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FAQ

Here you'll find some of the most frequently asked questions about adventure travel to Costa Rica with Wildland Adventures. If your question isn't answered here or you'd like more detailed information on our Costa Rica vacations, you can contact our Central America Program Director via email or at 1-800-345-4453.

When is the best season for adventure travel to Costa Rica?
Is it safe to travel in Costa Rica?
What are the accommodations like on a Wildland Adventures' Costa Rica tour?
Can I reserve a rental car through Wildland Adventures in Costa Rica?
What essential things should I pack for my Costa Rica vacation?
What are the visa and passport requirements for travel to Costa Rica?
Will I need any vaccinations, immunizations or special medications for a Costa Rica vacation?
Is Costa Rica a good destination for traveling with babies and toddlers?
Is Costa Rica a good choice for single travelers?
What is the local currency in Costa Rica? Are U.S. dollars accepted? Do I need local currency before I arrive?
Can I use credit or debit cards while on a Costa Rica adventure? Are ATMs available?
Can I drink the water when traveling in Costa Rica?
What is the food like in Costa Rica?
I have many questions about arranging a trip to the Costa Rica. Who should I speak with?
Will my cell phone work while on an Costa Rica adventure?
In which time zone is Costa Rica?
Are your Costa Rica tour dates flexible?
Can I create a custom Costa Rica adventure tour?
How far in advance should I book my Costa Rica vacation?
Do I have to partake in all the daily activities?
Do you offer any discounts on your Costa Rica tours?
What is recommended for tipping in Costa Rica?
What is the one piece of key advice you give all clients?
Is purchasing travel insurance recommended?


When is the best season for adventure travel to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a year-round destination. The travel industry designates several business seasons with variable rates depending on the season: "High season" coincides with the dry season from December until April; "Peak season" is during the Christmas, New Year and Easter holidays; and the "Green or Low season" coincides with the rainy season, from May until November.

December is a good time to travel as there is less rain and increasingly more sun but the landscapes are still very lush and green from the rainy season. February and March are the driest months and you can expect mostly sunny and dry weather. May and June are good travel months because they are part of the green or low season where rates are lower, the weather is still nice as it's just the beginning of the rainy season. Mornings are usually sunny, with afternoon rain showers and clearing in the evenings. The forest is lush with vibrant greens and landscape is more alive and great for photography. July and August have become a popular time to travel and are usually considered high season, though not all hotels charge high season rates. Ticos call this time of year “veranillo” (little summer), a period of about 2-3 weeks little rain and more sun. September, October and November tend to be the rainiest months but since Costa Rica has a wide variety of microclimates, we can plan a trip that focuses on the regions with the best weather this time of year. An important note: In Costa Rica, expect rain at any time of year in the rainforest! Hiking under the rainforest canopy when it’s raining is a magical experience and rain rarely interferes with the activities of the day. Back to Top

Is it safe to travel in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is the safest country in Central America. Simple living is common, but education, health and welfare systems are very good and freely available, making abject poverty rare, reducing crime. Costa Rica does not have a military, and has not suffered the history of civil wars and violence so common among its neighbors.Drugs are not produced in quantity in Costa Rica, and it is not a convenient pipeline from South to North America or Europe. This isn't to say there aren't dangers and that you shouldn't take precautions, just don't be paralyzed by fear. The dangers of travel anywhere can be minimized by simple common sense, awareness and precautions. Do not leave your luggage unattended at the airport or with a stranger, do not carry any stranger’s luggage through customs or immigration, and always carry your money within an inside pocket or a security/money belt. Email yourself a copy of your passport identifying pages of your passport, E tickets, and emergency phone numbers. Valuable items should be left in the safety box in your room. Take the same precautions you would anywhere in the world. Back to Top

What are the accommodations like on a Wildland Adventures' Costa Rica tour?

There is a wide variety of accommodation available, but you can expect well-appointed eco-lodges to upper scale boutique hotels and lodges, always with private bath and housekeeping included. In general we use very comfortable, clean, safe small boutique hotels except on the coast where the beach hotels might be bigger. Accommodations close to protected areas, national parks, and remote locations are limited and can fill up quickly, particularly in high season, and it is recommended that you reserve your accommodations as far in advance as possible. Back to Top

Can I reserve a rental car through Wildland Adventures in Costa Rica?

We strongly recommend that visitors traveling to Costa Rica (especially those who visit this destination for the first time) let a professional Costa Rican do the driving. Besides their friendly companionship, you benefit from their excellent driving skills which are necessary to negotiate unpredictable road conditions. Your driver will make sure you arrive at your destination is a safe and timely manner. Rental car agencies generally require a damage deposit of between $1,000-$1,500 and because of the road conditions and potential damage you are likely to lose some or all of your deposit. Some rental cars have GPS systems but the maps are not nearly as good as in the U.S. or Europe. It will be much more relaxing to have your own van with driver and to take local flights. We can assist you with a rental car if you are staying at a beach hotel and want to explore on your own. Back to Top

What essential things should I pack for my Costa Rica vacation?

Pack light. T-shirts and shorts are acceptable in San José (during the day, if planning to go out in the evening slacks are highly recommended as some restaurants won't admit you in shorts or sandals). Loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and pants are recommended if you want to avoid sun. Bring a large hat to block the sun from your face and neck. Pack a light sweater or jacket for San José's cool nights and early mornings and for trips up to volcanoes and highlands. Sturdy sneakers or hiking boots are essential if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing and hiking. Waterproof hiking sandals or other footwear that lets your feet breathe are good for strolling about town, and also for beach walking, fording streams, and navigating the myriad mudholes you'll find on rain and cloud forest trails. In general bring light-weight, quick-dry clothing usually designed for outdoor-oriented adventure travel. Costa Rica is a beautiful destination and you'll be surprised how many pictures you take! Make sure to bring extra memory card and batteries and a telephoto lens if you like to take pictures of wildlife. In addition, bring a day pack, binoculars, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, light weight clothes, a hat, plastic bag for wet clothes (all the hotels offer laundry service), good walking/hiking shoes sandals, additional socks, swimming suit, power snacks for walks, headlamp/ flashlight, ear plugs (sometimes people are not used to sounds of the ocean or the jungle or the wildlife at night, especially the howler monkeys at 5 a.m!). It is always recommended to please leave your jewelry and valuables at home. Back to Top

What are the visa and passport requirements for travel to Costa Rica?

U.S. citizens do not need a visa to travel to Costa Rica however your passport must be valid up to 6 months after your departure date from Costa Rica. You'll also want to make certain your passport is in good physical condition. You may be denied entry if it is not. There is a departure tax of $29 payable in U.S. dollars, Costa Rica colones or with a credit or debit card. Back to Top

Will I need any vaccinations, immunizations or special medications for a Costa Rica vacation?

There are no required vaccinations or immunizations for adventure travel in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a relatively safe country and in general you do not need to be any more concerned about your health than you would traveling to most developed nations of the world. Dengue fever and malaria are found in Costa Rica but only in isolated areas. Risk to travelers is relatively low. The best prevention is use of insect repellent and wearing light colored clothing with long pants and long sleeves in the morning and evening. Most travelers are pleasantly surprised to find that biting insects, including mosquitoes, are much less prevalent than anticipated. Accommodations on Wildland Adventures provide screened rooms and landscaped grounds to reduce on site insect populations and thereby minimize your exposure.

When you put down a deposit for any Wildland Adventure, our destination expert Program Directors will provide detailed information about health precautions and possible immunizations for travel to your destination. Wildland Adventures' staff are not licensed medical professionals, however, we do know the exact areas, environments and conditions under which you will be traveling, all of which can affect the relative risk of exposure and help you make a decision concerning immunizations and prescription medicines. All travelers should consult their physician or a travel health clinic and refer to the Center for Disease Control website for complete information on health considerations in your destination. Back to Top

Is Costa Rica a good destination for traveling with babies and toddlers?

We are eager to work with families to create a memorable adventure for everyone, including young children. Many of our clients have traveled with toddlers and with appropriate expectations and planning they enjoyed a wonderful time. It is never too early to start exploring the world with your children! Back to Top

Is Costa Rica a good choice for single travelers?

Yes and no. Although solo travelers are welcome on any of our tours, our Costa Rica trips often tend to attract families and couples. Ask your Program Director for recommended tours and/ or departure dates, as some departures tend to attract more diverse groups than others. If no good options are available for your chosen timeframe, consider a trip to Belize or South America. These countries also offer similar activities and may have a more diverse group departing during your chosen dates. If we are able to pair you up with another single traveler willing to share accommodation then there will be no additional single supplement. However, if we are unable to find a suitable match prior to your trip departure then the single supplement fee will apply. Back to Top

What is the local currency in Costa Rica? Are U.S. dollars accepted? Do I need local currency before I arrive?

The Costa Rican currency is called the colon. Major tourist areas accept U.S. dollars, as do most hotels and travel related businesses. Some small restaurants and non-tourist shops as well as almost all the non-commercial artisan shops do not accept U.S. dollars. You can exchange money after you arrive at your hotel or at a local bank. Hotels work with the official rate of the day. We suggest bringing $300 per person in small denominations for tipping and personal shopping. Back to Top

Can I use credit or debit cards while on a Costa Rica adventure tour? Are ATMs available?

Credit or debit cards are accepted at most hotels/ecologes and tourist-oriented shops and restaurants. ATMs are available in San Jose and most main cities. You guide or driver will be able to help find an ATM as needed. Many small, local restaurants and non-tourist shops as well as almost all the non-commercial artisan shops do not accept credit cards. Back to Top

Can I drink the water when traveling in Costa Rica?

The water is safe to drink in nearly all locations. When in very remote or rural areas, you should drink bottled water, if you have a sensitive stomach, stick to bottled water. Back to Top

What is the food like in Costa Rica?

To generalize a Costa Rican meal, one would certainly have to talk about black beans and rice (gallo pinto). This simple, standard dish, often referred to as comida tipica, is the backbone of Costa Rican cuisine. Costa Rican food is generally quite healthy when coupled with an active lifestyle. Often served with a good portion of fruits or vegetables or both, the meals are very well rounded and generally high in fiber. A typical meal is the casado, the name referring to the eternal "marriage" of its components. Consisting of rice and beans, meat or fish, fried plantains, and a carrot, tomato, and cabbage salad, this basic and well-rounded meal strikes a good nutritional balance. The plantain, or plántano, is probably the quintenencial Tico snack. It has the appearance of a large banana, but cannot be eaten raw. It is sweet and delicious when fried or baked, and will often accompany most meals. When sliced thinly and deep fried, the plantain becomes a crunchy snack like the potato chip. Arroz is a dish of fried rice which may be offered with chicken (pollo) or shrimp (gambas). For breakfast, it is common to be served a hearty dish of black beans and rice (gallo pinto) seasoned with onions and peppers, accompanied by fried eggs, sour cream, and corn tortillas. Corn is one of the most favored vegetables, and it is usually prepared in the form of tortillas and corn pancakes. Corn on the cob is sometimes roasted, elote esado, or boiled, elote cocinado. Empanadas are corn turnovers filled with beans, cheese, and maybe potatoes and meat. And Patacones are fried mashed plantains with a liberal sprinkling of salt.

Fruits found in Costa Rica include papaya, mango, piña (pineapple), sandía (watermelon), melón (cantaloupe), moras (blackberries), limones (lemons), guayaba (guava), granadilla (passion fruit), and aguacates (avocados). Many of these are served plain or as a refresco, a blended drink with ice. The Caribbean coast has its own unique cuisine, distinctive of the rest of the nation. The dishes usually include coconut milk and more characteristic spices, like ginger and curry. Roadside stalls sell a vast array of fruits: apples, papayas, mangoes, bananas, pineapples, apricots, and melons. Coconuts are widely used in the Caribbean. Grated coconut is used in many deserts and cakes. Coconut milk is a staple used to bind other ingredients in recipes. Milk is used in cheeses, such as the soft white queso blanco, which frequently finds its way into deserts. The patí is a spicy meat pie resembling a turnover. Rondon ("rundown") consists of fish or meat with yams, plantains, breadfruit, peppers and spices.

The hotels will accommodate vegans and vegetarians and children who are picky eaters. Please be as descriptive as possible when you fill out the dietary restrictions section of the reservation form to be better prepared to accommodate your needs. Back to Top

I have many questions about arranging a trip to the Costa Rica. Who should I speak with?

Our Central America Program Director Grettel Calderon is a local Tica who lives and works in our San Jose, Costa Rica office. She has over 15 years experience organizing itineraries in Costa Rica including 5 years as Wildland Adventures’ in-country expert. Grettel will work with you on designing your Costa Rica adventure and then, working with our operations team, finalize all the details of your trip, from coordinating your air and land arrangements, to fulfilling any special needs you may have. Once you have decided on the itinerary you envision, we will send you a comprehensive Pre-departure Dossier including travel tips for Costa Rica, packing lists, suggested reading, dining recommendations, maps and more! Contact Grettel Calderon by email or by phone at (800) 345-4453 and start planning your Costa Rica Adventure! Back to Top

Will my cell phone work while on an Costa Rica adventure?

This is a good question for your cell phone service provider. To work internationally, you'll most likely need a cell phone which uses a "GSM" network which is most widely used globally. In the U.S. AT&T and T-Mobile operate GSM networks while Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and several smaller carriers such as U.S. Cellular use the "CDMA" network which has less worldwide coverage than GSM. You'll want to check with your service provider regarding international coverage and make sure you understand exactly what you'll be charged for making calls and, if you have a smart phone, for using data (email/internet). Rates can be extremely expensive and we've heard horror stories of travelers returning home to find unexpectedly large bills for using their phone while traveling. Due to this, we generally recommend you unplug and don't use your cell phone while traveling. Your guides will be able to give you the best options for calling home and loved ones can contact you using the local phone numbers we provide on your final itinerary or Wildland's 24-hour emergency number. Some of the lodges we use have a telephone at the front desk. We recommend reviewing CNET's World Phone Guide for more information on international cell phone coverage. Back to Top

In which time zone is Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is in the same time zone as U.S. Central Standard Time. Daylight savings time is not observed. Back to Top

Are your Costa Rica tour dates flexible?

Yes. Please contact us if you are not able to travel on the set departure dates listed on-line. Most tours can be arranged on alternative departure dates for a minimum of 2 or 4 travelers as long as lodges/ hotels are available. Back to Top

Can I create a custom Costa Rica adventure tour?

Certainly. A private or custom departure is a Wildland Adventure that's just for you and your group. You can set up a private departure for most of the trips we offer, additional costs might apply depending on the trip. Pricing for private departures varies by trip and is based on the size of your group. We would be glad to give you an estimate by phone, give us a call! Back to Top

How far in advance should I book my Costa Rica vacation?

You can book your Costa Rica tour at any time but generally the earlier you book, the better. For departures during the dry season (December-April), you will usually find better availability if you book at least 4 months in advance (6 months to 1 year is recommended for travelers visiting during the busy Christmas/ New Year's holiday, Easter Week or Spring Break) but we are happy to help travelers booking with short notice. Travelers visiting outside of the busy dry season months can often book last minute, though 4+ months notice is still recommended to take advantage of the best airfare rates. We usually recommend that you wait to book your international flights until after your tour is confirmed. The sooner that we arrange your tour, the sooner that you can take advantage of flight deals as they become available.

We are often able to accommodate last minute travelers as well (some even departing in less than one month!!), so give us a call and we will do our best! For last minute bookings, it helps to be flexible and organized. Your first choice tour may not be available for your selected dates, but your trip coordinator can probably recommend some other similar options that would be equally interesting! Many lodges will not hold spaces less than 30 days before departure so for last minute bookings, you may be asked to send your registration form and trip payment in right away to secure your spaces. Back to Top

Do I have to partake in all the daily activities?

No, of course not! The sightseeing, park visits, museum visits, and activities are included for your enjoyment. But, if you prefer to do something else, or just rest and take a siesta, that is fine. You are free to join all the sightseeing activities, or just half the activities, or none of the activities. We strive to accommodate you, so that you will be as comfortable as possible on the tour. You can do as much, or as little as you please while on tour however we have carefully created our trips to expose you to the diverse range of ecosystems and habitats this small country offers including cloud forest, rain forest, volcanoes, rivers, beaches, etc. As you traverse these beautiful landscapes we also make sure our active and inquisitive travelers have plenty of opportunities to enjoy outdoor adventures, see lots of wildlife including some great bird watching, and a chance to relax in some of the lovely lodges and boutique hotels we recommend. Back to Top

Do you offer any discounts on your Costa Rica tours?

Yes, we offer Alumni Discounts: Previous travelers on Wildland Adventures, our Wildland alumni, are eligible for increasing discounts on additional trips. On your second trip with us you qualify for a 5% discount, with discounts increasing by 1% for each subsequent trip up to a maximum of 10%. Discounts are subject to change, are not applicable on child rates, when booking through a third party or in combination with other discounts. We also offer select trip discounts periodically throughout the year. Check out our Wild Special Deals page for the latest offers and on-going discounts. Back to Top

What is recommended for tipping in Costa Rica?

A 10% tip in a restaurant is appropriate but most restaurants will add it to your bill so review your bill carefully. Taxi drivers generally do not receive a tip. If you are satisfied with the service you receive, private drivers, local guides, hotel service staff are happy to receive a tip. Below are the suggested amounts:

  • $10-15 per traveler per day for your principal guide (who may accompany you for all or part of your trip, or who may just be a local guide for the day).
  • $5-7 per traveler per day for a driver, boatman or other local assistant.
  • $2 per person per night for maids.
  • $1 per piece of luggage for luggage assistants.

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What is the one piece of key advice you give all clients?

Make sure you have allowed time to relax and enjoy your trip. Many people don’t plan this into their vacation schedule because they want to “see and do as much as possible.” Planning extra time is especially important during peak dates when there can be flight delays due to weather. We recommend you arrive and/or depart a day earlier/later to avoid travel inconveniences. Back to Top

Is purchasing travel insurance recommended?

Yes, we highly recommend you protect your investment by purchasing travel insurance, especially for unexpected trip cancellation and trip interruption (for specific covered reasons), as well as medical coverage for accident or illness and related evacuation expenses that may be incurred during your trip. We recommend the policy offered by Travelex as an outstanding travel insurance product. The policy application is included in your pre-departure dossier and you can get more information and sign up online by using this link: Travelex or call them directly at 1-800-228-9792 referencing our location number: 47-0066. Important Purchase Date: It is necessary that you purchase the Travelex insurance within 21 days of your initial reservation deposit in order to receive additional coverage for three important conditions: 1) pre-existing health conditions for you or an immediate family member, 2) protection in the event of default or bankruptcy of a supplier, and 3) the optional Business Travel Upgrade protection which covers trip cancellation for certain business reasons. After the initial 21 day period you can still purchase travel insurance, but these additional benefits will not apply. Complete coverage details can be found in the Evidence of Coverage on the Travelex website or by speaking with them at the number listed above. Back to Top