Costa Rica requires a current U.S. passport valid for six months after your date of entry. Non U.S. citizens should check for visa requirements.

Caret DownCaret Up RedCustoms Duties for Personal Items in Costa Rica

Customs Duties for Personal Items in Costa Rica

There is no customs duties charge for your personal items in Costa Rica.

Caret DownCaret Up RedCustoms Duties for Items Purchased in Costa Rica

Customs Duties for Items Purchased in Costa Rica

When returning to the U.S., U.S. customs allows each person an exemption of customs taxes on up to $800.00 U.S. worth of Costa Rican goods that are in your possession and personally accompany you. Items to be sent later are not included in your $800 duty-free exemption. If two family members are traveling together, they may combine their customs exemption. For instance, a married couple will have a total $1,600.00 customs exemption. A flat duty rate of 3% is applied to the first $1,000 of goods per person beyond the $800 per person exemption. The duty-free exemption applies ONLY IF you have not used any exemption allowance whatsoever in the past 30 days. For instance, if you have made another international trip within the past 30 days, and used even a small exemption of $10, you would not get the $800 exemption. For this reason, sometimes it is best not to use the exemption if (1) the value of your goods is very low, and (2) you are planning to use the exemption on another trip within 30 days. Duty on items you mail home to yourself is waived if the value is $200 or less.

Caret DownCaret Up RedCarry Your Passport at All Times in Costa Rica

Carry Your Passport at All Times in Costa Rica

Costa Rica requires foreigners to carry their passports on their person at all times in Costa Rica, but this requirement is waived for U.S. and Canadian citizens, who are permitted to simply carry a photocopy of their passport photo and information page, plus a copy of the Costa Rica entry stamp page in their passport. Please make two photocopies of your passport photo and information page, and two copies of your passport page which has the Costa Rica entry stamp: one copy for you and one copy for your tour director. Please carry these required photocopies with you, and you may leave your original passport in a safe place.

Caret DownCaret Up RedTravel Tips for All Tours

Travel Tips for All Tours

Caret DownCaret Up RedSize of Tour Group

Size of Tour Group

Group sizes will vary depending on the reserved rooms at the hotels and the capacity of the boats and motorcoaches used. Usually, group sizes range from 30 to 44 passengers.

Caret DownCaret Up RedFully Guided Tours Since 1952

Fully Guided Tours Since 1952

Caravan has been offering fully guided tours worldwide under the same family ownership and management since 1952. Caravan understands and truly cares about your great expectations.

Caret DownCaret Up RedActivity Participation

Activity Participation

You may choose to skip an activity and relax at your hotel or do some independent exploring instead. If you do not wish to participate in an activity, simply advise your Tour Director. In most cases, we cannot make refunds for missed activities.

Caret DownCaret Up RedMany Tours Sell Out Each Year

Many Tours Sell Out Each Year

The farther in advance that you book, the more likely it is that your preferred tour will be open. Late bookings are welcome if the space is still available.

Caret DownCaret Up RedCaravan.com Has The Most Up-To-Date Information

Caravan.com Has The Most Up-To-Date Information

Caravan.com is constantly updated and is likely to have more complete and current information about new tours, hotel descriptions, weather, transfers, packing and other useful information. While we strive for perfection, errors are inevitable, both in print and on the web site. If you have any questions or wish to confirm any information, please contact us.

Caret DownCaret Up RedFamily Trips

Family Trips

Families are always welcome on any of our tours, but we do not have any programs specifically for or limited to families. Families can make specific requests for connecting, adjacent, triple or quad rooms, when available. Children should be at least 5 years old.

Caret DownCaret Up RedForms of Payments

Forms of Payments

Caravan accepts payment (in U.S. funds only) via MasterCard, Visa, Discover or by check.

Back to the Tour Page