Travel and Arrival
Safety and Medical
Costs and Extras
What to Bring
Weather and Conditions
How do I get to my True Nature Program?
TNE has a special group travel agent that would be happy to help you with booking your flight. Please note, most TNE programs have specific travel windows, please check with us before booking your flights. All TNE programs provide group transport to/from the airport.
All international flights will arrive at the San Jose International Airport (SJO) in San Jose, Costa Rica (unless specifically noted on your Info Packet). Most flights will be met by a TNE staff member.
All international flights will arrive at the Guatemala City, La Aurora Airport (GUA). A private group shuttle will meet you at the airport with a sign with the Retreat Center’s name.
Most flights from the US or Canada fly to Cusco (CUZ) via Lima. Many of these flights do have a few hour lay over in Lima. Group shuttles will be met in Cusco and our centers are 45-75 minutes from the airport. Group shuttles are included in the tuition rates. If you cannot arrive within the flight windows, check with us for private shuttle prices.
There are flight options. Rome is about 5 hours drive from the center and Naples is 4 hours, if you are planning to extend your trip. There are 2 nearby airports: Bari (BRI) 1h30min and Brindisi (BDS) 45/50min from the center. Group shuttle for most programs will be provided from the Bari (BRI) airport on the arrival day. Please check with your particular program to be sure you have the correct airport. We will book the shuttle to accommodate the last arriving passenger.
True Nature Education has a Group Travel Agent that will be happy to help you book your flights. Just ask us if this interests you. Some of our retreats also have a Group Flight Option so you can travel with your fellow retreatants. From the airport we will organize one group transport for all retreat participants. Before booking tickets please contact us to discuss flight arrival and departure windows for your retreat and to be sure group minimums have been reached.
What are the entry requirements?
Costa Rica, Guatemala, Italy and Peru
A passport that is valid for 3 months after your departure from destination is mandatory . Visitors of the USA, Canada, and most European countries will receive a visa at the port of entry. You will automatically receive at least a 90-day tourist visa in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Italy and Peru.
What can I expect from the first day of traveling?
In some cases, you will be staying at a hotel near the airport for the first night with the other group participants. Dinner will be provided the first evening, followed by a short group meeting. The following day, after breakfast you will be taking a 3-5 hour shuttle ride to the center. For our centers within 3 hours of the airport we try to transfer to the center following your arrival.
After arriving, you will go through customs and immigration (about 45 minutes depending on arriving flights). After you retrieve your luggage, you will be met outside by a private group shuttle. In some cases, you maybe waiting for other flights to arrive before the shuttle will leave. You will have a 3 hour beautiful shuttle ride through the Mayan highlands arriving in Panajachel. You will be met by a private boat to take you to the dock of the retreat center. Depending on your arrival time, you may have time to tour the center and then have dinner. Dinner will always be available, even for late arrivals.
Most flights do have a long lay over in Lima and many flight times from US and Canada can be 18-23 hours. We ask that you be in the Cusco airport by 11am to board the group shuttles. We will do the best we can to have multiple group shuttles with at least 4-5 people, depending on group size to minimize wait time in Cusco. A shuttle van will take you to your center which can be 45 – 75 minutes.
Depending on the last flight, you will be arriving by shuttle to the retreat center in time for dinner. The trip depending on which airport you are arriving to (between 45-1.5 hours from local airports). The staff, will help everyone get settled in their rooms and give a short orientation.
What are the medical concerns?
If you are on a particular medication, please be sure that you have enough medication for the duration of the retreat. When you arrive to your program we will confirm any allergies and/or medications we need to know about. We recommend that either a family member or friend have a copy of your daily itinerary and your passport in case of a State-side emergency. We also will have an emergency number in the unlikely event we need to contact some at home.
We have never had a medical situation that has not been adequately resolved. In extreme cases, air transport is available. Please check your health insurance for coverage in foreign countries.
Healthcare in Costa Rica is very good and sanitary standards are high. First class hospitals are found throughout San José and some of the other largely populated areas. Since long ago, diseases such as malaria, paludismo, and yellow fever have been nearly eradicated in Costa Rica. Hospitals and the Red Cross will provide any medical treatment in case of emergency. Please check with your physician for any other necessary personal preparation. Costa Rica does have pharmacies throughout the country where you by many of the same over the counter medicines as in the US. No vaccines are required to enter Costa Rica. Please refer to the CDC (Center for Disease Control Website) for more information and recommendations: www.cdc.gov. All of our sites are within 1 hour of either a hospital or a 24-hour Emergency Clinic.
There are no major concerns traveling to Guatemala. If you have questions about which vaccines are recommended please go to www.cdc.gov. Most of the ex-pats who live in Guatemala, do not get vaccinated, but you must do what feels right to you. There are first class hospitals in Guatemala City and western doctors who live nearby the center. We have never had any major health issues. Some people encounter intestinal irregularities. We recommend bringing Grapefruit Seed Extract and perhaps taking it a week before your trip. This helps your body to assimilate to the different bacterias of a new country.
Like many Latin countries, there are minor health concerns to consider. See this helpful link to learn more about being prepared. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/peru/health.No vaccines are required but, always check with your home country’s health suggestions.
Healthcare in Italy is excellent and sanitation standards are high. Italy has been rated the 2nd best healthcare system in the world in recent years. Italian doctors are well-trained and very passionate about their profession, and the private hospitals are comparable with any throughout the world.
How close is the nearest hospital?
All of our sites are within 1 hour of either a hospital or a 24-hour Emergency Clinic. We have never had a medical situation that has not been adequately resolved. In extreme cases, air transport is available. Please check your health insurance for coverage in foreign countries.
The retreat center is nearby a few clinics for minor issues and there are western doctors who reside in the same village as the center. There is a hospital across the lake (20 minute boat ride) and larger hospitals in Guatemala City.
The closest hospitals are in Cusco which is about 1 hour away. The hospital is very modern and staffed well. There is a clinic about 15 minutes from one of our centers.
From our Puglia location, the closest hospital is in Martina Franca which is a 15 minute drive.
Do you offer Travel Insurance?
Yes, TNE is a distributor of CSA Travel Insurance, one of the leaders in International Travel Insurance. On average a policy for a one-week program is less than $100. For more information please call: (800) 348-9505 and provide the Code #20101115
Should I bring valuables?
Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru
We recommend leaving valuables and electronics at home. We will be traveling in a country that does not have as many material resources aswe do. We do our best to honor and preserve the incredible natural resources and environment that we will be visiting. By bringing less, we together get to see that much more of what is around us. Most people do bring their phones and cameras. If you do bring some valuables you may have a safe inside your rooms or you will have access to a safe at the front desk. In Peru, there are no safes available so they do not recommend bringing extra things, but also have not had issues at their center.
We suggest that you unplug as much as you can and enjoy the peace and quiet of the center you will visit, therefore you may not need many electronics. Your destination is very safe and your valuables will be secure in your room. There are no safes in the room. Always use your good judgment when traveling abroad.
Is it safe to travel to your center?
General Safety Precautions: Follow airport safety guidelines (about luggage), do not go places alone unless you have notified your group leader, carry the money you will need in safe place (like a money belt) and leave the rest of your belongings at your hotel/retreat center, and take important phone numbers with you in case you run into difficulties if you are out..
Costa Rica is considered one of the safest places in Latin America to travel. Of course you need to use your common sense about times you are out and being alone. Most of the time you will be with your group and a guide who is very familiar with the locale.
You will be traveling directly from the airport to the center. Lake Atitlan is quite safe and the center has never had any issues with safety. If you will be traveling before or after your program to other locations, the center can make recommendations so you can be confident about your plans.
You will be traveling directly from the airport to your center. Each of the centers we go to, are very safe and the staff is there to help you.
Puglia is very safe , even the shuttles are directly managed and arranged by our center, so they have full control on service and drivers. Always use the same precautions that you would in your own country and traveling abroad.
Is driving a good idea or shall I take a bus?
Many people love driving and visiting the country at their own pace. Car Rentals are available from the major rental companies. To rent one you must be at least 21 years old, have a valid driver’s license and a major credit card. Gasoline is available at stations throughout Costa Rica. Most are open 24 hours. Auto insurance is a MUST, which is included in your contract with the car rental because most insurance companies explicitly exclude foreign countries from their coverage. If you have a question, contact your carrier. When the rented car is given to you, the contract will explain your responsibilities.
Costa Rica has a bus system that offers inexpensive, timely and convenient transportation. It is the primary means of transportation to natives. On the countryside, sometimes buses do not run frequently. In some places they operate only once a day. Another possibility is arranging transfers with tourism transportation agencies, which would give you a first class service at reasonable rates.
We recommend that visitors use private shuttles for moving around Guatemala. The colorful chicken buses are quite an experience, but unless you are an experienced traveler we do not recommend it. Most tourists do not rent cars in Guatemala and unless you are familiar with the country we do not recommend it. Shuttles are comfortable, safe and affordable.
They do have taxis or shuttles that hold about 12 people which are safe.
You can rent cars at all international airports and drive to your True Nature destination. We can supply instructions if you choose to do that. Contrary to what you might hear, if your driver’s license is from the US (or other countries outside the EU) you should carry an International Driving Permit along with your local license. You’ll need to show it if you get stopped by the police for any reason including if you’re in an accident. It’s not a license, requires no test, and is basically a translation of your driver’s license. See how to get an International Driving Permit.
There are many options for Bus Travel in Italy. Prices vary. Check out different companies on the internet to choose the one that is right for you.
Trains are also an option in Italy for traveling around the country. Trains in Italy are convenient and relatively cheap compared with other European countries. The better train categories are fast and comfortable. To our Puglia location, it may be difficult to find a train, at a convenient time.
What important phone numbers should I have?
Please take our US number, the number of the center(s) you will be visiting and your local TNE representative. This information will be provided to you.
Can my family reach me in case of emergency?
Yes, we will give you the number of the center where you will be staying and a U.S. number for TNE. We would be happy to assist in anyway we can.
What is included in the retreat?
Each retreat is different. Please check the retreat description that has been sent to you. Room, meals, group ground transportation to and from airport, some activities, taxes are included in your package. Treatments, tips, excursions are generally not included. Please feel free if you have a specific question to get in touch with us.
How much money should I bring? Do places accept US dollars?
If you would like to begin your trip with the local currency, you can check on-line or at your local US bank. Often times you can order foreign currency to bring a trip. Also please advise your credit card company as to the dates and location of your trip.
There are ATM machines throughout Costa Rica. We recommend that you do not carry much cash with you, as you can get money from the ATM any time you are in town. The exchange rate is best when using ATM’s rather than exchanging money at the bank or airport. There is an ATM in the baggage claim of the airport in Costa Rica. We suggest that you use this to get your first Costa Rican money. The conversion rate usually hovers around 500 Colones to 1 Dollar. When departing Costa Rica, there is an exit tax of $29 that is payable inside the airport.
Most major credit cards and debit cards are accepted. There are fees for some extra activities during the retreats. We will make sure you are aware of your options and cost as they vary per trip. Many of our centers allow you to set-up a bill linked to your room where you can pay with a credit card at check-out. Most places do accept US dollars, but it’s always wise (and fun) to have some Colones (local currency). The exchange rate hovers around 500 Colones to 1 US dollar (it varies but this is the general rate).
There are ATMs machines throughout Guatemala. You can have a private bill at the center, that can be paid with a US check, credit card or cash (US or Guatemalan). Most travelers have about $100 changed to Quetzals upon arrival. Some vendors do accept dollars. The exchange rate is about 7.5 to 1 dollar. There is an exit tax of about $3 dollars you must pay at the airport. At our center, you can use a credit card to pay for your bill, but there is an 8% fee, they will also accept US$, US checks and Quetzales.
There are ATM’s in Cusco and a few in local towns near the centers. Our centers can help and advise where money can be exchanges. The currency is Nuevo Sol.
Our Puglia center accepts Euro only. They can help you withdraw money in a town Martina Franca during your stay. The ATMs and Italian Post machines work well with most cards. You can also pay with a credit card at the center but there is a fee of 5%. Exit taxes should be charged on your airline ticket.
Is ground transportation included?
In most cases, one group transportation to and from the airport is included if you arrive within the window of times we have outlined. Please check with us for your particular retreat and we can make this clear.
Are tips, treatments and excursions included?
No, these extras are not included in most retreats. Some activities are included. Please check your package for specifics for your retreat.
Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru
If you have enjoyed the services you have received, we recommend tipping the hotel staff $5-7 per day ($35-50 for the week). These tips will be divided amongst the staff. No additional tipping is required at the center. For spa treatments, this is totally up to you and anywhere from $10-20 per service is typical. Shuttle driver: $3-5 per person depending on the number of people in the van. Tour guides: they do not expect tips, but if you feel you have had an outstanding adventure $5-10 per person is a nice gesture. In general, in cafes 10% service fee is already included. This online tipping guide may serve as a helpful resource for those travelling to Costa Rica.
If you have enjoyed the services you have received, you can leave a free personal or group contribute to the Association at our Puglia center. They do not suggest a specific amount: at the end of the retreat all groups collect what they feel is right for what they have experienced and then make a donation to the center and staff. Tipping in general: tips are added to cafe bills, taxi and shuttle drivers do not expect a tip, but if they have helped with luggage, would be happy to receive. For massage, you can use a 10% rule, if you would like to leave a tip.
Can I have a hotel bill for extras? And what forms of payments do they accept?
Yes, in most cases, our centers will set up a personal bill for extras purchased at their property (treatments, extra, excursions, food etc.). They can be paid at the end of your program with a credit card or cash. Remember many international locations charge when using a credit card and fees vary from country to country.
One of our centers only takes cash for payments. You will be advised, which center that is.
What if I need to cancel?
Initial Deposits are non-refundable.
50% of payments made are refundable upto 90 days less the initial deposit.
After 90 days prior to a program tuition is non-refundable.
Full tuition is refunded if the trip is canceled due to low enrollment.
Is there access to local shopping?
Yes, some of our centers have small gift shops, and all of our centers are near towns where you can shop.
Guatemala and Peru are known for its beautiful textiles and handicrafts. There are many opportunities to pick up fair trade artisan treasures. If you want to visit a local market, that can be arranged.
How much are spa treatments?
This varies from center to center. Upon arrival you can book your treatments. If you need to know in advance please contact us and we can send you prices.
Do I need any prior experience in yoga or meditation?
Everyone is welcome for most of our programs unless otherwise specified. Teachers are prepared to teach at multiple levels of experience. Whether you are a beginner or master yogi, you will find your program appropriate to your level.
How many classes do we have each day?
Each retreat is unique. Most yoga retreats have two yoga classes per day, as well as another 1-2 sessions, which include teaching, meditation, group exercises, etc. We also incorporate free time as well.
What style of yoga is taught?
This depends on your teacher. Most teachers have specified in their bio, what type of yoga and lineages of yoga they incorporate in their teachings. Please contact them for more detailed information about their practice.
- We suggest bringing only one suitcase that you are comfortable handling and that is easy to use/move, and one daypack.
- Clothing appropriate for the weather you will be visiting and comfortable clothing for hanging out, hiking, and even getting a bit dirty sometimes (if you are involved in a service program). A long sleeve shirt or a light jacket for cool evening , rain gear (depending on country and time of year), sun hat, swimsuit, Dress for meals is very casual but some people like to bring a few things a bit nicer for dinner just for fun.
- Shoes – comfortable walking shoes. Closed toed outdoor shoes (ie. keens), sandals and water shoes (depending on destination)
- Small umbrella (depending on time of year)
- A flashlight and/or headlamp for the nights.
- Basic First Aid Kit, prescription drugs and prescription glasses
- Toiletries such as sunscreen, lotion, and soap (Most centers have soap)
- Earplugs (in case the monkeys… or your roommate keeps you up)
- Insect Repellent (especially for mosquitoes)
- Sarong for beach locations
- Shampoo & conditioner (Biodegradable if possible and check with center as they may supply)
- Yoga mat or Travel Mat, blanket, and meditation shawl (Yoga Retreats Only & Most of our centers provide mats and blankets…Check with us)
- Water bottle
- Pocket size English/Language Dictionary
- A basic camera with spare batteries and memory card. Voltage in South/Central American countries is 110 volts like in North America.
- If traveling to Europe, a 2 pin European adapter
- Passport and a copy of your passport
- Copy of your flight itinerary (Sometimes they will request them at customs)
- Some cash and an ATM card if possible (Traveler’s Checks are rarely accepted in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru)
- Departure Tax depending on country
- Extra money, for gifts, tips and other expenditures you may need cash for.
What if I forget something?
There is always a town nearby any of our sites, to your surprise, they will have almost anything you would need. If you forget something, you will be just fine.
Do they accommodate special diets?
Yes! Our centers do accommodate most special dietary restrictions like allergies, vegan and non-gluten diets. They serve wholesome, fresh, organic when possible meals that are simple and delicious. Costa Rica and Guatemala do have some of the alternative foods we enjoy in the States, but generally speaking the diet in Latin America is simple and basic. If you are concerned you can bring some alternative snacks to supplement your meals. For all locations, if you have dietary restrictions, please be sure True Nature is aware of this and we will forward information to your destination, so they can be prepared for you.
The Pulgia center’s cuisine follows the ph alkaline diet philosophy whose goal is to bring back to balance our organism through a healthy vegetarian diet mainly raw, organic, with low gluten, no dairies and wheat free. They serve fresh, organic and seasonal products from their garden; they produce our own goat cheese and milk and make bread, pastries and pastas with spelt flour or no gluten flour like buckwheat. Their dishes are inspired from the Italian tradition but revisited following the ph alkaline diet by introducing some raw dishes at lunch and superfoods in our recipes.
Is the food organic?
Each of our centers does their best to serve organic fruits and vegetables when possible.
Is the water safe to drink?
Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru
At the retreat centers there is unlimited filtered water, so you can fill your water bottles.
In most of Costa Rica the water is safe, and as always there are some exceptions in certain places. We usually drink bottled water in the cities. We will be clear when it is safe and unsafe to drink the water.
Italy’s tap water is clean and safe. At our Puglia center, their tap water is from their own well and is rich in minerals. They do not suggest drinking it a lot during your stay, especially for people with kidneys deceases. For this reason, they do sell 2lt bottle of water for €1.
Will there be enough protein?
Most meals have a protein source (eggs, beans, cheese, nuts etc.). If you are on a high protein diet, please let us know in advanced so we can have something for you. It may be a good idea to bring a protein bar per day. Some centers do offer meat options (some are included in basic tuition and others there is an additional fee).
Should I bring my own snacks?
If you like to snack, we recommend bringing some special snacks with you, but this is not necessary. The meals are abundant and we are confident that you will be well fed. If you have extreme allergies or strict dietary needs, you may want to bring some supplemental foods so you do not have to worry if you will have what you need.
What kind of drinks do you serve?
Most of our centers have alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine. Usually, smoothies, and fresh juices are offered as well as sodas, tea and coffee. Extra drinks are not included in our packages and prices vary from center to center.
At our Puglia center, you cannot purchase alcoholic beverages. They do offer a glass of red wine at the evening meal, but you cannot purchase extra. They have a wide variety of non-alcoholic drinks available.
One of our centers in Peru, would be happy to help you bring in alcoholic beverage, but do not serve them.
Are there laundry facilities?
Most of our centers have laundry services to wash your clothes. There is an extra charge for laundry services. Check with your center’s amenities.
What kind of access do I have to communications (phone/internet)? Will my U.S. phone work?
Your cell phone will not work unless you have an international calling plan (check with your provider). It is a recommended to bring a calling card to make long distance phone calls. Please get international calling information specifically for for your destination from your provider. In come cases, you can buy a sim card for the country (about $10) and use in your phone, if you will be there for an extended period of time. Wireless internet and guest computers are available complimentary in most locations. At some locations, internet can be spotty, be sure to check with us if you have special needs.
Can I have my own room? Can I choose a room-mate?
In most cases, for an extra fee having a single room is possible. We try our best to honor room-mate requests. You can request a roommate on your online registration form.
Do I need to bring my yoga mat or props?
Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru
We recommend bringing your own yoga mat if possible. Most of our centers do provide mats and some other props, but they are weathered from the tropical conditions and used by people weekly. When on retreat for a week, most participants would rather use their own mats and props.
They have a completely supplied yoga room – with all common yoga props. Of course, if you prefer your own mat for practice, please bring it.
What type of electricity do they have?
Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru
Same as the United States. No adapters are necessary. Some of our centers are on a solar system so we ask guests to be aware of usage. You can check when you arrive if there are restrictions.
Electricity in Italy is 220 volts, 50 cycles alternating current (AC). For comparison, in the United States it is 110 volts, 60 cycle AC current. You must bring a 2 pin adapter to use your electronics.
Do I need to bring shampoo, lotion, hair dryer and a towel?
Please bring all your own toiletries and if possible bring biodegradable products. Centers do NOT have hair dryers, but do have bath towels. Please bring a beach towel or sarong for outings.
The center provides natural shampoo, conditioner and soap. Please bring lotions and other toiletries you may need. There is a small gift shop where you can buy toothpaste, razors etc.. Both bath and beach towels are provided. They do not provide hair dryers, but they do allow you to use your own.
Our Puglia center does have soap, hair dryers and bath towels in the rooms. For beach/pool towels you must contribute € 4 for the week.
Do they have a pool, sauna or hot tub?
Please check with us for the specific location and the amenities available.
Can someone with mobility issues get around?
We, along with our centers, continue to strive to have our retreats accessible to all. Please check with us in regards to the retreat you are interested in.
Are there a lot of bugs? And do they have bug spray?
Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru
Latin America in general is an environment full of natural life. Insects are apart of this eco-system. Most bugs are actually quite fascinating to look at and yes, some do bite (mostly mosquitoes). The amount of bugs will range depending on your location and the time of year you will be visiting. We recommend that you bring bug repellant and to use it in the early part of the day and before sunset as a precaution.
During certain times in the summer there maybe little mosquitos – bring a natural mosquito repellent.
What will the weather be like?
The weather is always changing in Costa Rica. Basically, there are two seasons; dry and green. December through July is usually the warmest and driest part of the year. The temperature annually will range from 65F to 85F. There is always a possibility of a shower here and there as we are in the tropics, so bring your raincoat and/or an umbrella too.
There are basically 2 seasons in Guatemala: Green and Dry. November – April and July-August are sunny and dry. Mornings and Evenings are cool (bring a sweater) and days are hot. During Green Season, they can be mid afternoon and evening showers. Mornings are typically sunny.
March through November all have nice weather. The summer are the high season. Rainy season is December – February and some trails are closed in the Sacred Valley during this time.
Italy has seasons similar to the US. Winter months are colder and Spring and Fall are milder. Summer can be quite hot depending on your location.
What is the time zone ?
Costa Rica and Guatemala
Mid October to Mid March, Costa Rica and Guatemala are in the CST zone (1 hour behind EST) but both do not observe daylight savings time. This means during March –October they are on MST (2 hours behind E.S.T)
They are on EST and CST. They do NOT observe daylight savings time.
Italy is on the Central European time zone. +6 hours from EST (New York).
What if I want to extend my trip? Can you recommend other hotels?
Yes, we can assist you with your plans prior/post program. Just let us know.
What is the language Spoken? Do people speak English?
Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru
Spanish is the language primarily spoken. You will find that many people speak English as a second language and you should not have troubles communicating with locals. There will be a TNE staff member or a center representative with you who speaks English available throughout your retreat.
Italian is the language of Italy. At the retreat center in Puglia, most of the staff do speak English.
Can I come alone to a retreat?
Yes! Coming on retreats can be a great place to find your own space and connect with new friends. Since this is a group experience you will not be alone unless you want to be.
What is the average age of participants?
While there is no age which is inappropriate for retreats, most of our retreatants are between the ages of 25-60. If you fall outside that range…no worries, as long as the program feels interesting to you (and you have your parents consent if under 18), we welcome your presence.
Are children welcome?
Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru
Yes! The retreat schedule is geared towards adult participation, but children are welcome. At many of our centers childcare is available during sessions. There will be plenty of time for you and your family to go on excursions, explore the area and just hang out. Please let us know if you would like to bring a child with you and we can let you know about room and meal costs.
Children 13 years and older who do yoga are welcome at our center in Puglia.