We are more than happy to help you personally via phone or email, however you may want to first check below for answers to more of the commonly asked questions.
Questions About The Real Deal...What's Our Deal?
Q: Why should we book our activities with you rather than our travel agent?
A: We are the tours and activities experts. We have traveled all over Costa Rica choosing the best activities that we think our clients would be interested in. We do not want to package your activities based on which hotels are offering the best all inclusive packages which airline offers the best discounts. We know our customers are smart so we let you decide exactly which activities you are interested in doing on vacation, and you can plan the rest of your vacation around the fun parts that you may have missed out otherwise.
Q: Is it safe to book with you rather than the tour operator directly?
A: Not only is it perfectly safe to do so, we provide a higher level of customer service and support throughout the entire country. When booking through each operator individually, you would have to contact several different offices to make each reservation, to resolve any inquiries or concerns, or make changes necessary. With us, you can reach the same office no matter where you are or where you want to visit throughout your entire vacation and all of our representatives speak English, Spanish, and a variety of other languages thanks to our international staff.
Q: Is it safe to book on the internet? I am a bit nervous about providing my credit card information online.
A: Your reservation is much safer online using our encrypted server than purchasing in person or sending copies of your information via email or fax. With our secure payment program, no human eyes will ever see your information, it is 100% protected from any outside source. In Costa Rica, the main card processing services require photo ID such as a passport and your signature to either be emailed or faxed in order to accept the payment. This is to protect them, however it puts the consumer at a much greater risk at having their information compromised. By using your credit card, if any fraud is suspected, your credit card company can easily work it out with our bank to ensure you recuperate any lost funds.
Q: Are you affiliated with timeshare?
A: Absolutely not. We do not sell timeshare, and more importantly we do not share your credit information with timeshare salespeople. Your credit and personal information passes through the banks only, we do not even see your credit card information as it passes through our secure server. If you buy your activities through timeshare, you can pretty much guarantee they are using the information you have supplied to them to follow up and waste your precious vacation time convincing you to purchase a condo.
Q: I dont understand how the cash discounts work, what is the final price I will be paying?
A: Lets break it down using an example of a tour with the regular public price of $85. If you book in advance with us by leaving a deposit, you can bring that price down to $76.50.
We collect only the required deposit to hold your space via credit card, the balance you will pay in cash upon arrival is the difference of the balance of the discounted price ($76.50) and the deposit ($25.50), so in this case $51. If you show up and only have a credit card, you are subject to pay the full price which is the difference in the full price ($85) and the deposit you paid. In this case your credit card would be charged $59.50.
Customer: Why can't I pay for it all now in advance?
A: There are a few reasons why we opted not to accept full payments, one is that with all the competition out there, many operators are reluctant to let companies offer discounts that cut out of their own sales, or affect contracts made with previous sales brokers to not let others offer lower sales online. By offering 'Cash' discounts, we are able to offer discounts on many tours that other companies cannot. The other reason is the Banking in Costa Rica is really quite tough to work with. They want copies of your passports, everything to be signed and faxed in, or must be done in person. They are not as easily accepting of e-commerce and do not have the same protections you do in the North American banks. Most operators do not have bank accounts that accept online payments without all of this making the booking process itself a huge pain. By us collecting the deposit, both your reservation and your money is secure. When you arrive and have to pay the balance in person, which is the safest and easiest transaction accepted by all banks.
Q: I dont feel comfortable carrying that much cash around with me, are you sure it is safe?
A: This is understandable of course, but we would not ask you to carry cash if we did not think it was a safe option. There are cash machines within walking distance of most hotels and on every corner of the larger tourist areas, so you can grab cash right before your tour. You can get US dollars or Colones out of most machines, or your hotels offer good rates most of the time as well. If you wish to pull the cash out the day prior, we suggest leaving it in your hotel safe if you go out for the night, do not carry it with you especially if out drinking alcohol, this tends to invite problems. The last option would be to ask the driver of your tour if they could please stop off at a cash machine along the way so you can pull out the sufficient funds. In most cases this is not a problem with the operators.
Q: How will I know my balance that I need to pay when I get there?
A: We understand you are on vacation so the last thing you want to do is think about math or anything complex for that matter. We try to make it easy on both you and the operators by putting the balance due in both cash and credit card right on the voucher that you will receive within 24 hours of placing your reservation. This voucher will have your name, date of the tour, number of participants, meeting on time and instructions, and the balance due in both amounts depending your form of payment. This is for you to print up and take with you to present on the day of the tour. This is basically your boarding pass and you need to have it with you. If you have a smart phone with internet, they do accept a screenshot as well to save on trees. It is a very simple process we have been using for years, however if you have any questions, the voucher also has contact information for you to call both before you leave, and a local Costa Rica number for when you are already traveling, for any last minute questions or issues. We are here to help you throughout your trip so you can relax and enjoy your vacation.
Q: I have a large group of people, do you offer extra discounts for groups?
A: Yes, in many cases we can customize a tour for your group and maximize on the amount of money you can save. We have a department devoted to group reservations and private customized tours. If you have a large group (15+) and you would like a quote, just send an email with your request to our groups manager firstname.lastname@example.org and we will customize a tour for you.
Q: I have a group and I saw something online that I do not see on your website, can you still help me with a quote?
A: Absolutely! If you see something online that we do not offer, we can still check into offering you a private quote at a discounted price. Just send us the information and we will do our best to find a solution for you. In fact, if you are not even part of a group and there is something that you are interested in, let us know and we can look into adding it to our site for everyone in the future.
Q: I work for a student organization and we are going to be traveling to Costa Rica this year. Can you help set us up with all of our activities?
A: We are happy to you set up not only your activities, but we can assist you with lodging and transportation as well. We know that student travel is very popular in Costa Rica and we have a wealth of resources that we can look into here. As we are an activities based company, we do not offer everything online, but we have access to a lot of resources geared for group travel.
Q: Do you offer additional discounts if we book more than one tour?
A: The prices online are as low as we can go publicly. All of the discounts we offer come directly from our own pockets, so we cannot offer additional discounts all the time to everyone. We can however suggest that you get on our mailing list or follow our social marketing pages which offer additional discount codes to our fans and previous customers. We are offering new promotions all the time so you will want to check back occasionally to see if there is an offer that fits your itinerary.
Q: How will I know you have received my money and my reservation is confirmed?
A: Immediately after making the payment with your credit card, you will receive a receipt for your payment showing the amount received and which tour you booked. Within 24 hours you should receive a second email from us confirming your reservation and a voucher you will need to print up and take with you on the day of your tour. The voucher should have all of the necessary information regarding your tour time, date, and meeting instructions. If you have questions about either of these emails upon receipt, please contact us immediately as it is much easier to fix any errors immediately rather than scramble on the day of the tour and risk missing out.
Q: I paid for the deposit and received my voucher, so how do I get the Cash Discount price?
A: On your voucher, there will be 2 prices listed of the remaining balance to be paid directly to the operator on the day of the tour. One price is the balance if paying in cash which is the discounted price. The second price is higher because if you choose to pay with a credit card upon arrival the discounts no longer apply in most cases. Not to worry, there are and abundance of US dollar cash machines in Costa Rica so finding access to cash should not be difficult.
Q: What if I want to change or cancel my reservation?
A: We are happy to assist you with making any changes to your reservation so long as we receive ample time to do so. In general, you can cancel or make changes to your tour time or date up to 36 hours prior to the meeting time of your tour. There are some exceptions that apply that are noted per activity such as car rentals, overnight tours, the Free Pass, and private boat charters. Please refer to our Terms & Conditions for complete details.
Q: What if I am arriving on a Cruise Ship and it arrives late or not at all?
A: We honor a 'No Port No Pay' if your itinerary changes at the last minute without prior notification to you. This is very similar to the same guarantees that your cruise ship's offer you while sailing. For more details, check out our Cruise Ship FAQ's.
Q: Why does everyone keep saying Pura Vida?
A: Pura Vida, or Pure Life directly translated is the greeting you will hear throughout Costa Rica. It is a greeting generally used when you are happy about something, or wishing happiness upon those around you. Pura Vida is living a pure life. There is no real good explanation for it, but just roll with it, after a while you will find yourself greeting everyone with 'Pura Vida' too.
Q: How safe is Costa Rica?
A: For anyone traveling outside their home country, this seems to be the most commonly asked question. Just like just about any country in the world, petty theft is an issue to be aware of while traveling. There are always precautions you can take to lessen your personal risk. Take caution when out in public to ensure your belongings are secure on your person. Only bring with you what you absolutely need. Keep your electronics such as cell phones, iPods, cameras, etc. out of sight except when being used rather than hanging around your neck or sitting out on a table. If renting a car, never leave anything out in the open. If you are carrying large amounts of cash, store it in multiple places on your person. After dark, it is always best to be with a group. If you are traveling alone, we recommend taking a taxi. Excessive drinking can lead to recklessness and invite danger. In a nutshell, use common sense and you can prevent putting yourself at risk.
Q: What type of Currency is accepted?
A: Colones is the national currency of Costa Rica, however US dollars are widely accepted and in many cases very near the bank rate which averages just over 500 colones per dollar. There are BCR cash machines that dispense both US Dollars and Colones. Every tourist destination has at least one or 2 cash machines that dispense both, and in larger cities you can find a bank or cash machine on nearly every corner . Keep in mind when paying in dollars to most vendors or small stores, your change will most likely be in Colones and not at the exact rate. Most hotels will be able to exchange your dollars as well, but if you can pay with a credit card, that is the best way to handle most transactions. Also, if the price is listed in dollars, best to pay in dollars. If listed in Colones, best to pay in Colones. Since the ATM's offer both currencies, it is best to take out Colones for daily spending. Don't forget to report to your credit card company that you are traveling to another country or they may block your card for security, leaving you stranded without cash!!
Q: Do I need to carry my passport on me to the tours?
A: It is required to have a copy of your passport with you at all times when traveling in any foreign country. Costa Rica has several highway checkpoints where on occasion they will ask for everyone's information, even if on a tour bus. It is best for both you and the operator to have this with you to avoid any fines. We suggest you make a copy of your passport as well as your entry stamp and carry that with you and store your actual passport in the safe of your hotel. For tours that are departing Costa Rica for Nicaragua or Panama, you will want to take your actual passport with you of course.
Q: What is the Weather like in Costa Rica? How Should I Pack?
A: Mother Nature controls the weather of course, but she really seems to have a sense of humor boggling everyone's vacation plans with such a mix of rain, sun, clouds, wind, (no snow here). We recommend you should really prepare for all climates by bringing layers. For the most part though, your typical beachwear, some good comfortable hiking shoes and clothing, and a versatile jacket. Don't forget some of the essentials such as bug spray, sunblock, and some handy items such as handwipes or sanitizers, a small flashlight or lamp, and a sarong is handy as a towel or a spot to rest.
There are 3 seasons in Costa Rica: Rainy, Rainier, and Rainiest….or at least that is our take. They measure the seasons by the state of greenness. This is the Rainforest afterall and what makes Costa Rica such an amazing green, lush, and diverse country to visit. However, there are few places that it is actually really cool, Monteverde and the Central Valley (San Jose). We definitely recommend bringing along warm sweaters, socks, and maybe even a scarf to these regions (unless you are from Saskatchewan…then I suppose long pants maybe with a long sleeved shirt and you will probably be fine).
Most other places receive their share of rain, but it seems to come and go disturbing very little in the way of the tours.
For the most part the climate is mildly warm to really warm, rarely very hot. All tours here run rain or shine, and you can usually take a change of clothes with you on most any tour, so it never seems to upset travellers much. If you are looking for beaches and sunshine, your best bet is the Northwest Pacific Region of Guanacaste. Once part of Nicaragua, it is the driest climate of all of Costa Rica…and probably the dustiest too. However, if you rise early with the birds and the sun (which is shining bright by 5:30am), you have several of hours of sunshine to enjoy any region before the rains hit in the afternoon. Even then they come in quick showers, not downpours that last all day. You can always consult online weather services or visit our Weather Page however keep in mind that if it shows rainy and cloudy, that is normal, just don't expect it to last all day. Pay more attention to the temperatures listed instead.
Q: How safe is it to travel on your own across Costa Rica? What is the recommended mode of transportation?
A: It is very safe traveling throughout most of Costa Rica thanks to several newly paved highways and toll roads. There many options for traveling throughout the country depending your preference:
Renting a car: For those who want freedom and independence of exploring the beautiful and have the confidence to take on the somewhat challenging highways of Costa Rica; we offer car rental with Mapache Car Rental. They are a local Tico owned and operated company that has a proven service record and well maintained vehicles and a great selection of vehicles to meet all of your needs. In addition, they have the first Carbon Neutral Fleet in Costa Rica and an outstanding community service program, so your dollars spent give back to the community and the environment.
There are a few things you should consider when renting a car here. First off, we highly recommend renting a GPS system. If you have your own GPS, be sure to download the most current Costa Rica map before you leave. The roads here change daily, and very few are marked.
Second is the Car Insurance. Note that it is not included in any of our rental pricing (except the FreePass packages) and has a variety of variables depending the amount of coverage you would like. Basic insurance is required, however the extra liability is up to you. See the Mapache Car Rental FAQ's and Mapache Car Rental Insurance Information for more details.
Lastly, don't forget the Roadside Assistance option. This is a small one-time fee, but can really save you time in case of a mishap while on vacation. If traveling through Monteverde,Nicoya, or Guanacaste; we highly recommend this as well as a 4WD vehicle with good clearance. Many of the roads in these areas are still unpaved and can be challenging during even the driest of Costa Rica's rainy seasons.
View Mapache Car Rental Terms & Conditions.
Cost Rica Free Pass: If you want to step it up one notch further and roam the country with very little planning but security of a place to rest your head at night, check out the Costa Rica Free Pass option which includes car rental, basic insurance, cell phone rental, and over 60 hotels across the country. This is the best way to maximize your freedom while driving across the country. (Free Pass FAQ's).
Interbus Shuttle: For those who are not comfortable driving their own vehicles, or would just rather relax and enjoy the scenery, we offer shuttle service through Interbus this service not only provides airport shuttle service, they also have the most inclusive network of hotel to hotel shuttle service via shared or private vans. The shared shuttle service is the most economical way to move around the country, and can even be used in conjunction with the Costa Rica Free Pass. We also offer you a private option as well for those who prefer to get from point A to point B without waiting or sharing space with others. Our Chauffeurs have years of experience navigating these roads and probably the most stress free way to spend your travelling portion of your vacation.
The Real Connection Deals: Travel a bit, stop to have an amazing adventure, then move on to your next destination…all with the same company...perfect!! To make the best of your travel time, we highly recommend one of Smart Connection Deals which break up your travel time by adding adventure in between destinations. This is the best (and the most fun) way to maximize your vacation time and quite often the most economical solution.
Either way you choose, Costa Rica is a destination set up to make it easy to explore the entire country from its Volcanos, to the rivers, and of course the beaches. All of this is within a few hours of eachother and we highly recommend you take advantage of all that you can.
Nature Air: If you are short on time, but still want to be able to reach out to some of the distant destinations, Nature Air offers some great deals on flights daily to all the major tourist destinations…even some of the more remote locations.
Q: What is the Exit Tax? Why do I have to pay it to leave the Country?
A: An important thing to know before you leave the country is that you are required to pay an exit tax. This is a tax charged by many countries, however usually absorbed into your airline fees. Here in Costa Rica, they collect this fee prior to allowing you to check in to return home. The departure fee is $26 per person (all ages) and can be paid in cash or credit card upon arrival to the departures area of the airport. Tip: It is best to ask the taxi to drop you off at the very first entrance to the International terminal as this is where you pay the departure tax. If you go to where you airline counter is, they are going to direct you back there anyway, so much easier not to have to haul your luggage (or your kids) back and forth across the terminal.
If we did not answer your questions here, please contact us to send us detailed inquiries and we will do our best to find answers to all your concerns. Pura Vida!!!
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