Our Guides and Team Members
Our team is made up of amazing people in both Costa Rica and the United States. We feel we have the best group of Costa Rica vacation experts and support staff to help you have the best vacation possible. Whether you are working with our U.S. based team to plan and schedule your trip, or with our Costa Rica team to make sure everyone in your group is enjoying the trip, we are here to help you.
Our goal is simple: make sure you have the most enjoyable, hassle free Costa Rica vacation.
Meet our team below.
The Costa Rican Dream Team
Co-Founder & CEO/COO & Guide
Certifications: ACA Swiftwater Rescue
Walter is one of the co-founders and owners of Amazing Vacations Costa Rica. He’s the boss and guy who is in charge but he’s always pitching in and doing things to help others. He’s our boots on the ground, Native Costa Rican + Rock Star Guide and Operations Director. He’s spent more than 14 years working in the Costa Rica travel industry and seems to know everyone. He has worked as a guide and operations manager learning from three of the most well respected travel companies in the country.
He always had dreams of taking everything that he had learned over the years to create the best travel/tour company in Costa Rica. One that would focus on using innovative technology to create an amazing experience for its guests. His goals are to 1) provide family friendly jobs and a better life to the families of Costa Rica, 2) Give back to our local communities and 3) Share amazing experiences with travelers who visit Costa Rica.
Arnaldo Céspedes “Pelon”
Co-Founder / Trip Leader & Kayak Instructor / Director of Costa Rica Kayak School
Certifications: ACA Swiftwater Rescue
Arnaldo is a native of Turrialba, Costa Rica and one of our co-founders. His favorite thing to do is teach people to learn to kayak and safely run a river. He is an incredible teacher and guide.
He is also one of the top kayakers in Costa Rica and has competed in the World Freestyle Championships in North Carolina and Costa Rica. He’s had many amazing opportunities to paddle around the world but he’s also one of the most humble people you will meet. He has so many funny stories about his experiences paddling rivers that he can keep you entertained for hours. If you have a chance to spend time with him, be sure to ask him about being chased by killer bees, getting lost in the jungle after losing his boat or having to hike out of the jungle because the water was too high to safely run.
He has an amazing family and two young boys who are full of energy and you’ll always find a smile on his face.
He knows the rivers of Costa Rica as well as anyone in the country and has guided hundreds of trips along the rivers of Costa Rica. He is an incredible teacher and loves working with newer kayakers to help them gain confidence on the river. He has provided instruction and classes to hundreds of people in both Costa Rica and the United States and has taught kayak classes at area universities to promote recreational kayaking and river conservation.
Mayra "Franci" Centeno
Franci is almost always working behind the scenes to make sure everything is organized, hotels are reserved, transportation has been finalized, payments have been sent and people have been followed up with.
Trip Leader, Guide and Kayak Instructor
Deivis grew up on the outskirts of Turrialba and has been a top competitor in many national Triathlons including TicoMan. He loves the outdoors and also serves as a volunteer in the local fire department. He is an exceptional kayaker and river guide and has represented Costa Rica multiple times in the World Rafting Championships. He has completed ACA’s Swiftwater training and loves helping others learn to be more confident and safe on the river.
If you are kayaking behind Deivis, he will show you the best lines down difficult stretches of a river and is exactly the type of person you want to paddle with if you are looking to improve your skills.
And… he has great rescue skills. His favorite rescue happened when he was paddling on a Class V section of river and he saw a sloth that accidentally swam through an entire Class V rapid. It was stuck clinging to a rock in the rapids. Yes, that is a picture of the sloth that Deivis was able to save.
Unfortunately we aren’t aware of any life jackets made for sloths, but luckily after he helped paddle the sloth to safety, the sloth gave him a smile and slowly headed on its way, grateful to be back on dry land.
Daniel Bustos “Pelos”
Rock Star Kayak Guide and Kayak Instructor
Daniel is a Turrialba native and comes from a large family that works mostly in agricultural activities. He loves working with our guests on tours and helping them experience the rivers and amazing places in Costa Rica.
Daniel is not only an incredible kayak guide and support on our trips, but he loves Martial Arts and runs D.B.A. Martial Arts and Fitness Center and MMA training academy.
He has had a successful career as a professional MMA fighter and has participated in fights in Panama, Nicaragua and other locations in Central America.
He is one of the most friendly and welcoming people you will ever meet but when he steps into the MMA Octagon he can be incredibly focused and competitive. He’s exactly the type of person you want watching your back as you paddle through a difficult rapid on a river.
Manuel Fallas Calvo “Maleku”
River, Jungle and Adventure Guide
Manuel is a certified wilderness first responder and grew up in downtown Turrialba. From an early age he learned to love the outdoors. After finishing a tourism diploma at the university, he started as a rafting guide and kayaker. He loves to be on the river or any other body of water and to share all the good energy that is created by being in the outdoors.
In addition to running trips for all ages, he has spent three seasons working as a head guide, leading humanitarian service and adventure trips for thousands of youth ages 14-18.
His favorite thing to do is paddle Class IV and Class V rivers. He also loves mountain biking and rappelling. His experience as a guide includes cycling, rafting, kayaking and trekking trips in all parts of Costa Rica and the surrounding countries.
Co-Founder & President
Jason leads the team in the United States and manages sales and marketing for Amazing Vacations. He is an Entrepreneur, Piano Musician and Composer, Record Label Owner, Banker, Marketing Executive and Founder of a FINTECH Software Company. He loves starting new businesses and helping them use technology to thrive.
Jason is fluent in both English and Spanish and loves anything to do with adventure sports, whether that be SCUBA diving or snorkeling, kayaking, rafting, surfing, rock climbing, etc. He loves spending time with his wife and four kids and spends hours each week coaching his kids’ soccer teams.
He is also a professional musician who has released 8 piano albums as well as combined albums with amazing people such as the former singers of the Irish group Celtic Woman and Riverdance, Violinist John Knudson, Country Music Singer Brenda Burch, Violinist Ryan Shupe (Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band) and Chuck Myers. You can find out more about this music here.
Travel Consultant / Accounting
If you are coming on a trip to Costa Rica, you’ll likely be hearing from Julie via email to collect payments or help answer questions about your trip. She’s constantly working with our team in Costa Rica to make sure everything goes well for our clients. Julie is one who jumps in and fills in just about everywhere she is needed. She helps answer questions about trips, reviews itineraries and does many things behind the scenes that ensure each of our guests have an amazing trip.
Amazing Vacations was started because of a trip that David and Jason took to Costa Rica. He is one of the founders and owners of Amazing Vacations. David owns several businesses in Utah and stays actively involved in the important decisions of the company. You’ll also find him visiting Costa Rica a few times a year and if you are on one of the kayak trips, you just might get to paddle with him.
Kayak Instructor, Guide & Advisory Board
Ben is a native of Orange, Virginia where he grew up paddling the Rapidan, Robinson, and Rappahannock rivers. His passion for the outdoors led him to Garrett College’s Adventure Sports Institute in western Maryland after high school where he pursued a degree in adventure sports and leadership. After graduating Ben took a position at the Virginia Outdoor Center in Fredericksburg, VA as their manager. While in Virginia, Ben would guest instruct and guide for Canoe, Kayak, and Paddle Co.(CKAPCO) in Northern Virginia and for Garrett College’s Adventure Sports Institute. After increasing both his professional and personal outdoor resume Ben began pursuing work opportunities in different regions. Over the past 10 years Ben has worked with the National Outdoor Leadership School, Nantahala Outdoor Center, Jackson Hole Kayak School, Costa Rica, DeRiemer Adventure Kayaking, Otter Bar Lodge Kayak School, New Zealand Kayak School, Wilderness Rescue International and many others.
Ben’s strengths lie in his excitement to share his passion for paddlesports with others, his eagerness to continue to grow and develop as a paddler and instructor, and his positive interpersonal skills. Ben will be excited to work with you whether it’s helping you improve your paddling technique, guiding you down beautiful tropical rivers in Central America, or leading you on your first multi-day river experience.
-ACA Level 5 Advanced Whitewater Canoe, Instructor
-ACA Level 5 Advanced Whitewater Kayak, Instructor Trainer
-ACA Level 4 Whitewater Kayak, Instructor Trainer Educator
-ACA Level 4 Whitewater Canoe, Instructor Trainer
-ACA Level 3 Whitewater SUP, Instructor Trainer
-ACA Level 3 Coastal Kayak, Instructor
-ACA Level 3 River Safety and Rescue, Instructor
-Wilderness First Responder
-Leave No Trace Master Educator
The River SUP Guy
Davide, aka “The River SUP Guy”, originally from Florence, Italy, is a professional whitewater SUP athlete paddling for Hala Gear. He promotes the sport of river SUP through his instruction and guiding business operating out of Northern Nevada and California. He was first introduced to a SUP on the crisp, blue waters of Lake Tahoe, CA. Captivated from the very first paddle stroke, he now spends over 100+ days a year SUPing on rivers all over the world. Davide is a certified river SUP instructor with the American Canoe Association and he is also certified in Swift Water Rescue and as a Wilderness First Responder.
Advisory Board; Entrepreneur, Artist & Kayaker
Günther serves as an advisor and travel consultant on our team. His is bilingual in English and German. He is an avid athlete and worked as a professional soccer referee for years, including assisting in MLS soccer games. He has kayaked for years and loves to share his love of rivers and nature with others. If you are thinking of traveling to Costa Rica, you may get a call from Günther to help answer questions you might have about your trip. You’ll also find Günther during the summers at art shows selling his amazing paintings and artwork and in the Fall you might find him in Costa Rica painting a picture of the amazing jungle, a volcano, rivers and other incredible scenery.
Greg & Wendy Willis
Digital Marketing Ninjas, aka the Dynamic Duo
Greg has worked in the marketing world for over 15 years. He has worked in the banking industry, as a consultant and also for a niché travel business that provided expensive hunting trips all over the world. Greg works to help ensure our website and online marketing efforts reach the right people who are looking to join us on a trip to Costa Rica.
Wendy is an amazing copyrighter, PR and Social Media expert. If you see a blog post, that’s probably from Wendy. If you read about us in an online article, that’s probably Wendy as well.
Web Developer & Graphic Design
Adam is one of the most talented graphic designers we’ve ever met. He helps us look good and manages our website. When he isn’t working as a web developer he also freelances to help other companies build their websites and create marketing materials.
CRM / Process Enhancement & Technology
Brett is a CRM Marketing automation expert who has experience in international marketing, email marketing, social media marketing and just about every other type of marketing communication out there. He spent 6 years working as an Infusionsoft CRM as both a customer and employee who coached hundreds of business owners. Brett is a valuable member of our team when it comes to anything that needs to be communicated or automated.
Mayra Brenes "Franci"
Accounting & Reservations
Franci does all of our Costa Rica Accounting and Reservations. She works tirelessly to make sure everything goes smooth while you’re on your trip. She’ll take care of you if you have a hiccup or need anything while you’re in country. She makes sure that everyone gets to where they need to be when they need to be there. She keeps the office running smoothly and gets things done.
Esther Molina "Chicky"
Itinerary & Legal Documents
A native of Turrialba, she is currently studying tourism and working to get a certificate as a ICT. She loves the outdoors and water sports are her favorite. She loves to teach and help people get over their fears as a swimming instructor and volunteer for environmental and social projects. She works hard behind the scenes putting together itineraries and keeping up to date with the legal requirements, but if you’re lucky, she’ll guide you around on some of your activities!