Judith Schenck has just returned from our February Costa Rica ecotour — her first journey with International Expeditions. Ms. Schenck had some definite expectations about her travels. So how did IE fare against her checklist?

"This was our first International Expeditions trip and I left in high anticipation of an extraordinary experience. No worry! One of the reasons I chose IE was for the small group experience. I felt we would get more from the trip if we had a group small enough to establish camaraderie."

Small Group
"With 15 people that was exactly what happened. We were quickly able to learn everyone's name and share travel stories. Small group. Check."

Great Guide
"I had heard that IE had experienced guides but I was not prepared for Jonathan Sequeira. He was amazing! He seemed to know every bird, animal, plant and which family and who was related to whom. He knew where to look, when to listen, and when “nature wasn't providing.” On top of that, Jonathan was congenial, had an excellent grasp of the subtleties of the English language, and, as one of our tour group said, "He is charming." Jonathan told great personal stories and made every effort to connect with each one of us. He also did his guide part when situations arose that needed handling. He was a master at making the experience as seamless and rewarding as it could possibly be. Great guide. Check."

Environmentally Responsible
"Our lodging in Costa Rica during the entire trip fit what I would have wanted for an environmentally sensitive experience — constructed with minimal impact and keenly aware of the energy and water usage required. Our meals were definitely local. Ahhh the fresh pineapple and fruit juices at every meal! Environmentally responsible. Check."

Fantastic Birding
"As for the Costa Rica tour, how can you beat being awakened by howler monkeys or an earthquake? (I'm not giving IE credit for the earthquake.) As a birder I was in my glory with all the new species to photograph and add to my informal lifelist. Boat rides, small airplane view of the country, small bus rides through delightful villages and beautiful countryside. This trip had it all. Check."

"Finally, there was adventure day — ziplining in the canopy and whitewater rafting. I will probably never zipline again due to the terror factor, but having finished the experience accompanied by a guide, I did get to enjoy it a little. The whitewater rafting was more my style, and we had a great ride with yet another experienced local guide. Adventure. Check."

"We may never return to Costa Rica — there is so much of the world yet to see, but this trip made us sure that IE is the way to see the natural world in places we would not venture on our own."

- Judith Schenck of Pepperell, MA