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Review - Costa Rica Private Guide and Driver - Leo Rodriguez

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Leonardo “Leo” Rodriguez – Private Tour Guide and Driver
Costa Rica Phone: (506) 8378-0001
Email: leratravelcr@yahoo.com

I was as nervous about the driving in Costa Rica as anything leading up to our recent trip. I know many people rent a car or use arranged transportation, but I strongly recommend using a private driver and tour guide as an alternative. After this trip I do not feel I will travel anywhere internationally without doing so.

I received Leonardo “Leo” Rodriguez’s name from Frommers forum and emailed him initially as only a driver. The prices that Leo charges for this service are in line with the many other options. The benefit of having Leo is not only that you can set your schedule however you want and stop for sights etc as often as you would like (these are the initial benefits that caused me to chose Leo). The real benefit is having a highly trained and unbelievable knowledgeable professional guide with you at all times. My main concern about having a private driver was that I am not an overly talkative person at times. I am not an introvert by any means, but I just often appreciate silence. I was worried that if I had a driver he would be talking non-stop on drives and then if we ate he would sit there talking and it would be awkward. Leo is outstanding as a conversationalist. He is not afraid to let there be silence in the car while driving and at the same time is eager to explain an exciting bird he just saw when you feel like talking, it is wonderful. Also we found that when we stopped for lunch to eat with Leo we would look forward to it as you would with a friend. Leo was an exceptional person with great manners and honest strong character.

Leo is also the master of the mid transfer activity. When he knew where we were going, you could see the gears turning as he came up with things to do in the middle to break up the drive and enrich your Costa Rica Experience. Many people we met and interacted with along the way (either rafting, zip-lining, or a standard hike) couldn’t believe that having a guide like Leo was even an option, and honestly when I first emailed him I couldn’t believe it either. My only true regret of the trip is that we did not use Leo for all tours. Being “responsible” I diversified my tour providers so I could be sure I wouldn’t have all of them with someone I didn’t like. All I did was guarantee I would have at least some with which I would be less happy. I actually canceled many of my previously scheduled independent tours to switch to Leo once I arrived and rode with Leo for a couple of days, but we had scheduled the all day tour combo with one company in La Fortuna and couldn’t cancel. They did an excellent job, but going from 4 days of just having my wife and I with Leo to having to squeeze into a van with 6 other tourists a driver and a guide (10 in all) was a huge difference. We found ourselves throughout the day (as we were sitting on strangers laps in the van) saying to each other how much we missed Leo. Having a private guide is also a huge benefit to learning about the area. I feel like a professional Costa Rica guide myself now because Leo had such thorough answers to our questions. Occasionally if he were with us on a different tour and other tourists asked their guides questions that they did not know the answer to, Leo would wait until we got back to the van and answer ALL of the questions that the other guides didn’t know. Leo knows everything about Costa Rica! People, history, wildlife, plants, geography, etc! He never failed to amaze us!! Leo is also amazing at spotting wildlife. We would tell him specific things we wanted to see on a given day and he would find them… I don’t know how he did it, but he does. If you chose to go with him ask him to make his eagle sounds to the sloths, it was the highlight of our trip.

Leo’s passion for Costa Rica is contagious and I will return in the future. When I do or if my family decides to go what I recommend they do will be to contact Leo initially and tell him when and where we want to go and have him advise from there. He knows where the best zip-lines, tours, rafting, beaches, surfing, diving, and hotels in the country are and given how wonderful of a job he did arranging all of this into my fixed hotel schedule, he could do wonders with a blank slate. He always asked us about hotels we stayed at and you could see him compiling his own rankings in his mind. Most problems we pointed out he was able to describe in detail later since he had heard them all before. We were very fortunate with our hotel selection, but having Leo’s input prior to our next trip will insure the trip of our lives. My wife and I were in Costa Rica for our 10-year anniversary for a first week-long trip without the kids in 5 years. It is funny to say that by Saturday, as expected we were ready to say goodbye to Costa Rica for the time being so we could see our kids, but saying goodbye to Leo was like saying goodbye to a friend and was actually one of the harder parts of leaving. I have no connection to Leo other than his turning our good Costa Rica trip into the best trip possible, but I have told him he can use me as a reference to anyone needed. If you would like any other information please ask him for my info and I would be happy to provide honest opinions. My name is Chad Matthews and my wife and I traveled with Leo the first week in February in 2012. Also one thing my wife kept commenting on is how safe she felt with him. I personally would feel safe if she needed a ride alone from him, and I know she felt the same she told several women while we were there about him and advised they use him for that reason as well.

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