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Tortuguero guide - tipping?

Old Jan 5th, 2009, 05:42 PM
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Tortuguero guide - tipping?

Only five weeks until we start our 16 day trip to Costa Rica - first part is with Fran & Modesto Watson on the 3 day/2 night Riverboat Francesca tour to Tortuguero.

Since we pay the Watsons one set fee for lodging, meals, tours, transportation, I would assume that we would still leave small tips for any services at Laguna Lodge. But do we also tip Modesto? I've always tipped guides at reserves, boat trips, etc., but have never had one guide/tour owner for a three day period.

If so, what would be the appropriate amount to give him? Cost for the package is $295 pp.
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Old Jan 6th, 2009, 04:05 AM
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We didn't tip him since it was his package deal. AND we didn't leave tips at Laguna Lodge. Probably should have. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. To be honest, widespread tipping was not common, nor expected when we first began going in 2001. Today, with more tourists, it has become more common. Once you get to Laguna, you can check on what is typical. Or better yet, ask Fran. She'll know. We LOVE the Watson's--jealous of you!
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Old Jan 6th, 2009, 04:24 AM
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We did tip Modesto, I want to say maybe $40? I can't remember exactly. In our group, which was about 9 people, it seemed like about half tipped and half didn't if I had to guess by watching them pay him and watching him give back change. We didn't tip at Laguna at all from what I remember. I think you're going to really enjoy it there! It was one of my favorite parts of our trip!
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Old Jan 6th, 2009, 05:55 AM
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Thanks - I just wasn't sure, but was always brought up to believe that you don't tip the owners of any services.

I cannot wait to get there and am more excited about the Tortuguero part of the trip than anything else!
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Old Jan 6th, 2009, 07:54 AM
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We did tip Fran at the end of our trip, as she dropped us off in San Jose. I think maybe $30-$40. I don't recall tipping at the lodge, though we might have.

Like Shillmac (remember me, Molly2?) ,sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. Tipping in general is something I hate. Not actually parting with the money, but knowing when to. We tend to tip more when the service is very personal, especially when we know that the money is needed much more by the tippee than by the tipper!
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Old Jan 6th, 2009, 07:55 AM
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Lucky you - the Watsons are Great!
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Old Jan 6th, 2009, 08:16 AM
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Yes, tipping in a different country and culture can sure be tricky. I wish there was one set of rules we could all follow to know that we are doing the appropriate thing!

We are so excited about Tortuguero and have German and Canadian friends joining us. Although the swamps and rivers will be a bit similar to south Louisiana where I live, it will be totally unique for my friends.

I wish we were leaving Jan. 9th instead of Feb. 9th!
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Old Jan 6th, 2009, 08:34 AM
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colibri, I'm really looking forward to reading your trip report when you get back.
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Old Jan 6th, 2009, 09:11 AM
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colibri - I'm with you and Cattail on this one; I, too, never really know when or how much to tip as there is no set protocol. When I was in Tortuguero during my last trip, the question went round the group about whether to tip our boat captain who may or may not have been an employee of the lodge itself but rather of one of the other lodges in the area. We ended up tipping him anyway and more than our main guide (even though he was only with us for two trips on the canals while our "official" guide was with us for the three days we were in the area) because he was so much more knowledgeable and helpful than the latter.

I've also experienced the same quandary with hotel staff since sometimes the front desk staff have helped me with my luggage, etc. and I wondered if it was appropriate to tip them as well along with the doormen and concierges.

I've read somewhere that tipping your guide anywhere from 10-20 percent of the package rate was okay along with the usual way of tipping him any amount you were comfortable with without regard for the package rate. Which may or may not be helpful ;-) but that's another option you can consider.

Have a wonderful trip!

And please let us know what you decide to do with the tipping issue...
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Old Jan 6th, 2009, 09:16 AM
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Isn't it fun to read and live vicariously through everyone else's reports? We start off at Don Carlos Hotel for our first night, then Tortuguero with the Watsons, four nights at Arenal area - Cano Negro, canopy tour, Eco Termales, Hanging Bridges, horseback riding - only one night at Selva Verde - wanted more, but booked up. We're going on the chocolate tour at La Tirimbina (a must for a confirmed chocoholic!), La Paz, then we finish up staying for a week with a friend in Heredia that we met last year in Guanacaste. We'll go to Poas, Cachi/Orosi/Lankester Gardens, Punta Leona, Zarcero, Elsie Kientzler Botanical Garden, Cocalica Gardens - plus who knows what else our friends will plan?!

I think I will have the $$ available for tipping and play it by ear - will let everyone know when we return - still four weeks, six days to go...can you tell I'm ready??!!
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Old Jan 6th, 2009, 09:26 AM
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cattail? CATTAIL?! LOLOLOLOL

Took me awhile to figure it out. . .
shouldn't surprise you.

I had to laugh when you mentioned tipping Fran at the end. At the end of OUR trip, we discovered that we had forgotten to PAY Fran and that she had requested cash! So she had to deliver us to an ATM so we could get the $$ out to pay her! And then, no tip. However, she probably felt lucky just to get her package money!

That was the trip where she had to race madly through the countryside to try to get ahead of the taxistas who were blocking the highway. She got back on the highway just as they were pulling up to form a new blockade. She came flying off that country road onto the highway seconds ahead of them with all of us passengers screaming, "Gun it! Gun it"! Quite a ride. She DESERVED a tip!
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