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About

Our Purpose

We help busy people by taking the stress out of planning the perfect vacation and helping them have an amazing experience in some of the most amazing places in the world.

How it all started.

In 2018 two American family guys who had whitewater kayaked together for years received the green light from their spouses to plan a whitewater kayaking “mancation”.

We started looking for a reputable company in Costa Rica that would provide the best whitewater kayaking river experience for a vacation that had gear, ACA certified guides and a great reputation for safety.

We were also hoping we could sneak in other activities such as surfing or SCUBA diving during our vacation. There were many websites and way too many resources but everything seemed to require booking with multiple providers and we had no idea what areas or activities would make the best use of our time. Figuring out transportation was also a concern for us.

To us, our vacation was a rare opportunity and we didn’t want to leave several days of a week long vacation up to chance. We wanted to feel comfortable that the entire week would be awesome. We wished we had a friend in Costa Rica that could show us the best rivers, beaches, paddle with us as a guide and make sure we had great places to eat.

Having researched many Costa Rica travel companies, we were underwhelmed with what we found when it came to good options that appeared to have an outstanding level of service and processes in place to ensure an amazing experience.

We saw an opportunity to create a new business model that would have a pre-planned menu of amazing adventure vacation weeks, but the ability to be super flexible and customize trips for busy travelers who don’t have time (or want to take the time) to study the areas and book every detail of their own trip. We knew there was a need for a local resource but wanted to combine this with an American partner that could ensure guest satisfaction.

We found that Costa Rica is very advanced and both feels and is safe. (As of 2018 it was considered a Level 1 rating by the US Department of State, which is the best possible rating and one level higher than traveling to England, which most of us would consider a safe place to travel. You can check out the latest US travel advisory here.) We have traveled and lived in many Central and South American countries, and unfortunately we’ve seen places like Mexico and other areas struggle and deteriorate due to crime.

We know the importance of having trusted and experienced friends, drivers and guides who would ensure we had a great experience. We knew that traveling with a local Costa Rican “friend” as our guide would always result in a more memorable vacation and we wanted to create this for others.

We traveled to Costa Rica and fell in love with the beauty, climate, rivers and people. We were able to experience the services of many amazing guides during our travel. We also noticed that guides were typically working 12+ hour days and often earning less than $4 an hour. Yes it is cheaper to live in Costa Rica, but these guides depended on tips to feed their families and we felt they deserved much more than what they were being paid.

Rather than create a tour company that would be tightly held by one owner who might keep all the profits to themselves, we created a model that would share ownership and also provide for profit sharing opportunities for the most important members of the team, the guides.

We approached some of the best guides we met during our trip and found that many of them were already seeking ways to create additional income for their families and were already in the process of looking to start their own business. Based on what we found was a shared vision of taking amazing care of guests, employees and guides we decided to help start Amazing Vacations.

We started with a team of guide/owners that had worked with several Costa Rica travel companies over a period of nearly 20 years. Some had worked in luxury tours that would cost as much as $45,000 a week and many had worked with GROUPON style tours that sold for as little as $1,600 a week and sometimes resulted in little to no tips because it brought in “budget” vacationers who could barely afford to pay for the trip.

Learning from the things that were done incredibly well, and also the challenges that come with different sized groups, expectations and ability levels, we set out to create what we think is the perfect balance and trip for any type of traveler, group or family.

We saw how many of the travel companies grew to a point that they struggled to maintain a consistent client experience and because of that we focus on smaller groups of 4-12 people for most of our tours.

We’ve also found from client feedback that trips that range from 5-7 days are the ideal length for most travelers. Most of our travel groups will have an assigned head guide and for many of our trips will have 1 guide per 2-3 travelers. It isn’t uncommon for our river trips to have 3-4 guides serving in various roles as safety boaters and 6-10 clients on various sized rafts.

We hope our guides feel more like your local friend that spends the entire trip with your group vs. a guide that is obligated to manage your group. Whether that means they are on a river raft steering your boat as your river guide, teaching your to surf at the beach, taking you to the best snorkel or SCUBA locations or ensuring your safety on a rappel through a waterfall while canyoneering, we’re there for you.

All of our guides are fluent in both Spanish and English.

We also recognized the importance of speaking to an American who has been to Costa Rica. We’ve created a hybrid company that has team members in both Costa rica and United States so you don’t have to worry about any language barrier. We have people here to answer your calls and questions, but you’re not going to talk to a call center. It’s likely you may even get a call back from one of the American founders to help answer your questions.

Our Mission

We will be the tour and trip provider of choice for busy adventure travelers and families who have a desire to have amazing, safe, and memorable vacation experiences. Our local knowledge of areas our guests visit allow us to provide unique travel advice and itineraries full of experiences for our guests that would be nearly impossible to duplicate on their own.

We will be the trusted resource for travel to all of our trip locations.

best hotels for kayakers in costa rica
Pacuare River Whitewater Kayaking

Jason Tonioli

Co-Founder & President

Entrepreneur, Musician/Composer, Banker, Founder of a FIN Tech Software Company.

jason@amazingvacationsUSA.com

Walter Centeno and Family

Walter Centeno

Co-Founder & CEO/COO

Walter is our boots on the ground, native Costa Rican + Rock Star Guide and Operations Director. 14+ Years experience working as a guide and logistics guru in the travel industry.

Walter@AmazingVacationsCostaRica.com

Arnaldo Céspedes Pérez

Co-Founder & Lead Instructor

Arnaldo loves teaching others and sharing his love of the rivers of Costa Rica. His dream and desires to start a Kayak and Guide school in Costa Rica were the seed that started our company. Arnaldo has a unique gift of encouraging and helping others and helping people do things they never thought were possible.

arnaldo@amazingvacationscostarica.com

David Faber

David W Faber

Co-Founder

Whitewater enthusiast, businessman and Retina Doctor in Salt Lake City, UT

david@amazingvacationsUSA.com