Private Driver Experience in CR

Old Aug 25th, 2004, 02:23 PM
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Private Driver Experience in CR

When planning our trip choosing to rent a car vs. hire a driver was one of our difficult decisions.

For us using drivers was a perfect choice. We used them to take us from one major destination to another and stopped to tour along the way. See Trevor's trip report for more.

We began with Oscar (Percy's thread); however, on his way to Samara a gas station put regular fuel vs. diesel in his car resulting in his car geing fixed during remainder of our trip. He arranged for "Juan" to cont. with us. Then we had such a good experience with him that we decided to use a driver to get to our Sarapiqui rafting trip (cheaper than big tour group). Juan was already busy and sent "Miguel", who was equally as good.

All 3 were knowledgable, personable and their driving was great. Vans were comfortable, immaculate and best of all, we never stopped learning about and seeing wildlife along the way. We learned about the culture, family life and had tons of tasty, Tico food along the way! (average cost for 4 main meals $16). I know we could have driven, although the stretch from Arenal to Samara in rain was rough, but this was totally relaxing. I also think we saved money. I can't say enough about these drivers. We did fine at our destinations w/o a car. This is a very personal choice with pros and cons either way! Contact me direct for more info. [email protected] Joyce
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 06:46 PM
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Joyce says it very well. I'll just add a few additional insights.

We were fortunate to have Oscar as our driver for 6 of our 8 days in Costa Rica. Driving through the central valley, he pointed out all the crops that we were seeing along the way. We saw plantations of coffee, guava, sugar cane, rice, yucca, papaya, squash, pineapples, coconuts. He also pointed out the processing plants for guava jam, coffee bean cleaning, etc. We would have zipped right by these things, not having a clue what they were, had we been driving ourselves. My mother-in-law, who is interested in all things botanical, was fascinated.

Another advantage was that he was able to act as a "facilitator" for us in certain situations, eg: negotiating with guides, getting us back the prescription sunglasses we left at Arenal Paraiso, getting us to the airport when there was a massive trucker strike (which was shutting down most transit in the country.)

We originally were going to hire him for just airport and between-hotel transfers, but we ended up hiring him for two additional days. He was very flexible. Our last day before the strike fiasco, he took us to Turubari park and did the canopy tour, "Superman" zip line and horseback riding with us. We had a lot of laughs!

If anyone is interested, he has very few bookings for the next few months.
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 07:23 PM
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I agree with both of you.

I just posted a small summary of my experience with Oscar under the heading "To Drive or be Driven".

And yes I also was at Turbari and the morning before my flight at 2PM Oscar took me to Zoo Avenue , (near the airport)to see some other birds and wildlife that I did not see(there was lots here).

Over all I had a great time with him

When you are one on one,you talk about everything .

I tld Oscar one joke in particular that he really liked.
We were passing a graveyard (cemetery) and I said to him:

"Oscar,how many people are dead in there.?"

He gave me this puzzled look and then after a short while said,"I don't know".

I said,"All of them .!!"

Well ,he just cracked up, c'mom people , it is not that funny !!!but he loved it.

So everytime we passsed a cemetery, he would tap me on the shoulder and say "amigo"...and he would point to the cemetery and start laughing again.

He did this the whole nine days each time we passed a cemetery..!!!

I guess they do not have Granola Bars in Costa Rica,(they have the cereal) at least Oscar said said they do not.

I brought a box with me( for myself and Vi)but when I gave Oscar one , he thought he died and went to heaven..so I gave him the whole box.

And those of you who have seen Oscar know he likes to eat !!!!

Goodnight all

Percy





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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 09:06 AM
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Percy, I hope you read this, as it is because of you that we got to meet O
Oscar! Ivk, Trevor thought I didn't do Oscar justice, so I am glad you added your piece!
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 02:50 PM
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Thank you all for your comments .
I truly enjoyed them all.

We all have our own experience when in Costa Rica.
Some good
Some Bad
But mostly Good.

Hmmm a Trucker Strike eh !!! Just what a person needs.

I ran into a strike and street demonstration in Panama in 2002..so I know what that is like.

You all take care.

Percy

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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 03:17 PM
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Hi,

I am headed to CR in Nov. I was thinking of renting a car but reading this thread has gotten me interested in possibly getting a driver.

What is the cost involved as well as the process of booking?

Thanks
RJH
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 06:00 PM
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The cost for us depended on the distance between destinations and I guess, length of the day. It ranged from $100 - $180/day, but actually, we never were with the driver less than 5-6 hrs.and they first have to drive from wherever to get you...so they spend a lot of time on the road! We paid for lunches for them but they show you very reasonable, good places to stop. Some days we went direct from place to place, sometimes stopped to tour. They always point things out along the way. We arranged it all ahead of time from home. Ivk...Trevor is so jealous that Oscar did the superman cable with you! Oscar's car was being fixed when we went there.
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Old Aug 27th, 2004, 12:48 PM
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Hey Joyce,

Just looked at Trevor's pictures - they're great--and now we're even. My daughter is very jealous of Trevor getting to hold a monkey!!
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Old Aug 27th, 2004, 03:38 PM
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I am wondering about how much to tip in a driver / car / guide situation. They are charging me between $120 and $150 per day plus entrance fees, etc., depending on how long we are out. A regular day is $120 and a long day is $150. Should I also buy lunch for him / them?

Leaving in a week. Hope the strike isn't an issue by then.

Any advice? Thanks.
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Old Aug 27th, 2004, 04:25 PM
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wanderlust,

Regarding Lunches - for us, it differed. In a "transfer" situation, our driver would suggest and stop at a little soda for a bite to eat. We would pay for his meal in those cases. However, in many of the tourist attractions, such as LaPaz, Turubari, the drivers generally are comp'd by the establishment.

We generally tipped depending on our service, length of day. We tipped Oscar between $10/20 a day, with a bigger one at the end because of the harrowing circumstances. We were not very happy with our MA guide, and felt we overpaid for his services. He seemed like he was in a hurry to get rid of us, so we didn't tip him. We tipped the zip-line guides about $10/each, Penas Blancas guide $20.
Keep in mind, though, that we were 5 people.

For what it's worth, Oscar told me that (in his experience) the Americans, Canadians and Puerto Ricans are the only ones that generally tip the drivers/guides. He said he rarely gets tips from Europeans, Asians or South Americans.

I hope the strike is all cleared up by the time you leave. Please keep checking www.ticotimes.net and www.amcostarica.com for any strike updates. The situation seems to flip back and forth between better & worse. If it's still questionable, by the time you leave, call your hotel and see how their dealing with it.

Have a great time!
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Old Aug 30th, 2004, 06:08 AM
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Wow! Very interesting...
How can I book a private driver?
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Old Aug 30th, 2004, 06:41 AM
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We have traveled by bus, car, taxi, plane, and private driver in CR. We always enjoyed our time with the drivers and learn so much from them. Costa Ricans all have so much pride in their country and love to share their knowledge of it.
I have spent a good bit of time reading back postings here by people and there seem to be a couple of names that keep popping up. Oscar and Orlando. Some independent companies that keep popping up are monteverdeinfo.com and costaricatransfers.com. I am sure there are lots more. We are seeing more and more names for transfers when down there. Most tour agents down there can hook you up with one and many hotels have lists of drivers.

This board itself does have a lot of info even for someone like me who has traveled extensively down there. Like nature... hotels, roads, restaurants and even new tourist attractions are constantly changing down there. It is always good to have current first hand info. Keep those trip reports coming!
Sometimes a place will get sold and the new owners are better, or worse, than the old one. Always good to know.

Pura Vida!
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Old Aug 30th, 2004, 07:25 PM
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I booked a car / driver / guide through the hotel where I am staying (Las Orqhideas Inn) near Alajeula. Wady has a tour desk there and I have been working with Jeffrey of Wady Tours via email to arrange my days there. He has been very helpful so far. I am not sure if he will be driving or guiding or is just arranging the transportation for me but I will report back on how things went once I return!
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Old Sep 1st, 2004, 08:21 AM
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The guys at Wady are a lot of fun and you can make up your own day trips.
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Old Oct 7th, 2004, 04:22 PM
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ttt
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