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Arenal activities

Old Oct 13th, 2007, 06:00 PM
  #1  
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Arenal activities

My partner and I are traveling to Costa Rica during Thanksgiving week. While we're in the Arenal area, we'll be staying at the Lost Iguana. We'd like to check out the hot springs and the volcano. Are the Tabacon Hot Springs THE hot springs to check out or are others just as good? If you recommend Tabacon, can we go to the hot springs after 7PM (when the rates go down) AND see the volcano on the same night? I hear there are tours that combine hot springs and volcano, but is that recommended or should we do them on separate nights? (FYI: we will NOT have a car.) Also, is the Arenal Park worth hiking through during the day or can you see much of it at night while observing the volcano?

We'll also try to do the Cano Negro tour and the Hanging Bridges.

Thanks!
ACC
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Old Oct 13th, 2007, 07:01 PM
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Tabacon seems like it has always been "the" hot springs to visit - very lush landscaping, nice lighting, spa, etc. But they keep raising their price; in my opinion, it's getting overpriced. We went after 7:00 when we were there, and still had to pay $70 for the two of us to get in. I was glad I saw it, but now that I have, I probably wouldn't go back. Eco Termales gets good reviews from people who go there, but it seems like it's not as elaborate as Tabacon. Are you looking for over the top or just to visit a nice hot spring?

You can see the volcano from lots of places in town - from restaurants, driving down the road, etc., but the weather may not cooperate with you. Lots of times it gets socked in by fog, and people may go their entire trip without seeing it.

We stayed at the Lost Iguana when we went and were lucky enough to view it from out balcony every single night that we were there - loved it; it was so amazing! Hope you have the same luck! I wouldn't bother with doing a combo tour personally - just go to the springs when it's convenient for you.

If you do the Hanging Bridges, the LI sells discounted tickets at the front desk since it's right next door.

Definitely do Cano Negro - it's one of the best things we did on our trip and the first place we saw monkeys and sloths.
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Old Oct 14th, 2007, 09:52 AM
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We chose Eco-Thermales over Tabacon after reading a lot of reviews. It's really beautiful there and the surroundings are very natural. They have 6 pools in a range of sizes and temperature. There is a dinner option that has gotten pretty good reviews of the food as well, whereas Tabacon has not.

Cano Negro is excellent. Highly recommend you do it!
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Old Oct 14th, 2007, 10:18 AM
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Also, I believe Eco Termales limits it occupancy to 100, so it doesn't get too crowded. Seems like it has a more homey feel than Tabacon. You can check out pictures online and see what appeals to you.
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Old Oct 14th, 2007, 03:09 PM
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How much does it cost in transportation from the Lost Iguana to the Eco-Termales Hot Springs??? Also, what is the cost into Eco-Termales??
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Old Oct 14th, 2007, 04:12 PM
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We took a tour up to Rio Celeste and really enjoyed it...beautiful sky blue waters, a great hike. I recommend it if you're interested in doing something off the beaten path.
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Old Oct 14th, 2007, 04:13 PM
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forgot to add... skip the food at Tabacon if you can. We didn't go to Eco Thermales but heard that it is more laid back, more relaxing than Tabacon, which was beautiful but also felt a bit like an amusement park!
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Old Oct 14th, 2007, 05:28 PM
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STL, the Lost Iguana has a free shuttle that runs into town around dinnertime; we used that to go to the hot springs and caught a taxi back. Taxis cost us anywhere from $12-17 depending upon where we were going. I would not count on the Lost Iguana to pick you up; they promised to return to get us, and they didn't. After that, we just used taxis. Check to be sure that they still offer the shuttle, but it ran every night when we were there a year ago.
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Old Oct 15th, 2007, 03:58 PM
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Thanks Volcanogirl...will follow your advice. Taxi is safe enough for a single gal...do I call for a taxi or are they just waiting outside the Eco-Termales??
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Old Oct 15th, 2007, 04:34 PM
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We had the establishments - restaurants, hot springs, etc. call one for us whenever we needed one; they came pretty quickly. I'd just have them call a few minutes before you're ready to leave.
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Old Oct 17th, 2007, 07:16 PM
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Thanks for your responses. I'm still not clear on what the best way to "experience" the Arenal volcano is. Do you observe it at night from a distance? Do you hike it during the day? If it's a night-time activity, is it best to join a tour (we will NOT have a car) or can we just observe from our hotel (Lost Iguana) or the hot springs? (Can you see the volcano from Eco Termales?) Can someone help clarify?

We plan to do the Cano Negro tour and the hot springs on one day, and either the Hanging Bridges or a volcano hike on the second day. If it's not worth it to hike through the Arenal park, then we'll skip it and just do the Hanging Bridges.

Thanks again!
ACC

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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 03:30 AM
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acc, there is active lava - i.e. boulders and hot, orange lava running down the side of the volcano, so you can't get that close to it. The lava flow changes, so no one can guarantee you which direction it will be flowing when you get there. In terms of experiencing it, during the day you can see it from just about any point in town, you can see it driving into town - it's a huge cone. But as far as the lava portion, it's hard to see anything until the evening. Once it gets dark, you can see the orange glow, and it's really neat. Sometimes fog socks the whole thing in, and you can't see a thing, but you can still hear an ominous sound that sounds like a cross between a thunderstorm and a rocket taking off - lots of rumbles. Like I said in my post, we just watched it from our balcony at the Lost Iguana each night. Some people like to go to the Arenal Observatory Lodge to see it. I don't really see any reason to join a tour. Literally we'd be in a taxi on the road, and the driver would tell us to look, and we'd turn our head and see Arenal doing its thing, same thing at a restaurant - you hear rumbles and look over. There are some old lava fields you can hike, but really just enjoying the flow at night was enough for us.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 02:49 PM
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I really have to recommend doing the sunset hike on the old lava flows -- it was definitely one of the highlights of my last trip. We didn't have a car either, and signed up for one of the Sunset Tours hikes that picks you up in the late afternoon, then drives into the national park. It was cool scrambling over the rocks and feeling closer to the volcano. You can see Lake Arenal behind you, and since you're there at sunset it's really quite beautiful. As soon as it started to get dark, we saw big fiery boulders tumbling down the side... it was very cool. When I think of Arenal/La Fortuna, I always think of that hike.
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 09:09 AM
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Carol - do you know which tour group you used for the sunset hike? Thanks!
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 05:30 PM
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I used Sunset Tours. I know a lot of other people have used them for booking many other activities as well, and have been happy with them.
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 05:31 PM
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We used Sunset Tours for Cano Negro, and they were wonderful.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 03:53 AM
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I used Sunset Tours as well for 2 tours and they were excellent.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 08:47 AM
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OK. You sold me on the volcano hike. I guess we'll probably see a lot of similar wildlife on the Cano Negro tour that we would have seen on the Hanging Bridges tour anyway, right? Thanks for your input!

ACC
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 09:25 AM
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You'll see a lot more wildlife at Cano Negro than at the Hanging Bridges - we didn't see any wildlife at all at the bridges and saw tons at Cano Negro. People occasionally see howlers or snakes at the bridges, but wildlife is plentiful at Cano Negro. If you have to choose between the two, I'd definitely go with CN, so I think you're making a good choice.
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