4 nights- Arenal Volcano- Monteverde

Apr 19th, 2007, 03:27 PM
  #1  
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4 nights- Arenal Volcano- Monteverde

Hello, My family with 2 kids (10 and 13) will be traveling to Costa Rica in early June. We can either fly into/ out of San Jose or Liberia.

We have 4 nights and would like to visit:
* Arenal Volcano- staying at Arenal Volcano Lodge which was a recommenation by a friend.
* Monteverde Cloud Forest - zip line tour
* Butterfly Garden in Monteverde

Any recommendation on airports with the best drive time and conditions ( I understand that the roads are poor in many area) to the areas we want to visit?

Thank you!
sparks_fly is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 06:35 PM
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I'd suggest flying into San Jose, focusing your entire time on Arenal. It is an excellent location with a lot to do, and only 2.5 hours from the airport. You MAY need to spend your first or last nights or both near the airport, depending on arrival departure times. Just me, I'd save Monteverde for another trip. .

Arenal: Zipines, volcano hiking, Hanging Bridges, Cano Negro tour (don't miss), waterfall rappelling, La Fortuna waterfalls, Tabacon (or other) Hot Springs, the list goes on. . .way more than you'll be able to fit into 2-3 days!
shillmac is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 05:01 AM
  #3  
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shillmac,
Thanks for the advice. How is the drive from San Jose to Arenal area? I have read that many roads are rough.
sparks_fly is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 05:36 AM
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With just 4 nights in that area I would skip Monteverde as well. It takes several hours to get up there so you would loose a whole day getting up and down. Plenty of zip line tours in the Arenal area.

The roads to Arenal are pretty well marked and they aren't bad. If you are driving in the late afternoon you could run into some low clouds so take your time on those winding roads.
Suzie2 is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 07:15 AM
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Suzie,
Thanks!! I think that we will stay in the Arenal area as suggested. Any must see sites that you recommend besides the volcano and zip line canopy tour?

This is our first trip to Costa Rica.
sparks_fly is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 07:45 AM
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The drive from San Jose to Arenal is easy....enjoy it. Smooth sailing the whole way. From Arenal to Monteverde is a rough ride, but quite fun. But with 4 days, there is much to do in Arenal, and although I love Monteverde, I would agree that 4 days probably is stretching your trip for those two spots.
rmeyer is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 08:39 AM
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I highly recommend the day trip up to Cano Negro.

Going up to Cano Negro or over to the Sarapiqui would give you looks at whole different type of places so you will feel like you have seen more of the country. Monkeys in both places.

How active are you? The waterfall rapelling looks awesome!

Of course there is the waterfall hike. Great swimming hole at the bottom. A little easier on the budget than some of the other things.

There is rafting for all levels.

Those wonderful hot springs to get the kinks out of all those muscles after all the fun you have during the day .

You will have a wonderful time.
Suzie2 is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 04:29 PM
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Hi sparks_fly,

I visited the Arenal region last December for the first time and absolutely loved it!

As the other posters have mentioned, the drive from SJO is not bad at all. The roads were really in decent condition along the route.

We did the Sky Trek/Sky Tram ziplines outside of town. Tons of fun! We also visited the Hanging Bridges (misty and rainy when we were there, but really beautiful and primordial), Tabacon Hot Springs (lavish, opulent and very relaxing), and Cano Negro (as shillmac says, "don't miss"; we saw lots of wildlife and learned so much about Costa Rica from our tour guide). I just made quite the run-on sentence, didn't I? I'm too lazy to rewrite it.

Keep in mind that there's no guarantee you'll get to see the lava flow, since Arenal is frequently socked in by clouds. Even if the volcano doesn't cooperate, it's a really fun and beautiful area to visit.

Have a wonderful trip!
cmerrell is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 07:00 PM
  #9  
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Cmerrell, Rmeyer, Suzie and shillmac,
Thank you all for your advice. We are getting excited about our trip. Costa Rica sounds like a beautiful country to explore. What is the Cano Negro and Sarapiqui ? My kids are excited about seeing monkeys (I am too).

Suzie, we are in our 40's (kids are 10 and 13) and active but not active enough to try waterfall rapelling.....

Which canopy tour do you all recommend? From what I have read they do not have any type of safety standard to meet or any type of OSHA inspections.
sparks_fly is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 07:56 PM
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The Sarapiqui is a river where various rafting and boat trips can be arranged. I believe some of the excursions are slow, gentle boat rides with an emphasis on flora and fauna viewing, while the rafting trips take advantage of portions of the river where white water is available. I have not been on the Sarapiqui, but I'm sure Suzie2 and others here can give you some good info.

Cano Negro is a wildlife refuge. You travel along the Rio Frio and look at flora and fauna. This was a really fun excursion. Several tour operators take groups to Cano Negro. We booked with Sunset Tours through our hotel and felt that they did an excellent job. The tour takes a good chunk of the day and lunch was provided. On the river we saw caimen, turtles, bats, 2 species of monkeys and numerous species of birds. We also stopped on the way to the refuge to look at a couple of sloths our driver had spotted, and to check out the iguanas that laze in the trees in the town of Muelle.

When you ask about good Canopy tours, I assume you are referring to ziplines in particular?

We did the Sky Trek ziplines which are very popular and well known. You ride up to the first platform on the tram and then zip back down on a series of lines. The lines are LONG and you are very high above the forest floor. A couple of guides go with each group of participants to make sure you are hooked properly onto the line and to help you brake as you approach each platform. My 67 year old mom did the ziplines even though she's pretty terrified of heights. Our guide really helped her feel at ease and ended up going in tandem with her on the lines. She was so proud of herself for conquering her fears!

The Sky Trek location offers beautiful vistas of the volcano and the lake. We felt quite safe, and felt that the guides were very attentive to the equipment set up and making sure we were always hooked up properly for each traverse.

Since your kids are fairly young, you may also want to look into the ziplines offered at the Arenal Paraiso resort. Most people really enjoy them, but I think they are not as long and high as Sky Trek's. I'm pretty sure Shillmac went on them, so maybe she'll weigh back in regarding her experience. There are several threads here that discuss the zipline options in Arenal. Try searching for 'zipline' or 'canopy tour' and you should get lots of info which you can sift through, focusing on posts dealing with Arenal.

Good luck with your research; that's part of the fun in my opinion.
Costa Rica is so wonderful. You are in for a treat!
cmerrell is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 08:41 AM
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The Sarapiqui has different options for wildlife views. There is a slow rafting tour you can do or just a motorboat. Personally, I think you will see much more at Cano Negro. I have only seen it during the dry season so it will be a different trip for you in June after there have been some rains.
http://www.arenal.net/tour/Cano-Negr...FQY8UAodulnaWw

Suzie2 is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 09:01 PM
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sparks fly, we really enjoyed the Cano Negro tour about the first of July last summer. Great day trip.

And, regarding the roads up to Arenal, we were amazed last month. I don't know who all has been up that way just recently, but the Penas Blancas River bridge was either out or being repaired and we had to take a little detour. We were on a dirt road for just a short while, and THEN tracked onto a brand spanking new highway into La Fortuna that was nothing short of fabulous! Nice and wide, with the center marker and those little reflector lights on the shoulders. It was great and smooth as silk! Get on down there and enjoy it while it lasts! The rains and the trucks take their toll on the highways.

Another area between San Jose and Arenal that you should try to see either driving up to Arenal or returning to SJO is La Paz Waterfall Gardens. It's a little pricey at $29 per adult, but a truly excellent place to visit for a few hours. Well worth the $$, my opinion.
shillmac is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 03:42 PM
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Thank you all for your input. All of your ideas sound wonderful. We are planning on arriving in SJO at 8:30 PM Friday evening, overnight near SJO airport. Renting our car Saturday early AM and heading to Arenal area to begin our vacation.

Any suggestion for a nice hotel near the airport? One that has free airport shuttle would be great!
sparks_fly is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 03:44 PM
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shillmac,
Can you swim the La Paz Waterfall garden?
sparks_fly is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 04:12 PM
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No, but there's lots of things to enjoy there. Hummingbirds, all kinds of birds. . .a great butterfly observatory, an old Costa Rican house, boyeros with their oxen, a trout pond, hiking trails, nice gift shop, and the 5 beautiful falls. You hike down them, then catch a shuttle back up. The hotel on the property is quite something. You might even be interested in showing up there on your last afternoon and spending the night. It's about an hour from the airport, so if youre flight isn't until early afternoon, it's a consideration. . .
shillmac is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 04:13 PM
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Forgot to mention the herpetarium (sp?) and ranario (sp?)--frogs. . .
shillmac is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2007, 05:08 PM
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La Paz sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon. We will add it to our list. Thanks for the suggestion!
sparks_fly is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2007, 05:19 PM
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It's very beautiful there. If you can, try to arrange to drive the short distance (5km) to Colbert's for French dining. Great little restaurant. Kind of an unexpected treat in the Costa Rican countryside!
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