Costa Rica

Should I book with Caravan.com?

is Caravan.com worth it?

This week I am reviewing Caravan.com, and answering the question: is Caravan.com worth it? I am doing this of my own free will, and I am not getting paid to endorse them. Why am I doing this? I want my readers to have a great time for their buck, and I also asked this question before I went: Is Caravan going to be worth my money? In short YES! Please bear in mind we went in February of 2019, just before I decided I wanted to blog. Now that I am a blogger I wish I had taken more pictures and been more diligent about record keeping, but I still think my extensive review of caravan.com has merit. I hope to answer the ultimate question: is Caravan.com worth it?

 is Caravan.com worth it?
A sunset in Manuel Antonio taken from the hotel’s rooftop bar.

Ah Costa Rica! “Pura Vida” = Pure Life

The locals say pura vida all the time, and I am not exaggerating, one visit to the country and you will understand. Translated literally it means pure life, but to the locals it means so much more. It can be a greeting, such as: “Hola, pura vida” It can be a farewell such as: “Hasta, pura vida” You can use it to ask how are you doing, and to answer that same question for example: “Hola! Pura vida?” – “Pura vida!” If you haven’t been, or aren’t from Costa Rica, it may be hard to understand why this is so, it just is, trust me. From what I understand of this from the small time I was there is this: Costa Ricans are a very happy people.

Caravan.com is a tour guide service that has been in business since 1952. They have a fleet of buses and are mostly a tour bus company, but this is not the only thing they do. They sell a ton of tours every year, which is why they get such good deals on hotels. Our group was 40 people, and there was another tour ahead of us and behind us. They deal in huge volumes, which is why I am confident in this declaration: If you tried to book the hotels, paid for the meals provided, drove yourself and booked the nature guides, you will end up paying more, period, I can 99.9% guarantee it. I cant 100% for legal reasons, but I will call BS on anyone who claims they can unless they could prove it to me.

This extensive guide will answer the question: is Caravan.com worth it?

 is Caravan.com worth it?
Manuel Antonio park in Manuel Antonio

I know this is going to sound weird but, I heard about Caravan on “Wheel of Fortune” of all places! Yes you heard me right, and I am blushing as I type this. My wife and I were wanting to go somewhere and we had ideas but nothing solid. Costa Rica happened to be a prize on the prize round. When the person won it and the and “Jim Thornton” (the announcer….lol) described the prize, we both said to ourselves: that sound nice, lets look into it. They said the website on the show, and just to get a sense of where to go or what to do, I went to the site. I was just doing it for research purposes, not even thinking I would go with Caravan. I was thinking before I went to the website: it’s probably going to be too expensive, because most guided tours are. However once I was there and I looked into what was included and how much it actually was I started to take it seriously.

This extensive guide will answer the question: is Caravan.com worth it?

 is Caravan.com worth it?
The view from our room at the Barceló hotel in San Jose

Questions I asked before I went (with mostly positive answers) that I can answer now that I went

I labored over all these questions about Caravan for a while, until I finally pulled the trigger.

  1. Are we going to have fun?
  2. Are we going to hate being in a large group?
  3. Are they just going to be crap hotels?
  4. Is the food going to be cheap crap slapped together?
  5. Will I get my moneys worth?
  6. Are we going to see birds and other wildlife?
  7. Will everyone there be seniors?
  8. Will there be anyone our age?
  9. Will it be unbearably hot on the bus?
  10. Will we get a chance to be by ourselves?
  11. Will we have time to shop?
  12. I heard there is a lot of crime? Are we going to be safe?
  13. Are the locals going to be nice?
  14. Are the wildlife guides going to know what they are talking about, and am I going to need a telescope to see a tiny dot they are going to call a bird?
  15. Is there a catch? There must be a catch, it’s too cheap to be true right?
  16. Will we meet people?
  17. What about the bad reviews I see sometimes?
  18. What about tipping?
  19. Do I need to learn Spanish?
  20. Is it worth it in general?

Complaints and negative factors worth considering

  1. They can’t stop the bus every time anyone wants to
  2. Extended periods of time sitting in a bus
  3. Most of the time it is not possible to extend some of the outings
  4. The passengers
  5. The bathroom on the bus
  6. Some of the hotels
  7. Little freedom to explore
  8. If you are a photographer even an amateur. You can’t take your time to compose a picture, or else you hold up the group.
  9. Some towns are less than stellar and have annoying aggressive salesmen
  10. I want to see (insert favorite animal) I will be mad if it isn’t there!

A budget breakdown of the tour (an estimate) for your consideration

The big question: is it worth it and do I recommend this tour?

 is Caravan.com worth it?
Another view from the Barceló towards downtown and the football arena (soccer to Americans)
1) Are we going to have fun?

Short answer yes. The long answer, I guess it depends. Does relaxing in a pool, seeing birds and wildlife, getting cultured, eating fantastic food, having a cocktail in an infinity pool and more sound like fun? If this doesn’t sound like fun: what more do you want? Sure there are always going to be down times, no matter who you go with. We personally had a blast.

2) Are we going to hate being in a large group?

That all depends on you. I wasn’t sure myself. I’m not one who likes crowds, and am a bit of a wallflower at times. I definitely didn’t hate it though. If you despise crowds and don’t like people, then this tour might not be you. If you are unsure, I think you should go for it. You can sit alone if you really want and hang back. I have a bit of an anxiety towards large social interaction, yet I never felt uncomfortable in this setting. In fact when I hurt my back, everyone was super helpful: lending me walking sticks and offering me prescription pain meds.

This extensive guide will answer the question: is Caravan.com worth it?

3) Are they just going to be crap hotels?

Another short answer: No. The longer answer, honestly not. Yes, some hotels are nicer than others. This is all dependent on your idea of a nice hotel. Being normally a budget traveler, my expectations are not as high as someone who enjoys “luxury hotels” frequently. The average hotel is 4 star, and are all quite nice. Some just barely met the 4 star criteria, and some are 5 stars in my book. All of them were comfortable, had nice amenities and great food. None of them were bad, at least in my opinion. I would go back to any and all of them given the chance.

 is Caravan.com worth it?
This is the view from the infinity pool at the J.W. Marriott
4) Is the food going to be cheap crap slapped together?

Again, no. I guess this is also subjective. If you like 5 Michelin star, uppity meals where the waiter describes you the food rather than let you taste it, for the “experience” Then maybe you won’t like the food. If you want only specific things and don’t like trying new things, you might not like it. For me as a chef who appreciates good food, I thoroughly enjoyed the food. For me there was a mixture of familiar food and some local cuisine. I could try a small bite some new things and if I didn’t like something, I could just go for something I did. I don’t want to insult anyone but I don’t know how else to put this. If you are a picky eater, you might not like the food. If you are open and not finicky then you will probably enjoy it. One person exclaimed while we were there “I want to try local dishes why is there so much beans and rice?” “This is what the locals eat, I can ask the kitchen if you want something specific.” Yeah sometimes I felt bad for the tour director, and the staff at the hotels. Some people are never happy no matter what you do. Also as long as you tell them ahead of time some dietary restrictions can be accommodated, and I heard some pretty silly ones.

This extensive guide will answer the question: is Caravan.com worth it?

5) Will I get my money’s worth?

Again yes. I am cheap, just ask my wife, yet I never felt like I was being ripped off by the tour company. I felt like it was money well spent and I would go back, and we are even thinking about trying one of their other tours. Some of the prices for drinks at the hotels are a but much. Some of the souvenir shops are a bit pricey, but the tour company has no control over either. You could, if you so desire, go off property and go to a liquor store in your spare time. I enjoy the occasional drink and never felt like it was worth doing, but that depends on your alcohol tolerance.

6) Are we going to see birds and other wildlife?

Oh my word yes. As a wildlife enthusiast, I was in bird & wildlife heaven. My wife likes wildlife, but not as much as me, but she was still wowed by all the variety. Here is where it gets a bit tricky: If you are going to Costa Rica for birds and wildlife only, than you might get disappointed. Personally I can spend hours in a bird blind or wildlife blind and be happy. Adriane, on the other hand doesn’t have the tolerance. This trip was a “best of both worlds” trip for us. I like wildlife she likes culture and history. We were both happy. I did wish I could stay behind or stay longer on the wildlife portions of the tour, but I was still satisfied. If you just have to see every bird and species of wildlife possible, you should probably opt for a purely wildlife guided tour. If you are like us and have slightly different wants, and want a bit of everything, this tour is for you.

This extensive guide will answer the question: is Caravan.com worth it?

 is Caravan.com worth it?
A Capuchin monkey we saw on the river tour.
7) Will everyone on the tour be Seniors?

Well….. maybe? Ok, there were a lot of seniors on the tour in fact we were the youngest there by decades. You don’t really have control over this, and neither does the tour company. You book and it is the luck of the draw. We did ask the guide point blank if people younger than us ever book this tour? She said “Yes for sure, there have been people in their 20’s, people with young children. Sometimes the bus is filled with 30 somethings and it is a party bus, where everyone is drunk all the time. However it is generally an older crowd. The average age is 50+”

8) Will there be anyone our age?

This is purely up to luck. No there wasn’t anyone our age, but this didn’t effect our enjoyment at all. We even made lasting friendship with one couple. It is all up to you whether or not you can handle being the youngest if you are younger than 50.If you don’t think this is an issue, I wouldn’t worry about it. If this is a major issue for you, then I would think a little harder whether this tour is right for you.

9) Will it be unbearably hot on the bus?

No not really, the bus is air conditioned and they have free water bottles for everyone and lots of it. The outside temperature can be very hot though. The Guanacaste area, for instance, was 43°C or 110°F with the average being 33-36°C or 90 -97°F

This extensive guide will answer the question: is Caravan.com worth it?

10) Will we get a chance to ourselves?

Yes definitely. There is plenty of free time, and down time to do what you want with. You can choose to relax or go off property. You are stuck on the bus when you are going to and from one place or on an outing. Once you get to a hotel, you can choose to go or not on one of the outings. If it is on the way, you can also choose to stay on the bus.

11) Will we have time to shop?

Yes there are several places to shop. Sometimes they are attached to the outing destination, the wildlife rescue center for instance. Sometimes they are not. Despite some people’s claims, Caravan is not affiliated with the souvenir shops, and don’t get more or less money if you buy them or not. Some people want to shop, if they didn’t stop, people would get angry. If you don’t believe that then don’t buy anything. Your guide wont bat an eyelash.

 is Caravan.com worth it?
A souvenir from the oxcart factory; note the penny at the bottom
12) I heard there is a lot of crime? Are we going to be safe?

I truly believe you will. I felt safe the entire time. I honestly don’t understand the bad rap some people give Costa Rica. The safest country in the entire world still has crime. Yes there is a lot of poverty in Costa Rica, and nobody can ever guarantee you wont be a victim of crime. I can only speak to you of my experience, and you can quote me: “I felt very safe” maybe it is the tour company, maybe it isn’t. I would have to visit the country alone to find out. IMHO the hype about Costa Rica being unsafe is overblown, just false, and I suspect is propaganda. It also depends on the places you spend time in while you’re there. If you spend most of your time in the slums of San Jose, or walking around after dark flashing expensive jewelry and cash, then you’re going to run into issues. Use common sense, and you should be OK. Like I said though, I can’t/wont guarantee it.

This extensive guide will answer the question: is Caravan.com worth it?

13) Are the locals going to be nice?

Oh yes very. Costa Ricans, despite the poverty levels, are a very happy people. Some people I talked to ask if they are being nice just because they want something? I honestly don’ t think so. They smile wave at the tour buses, even if they know they are not going to stop. They smile and wave without putting their hands out. There are beggars and aggressive salesmen, but I wouldn’t call it the norm, and even those people aren’t mean. They are just trying to get by. The aggressive salesmen are a bit different. They can get quite aggressive, but just ignore them, when they realize you aren’t going to fall for their tactics they quickly move on to a new mark.

We were greeted warmly and kindly wherever we went. Even in the poorest of neighborhoods. People ask me if they are just being nice because they want you to give them money, or are trying to sell you something, but I genuinely don’t think this is the case. Locals will smile and wave at you even if there isn’t anything in it for them. Yes, asking for money and aggressive salesman do happen, but I assure you, the majority of people are happy to see you, regardless of financial gain.

14) Are the wildlife guides going to know what they are talking about, and am I going to need a telescope to see a tiny dot they are going to call a bird?

I was quite impressed with the level of knowledge of the guides, both the Caravan staff and the ones they ones at the various side trips. At one point there were bats on a log I would have never have noticed if I lived a million years if the local guide had not pointed them out. On a different outing, a different guide saw a snake that again, I am amazed he could even see it. He had a high power spotting scope and still had to explain to the group how to see it in the scope. Even our tour director Laura was pretty knowledgeable and was also a fellow bird watcher/enthusiast. She knew almost any bird I asked her about, she only was stumped a few times, and it may have been the quality of my photography and not a gap in her knowledge.

 is Caravan.com worth it?
Our guide saw this from 10 feet away. I’m pointing out to you that this is a bat and it is still hard to see isn’t it? There are more bats below the circle too!
15) Is there a catch? There must be a catch, its too cheap to be true right?

Well, yes and no. The price has a bit of a catch, the cheapest quoted price is for the rainy season, at $1195 USD mid season at $1295 and high season at $1395 with tax not included per person, at the time of writing. I have been told the rainy season isn’t all that bad, but we went in the middle season(February) There’s bit of another catch: the price does not include flights. The flights are not that bad though, and this isn’t that big of a deal, IMHO. Also not included are tips, although this is not obligatory, as tipping is not expected in most places. You also don’t need to tip the director or the driver, although we did. They did such a fantastic job, we felt they deserved it. What is included is: every high quality meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner), every hotel and even a “few” drinks here and there. Almost every meal is a buffet, with a pretty decent variety of choices. Transportation, entry and activity fees are also taken care of, you don’t really need to worry about anything. Just sit back relax and let the director have all the stress of organizing.

The following link is an affiliate link


This extensive guide will answer the question: is Caravan.com worth it?

16) Will we meet people?

Yes for sure, everyone on the bus was nice. If you find someone you don’t like, the group is big enough to avoid them if necessary. We met a couple almost right away and would eat at their table frequently. They have since come to see us in Calgary, and we are planning to see them in San Francisco in 2020, if all goes to plan. I think you would have a hard time not finding someone to like, being in such a large group.

 is Caravan.com worth it?
The whole group posing for a picture (minus a couple of people)
17) What about the bad reviews I see sometimes?

Yes, before I payed my deposit I read reviews, and there are some negative ones. I suppose we could have gotten lucky and it could be crap if we go again, but I doubt this is the case. Some of the negative reviews seem to be legit, but some of them are unrealistic. With one review complaining that the didn’t see a sloth, and that is somehow the tours’ fault. There are complaints about he food, most complaining about the beans and rice. Like I said earlier this is what Ticos and Ticas (what local Costa Ricans call themselves) eat. A lot of requests are made to have local cuisine, and like it or not, this is local cuisine. Some reviewers complain about some of the hotels being not as nice as others. While I can say this is true, I don’t think I would call any of them dumps. However, if you are very particular of how your hotel “looks” then you might be disappointed. My criteria is that the beds are comfy, it’s clean, and not noisy, which I thought that they all were. Still though, I can see some of the complaints about a few of the hotels. I just put more stock into how good a hotel feels, rather than looks.

18) What about tipping?

We did tip the driver, he was that good that is why. Our driver was nicknamed “Roli” and he did a fantastic job. He was a bus driving artist, he maneuvered that bus like it was a compact car. There were times I would look out of the bus window and get nervous just watching him, yet he never had one bit of trouble. Some jerk one time double parked behind him and he had to do a hundred point turn but he never hit the other vehicle and the bus cheered after he got out. You could say that is his job, why should I tip him, but I disagree. Still though, it is your discretion whether or not to tip, they are not aggressive or begging for tips, so I had no regrets tipping them.

We tipped the tour director too, again because she was so good. Do you think they can keep the price so low because they pay their staff a ton of money? Laura was excellent, she was well organized and a good communicator. She even arranged for a pharmacist to deliver back medicine when I pulled a muscle in my back. She was fantastic and deserved every penny of our tip.

19) Do I need to learn Spanish?

I think you should, but if you don’t learn any at all you can get by because the tour guides are fluent in English and Spanish. I think you will have a better time if you learn some Spanish. I got some freebie ice cream in one of the towns because I complimented them in Spanish, and then added “yo hablo poquito español” (I speak very little Spanish) they were impressed that I tried because most tourists don’t. I am of the opinion any travel blogger who tells you not to bother learning the language is giving bad advice. I’m not telling you to become fluent, but at least learn a few key phrases. You will be glad you did.

The following link is an affiliate link.


Learn Spanish

20) Is it worth it in general?

I really believe so, and I tell all my closest friends and relatives it’s worth it.

This extensive guide will answer the question: is Caravan.com worth it?

Some complaints and negatives to consider

I don’t have that many, but I have some.


This extensive guide will answer the question: is Caravan.com worth it?

1) The bus can’t stop just because you want it to

There were a few times I wanted to stop because there was a sight I thought looked really cool. For instance in Grecia, Alajuela there is a cathedral made out of metal. It looks really cool and I wouldn’t mind going inside either. (I couldn’t even get a picture, it was on the other side of the bus past people) With a large group though they can’t pull the bus over every time someone wants. They would never get anywhere.

 is Caravan.com worth it?
Stop the bus!…..awww
2) Riding in a bus for several hours

Some of the bus rides are very long, and can get a bit boring, but we were prepared for this. Pack some entertainment and you should be OK. If you have a bad back or can’t tolerate long rides in a bus seat, then you should reconsider this tour. They stopped to stretch a few times, and to get ice cream, but they are pretty long rides. Still I’m glad I wasn’t driving either. Considering the traffic, and washed out roads. Plus getting lost would be very easy without a GPS, and possibly even with one. Cell signals are non-existent in remote areas. This is something to think about.

This depends on your tolerance for long car rides, or if you get motion sickness. If you can’t stand road trips because you get claustrophobic or just can’t stand being stuck in a seat for hours, I would think twice about this tour if I were you. Bring a book, make a new friend, bring an mp3 player, take a nap etc. I thought the guide did an excellent job of keeping the bus ride interesting though. She was very knowledgeable and had a lot to say about every area we visited. For the most part the bus rides were very tolerable. They also made a point of stopping every 2 hours so we could stretch and use the washroom, and enjoy something local, like ice cream.

3) Its not really possible to extend the stay at one of the day trips

I wanted to stay longer at some of the sites, but they have a schedule to adhere to, so I was understanding. I am also aware that not everyone is as entertained by wildlife and can sit for an hour waiting for a sloth to move. Still though if you are only in Costa Rica for the wildlife I would suggest a true wildlife tour.

This extensive guide will answer the question: is Caravan.com worth it?

4) The bathroom on the bus

This one is directed at the bus occupants. Despite there being a bathroom on the bus it is a bit of bad etiquette to do a number 2 on the bus. I realize if you have to go, you have to go. If you can avoid it, you should. They have air fresheners on board, but they are only so effective. After a few hours on the bus it can be forgiven however I’m sure I wasn’t the only person swearing under my breath at some of the passengers who made a stink only moments after setting off. The bathroom itself is cleaned daily, but some passengers are less tidy than others.

5) The passengers in general

That brings me to the passengers. We had a really good, and well behaved group. There were only a couple of people who were vocal about their views on politics and were a bit annoying. Still though if there is someone you don’t like, you are stuck with them for 9 days. Also I will say again the age of your tour mates is probably north of 50. It wasn’t a problem for us, but it might be for you.

6) Not all hotels are the same

This is not a complaint from me, but something I heard from the other passengers. Some of the hotels are not a good as the others. I thought the hotels were really good, but others had a problem with some of them. They can’t all be 5★ or else the price would skyrocket. If you want a luxury tour you are going to have to pay a lot more than $1195 PP. Good luck finding a better tour for less.

This extensive guide will answer the question: is Caravan.com worth it?

 is Caravan.com worth it?
The hotel in Quepos

This complaint is of a personal preference and I don’t blame anyone for it. The J.W. Marriot in Guanacaste was one of the hotels we stayed at. While it is a gorgeous property, and possibly the nicest hotel of the bunch, it was also the most expensive for drinks and anything extra. The infinity pool is very nice and the private beach is nice too. The one complaint I have is that they make it very inconvenient and expensive to get off the property. This is probably so that you spend your money on the property instead of somewhere else. It was by no means a bad stay, I felt very relaxed. At the same time though I felt a little like a prisoner. The hotel is gated and charges you a fee to go in and out, so getting a taxi is outrageously expensive if not impossible. You could take the hotels van into town at $40 USD per passenger, just to go to the nearest town, which is 17 KM because of the circuitous route. If you drew a line it would only be about 5 KM. I still liked the resort, don’t get me wrong. I just like exploring and I thought it would be neat to see Tamarindo, but we weren’t about to spend that much money.

 is Caravan.com worth it?
The view from the hotel in Manuel Antonio
7) Little opportunity for exploring

The reason I like to travel is to explore. With a regimented tour, there is very little chance to explore. This is not to say I had a bad experience. The tour company has put together a very satisfying package, that appeals to a broad range of people. You do have free time almost every day, the problem is unless you take an expensive taxi, your only option is to walk and that is just too far in most locations. The tour bus is for getting from main locations to another, not a shuttle bus for errands. I completely understand this, but it’s another factor. If you want total freedom, then I suggest you self guide, or be prepared to pay.

This extensive guide will answer the question: is Caravan.com worth it?

8) If you are a photographer even an amateur. You can’t take your time to compose a picture, or else you hold up the group.

For most people this isn’t an issue, but if your hobby is photography some shots take time to set up. For instance in the rain forest there were bats underneath a log. It was very dark underneath requiring a tripod or extremely high ISO. I had to go with high ISO resulting in a lot of noise. I really would have liked the opportunity to spend time to get this shot. I don’t blame anyone, It’s just a preference. Like I said, if you are a photographer, and you must get the shot. You should probably consider a specialty tour rather than an all encompassing tour like this one.

These are the bats I was talking about. I ran this photo though a noise remover, and its still noisy. There’s a shadow and its not very sharp. I was really excited to see them though. I just wished I could have gotten a better shot.

I was disappointed in was that we couldn’t get off the boat on the boat tour when it stopped at the Nicaraguan border. This is because, despite being warned not to, passengers would walk across the border in the past and would get arrested and held hostage. To be safe, nobody was allowed off the boat. There was a massive flock of birds I wanted to photograph, but really, it was a minor thing that I understood. In short, dumb people in the past ruined it for everyone. I wasn’t going to argue though. This is also not the tour operators fault. It’s not something I’m angry about, and it would never stop me from going back.

9) Some towns are less than stellar and have annoying aggressive salesmen

My least favorite town has to be Manuel Antonio (also the name of the national park). The town itself is beautiful and the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is fantastic. What I didn’t like and which is no the fault of the tour operator, is the very aggressive souvenir shop sellers, but you can just ignore them and walk away though. Just be forewarned, I didn’t feel unsafe, but I was just put off by how aggressive they were.

It’s hard to see because of the shadows, but the driver of the car is getting harassed by 3 different salesmen.

You have to get up at ungodly hours to get from one place to another

If you are not a morning person, you might have a hard time in the morning, as the days when they move to a new location they have to leave pretty early. You can sleep on the bus though, which makes the trip go by faster. Still though, it is something to consider.

 is Caravan.com worth it?
Personally, I think this low income neighborhood has charm to it. Some might think it is a dirty slum, but to each their own.
10) I want to see (insert favorite animal) I will be angry if it isn’t there!

If you must see a sloth, spider monkey, toucan etc, or your trip will be ruined, then you should consider another tour. Nobody can guarantee a certain thing, and it is certainly not the tour director or operators fault a certain animal isn’t there. I overheard someone in another group berating their tour director because when they were in Manuel Antonio they didn’t get to see a monkey. This is an absurd expectation, except for the zoo or rehabilitation centre, the animals are wild and can come and go at their own free will. There are dedicated wildlife tours and private tours available if there is something you absolutely have to see. They will cost a lot more though. Please do not be mean to a nice person because you have unrealistic expectations. I apologize if I sound harsh, but I felt bad for the director in the other group, they don’t deserve to be treated that way.

This extensive guide will answer the question: is Caravan.com worth it?

 is Caravan.com worth it?
This is the best shot of a sloth I could get. Am I disappointed: yes. Am I going to curse the tour director or blame the tour operator? Heck no!
A budget breakdown for you to consider

I will go with the trip we chose in February at $1295 USD per person in mid season. I’m using the starting hotel “Barceló San José” as a reference, because I need to pick a hotel. It was a really nice property, but not the best of the trip; I would rate it at high 4 stars. $1295 ÷ 9 days = $144 per day per person for hotel, food, transportation and activities. I will say if you are traveling with a spouse, hotel rooms are shared between 2 people.

If you booked everything yourself:

Hotel the Barceló costs $102/night ÷ 2 = $51 per person

Food Generally speaking most guides consider $50 per day as a low average
(For context, the lunch buffet at the Barceló cost almost $50 after drinks on the day of arrival per person)

Transportation its generally cheaper to have a bus full of people rather than a single car; however, after insurance most rental cars cost $15/day. This does not include the costs for petrol.

The total for hotel, food and transportation comes to $116 per person per day. To compare against the cost of the tour, $144 – $116 = $28. This is the total you are left with for petrol, local guides, park entrance fees and any other activities. One of the activities we did on the tour was to visit an oxcart factory in Sarchi, then go on a tour of a coffee plantation and butterfly garden, which is around $70 USD per person.

Play with the numbers all you want, but I think it is safe to say there is good value in the caravan.com tour. There are a ton of tour options besides Caravan, but I don’t think you will find anything that is cheaper, and is as good of quality as this tour.

This extensive guide will answer the question: is Caravan.com worth it?

The town of Tilaran we drove through.

The big question: is it worth it and do I recommend this tour?

Yes, without a doubt. I can’t guarantee whether you will because I don’t know you personally, but I am confident in saying for me it was money well spent, and Adriane agrees with me and everyone on our tour does too. We are probably going to do the Guatemala tour in a year or 2 we liked it that much. We would even consider going back on the same tour.

I hope this helps you make up your mind. I tried to be as objective and unbiased as possible, giving the positive and the negatives. We had such a great time it’s hard to come up with negatives, but there are a few. We just didn’t let those things bother us. I will go over in detail our trip in Costa Rica in other weeks, stay tuned.

Have you gone to Costa Rica? Did you go with Caravan? Are you thinking about it? Let me know in the comments. Share this with someone who may be thinking about going to Costa Rica, or is thinking about Caravan.com. They have other tours available, so this might help even if it is a different tour they are thinking about. Thanks! -TheGlobeTrevor

Tagged , , , , , , ,

8 thoughts on “Should I book with Caravan.com?

    1. We had a great time. Costa Rica is a beautiful country. My wife and I are even considering buying retirement property there.

    1. I think they do. They were very vocal about being responsible. They gave out water bottles and had a recycling bin aboard the bus. The wildlife rescue center and leatherback turtle education are parts of the tour. I dont think they promote themselves as such, but they employ locals and help the local economies. People are expected to behave themselves on tour with respecting the wildlife, and the wildlife guides they contract out encourage responsibility.

      That is a good question. I think I will contact caravan and ask them.

  1. Such a thorough post. If I wanted to go on a trip like this one, this post would be my go to resource. It covers all the important points about such a vacation.

  2. This is all such great information! Thanks for sharing as I have never used them before but it sounds like I need to for my next trip!

    1. Not this year, but possibly next year we are planning their Guatemala tour.

      If you go, let me know how it goes. I’m going to have to update my post because i forgot to mention that it us a popular tour and the dates fill up several months in advance.

      Thanks for your comment 😊

Any comments are greatly appreciated.