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Awesome Nature/Wildlife Opportunities near Vista del Valle

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Feb 12th, 2013, 09:07 AM
  #1
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Awesome Nature/Wildlife Opportunities near Vista del Valle

We're still debating on our last 2-3 nights in Costa Rica.

We can do 2-3 nights at an amazing private house near Vista del Valle. However, we have stayed in this general area in past and it doesn't feel as exciting and new as Selva Verde does (our other option....but SV is 2 1/2 hrs from airport and our flight departs at 1230.)

We have 4 young kids - but they are adventurous and can manage some hiking. (Ages 7, 6, 4, 1 - we'd have 1 yr old in backpack carrier).

Any awesome things near Vista del Valle to explore that we may not have done before?
We've hiked the waterfall trail at Xandari, the trail at Vista del Valle, Zoo Ave and did the Alajuela farmers market. (On a previous trip without kids, we did Peace Lodge and we prefer more local, smaller, less crowded things.)

We never made it to Poas before - so that could be new. And we would likely repeat some of the above activities. We also just learned about the Toucan Rescue Ranch and may do that depending on drive time.

What are we missing to make this decision to stay here more exciting and an easier decision? Selva Verde seems so cool - but I am hesitant because of the drive time and the numerous poison frogs/snakes with my littles...though we havent ruled it out yet.

Last question - we will most likely be coming from Arenal. The other option is to just stay put there for 7 nights (we'll have been in Guanacaste for a week before that). How far of a drive is Arenal area from SJO airport nowadays?
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Feb 12th, 2013, 10:59 AM
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We really liked visiting Poas. If you go, bring jackets because it can get chilly. We wore fleece when we went. We also liked the Doka Coffee Estate tour - very pretty, but might not interest little ones so much. Between Arenal and SJO is about threeish hours. We stayed at VdV; that area wasn't my favorite. Did you rule out an Arenal and Monteverde combo?
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Feb 12th, 2013, 11:40 AM
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Well, our flight now departs SJO at 1230 and everyone is saying we now need to be there 3 hours prior. Is that really the latest? If thats the case, we wanted to be closer which is why we would have selected a place closer to the airport.
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Feb 12th, 2013, 11:51 AM
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We always get there three hours before just in case. The area around VDV seemed drier to me and not as lush as some of the other places we've stayed. We did see a toucan there though and thought that was cool. Have you considered just spending the last night near the airport?
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Feb 12th, 2013, 11:58 AM
  #5
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Wildlife and hiking and ecotours at Selva Verde will blow anything at Vista del Valle out of the water--there's simply no comparison between the Central Valleu area and Sarapiqui in that regard. Convenience, views, general aesthetics, etc are separate considerations of course.

If you have a 12:30 PM flight, leave by 6:30 am and you should be at the airport in plenty of time, especially if you do a web check in.
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Feb 12th, 2013, 12:08 PM
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Yes - we want to be blown away!

So, maybe Playa Negra 7 nights (because that is already booked and non refundable) - Arenal 4 nights - Selva Verde 3 nights with a really long final travel day!

RAC - any input into the issue of having my young kids at Selva Verde? We want lush, green, rainforest experience for the kids....thought we could have had a little of that with some tours in Arenal. No? Or, not the same as Arenal?

Other option it seems right now is Playa Negra - Arenal 5 nights - VDV area 2 nights so we can be close to the airport....and don't want to just go for 1 night.
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Feb 12th, 2013, 12:26 PM
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Oh, and as for just spending the last night by the airport....I kind of want to end on an awesome note and want to avoid an airport hotel - or even a cool hotel nearby - where we would all 6 be in one room.
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Feb 12th, 2013, 05:36 PM
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I would hands down pick Selva Verde over the VdV area if you think you'll be able to relax and enjoy it. The Arenal area is very lush and green and beautiful. I think four nights there is about right. Selva Verde has that more humid rainforest feeling. Our cabin didn't have windows; it had screens to let the air circulate.
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Feb 12th, 2013, 06:46 PM
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We spent one night at Casa Rio Blanco, outside of Guapiles. It was wonderful and wish we had spent more time there. It is about an hour from the airport as the owners gave us a shortcut around SJ. Just another option.

http://www.casarioblanco.com/
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Feb 13th, 2013, 08:16 AM
  #10
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Arenal area is lush, but I wouldn't call it authentic rainforest the way the Selva Verde area is. Part of the magic is unexpected wildlife sightings while you're just walking around. You don't get that at Arenal except for a small handful of places that are far outside of town. Selva Verde we would see woolly possums, raccoons, monkeys, something different every time we left our room. And lots of toucans.

Selva Verde has a pizzeria now, so that will help with the kids.

In terms of poisonous critters, how much do you trust them to never put their hands and feet where they can't see them? It was in the Sarapiqui area that I almost stepped on a terciopelo, but that was at night. During the day should not be a problem. Poison frogs are not terribly poisonous as long as you don't swallow them whole.
Personally I think Arenal is a 4 night max destination.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 09:57 AM
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We saw both the coral snake and terciopelo during the day, so I would still be vigilant then. We didn't have mammal sightings on our own at Selva Verde, but we did see toucans, aracaris, iguanas, and lots of poison dart frogs.

Michelle, that place looks wonderful.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 10:13 AM
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VG- it was a stopover between MA and PuertoViejo. It was so wonderful and would be on our agenda if we ever go back.
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