Health & safety
If you’re taking the bus to La Fortuna, they start before you even get there, boarding a few kilometers out of town, then working the crowd: ‘That hotel is overpriced, but I have a friend…’ You know this scam, right? But it gets worse.
In addition to steering travelers to poor hotels, which discredits reputable hoteliers who meet the bus because they can’t afford flashy brochures and still charge US$5 per room, there’s a family in La Fortuna who’ll also book you on ‘half-price tours.’ Usually you’ll just show up for your tour and learn that your receipt is invalid, though we’ve also heard about folks taken to pricey hot springs, then abandoned without transportation or their entry fees paid as promised. In a disturbing recent development, we’ve even heard of touts selling vouchers for phony tours in such far-flung locales as Monteverde and Caño Negro.
After milking a batch of tourists, family members trade off between La Fortuna, Monteverde and other hot spots for a couple of weeks; it’s worked hassle-free for years. Why haven’t the police done anything? That’s a good question, but basically it comes down to the fact that no one wants to wait around for months to bring these folks to trial. Any police report you file will be for insurance purposes only – period.
It’s worth going through a reputable agency or hotel to book your tours around here. You may pay twice as much, but at least you’ll get to go. On the bright side, the recent upswing in tourism in the La Fortuna area has brought promises from the ICT that there will be a crackdown on touts, though remember that the government is in the business of making promises it can’t keep. Don’t believe us – just look at the state of the roads!
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