alajuela, arenal, golfo dulce trip report

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Apr 5th, 2007, 10:24 AM
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alajuela, arenal, golfo dulce trip report

Okay I better do this trip report before I forget everything. Our family of four recently got back from a great trip to Costa Rica.
Vista del Valle: stayed here our first few nights. We really liked it with some reservations. Our driver was late to pick us up. We did get a nice welcome and delicious sandwiches and fruit plate(I pre-ordered) in our room). We got in about 8pm and the place was shut down - no pool lights, no hot-tub lights etc. We had a quick dark soak in the hot-tub - putting our flashlights to use and saw our first wildlife - a really ugly toad! Despite the comfortable cabin and bed I did not sleep well because of traffic noise at night from the highway. I was told this was very unusual and that it was highway construction and the next day I was told it was the way the wind was blowing. The third night there was no noise - either I was used to it or the wind/construction had died down! The views here are phenomenal and the place has a wonderful quiet feel. There were very few other guests and we really benefited from this quiet start to the trip. Our cabin was really cute and we enjoyed hanging out on the porch. My daughter and husband went for a great little horseback ride throught the neighbouring town where she got to wave at all the kids and see the local school etc. The kids enjoyed the pool and walking around on the little paths. My son and I saw Toucans and lots of other birds on some of the small trails and my daughter spotted an iguana from the restaurant. The restaurant and waiters were excellent and again, the views while eating were amazing. At night the starry sky is magical. They do ask you early in the day if you will be there for dinner and what you would like to eat. The staff are very nice if a bit too laid back. The owners are around but seem very pre-occupied with their new condo/housing development which lies beyond the restaurant. Anytime I went to the desk they were discussing building costs etc etc. Another odd thing is that there is no pool service to speak of despite a pool bar in place. So if you want a drink you need to go up the path to the restaurant. Not a huge deal.
We did a day trip to Poas volcano and got there just before the clouds rolled in at about 9:30am. This was after a delay in car rental from Tricolor. We had requested car dropoff at the hotel but they were short staffed and asked us to go to their office - about 20 minutes away. We said no and finally got them to bring the car in the morning - instead of the night before. They were half an hour late but did not charge us for that day. Any later and we would have missed the volcano. At Poas we hiked the longer loop trail and really enjoyed that. We loved the drive to Poas through the little towns and beautiful countryside. We loved seeing the kids going to school and the locals out shopping. We saw lots of joggers and cyclists. We stopped for lunch at Freddy Fresas (?) a bit of a tourist magnet but the food was good and the staff were very friendly. My daughter got a bit carsick and the kids were tired after hiking so we skipped the La Paz waterfall and headed back for a swim. I was told there is another quieter and way cheaper waterfall place and bird place just past La Paz run by a local woman.
We stopped for a Dos Pinos icecream on the way back. The Dos Pinos became a daily delicious treat for our kids. After several unsuccessful attempts to get cash from an ATM we bought gas with our credit card and put the icecreams on our tab. The gas station manager kindly gave us "cash back" on our credit card.
We relaxed back at the pool and I got a massage - very nice on the porch. We were able to sit out on the porch reading into the night. Heavenly! The grounds at Vista Del Valle are immaculate and beautiful. Perhaps a little too manicured for my taste but lovely to look at. One note: We got more bug bites here than anywhere else - not mosquitos but no-see-ums. My deet did not deter them and we were all covered in bites. We had to get refills on our anti-itch cream!

More later.......
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Apr 5th, 2007, 11:32 PM
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You may be speaking of "Hummingbird Gallery" just a few km past La Paz toward the Caribbean lowlands. We've always enjoyed stopping there for a snack and to watch the many hummingbirds. There is a nice catarata across the valley and in the distance. Nice little place for a break, but isn't meant to copy the La Paz experience and all there is to see and do there.

I'm enjoying your report--interesting to hear about Vista del Valle. Johanna mentioned to us last year that they might put in a juice bar by the pool. Sounds like maybe that didn't happen or perhaps things are just not "in place" amidst the new construction yet? It is, as you say, a nice quiet place to spend a couple of days. We'd like to go back sometime.

Anxious to hear the rest!
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Apr 6th, 2007, 06:26 AM
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How old are your children? I'm just starting to plan a trip to Costa Rica for next spring break with my daughter and her family--kids will be 11 and 9 at that time. So, I'm especially interested in the part of your trip that the kids really liked.
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Apr 6th, 2007, 08:46 AM
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Hi Kpie,
I have been excited to hear about your trip. Thank you for posting your great report. I appreciate all the deatils that you have included and what your children enjoyed and what was difficult. Our daughter gets woozy from long car rides, too; so I always have to take that into consideration when planning our trips.

I hope that you have time to post more of you report soon. You have me hooked and I would like to read more before we leave on Monday.

Very Best,
Gem
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Apr 6th, 2007, 06:12 PM
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Gem in case I don't get to continue the report this w/e I will tell you the highlights from my kids perspective.
#1 visiting the Wildlife Rehab centre in Golfo Dulce - they fell in love with the sweet monkeys there
#2 Swimming in the warm ocean - especially the excitement of the bigger waves
#3 Seeing all the little towns and the schools etc and taking time to stop for icecreams
#4 Watching leaf cutter ants - not rushing by - we spent lots of time stopped on trails to watch ants/spiders etc - budget time for this
#5 Fruity shakes - passionfruit, mango, etc. yum

Other highlights: snorkelling, looking for night-time creatures, helping tadpoles, fishing off the dock, seeing caimans. Seeing a horse dancing (tope) show in a little town.

I will post more soon.
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Apr 6th, 2007, 08:50 PM
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Kpie,

Thank you so much for your favorites list! I have been considering the Animal Sanctuary but was not sure if we could swing it. On your recommendation, I will move it to the top of our list. I think that we will really like it, too.
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Apr 7th, 2007, 06:14 AM
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Kpie--Did you do any "Zip-lining" or canopy tours with the kids? You mentioned schools. Did you just stop by to visit them? I would love for my grandkids to be able to meet and spend a little time with Costa Rican children.
Karin
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Apr 7th, 2007, 06:18 AM
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Looking forward to the rest of your report. Sounds like you just made it seeing Poas, seems so hit or miss. I think I stopped at the same place you did with the view of waterfalls, they had a couple huge rhino beetles there?
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Apr 9th, 2007, 06:52 PM
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Okay here's part two: LOS ANGELES CLOUD FOREST/ ARENAL/CANO NEGRO etc

We set off early to Arenal planning to stop and experience a cloud forest en route. Because we have all our luggage we opt to stop at Villa Blanca hotel for lunch and park there even though we have been told lunch will be expensive. The drive to Villa Blanca is fabulous - a winding single lane road through beautiful countryside - somewhat reminiscent of the Isles of Scotland. (Perhaps the mists help with this comparison!)
The views from Villa Blanca are mysterious and magical - green misty trees that stretch so far. I find it quiet heart stirring. It is so very peaceful and quiet and it feels as we have travelled to yet another country.
It is certainly much cooler than Alajuela and the hotel seems to be more adult oriented. We note that the menu is quite high priced but the friendly waiter shows us a lunch menu which is much more reasonable. The food and views are very good as is the service. After lunch we do a quick hike through the BEAUTIFUL forest before one of the children starts complaining of fatigue. We later see a sign that says you should have a hotel guide. Whoops. As far as I understand it is a government owned preserve so I don't feel bad. We do not see much wildlife but so many wonderful plants - bromeliads and epiphytes....

We head for Arenal planning to check in early and enjoy the pool etc. BUT here I make my first navigational mistake and experience the disconnect between the map and the actual road system in Costa Rica. I should have followed the simple directions given here from fellow travellers about following the signs to Arenal from San Ramon (which would have meant a simple turn north from the Villa Blanca turnoff) but sadly try to head the advice of the desk clerk at Vista del Valle who told me to seek out the "quieter" route by going back through San Ramon. We end up getting WAY of course and when we stop to ask directions a man laughs his head off before showing us (we were that wrong!)
Turns out there is only one route, there is no "quiet route" and despite the map showing that the road will pass through Naranja and Ciudad Quesada (which we were told to avoid) it never does and it turns out to be a great drive and very lovely. The little villages en route to Arenal are wonderful and picturesque. There is a detour just outside of town but it is no problem. Unfortunately we arrive way behind schedule and it's getting dark by the time we find our hotel Volcano Lodge. There is a surly man at the desk who gives me my key. I discover we have a room with a view - of a very large fig tree. Not really what we came to Arenal for! I ask for a switch - no luck. This, despite booking months in advance and being told all the rooms had views of the volcano.
This is not a great start to the evening and we try to find our next planned adventure Eco Thermales. We are told it is across from Baldi (which looks super tacky) but all we see is a gate with no signage and we assume that this is not the place. Wrong. After driving back and forth we find it is. We finally pull in 2 hours later than we planned and are told we have to swim/spring before eating. If we eat first we can't hotspring later. Now when my blood sugar is at it's lowest I discover that my husband has somehow lost the bottom part of my bikini. He is certain he got it out of the suitcase and that it made it's way into the car. I am not so sure. He kindly offers me his swimshorts and he goes in in his regular shorts. We look a bit odd but frankly at this point I don't care. We have a few fruity drinks so as not to pass out from hunger and set out to enjoy the springs. It's very dark here and the water is very hot. It is quite nicely set out and low key bu despite loving hot baths and hot tubs I find I get pretty tired of the pools within about 20 minutes. My daughter is not coping well with the hot water and she is really crashing from lack of food. Husband and son love the experience. We have dinner here - it is very good and the big tour groups have left by the time we are seated. Their frijoles are amazing and we all enjoy the meal. The front desk kindly lets me call our Cano Negro Tour company (Canoas Aventuras) to postpone our river tour for a day - I just don't think my daughter will be ready to roll at 6am! They are very friendly and we postpone the trip. As we pull out of the parking lot I spot my bikini bottom on the ground where the car was parked.

We try to get to sleep but hear noise from next door - the spa room - turns out it is the staff hanging out partying. (?) Next morning we experience big crowds of not so polite tourists in the restaurant and one of the waiters yells at me for serving myself at the coffee station. (which was the setup in our last hotel). We call him Mr. Happy from then on. I decide to scout out another hotel while kids and dad hang out by the pool. I try the Paraiso, Los Lagos, Lost Iguana, Montana del Fuego - no luck and staff at the Lost Iguana are actually quite rude. I am getting turned off Arenal! Volcano Lodge finally gives us a different and better room and we hang out some more - and I swim in a matching swimsuit - and we eat lunch. There is a new waiter who is also less than cheerful. Weird.
In the afternoon we drive around and check out the National Park - we decide against a walk in the lava fields as it is blaring hot and I don't want to turn the kids off hiking for life.
We opt instead for the Hanging Bridges. It's $20 each adult (kids free) to get in - which seems a lot but it turns out to be money well spent. This is a fabulous place! We end up spending more than 3 hours here and see 2 kind of monkeys, a snake, lots of birds, a cool frog, leafcutter ants. It is shady and peaceful and the 20 (?) bridges provide destinations for the kid so they barely register that we are actually hiking! There are not too many people here and those that are seem to go crashing through the forest talking loudly and then perhaps wonder later why they saw no animals. We finally pull ourselves away as it gets dark and decide to head into town for dinner.
We walk around and see all the "recommended" places - they are full of other tourists so we decide instead on a little fried chicken place - Pollo Familia #1. It is perfect for us. Great chicken pretty good fries and fabulous shakes. The owners are very friendly. We wander about town and then head back in hopes of a lava sighting. No luck it has all clouded over. I should say there was a very clear view all day and from our pool we could see the smoke coming out the top.

Next morning we are up early. The waitstaff is friendlier, breakfast is good and things are looking up. We get picked up right at the restaurant by Canoas Aventuras. We are in a small mini-bus and we total ten people. It is a nice group and we have a great day. Our guide shows us lots on the way and we make the stop that all the tours make at the Iguana Bridge. We go to a different section of the Rio Frio than the other groups however as Canoa Aventuras is the only one we found that actually pays an entrance to the park which is included in your ticket. The others just tour the outskirts. In terms of wildlife this is not a huge difference but I feel it is very important to support the preserve financially to show that protecting natural places can be economically worthwhile.

We see lots of wildlife and the kids have a great time. Lots of birds - herons, kingfishers, aningas, hawks etc etc. Three kinds of monkeys in trees right by the river - howlers so close my son could call right back to them - a big thrill!
We see lots of caimans and turtles and a family of little bats. It's a great way to tour the river and the boat is very spacious and clean. We stop back at a little restaurant (where we started with an empanada and coffee) and have lunch. The food is good and the feeling is very relaxed. On our way back we pass through a town festival or TOPE where people from all over the region are showing their horseman(and woman) skills on beautiful dancing horses. My daughter is entranced as our the other tourists and our guide turns the van around and we stop to watch. What fun. We also see a sloth on the way home. I would definitely recommend this tour.

We have a quiet meal at the hotel and head off the next day for San Jose and then on to Golfito.
More later!


Regarding the schools : no we never visited them just passed by. If were to stay longer I would love to arrange that but only if it were of benefit to the local kids too. Hard to know! If you know a local school teacher or principal that would be the best way to go.
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Apr 10th, 2007, 09:57 AM
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sorry forgot to reply to Karin. My kids are 7 and 10. We did not do any ziplining or canopy tours. The hanging bridges is a canopy experience as you are REALLY high up in the trees at times. This appealed to me more as we could sit up there for ages if we wanted - the other tours are bigger groups and more restricted in terms of time. The hanging bridges was more peaceful. I'm sure my kids might have liked the ziplines but it's no way to see wildlife, it's very expensive, and we have them near our home town if we ever feel our lives are incomplete without them.
I find the key to travel with kids is to schedule lots of "down time" and to leave room for impromptu changes. We also did not move around too much so they could settle in a bit at each place.
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Apr 16th, 2007, 12:43 PM
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ttt
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Apr 16th, 2007, 11:53 PM
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Okay guys, thanks for the feedback and interest. I'd love to give more details on Playa Nicuesa. I don't know how it compares to Bosque del Cabo - which you all rave about - but we loved it.

Getting there: the Sansa terminal is a fun place! Very crowded, chaotic and completely illogical. We show up at the right time and are told we are too early. We watch an ongoing disagreement about a surfboard - the owner adamant that it should go in it's protective case - the airline staff not so sure. As we take off we see it being shoved into the bottom of another plane - the protective case nowhere to be seen.

We fly over the beautiful green and land in Golfito where we're met by one of the hotel staff - an American who's wife is the resident yoga instructor and massage therapist at the lodge. We are taken by taxi (a few minutes) to the dock and board the motor boat. Golfito seems a bit ramshackle as we fly by. There are more staff in the boat - returning from days off. There is a nice welcoming feel and we get very excited as we boat past towering cliffs of green rainforest. We dip our hands in the beautiful warm Pacific ocean. It's a short ride - about 15 minutes - to the lodge. All we see as we pull up is a long metal dock and a few hammocks and chairs. The lodge is tucked back in the forest - as are all the cabins. No ocean views but we came for rainforest so we don't care. The beach is very low key - it's not sandy, rather pebbly with a small lagoon. There's a resident caiman who comes out at night - the former resident crocodile got very large and the owners had him moved away as it was becoming a bit risky! There are often iguanas and basilisks by the lagoon and our kids were thrilled to see hundreds of marine toad tadpoles.

We are taken up to the lodge - a beautiful open air building which really feels like a giant treehouse. We are welcomed with fresh sandwiches and salad and delicious drinks before getting a quick orientation and shown to our cabin "El Perezoso" (the sloth). It's a great spot - with floor to ceiling louvred french doors making up one wall and louvred windows on another. You can open these right up and really feel part of the forest. The shower is outdoor and there is a lovely deck. I have back problems and asked if there were any more comfortable chairs than the really cool (but really hard) ones there. Two new comfy chairs were waiting for us when we got back from exploring. The cabin is completely private and is right near a really good trail. There are lots of trails and, in my opinion, a good amount of wildlife. We heard howlers a couple of mornings (and lots of other unexplained animal sounds!) and we saw capuchins on a few occasions. We also spotted coatis, a peccary, toucans, scarlet macaws (they fly over each night on their way to a nearby animal sanctuary), morpho butterflies, hummingbirds, LOTS of blue tailed lizards, geckos, anoles, etc. Toads, a poison dart frog, really cool insects and spiders and of course leaf cutters. One couple encountered a boa constrictor on the path on the way to happy hour. You could hear the scream for miles!

There are lots of activities here - hiking, kayaking, snorkelling, visiting a nearby animal refuge, touring a mangrove swamp, swimming, fishing - out in the gulf or off the dock, dolphin watching, yoga, massage or just lazing about.

Each night we were asked which activity we would like to do the next day. I felt at first that the activities were being pushed a bit hard but realized that they were trying to organize the guides and logistics the night before so they needed to get people to plan ahead. Also, things start early because of the heat - lots of hikes etc go and come back before breakfast. They were switching to a new system where guests just sign up on their own.

We did a guided waterfall hike (4.5 hours) some independent kayaking and snorkelling, a tour to the animal refuge, a guided night hike and lots of self guided walks and hikes. My kids loved the wildlife refuge - which has friendly resident monkeys that stroll about and will sit in your lap. If you go, please give our love to Sweetie. My daughter is still talking about her. And wear pink - it's her favourite colour. (Sweetie, not my daughter) There are also scarlet macaws, parakeets, sloths, and lot of rescued monkeys in enclosures.
My kids also loved swimming off the dock. Now and then we would get a jellyfish sting. The pain only lasted a minute and was not severe, more annoying.
A couple of afternoons there was a big tropical rain and the kids loved hanging out in the lodge playing games - there are lots here plus books and guidebooks galore.

Things are very laid back here and we quickly felt at home. The food was fabulous - freshly caught fish, local fruit, etc. We were never disappointed. The owners go out of their way to make sure your kids are happy with their food and to accommodate any special diet. There is a happy hour with appetizers every night and coffee/tea etc available throughout the day. Guests eat at a big communal table which I thought I'd get tired of but didn't. The kids loved eating with everyone and there were other children there to play with. Probably a total of 25 people at any given time. There are also private tables to sit at if you wish - one couple sat there on their anniversary and had a lovely romantic meal.

It's very hot here. Be prepared to take it easy even if you're fit. I got a bit of heat exhaustion the first day after our hike. Everyone went out of their way to make sure I was okay. I'm not a morning person but I was so keen to get on the trail I would head out on my own at 6am. My son and I did lots of walks together and spent lots of time watching the antics of the Capuchins - don't stand directly beneath them they will pee on you!

The longtime guide at Playa Nicuesa was leaving and a new guide Estaban was taking his place. Our kids loved Estaban and he was very knowledgeable. He loves snakes and was happy when I spotted a vine snake. We also found a false coral snake which he tried to pick up. (This was on our night hike).

The owners, Mike and Donna, are very helpful and down to earth people. They have made a huge commitment to this place and I found their concern for the environment to be very impressive. They support a lot of local eco groups and will match any donation (up to $1000 I think) that is made to the campaign to save the Osa and make a wildlife corridor between Piedras Blancas park and Corcovado.

Piedras Blancas is just behind Playa Nicuesa. I thought the lodge was in primary rain forest. It's in secondary but the trails quickly lead to primary. I actually saw more wildlife in the secondary forest so shows how much I know!

Okay I think that's enough for now, it's getting a bit longwinded. One last note: don't swim in the ocean at night. You can ask why when you get there.
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Apr 17th, 2007, 05:06 PM
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...boa on the path, let's come back to that, shall we?

Sounds awesome, I'm really looking forward to Playa Nicuesa. I'm always hesitant to try out new places sometimes, I always compare them to BdC but it sounds like you had an awesome time and I hope I do too.

How many cabins are there? How far is the walk from the cabins to the restuarant area (are there lights)? How are the trails to walk around on your own? Any hikes or activities you'd really suggest (I do plan on the animal sanctuary for sure). Sorry for the barrage of questions!

The food sounds good and the owners very committed to the area. Looking forward to getting there, thanks for posting about it.

Now do tell about the night swimming! And the boa? Did you get to see it? Boa's I'm actually okay with, but I'm sure coming across one in the path at night would probably cause me to levitate.
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Apr 17th, 2007, 09:02 PM
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LOL, Tully, don't know what this board would be without your keen sense of humor! You make me laugh daily! Thanks, by the way!

kpie, PN sounds fantastic. Now it's on my list for sure! I had to smile at your reference to El Perezoso.

You know that is the word for "lazy" in espanol. Hence the slow moving sloth. . .

Unfortunately I had to use that word in a parent teacher conference the other day. A dad wanted to know how his son was doing in school (not so well) and why. He didn't speak English, and I had to rely on my less than fluent Spanish. The word "perezoso" was the perfect description, so I used it. It was true. Dad nodded his head, as he seemed to understand perfectly his son's aversion to effort! Apparently, same character trait when the child is at home. . .
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Apr 17th, 2007, 10:59 PM
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Ha actually Tully the wife did levitate over the boa and the husband stayed back. She told him to jump over it too but he refused. It was quite hilarious.
The night swimming........on the last night we learned a new animal fact - crocodiles do swim in the ocean at night. They come out of rivers and go fishin. Now, this occurs all over Costa Rica not just at Playa Nicuesa so I would hate that to scare anyone off. And it is not a regular occurrence, it only happens when the tide is really high. Besides, when you're up at 5 or 6am and hike all day then hit happy hour you don't usually have the strength to go for a night dip. They don't come in the day and everyone swims without concern. It was quite a sight to see the big red eyes glowing in our flashlight from the dock! Everyone was very giddy about it and one couple made us all laugh by marching down to the beach chanting "Tick Tock" "Tick Tock".

Tully I think there are about 4 cabins. They are so tucked away I couldn't really tell. There is also a four room (I think) detached house. It is a very short walk to the restaurant (1-2 minutes ) even when we were feeling very Perezoso. They do have oil lamps along the paths to the cabins and a clever outside switch to turn on the inside light - so no nasty surprises! But we still felt more comfortable with flashlights on the path. Bring really good ones and spare batteries. Also I would suggest some indoor slipons/flipflops - the bathroom floor does get damp and you don't want to track in mud from outside. And NOTHING dries here - bring lightweight quickdry everything.
The trails range from short strolls to uphill grinds. There is a good trail map and descriptions of each trail provided. I had no problems walking about on my own. (Just carried a stick for spider webs and the possibility of a snake - tapped logs in front of me etc. ) We only found a snake when we really looked for one unlike our boa buddies.
My favourite hikes were the Frog Trail and the Don Carlos trail. Frog trail is where I saw lots of monkeys and Don Carlos leads through primary forest to the ocean - best to do at low tide unless you plan to swim down to the dock. Also if you're setting off on your own let people know and don't leave it too late in the day. Inside the forest it gets dark quite early.
In the centre of the trail network is an old farm - this is apparently where the snakes like to hang out so I didn't really linger around there!

There is a hike to a lookout deck - fabulous view of the Gulf but quite strenuous to reach. Do some quad stretches before you go.

We kayaked up a couple of bays and found good snorkelling. Also the point south of the dock was supposed to be good too.
The guided hikes and activities all cost extra and we were trying to stick to a budget so we did not do that many. Another family went horseback riding nearby and really enjoyed it - it was a 2 hour trail through the forest and a stop at a waterfall.

Have fun and say hi to Donna for me.

Shillmac - my son is getting a bit perezoso at school too and I'd welcome any suggestions! In any language! We just had our parent teacher conference today.
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Apr 18th, 2007, 11:39 AM
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kpie thanks so much. Good to hear they have a decent trail system like at BdC. I hate having set-up activites to fill the day as your only option. I'm big on walking sticks too (on the Golfo Dulce trail at BdC a group of us must've said a hundred times "stick or snake? Leaves or snake? Poke, poke"). I also know from BdC that after hiking as much as 8 hours a day I would be beat by 9pm and certainly won't be swimming at night. Heck, swimming in the day I'm kinda iffy on.....if I can't see what colour nail polish I have on my toes I'm totally out of my comfort zone. Sounds like the walk from cabins to restaurant isn't too bad (considering I hate walking alone at night and yet I'm staying at 3 places with just that. Selva verde is 10 minutes, eek). I am so totally flashlight/headlight prepared I will look like Tron or something coming down the path. Know the heat can really wipe you out. I usually do 2 hour or so hikes, a short breather, then repeat. I do 3 miles here in FL every day in our lovely humidity so while not the same I'm used to it a little. I'm assuming filtered water is readily available?

Your trip report has made me all kinds of excited to get there, can't wait!
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Apr 18th, 2007, 05:16 PM
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Poke, poke indeed!
Reminds me of our daughter while we were out early a.m. birding with Eduardo. She spotted a poisonous dart frog, which prompted disappeared under some leaves. In trying to show a gentleman who was birding with our group, she leaned down and was moving the leaves about with her hand. Eduardo spoke up and said, "uh, I don't think you want to do that!". She realized what she was doing and straightened up pretty darned quick!

kpie. . .all I know is: "tis the season! Once the school year starts obviously winding down in various ways (for us, it's post-testing), man, is it hard to keep the kids engaged in learning! Creativity in the classroom becomes pretty necessary! There's a difference, though, in the child who gets a little tired and lets up toward the end of the year and the child who has a full blown aversion to any type of mental weight lifting whatsoever!
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