On our recent Panama Canal cruise, we decided to take the Carara National Park excursion out of Puntarenas. I had been to Costa Rica before and wanted my husband to have a chance to experience one of Costa Rica's national parks.
There were only 11 of us on this excursion. The local contractor was Swiss Travel Costa Rica. The minibus was comfortable and there was plenty of room.
Our ride to the park was only about 1/2 hour. We had a 2 1/2 hour hike on an ungroomed trail. The weather, typical Costa Rica, was hot and humid. Our guide was very good at spotting wildlife and our only complaint about him was we wished he spoke in a quieter voice. He certainly worked very hard trying to give us the experience we came for.
Ditto with the bus driver. We went through a small town that in the past had a nesting pair of scarlet macaws. The driver stopped and asked a young boy if the pair was back and the boy led us right to the field holding the nest. As we drove back to the ship, our guide spotted a rosette spoonbill in a cow field, our driver brought the bus to a screeching halt and then maneuvered the vehicle off the road so we could get out and take pictures.
Lunch was at a luxurious resort overlooking the water. It was a beautiful location with an excellent multi-course lunch that included two beverages (juice, soda or beer) per person, salad and fresh grilled fish.
When I read the description of the shore excursion on-line, I knew it would be expensive. I had a feeling there would not be many people on the tour and the price of the lunch at this exclusive resort would certainly bump the price up.
It all worked out as anticipated and met our expectations, even to the point of arriving back at the ship 45 minutes later than scheduled because of the extra time and effort taken by our guide and driver to show us the birds of Costa Rica.