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3 weeks Costa Rica reality check

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After an initial pass through of various trip reports and guidebooks, we're seeking advice on putting together a 3 week trip to Costa Rica in February. Many of the reports are for 7-10 day trips and we are interested in where it would be best to spend the extra time.

We are an active couple in our late 50's interested in hiking and wildlife. This seems like the place to begin birdwatching. We don't have a huge interest in zip-lining or white water rafting, but would include it if the fancy strikes us while there. We have traveled extensively in New Zealand, Australia and Argentina but this will be a first trip to Costa Rica.

We prefer spending at least 3 days in any one place, with 5 days being better. We prefer seeing fewer places with more time than moving rapidly through a country touching all the hilights.

We are hoping to use public transport, drivers and local guides rather than renting a car. This will be quite a change for us and any tips you can offer willl be appreciated.

We have very limited Spanish, but will have just spent 10 days in Mexico brushing up.

We will most likely fly in and out of San Jose, but Liberia is an option if it works into an itinerary better. We want to spend time in the Central Highlands, Arenal, Rincon de la Vieja and some beach time on the coast.

Which part of the Pacific coast is preferable given the rest of the proposed trip?
Should we be looking at going south of San Jose? We are open to internal flights, but remember that we prefer limiting travel days.

Are we totally off the mark and missing something major?

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