Alicia was referred by her parents who have been valued clients for several years. She and Matthew had a small Covid wedding in the spring of 2021 with the pandemic enforcing a year’s delay to their exciting honeymoon adventure by a further year.
Judging from their wonderful feedback, it was worth the wait...
Like many I’m sure, when planning our honeymoon right at the start of Covid, we thought 12+ months was more than enough time for everything to blow over. Little did we know of course but thankfully, Gillian made the postponement and rearranging of everything super easy!
This was our first time booking with her but she came highly recommended by my parents so we knew she could be trusted to put together something amazing.
Having never been, we'd had our heart set on Costa Rica for a long time and knew that we wanted it to be very wildlife-orientated and to see as much as possible in the available time.
Having done some research, I had an idea of certain areas and activities that were essential but flexibility outside of that meant we were able to work with Gillian and her local contacts to put together a bespoke trip.
We love wildlife and being outdoors so Costa Rica's approach to ecotourism and its strict laws were paramount to us. It was also important that the wildlife was treated as just that - anywhere that would encourage interacting with the animals or that would have tamed them for photo opportunities was off limits and Costa Rica really is like a zoo without cages.
Our two-week expedition began from Heathrow, flying with BA, with a transfer in Miami. The flights were generally fine (I'm blessed with always being asleep before take-off), but following a delay at the London end, we had just 40 minutes to transfer at Miami, which is a huge and poorly run airport.
There was no ground assistance and little information, so things became very stressful. After some queue jumping and a sweaty sprint through the airport, thankfully our connecting flight was also delayed, enabling us to make it by the skin of our teeth.
We were met at San José airport by a lovely driver, who told us lots about the city on the transfer to our hotel for the night, which we appreciated as the delayed flight had left little time to do much but rest before our touring itinerary commenced the following morning.
The natural beauty of Costa Rica hits you immediately. I’d always assumed that images had been edited, but that really is just how everything looks. The colours are so vivid, wildlife is everywhere, and the people are incredibly friendly, knowledgeable and happy to chat, even when my Spanish isn’t great.
Our journey took us to Tortuguero, Arenal, Monteverde and Manuel Antonio, and the accommodation in each was fantastic.
The Mawamba Lodge in Tortuguero is in the jungle, where the sound of howler monkeys adds to the feeling of being in the middle of nature upon waking.
In Arenal, our plush room at the Kioro Suites & Spa had great views of the volcano, a hot tub, and amazing hummingbirds outside the windows whilst the beautiful natural hot springs in the hotel grounds provided stunning vistas of the spectacular surroundings and wildlife.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Lodge was also in the jungle with a fabulous walking path where we spotted plenty of wildlife.
And at the Parador Resort & Spa in Manuel Antonio, the sloths live in a tree by the pool and white-faced monkeys play within just a few feet of the walkway. Each morning we awoke to their young playing on the roof of our hotel room.
We used the pools and restaurants at each place but were too busy seeing everything to make use of much else. All the food was really good, but the highlight was undoubtedly the delicious locally-picked fruit, which we still miss!
The staff everywhere looked after us superbly and were a source of profound knowledge about their respective areas, always willing to chat and be helpful.
The pre-booked treks and wildlife walks were fantastic, and the escorted tours were definite highlights with unbelievably knowledgeable and interesting guides. The extra night tours offered by some of the accommodations were also top-notch.
Memorable experiences included volcano hikes, hanging bridges, lake crossings, hot spring visits, kayaking, and ziplining over and through the cloud forest.
There are not enough superlatives to describe the adventure. We still talk about it and look at our photos regularly, and even have posters of the four main locations we visited adorning our living room.
I cannot believe how much we squeezed into the trip. The wildlife surpassed our expectations, even getting to see my favourite squirrel monkeys.
Gillian was great from start to finish. When we were planning, she was happy to amend the itinerary as requested, and was so communicative throughout, making the entire process run like clockwork.
She did such an excellent job that we booked our next jungle adventure to Borneo with her soon after returning and have been delighted to recommend her to friends.
Thanks, Gillian. We had an amazing time.