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Arenal: Do I have to do a tour?

Old Jun 18th, 2008, 12:44 PM
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Arenal: Do I have to do a tour?

My husband and I are headed to Costa Rica for the first time in late August/early September. We will be spending 3 nights in the Arenal area. We aren't really tour group people, but I have read so many posts about organized tours. Is a tour mandatory, or can we do things (hanging bridges, rainforest tours, etc.) ourselves? And if not mandatory, are they worth it? Meaning do you get a lot more out of the tour? And one last question...do we have to book ahead? Our hotel asked if we wanted to prebook any tours and I haven't responded yet.

Thanks much!
Tracy
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Old Jun 18th, 2008, 01:12 PM
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You don't need a tour to do any of that stuff--especially if you rent your own vehicle.

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Old Jun 18th, 2008, 01:15 PM
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I always self guide.Pick and choose
what I like when I get there have never had a problem.Desafio Adventure Company has the lions share of the good tours.Usually
do some combo of...

tabacon.com
arenalvolcanotours.com
arenal.net

Horseback riding hiking montain biking hanging brides ride over
to Monteverde lots of night time hot
springs both Tabacon and or Eco-termales.Arenal is most spectacular
at night.Plan your journey accordingly.

Have Fun,
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Old Jun 18th, 2008, 01:16 PM
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You will need to organize most of the activities you mentioned through tour groups. For example, several companies maintain zip lines and hanging bridges. You cannot go on them without paying for access (as is the case with hanging bridges) or guides (required for zip lines). Near Arenal are the very cool Vernado Caves, which you can access with a guide and usually as part of a group. You might be able to go in alone, but I don't think you would want to.

However, there are other things you can do by yourselves. For example, you can hike down to the La Fortuna Waterfall by yourself (wear your bathing suit - there is a great area to swim near the base of the waterfall).

We booked most of the "adventures" (like zip lines, white water rafting, horseback rides, etc.) ahead just because we didn't want to risk it. When we got there, one of the tours had been overbooked, which suggested to me that tours can get full. However, we were there in April (dry season) and it may have been busier then.
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Old Jun 18th, 2008, 05:47 PM
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Not sure where you're staying, but your hotel will be able to book any tour (horseback riding, zipline, etc). If you go to the Hanging Bridges, which I recommend, I would encourage you to get a guide (you can do so at the entrance). We did not and wished we had. If you like, check our my recent CR Trip Report. We spent 3 nts in Arenal & 6 nts in Manuel Antonio.

You're going to have a blast!
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Old Jun 18th, 2008, 05:58 PM
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We just did everything ourselves except the Cano Negro tour, which we did through Sunset Tours - we loved that, and it was a great chance to see wildlife. The Hanging Bridges has guided tours available, but we just hiked it ourselves. In retrospect, I wish we had hired a guide for that one because it gives you a better shot at seeing wildlife there - all we saw were ants! I agree with the suggestion to just have your hotel book any tours for you - they know everything in the area and can make good recommendations for you. For most things, I think you can just book when you get there - you're going during a rainy time of the year and may want to see how the weather plays out for you.
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Old Jun 19th, 2008, 04:35 AM
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Thank you all so much for your helpful advice. We are staying at the Hotel Silencio del Campo. When I responded back with my reservation information I asked them for more information on their tours. My husband and I will look through our guidebooks as well and try to determine if we want to book anything ahead of time or if we will wait until we get there. As it will be rainy, I almost think it will be better to see how the weather plays out.

Thanks again!
Tracy
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Old Jun 19th, 2008, 10:49 AM
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We aren't tour people either. We did take the Hanging Bridges tour.. well worth it. If we had gone ourselves, we would have missed many things in the rain forest. The guide (first female guide in Arenal) was great.
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Old Jun 25th, 2008, 06:04 PM
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You can do Hanging Bridges yourself - hubby and I did so on our trip and actually pointed out some wildlife to the guides with some groups!! However, a good guide with a spotting scope can be worth their weight in gold!! If I remember correctly, Silencio has several hiking trails on their grounds; we found the ones where we stayed (Lost Iguana) to be great for seeing a great deal of wildlife (actually saw more than we did at Hanging Bridges!) I ordered some folding, laminated guides online from rainforest publications which we carried in our daypacks - they were great for helping us identify wildlife and birds that we saw when alone!!
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Old Jun 25th, 2008, 10:06 PM
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Yes, you can do it everything by yourself. You would want to rent a car as a poster mentioned before.

As you said that this is gonna be your 1st trip to Costa Rica im gonna post this website here.

www.travelstocostarica.com

This is just an informative site, and as you dont want anyone to set you your tours, with this site you can avoid all of that advertising of other websites. Its has no advertising on it.

SiteC said "We spent 3 nts in Arenal & 6 nts in Manuel Antonio. You're going to have a blast!"

And thats right. Both destinations are on that website and if you need specific info just send me an email and ill see what can i get for you ( articles, news, tips).

I hope a GREAT trip. You wont regret.
charliew is offline  
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