3 days - Arenal only or Arenal + Monteverde

Old Mar 21st, 2011, 10:53 AM
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3 days - Arenal only or Arenal + Monteverde

Hi,

My husband and I are traveling to Costa Rica in 2 short weeks and are still trying to finalize our itinerary. We arrive in SJO very early on a Wednesday and plan to immediately drive to Arenal (should get there by late morning). We have until Saturday afternoon before we need to head to the Pacific Coast to check in to our timeshare for the week. My question is - Should we stay at Arenal all 3 days? We'd love to see the cloud forest, but would have to leave Arenal a day early and would only have one day at Monteverde. Is it worth the drive and time to do this?

Thanks,
Jenny
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Old Mar 21st, 2011, 12:42 PM
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My advice is to stay in Arenal for all three days. If you want to see a cloud forest, check out Nectandra Cloud Forest Garden which is between San Ramon and La Fortuna and not really out of your way on your trip from the airport.
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Old Mar 21st, 2011, 12:49 PM
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Good advice from hsmither!
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Old Mar 21st, 2011, 02:34 PM
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I think you need at least two nights to enjoy Monteverde; it's a long bumpy road to get there, and Arenal is wonderful with so much to do - hot springs, waterfall, Cano Negro tour, Hanging Bridges, ziplines, rafting - you'll have plenty to keep you busy, and staying longer will increase your chances of seeing the volcano since it often gets enshrouded in fog. I third the motion for spending the entire time in Arenal.
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Old Mar 21st, 2011, 03:01 PM
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Agree with all the above, you don't have time for both.
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Old Mar 21st, 2011, 05:29 PM
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Is Monteverde worth it? I am worried it is just a tourist trap? We have given up on Osa due to expense.
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Old Mar 21st, 2011, 07:23 PM
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I don't think of it as a tourist trap. I was glad that we went; it's just that you need time to enjoy it since it's a bit of a pain in the butt to get there. It's just a bumpy, bumpy road to get there, and if you only stayed one night, it wouldn't be worth it. We did a hike in the reserve and saw beautiful quetzals, we ziplined, and we did a cool night hike at Hidden Valley where we saw a porcupine, a fox, a raccoon, a sloth, coatis, and some cool birds and insects. Fonda Vela is a nice place to stay; we liked their new junior suites. Monteverde can be cold though; we wore sweatshirts and fleece jackets at night, and we got a lot of rain and wind. The cloud forest is pretty.
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Old Mar 21st, 2011, 07:37 PM
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emmagus - I liked Monteverde - stayed 4 nights, but enjoyed the cloud forest atmosphere of Savegre (San Gerardo de Dota) and Bosque de Paz much better, fewer people, better birding, more isolated lodges. Depends on what you are looking for - Santa Elena/MV offers loads of activities while the two I mentioned are individual lodges that are off the beaten track.
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Old Mar 21st, 2011, 07:40 PM
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I definitely agree with everyone else--we stayed 2 nights in Arenal and it was NOT enough. We loved Monte Verde (spent 3 nights there), but I would definitely advise sticking to just one of those places.

Emmagus--Monteverde isn't a tourist trap. It's a sweet mountain area with nice day hikes in the cloud forest, guided night walks in a couple of places, the frog zoo, the hummingbird gallery--plenty for your kids to do, and good restaurants to boot. I preferred it to Arenal, but probably because we had great weather there and we had enough time to do it at our own pace.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2011, 02:54 PM
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Be sure you spend time on the Arenal Observatory Lodge side of Arenal if you aren't going to Monteverde.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2011, 06:24 PM
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Thanks for all the helpful replies! Can anyone else comment on the Nectandra Cloud Forest Garden? I haven't been able to find a ton about it, though what I have found is intriguing. At $60/pp, it seems a bit expensive though.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2011, 06:35 PM
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That price is crazy..what do they include?
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Old Mar 22nd, 2011, 07:30 PM
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Looks like that's just straight admission unless I'm misunderstanding something. Here's the website: http://www.nectandra.org/com/visits.htm
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