Manuel took us on an all day journey. First, a wonderful trip to a coffee cooperative where we... read more
Manuel took us on an all day journey. First, a wonderful trip to a coffee cooperative where we... read more
Manny helped us plan all of our accommodations and excursions outside of the resort. He set up our travel to and from the airport as well as our excursions: zip lining, local lunch, hot springs, shopping, and four wheeling. He even recommend a great fishing trip for the guys in our group. All of the drivers were very nice and very safe on the road. During our drive we had great conversation with Manny and he was able to tell us about the area. Everyone went above and beyond to make sure our needs were met. Would highly recommend!!!
Costa Rica Eco Journeys succeeds because Owner and Tour Guide Manuel Fennell sweats the details. He plans his tours like a Master Chess Player would plan his strategy of attack. He can react to and handle the unexpected. If Plan A doesn't work, he's got his B and C plans ready.
Manuel provides knowledgeable, professional and flexible tours that meet your expectations. He asks what you want to do as well as if you're happy with what you've done. Eco Journeys concentrates on the small and individual tours where he can guarantee a positive experience. And while he wants to grow, he has set modest expectations that echo his desire to provide superior customer service. He loves living and working in his home town of Liberia and it shows.
Costa Rica licenses its tour guides, but it can't license personal and business relationships developed over many years living and working in their chosen field. Manuel worked on the zip lines at Borinquen for two years for example. It certainly helped when we arrived at the zip lines along with a massive tour group.
We would have been stuck on the zip lines for hours if Manuel hadn't shuffled us up the hill and onto the course. He smoothed our transitions from zip lines to lunch to mud bathing and finally to horseback riding, all the while acting as our professional photographer snapping some pretty good shots as well.
His experience includes working for other tour agencies, but Manuel also taught Spanish in South Carolina for two years. You can see the teacher still oozing from his pores. He claims to be well read, rather than well-traveled, but I'm not sure that makes a difference anymore.
He'll make sure that you have everything you need to have a great time. Don't forget your bathing suit, a change of clothes, bug spray and suntan lotion.
And yes, we did sort of interrogate him over the time we were traveling back and forth. We left him none the worse for wear and ready to wow his next tour group.
If you're looking for a tour in Costa Rica, stop reading this RIGHT NOW and contact Manuel. Then, come back and finish reading this review. I'll wait. Seriously, GO. I'll be here when you get back and you can thank me.
Ok, did you email him? Good call. Now, here's the deal: My husband and I recently visited CR on a whim. When I say a whim, I mean on Thursday we said, "Let's go to CR next week" and on Tuesday morning we were on a plane. Needless to say, without much time to plan, I leaned on the TA community for suggestions and thank goodness I did! That's how I found Manuel and Costa Rica Eco Journeys and our time with him ended up being the best part of our entire trip! We prefer to do private tours when possible, as we feel you learn more and the experience is much richer. This was absolutely the case with Manuel and we are so grateful for our time with him.
Responsiveness: I am big on first impressions and always appreciate responsiveness from companies. In this situation, as we were very short on time, it was even more paramount. I emailed Manuel a general idea of what we were looking for (a mix of adventure and nature) and he got back to me in less than an hour. We exchanged a few follow-up emails and he always got right back to me with all of the answers I needed. Responsiveness? Check.
Adventure Day: our day started bright and early at our hotel, as tours with CREJ include all your transportation! Manuel greeted us in the lobby of our hotel at 7:00 am, as scheduled, with a warm handshake and a, "Pura Vida!" We loaded into his SUV which was clean, comfortable and, most importantly, had the A/C cranking! That tropical climate is no joke and A/C is always a welcome treat.
Our destination was about 60km away (about 1 hr 30 min) but there was so much to see along the way. Not only that, Manuel is a WEALTH of information about all things Costa Rica. History, economy, ecosystem, agriculture, traditions, etc. We are curious travelers with many questions and he was happy to answer them all! Our ride seemed to fly by and before we knew it, we had arrived to our destination.
As we were looking for a mix of adventure/nature, Manuel suggested the BORINQUEN GRAND ZIP LINE COMBO TOUR:
35 minute Horseback Riding along the Continental Divide
12 run zipline ( waterfall seen from 3rd zipline )
Small volcanic geysers observation
Naturally heated steam room
Mud bath exfoliation
Hot Springs pools
Horseback Riding: Borinquen is a cute little resort tucked into the mountains at the base of Ricon de la Vieja, the volcano in Guanacaste. First on the docket was horseback riding. A rep from the property drove us just a few minutes away to the stables. There, we were given helmets and a trusty steed! Along with Manuel a guide from Borinquen, the four of us started began a beautiful stroll up the mountain. Manuel used my phone to take pics of us along the way, which is super nice because otherwise we wouldn't have any photos of the two of us together. So thoughtful. It was a bit windy on our ride, but our horses were steady and we always felt safe. We saw all kinds of wildlife along the way and enjoyed incredible views of Guanacaste. So far, so good!
Once we reached the designated area, we dismounted our horses and Manuel asked us if we'd like to hike a bit. Although it wasn't on the itinerary, we were, of course, happy to add it in! Manuel took us to two waterfalls and our hike was through a lush, green, dense forest that was teeming with all kids of life! Monkeys, birds, butterflies, flora, fauna. It was a feast for the eyes. We were so glad that Manuel suggested the "bonus" hike. It was my husband's favorite part of the day and it wasn't even planned!
After our hike, it was time to zipline! After getting geared up by the crew, there is a brief Ziplining 101 where you learn how to mount/dismount the line, brake, etc. Listen and pay attention to this demonstration. Important stuff here, kids!
Zipling: So. Much. Fun. The first two lines (of 12 total) are short and designed to help you ease into the whole ziplining thing. But the third line...prepare yourself. It's over a deep ravine and it will definitely get your heart going! Yet, at the same time, look left mid-line and you'll see the most beautiful, serene waterfall. It's a weird, mixed moment of adrenaline and appreciation for nature! The course of ziplines is a total blast and, if you're feeling extra brave, the guys will let you go upside down. I highly recommend this, but my husband does not. Seems he's more of a purist on this one. LOL! As it turns out, Manuel was a zipline instructor for two years, so he's a total pro! He went first on all the lines, even before the guides, and took a million pics/vid of us as we flew down. Having him there to capture our adventure was a total bonus! **PRO TIP: tip your zipline crew at the end of the course. We tipped $20 USD. They work hard to keep it fun and safe and a little something for their efforts is appropriate.
LUNCH: after a full morning of horseback riding, lunch and ziplining, we were ready for lunch! Borinquen served us a beautiful buffet lunch that offered hot dishes, a salad bar, desserts, etc. Everything you need for a delicious lunch.
MUDBATH/HOT SPRINGS: after lunch, we headed over to the hot springs area. There, we were shown to the changing areas and we got into our swimsuits. They have lockers for your stuff so you don't have to lug it around. Simply check it in with the attendant and they will give you a key on a bracelet. Easy peasy. As we walked towards the volcanic geyser, Manuel explained to us how the geothermal pools work, how they harvest the mud, the benefits of mud bathing, etc. Again, he is a wealth of knowledge and enriched the experience every step of the way. Once we reached the volcanic geyser, we saw that it is a small lake that is literally boiling! It emits a great deal of steam (and sulfer) and you stand on the bridge over the lake as you allow the steam to open up your pores. From there, you head over to the mud pots and slather away! The mud is warm and feels really nice as you apply. After allowing the mud to dry (10 minutes or so) you rinse off in the mud showers and then it's time to relax in the hot spring pools. They are so warm and inviting and we loved soaking away in there. There is also a cold pool for quick dunks if you get too warm. Manuel said you are to go back and forth a few times for maximum benefits. Manuel said for us to take as long as we'd like, which was really nice because we never felt rushed.
After we had our fill of mud/hot springs, we headed back to the changing rooms to shower and get dressed. Once dressed, Manuel had a cold beer waiting for us and let me tell you: nothing hits the spot after a day like that like an ice cold Imperial (local beer!) Aaaahhh! We loaded back in our van, which Manuel had thoughtfully pre-air conditioned and we began our journey home.
As we headed home, Manuel asked if we needed to stop anywhere before reaching our hotel. As we did not have a rental car, we asked if he could possibly stop at a store for some souvenirs and he was happy to do so. He took us to a beautiful shop that had a TON of stuff: food gifts, art, jewelry, clothing, coffee, etc. We got everything we needed in one place!
If you've read this far, I guess you don't really need me to say it but I will: Manuel is amazing and I am so glad we found him. He is genuinely passionate about what he does and about Costa Rica. He taught us so much over the course of the day and showed us an epic adventure we will never forget. Not only that, but he was with us every step of the way taking pictures and video so we have these wonderful memories to share with our friends. He is a great representative of Costa Rica and made us feel so welcome. Thank you for everything, Manuel. We hope to see you again soon. Pura Vida!
PS - because of his responsiveness, we opted to use Manuel's company for our airport transfers too! Turns out, his rates were the best price we found BY FAR and both transfers were comfortable, cool and on-time! So you can check that off your to-do list too!
My brother and I were visiting Costa Rica for the first time, without much planned in advance. We reached out to Costa Rica Eco Journeys on a Thursday, and they set us up with some recommendations and accommodated a custom tour for us on that Saturday. Manuel was an amazing tour guide, extremely personable and incredibly knowledgeable about everything from wildlife to Costa Rican politics. He really cared about ensuring we had a fantastic time. Worth the extra few bucks, will recommend to anyone I know going to visit the country.
I booked the Borinquen Zip Line Combo tour (zip lining, mud bath, hot springs - we opted out of horseback riding, & lunch) for my mother and myself on our second day in Costa Rica. This tour company provides private tours, so it was just the two of us, which was very relaxing. Our tour guide, Manuel, was absolutely amazing! He was incredibly knowledgeable, nice, and accommodating. He answered all of our questions and taught us all about Costa Rica. He took great pictures of my mother and I during our tour, on her phone, so we could keep all of our memories. The tour itself was unbelievable, we had so much fun and felt safe and taken care of the entire time. Afterwards, we told him we had not seen any monkeys in the wild and really wanted to, and he went out of his way to make this happen!! He also stopped at a marketplace where I was able to buy some souvenirs and bag of local coffee. We used other tour companies in Costa Rica for transportation, but Manuel was our absolute favorite and I 100% recommend him!!
We are a family of 3 from Houston,Texas and this was our seond time back to Costa Rica. After searching for a private tour guide in the Guanacaste area, we came in contact with Manuel Fenell. Manny helped us customize our itinerary to fit our exact needs, and made our trip OUTSTANDING!! Manny shared his extensive knowledge of Costa Rica, as there was not a question he couldn't answer. Not only was he extremely knowledgeable, but he was also very punctual and always went out of the way to satisfy our needs. We chose the Borinquen expedition, ATV beach hopping, and white water rafting. These tours were PERFECTO! Fun with adventure. Manny acted as our own, private photographer with my cellphone and made sure to take great picures!! On each of the 3 tours with Manny, he encouraged us to take our time and could not have been more accommodating. He even took us to a local grocery store, pharmacy, and stopped to get food for my daughter on the way back to our hotel. Throughout our trip, our vehicle was always spotless. Manny also set us up with one of his private drivers, Walter, for transportation from the Liberia airport to our hotel, the Andaz. Walter was also very nice and puntucal. Manny is VERY personable, and treated us as if he had known us for years. I truly cannot say enough good things about him, as he goes above and BEYOND to make his clients happy and comfortable. In order to make the best of your trip to Costa Rica, having Manny as a tour guide is a MUST!! If we every go back to Costa Rica, we would choose Manny again!