1st time in CR-HELP!

Old Mar 19th, 2004, 08:10 AM
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1st time in CR-HELP!

My husband,ten year old son and I will be visiting CR in April.We wil arrive in San Jose @ 2M and want to get right over to Costa Smeralda Hotel in Papagayo. Should we rent a car in SJ,or take a hotel transfer? We're an active family, and look forward to surfing, a canopy ride, horseback riding and seeing lots of animals! What are your favorite beaches,tours,happy hours,restaurants,etc.? After 5 days we will be heading to Arenal and El Tucano Hotel for 2 days. Will we need a car there? What's the best way to get to the airport(SJ) from there? Should we do a canopy ride in Arenal or on the coast? Has anyone taken a horseback ride to a waterfall (I read about it somewhere)? Should we book these tours ahead of time? I'm getting nervous and looking forward to some friendly,experienced guidance. Thanks so much.
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Old Mar 19th, 2004, 09:02 AM
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El Tucano is about 45mins-1hr away from Arenal. They probably have tours you can sign up for but if you want to head out on your own you will need a car to get there. you could hire a driver/taxi for the day if you don't want to do the "tour" thing. Whether you horseback ride or just drive to the parking lot for the waterfall you will still have to hike down to it. Wear a bathing suit to splash in the water once you get down. It is a pretty ride from what I understand. I just hiked from the parking lot. There is an entrance fee. For more wildlife viewing you might want to do the boat trip on the Sarapiqui or up in Cano Negro. You could even go white water rafting on the Sarapiqui.
Regarding getting to Papagayo I would take the hotel transfer if you are getting in at 2pm. If you have checked baggage it could take you up to an hour to get out of the airport. Add to that, time to get your car and get on the road and you are talking way past dark getting to your hotel. Dark is at 6pm and it gets dark in a hurry down there. It is never advisable to drive in CR in the dark unless you know where you are going. Even then it can be tricky. Between the pot holes and lack of good signs you could get pretty lost or damage the car in one of their famous craters (not the volcano ones). Not all roads are that bad or that good but half of your trip would be in the dark.
While at the Costa Smerelda you could look into a day trip to Rincon de la Vieja volcano. They have mud pots, fumerols, canopy tour, horseback riding, mud baths, waterfall. It is one of my favorite volcanos to hike on. A visit to Los Innocentes to horseback ride would be a relaxing day and might give you a look at some monkeys. We saw several when we stayed there. It is not far from the base of the Orosi volcano which is dormant but is a beautiful cone.
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Old Mar 19th, 2004, 10:55 AM
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We just got back. I have mixed feelings on the car issue. Pros for renting a car: 1-taxis do add up ($30 from Arenal Lodge to Rio Fortuna round trip); 2-taxis are less convenient & limit your activity; 3-none of the locals including the taxi drivers seem to know how to drive (my biggest complaint w/CR) - so if you drive at least there's a chance that you'll be driving safely; 4) most of the taxi drivers don't speak much English (also on the pro list)

Pros for not renting a car: 1) taxis were abundant; 2) around arenal wasn't too expensive; 3) I read something about rent cars being marked as rent cars making them a target for crime; 4) the taxi drivers are friendly and interesting to talk to; 5) you can practice your Spanish; 6) We did see a lot of unmarked roads
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Old Mar 22nd, 2004, 10:13 AM
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Much thanks to Suzie2 and Catmomma!
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Old Apr 7th, 2004, 05:49 AM
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I am from NC. I visited Costa Rica in August of 2003. I stayed with a family that lives in Alajuela where the San Jose airport is. They live 5 mins from the airport. They are interested in giving tours to people such as yourself. I can put you in touch with them and you can work out any details. They are an extrodinarily nice family and this is not some sort of scam. I stayed in their house, and they treated me as if I was part of their family. They consist of a man and his wife, a son and two daughters in their 20's. I will be happy to talk with you over the phone if you would like that. This family and I plan to develope a travel-type tourist business in the future, but for now they could help you I am sure with all the issues that you mentioned. Email me at [email protected] if you are interested.
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