How to pick a tour provider in Costa Rica

The Central American country of Costa Rica is the most-visited country in Latin America for good reason. Latin America’s most stable democracy features the stunning Arenal Volcano, the Poás Volcano Crater, lovely cities like San José, and 25% protected natural territories, a greater percentage than any other country on Earth. Its natural sites boast a staggering level of ecodiversity, and Costa Rica is often considered to be the most ethical country for tourism due to its rigorous environmentalist policies.

If you’re thinking about taking a trip to Costa Rica, it’s a good idea to hire a tour provider or stay at one of the costa rica birding lodges to help you navigate safely through the small country’s abundance of natural sites and to show you the best spots. They’ll explain the history and geography of what you and your tour group are seeing in an enriching and fascinating way.

But how should you choose your tour provider when you visit Costa Rica? Unfortunately, information like consumer reports for tourism are often unavailable to visitors. However, there are still steps you can take to ensure you hire the right tour provider.


Any tour provider you hire in Costa Rica should be licensed by the Costa Rica Tourism Board, or ITC. This is the sole provider of licenses for tour providers and is a standard mark of quality. ICT information can be found at where you can check if your tour provider is licensed. Many people in the Costa Rican tourism industry operate without this license because of its extensive requirements, so it’s always good to check before you hire your tour provider.

Consider package deals

Instead of booking lodging, tours, and travel separately, look for package offers that allow you to take tour guides with your hotel company.

If you’re staying in San José, this is often not worth it as travel times are too long. Look for hotels outside the capital that are closer to the sites you wish to visit. Then, see if your hotel offers tours of these sites. These hotels often exist almost exclusively for eco-tourists and will offer robust and well-guided tours.

Search for solid independent tour providers

For independent tour companies, look online for companies with many reviews and great reputations. This is the surest way to find a company that will help you get the most out of your visit. Trafalgar, Indus Travels, and Intrepid Travel offer extensive, high-quality tours all around Costa Rica. Instead of seeking out the cheapest option you can find, seek a transparent and reputable company to avoid scammy services.

Be wary of travel times

Costa Rica has rugged and varied terrain. Buses in and out of cities can take ages and many regions are semi-isolated by forests and mountain ranges. Know where you want to go, make sure quality tours are provided, then ensure that there are hotels in the area. Do plenty of research to make sure you will be able to reach your tour destination on time from your hotel.

A lot to offer

Tourism is a huge and well-developed industry in Costa Rica and it shouldn’t be too difficult to find quality lodging and tours. Most Costa Ricans are friendly and helpful people who speak English. If you stick with reputable hotels and tour companies, do plenty of research about the services they provide, then work out the logistics of your trip, it’s hard to go wrong while visiting Costa Rica.