Cano Negro Tour ?

May 10th, 2007, 03:32 PM
  #1  
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Cano Negro Tour ?

Hello,
I am doing research on our families upcoming Costa Rica vacation.

We would like to do a wildlife tour and are thinking about a Cano Negro trip. Is there only 1 company that operates tours out of Arenal area?
sparks_fly is offline  
May 10th, 2007, 03:39 PM
  #2  
 
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No, there are more than one. We used Sunset Tours, and I would recommend them highly. Today, by mistake, I received an e-mail intended for someone else. It was from Tabacon Resort. They had obviously planned a stay and itinerary for someone and part of it was a Cano Negro tour--but it didn't begin until 11:30. It wasn't a good option.

It's a full day tour. We left about 7:30 and returned around 3:30. The best times to view wildlife and birds is earlier in the morning. So I guess not all tours are equal. Again, I'd recommend Sunset. . .
shillmac is offline  
May 10th, 2007, 04:42 PM
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Shillmac,
Thanks for your response. I just checked out Sunset Tours website and they do offer both morning and afternoon Cano Negro tour (the afternoon tour is new).

Would you please look over our plans and let me know if it looks like it will work or not? I welcome any suggestions.

We are a family of 4 (with 2 kids ages 10 and 13). We are leaving the end of May for a quick 5 day trip to CR (our first).

Day 1
We will arrive at SJO around 9PM and stay in an airport hotel for the night. We had planned on renting a vehicle but are now considering hiring a driver to/from Arenal area. The reason we are considering hiring a driver is the cost of car rental with the added insurance and the bumpy roads. It looks to be almost 1/2 the price to hire a driver vs renting a 4x4 with insurance. Any suggestions??

Day 2
leave SJO around 8-9AM and head to Arenal. We are planning on staying at "Arenal Ovservatory Hotel" (it looks like the volcano views are great from there right now).

Take an afternoon zip line tour with Sky Trek.

Day 3
Cano Negro wildlife tour- depart hotel at 7:30 and return at 4:30PM.

Day 4
we are undecided on our plans for this day. We can either take another tour or head back to SJO and overnight near SJO airport.

The LaPaz waterfall sounds like a great idea if we rented a car but it may add a huge expense if we hire a driver to take us to La Paz and then pick us up the next AM and take us to SJO for our flight home.

Day 5
Flight out- either 8AM or 2PM
sparks_fly is offline  
May 10th, 2007, 06:34 PM
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I can't advise as to the comparison of the two modes of transport. But I can offer something for you to check out. We are car rental people.. . .we thoroughly enjoy having the freedom of getting ourselves here and there in our own time. The road conditions between SJO and Arenal are much better than you might think. Very decent. It's about a 2.5 hour drive.

Thoughts for you:

1. You should check with Tricolor. Their rates are very hard to beat and you should be able to get a 4X4 for about $50 per day, all inclusive of insurance and taxes. There will be no hidden costs with them, and we've never found an agency to beat their price or their level of service. With there being 4 of you, luggage storage might be a bit of a problem, so you might check into a larger SUV, which of course, would cost a little more. Still, probably not more than $350.

2. Staying at Arenal Observatory Lodge will present special problems with transportation. It is about 9km on a rough road off the main highway. You'll need to get yourself onto and off of the property. How were you thinking to do that? Extra transfers are going to add up in addition to the cost of your private transfer. You'll want to go into La Fortuna, perhaps do the La Fortuna falls, or any number of other activities in the area. A car would be handy to have.

3. As for that last day, you could certainly find plenty to do in the Arenal area, but La Paz is an excellent stop. I'd suggest you leave Arenal by mid morning. Arrive La Paz in time to spend the latter part of the afternoon (at least 3 hours) touring the property. Not sure you'll want to stay overnight there, but the nearby Poas Volcano Lodge would be a good alternative. It's about a 2.5 hour drive from Arenal and another hour from La Paz to the airport area.

4. Try to get the 2:00 departure flight. You'll want the next morning to enjoy the La Paz property again if you're staying there. If you stay elsewhere (such as Poas Volcano Lodge), then you'll want to get an early start on the day and make a trip up to the crater at Poas (arrive there by 8:30 for best viewing possibilities--clouds come in mid morning usually). You'll have plenty of time to do that and get to the airport by 11:30 or so. Poas takes about an hour of your time, so you can be at the rental agency by 10:30 or 11:00 easily. If you choose to stay that last night at Arenal, you should still be able to leave early in the a.m. and get to the airport by 11:00. Just be aware that it is generally "safer" to get back into the vicinity of the airport the night before a flight. Sometimes things happen on the road that can tie up traffic for hours.

Whatever you choose to do, you're all sure to have a great time. Very special place. .

shillmac is offline  
May 11th, 2007, 09:16 AM
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I second the motion for Sunset Tours. We took their Cano Negro tour last year, and it was the highlight of our trip. We got great pictures of caimans, howler monkeys, capuchins, and a number of birds. The guide was really informative, and he got all of us involved in spotting the animals. Halfway through the trip, the boat pulls over to a great little facility they have built on the side of the river, and we had a great lunch there.

They also pulled the tour bus over, so we could get a closeup view and pictures of a sloth that was in a tree by the roadside. Seems like their guides are always on the lookout!
volcanogirl is offline  
May 12th, 2007, 10:15 AM
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Here's a third recommendation for Sunset Tours. We used them for both Cano Negro and the Hanging Bridges. Their guides are very knowledgeable and informative. Both of those tours were a lot of fun.

I also second shillmac's vote for driving yourselves. Activities around Arenal are spread out and the Observatory Lodge is well off the beaten track. It will be much more convenient to have your own wheels in that area. The roads around there were in very good condition when we visited last December (be warned that the drive to the Observatory Lodge from the main road is not paved; very bumpy, but not unbearable!).

La Paz is an excellent choice for your last day. Be sure to visit all the attractions: butterfly house, frog house, snake house, hummingbird garden... And then there is the gorgeous trail of falls!

End of May, eh? Have a wonderful trip and share your experiences when you return!
cmerrell is offline  
May 12th, 2007, 02:43 PM
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You all have been so helpful in my planning. Thank you!!!

Did any of you purchase the additional insurance that lowers your deductible to $0.00 in case of an accident or damage to the car? It is an additional $15.00 per day on top of the $20.00 per day collision insurance and we have to pay for 5 days rental when we only need the car for 3 days. I understand that the deductible is around $1,200.00 (read on another fodor member's post). Not sure why I am worrying so much about this rental. We traveled to Ireland last summer and rented a car- only used our Mastercard platinum's insurance. We drove on the wrong side of the road and also on some very narrow rocky roads for goodness sake without worry... ha! I guess I have just read too much!
sparks_fly is offline  
May 12th, 2007, 04:03 PM
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I wish I could help you. Like you in Ireland last year, we just never worry about it. We purchase whatever they add on for us and use our platinum card as well for the CDW waiver. Tricolor (the co. we used) has never asked if we wanted extra, and neither did Dollar when we used them a few years ago.

We did the same thing on Tortola last summer--rented, no questions asked, just took off, drove on the wrong side--all over the island.

I think you are worrying too much!
shillmac is offline  
May 12th, 2007, 04:04 PM
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By the way, we had damage to our car last year--the credit card paid it. It amounted to about $200 for a scrape down the passenger side door.
shillmac is offline  
May 12th, 2007, 04:05 PM
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What I meant to say was, the credit card's insurance paid it. Didn't cost us a penny. And that was on a vehicle that was "uninsured"--a van. Tricolor told us they'd help us every way they could--and they did. That's why we use them.
shillmac is offline  
May 12th, 2007, 04:49 PM
  #11  
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Shillmac,
Thanks for your kind words. We are going to go with Tri Color Rental and take the insurance they offer CDW only. I'm sure our MC platinum will cover us if there is any damage. That was the only credit card that covers car rentals in Ireland and Italy.

We are in our final stages of planning our trip and you have been so helpful from the beginning.

I will post our final plans once they are set.
sparks_fly is offline  
May 12th, 2007, 05:32 PM
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Great! Did you ever say when you are going? This summer, I presume. .

I know your family will have a wonderful time! Looking forward to seeing your itinerary. The planning is fun, don't you think?
shillmac is offline  
May 12th, 2007, 06:31 PM
  #13  
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We are traveling over Memorial Day.... Yes, my husband thinks I actually enjoy the planning more than the trip itself...ha!! That is not true at all, but I do really enjoy the planning part. This forum has been so helpful in planning all of our vacations.

We usually vacation in Europe 2 times each year. This is our 1st Latin America vacation.
sparks_fly is offline  
May 12th, 2007, 06:56 PM
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I haven't been to Europe, but one day. . .DH isn't interested, so it might be a trip with my daughters, who knows?

Memorial Day weekend will be a good time--not so many people, particularly at Arenal.

That's just 2 weeks away. . .the time will fly! The girls and I are going to NYC for 3 days. I'm looking forward to getting together with them--wherever it is, we always have a great time.

How old are your children?

shillmac is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 07:52 AM
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Hi sparks_fly,

Regarding the car, you may want to give Mastercard a quick call and make sure they've got you covered in Costa Rica. Just nice to have that added reassurance. We purchased the additional damage waiver insurance on our rental (through Europcar) last year, because I would just rather be safe than risk being sorry.

Worse case scenario, if MC doesn't cover you, you'll be out an additional ~75$ if you decide to purchase the extra coverage. Could be worse! ;-)

This will be a very different adventure for you than Europe, but that's the true wonder of travel; experiencing all the terrific diversity of people, landscape, flora and fauna that the world offers.

I'll have to hit you up for ideas next year when I start planning a trip to Europe with my mom (who will be turning 70 by the time we go). At this point, we are thinking of Austria and northern Italy, but that will probably change about a million times before we are finished planning! In the meantime, we look forward to Costa Rica again this coming December.

Shillmac,
You are off again over Memorial weekend?? You are a traveling fiend this year (and my new hero )!

I actually went to NYC with a couple of girl friends last Memorial weekend. We had such a great time! Enjoy!!
cmerrell is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 08:55 AM
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We had a hard time deciding when to do the NYC trip. My daughter will actully finish university next December, but that didn't seem like a very good time for NYC. We thought about October (which would be nice, I think), but she wasn't sure of her fall schedule for school and work. So this was what we came up with. I think end of May will be a good time.

It's been a few years (2004) since I've been to NYC. That was when I attended a wedding at the chapel at West Point. Quite an interesting experience. My husband isn't so crazy about the busy-ness of NYC--I like it. It's a nice change from Oklahoma!
shillmac is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 09:23 AM
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sparks_fly: I was the one who added the extra insurance with Tricolor, but we hadn't done our research before the trip on what our credit card would cover, so as long as you know, I'm sure you'll be fine.

Since I notice your kids are close to the ages that mine are, and since you're staying at Arenal Observatory Lodge, they might enjoy the serpetarium in Castillo; although we didn't go through the museum, two other families we spoke with recommended it. And we did like the restaurant there for lunch. Have a wonderful time!
sms73 is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 09:37 AM
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Shillmac,

We had absolutely perfect weather in NYC last year at the end of May. Nice and warm, but not too hot; probably in the low to mid 70s.

Hopefully, you'll have similar temps! BTW, we visited the American Museum of Natural History while we were there. I had never been there on previous trips to NYC. We all really enjoyed it! You should check it out if you have not been there before.

Sms,

Our Sky Trek guide highly recommended that serpentarium as well. We didn't have time to fit it into our schedule, but it certainly sounds worth a visit.
cmerrell is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 09:51 AM
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Thanks for the tip. We have visited the Museum of Natural History in Denver and Los Angeles (but it's been YEARS!). That might be a fun thing. Did you eat anywhere interesting that you would recommend?
shillmac is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 10:55 AM
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Sms 73, Thanks for writing back in and letting me know about your decission about purchasing the additional ins. I am going to call MC to make sure they cover us in CR-. We will also be sure to check out the serpetarium while we are in Arenal.

Cmerrell, We are looking forward to the difference btwn Europe and CR. We also normally travel to Europe during T. Giving or Christmas break- so cold weather travelers (not be choice it just happens to be when we can get away and we travel stand by so open flights are a big part of our trip planning). The heat and humidity will be different. Though we are from Florida and currently live in Atlanta so we are used to humidity and heat.. just not to the extent the rain forest provides...ha! We are also looking forward to spending time with the Costa Rician people (that will be a huge change from some European cities). I travel with work to many Latin America countries each week and they are really warm people, it will be great for my children to experience their way of life and kindness.

Please feel free to contact me when you are planning your trip. I try to keep all of my travel planning information and tidbits I gather from Fodors members.

Shillmac, My kids are 10 and 13. They are both great travelers and love new adventures. Enjoy your NYC trip with your daughters. It is a great city to explore. Make sure you take the Staten Island Ferry to view the Statue of Liberty. It is a free ferry (can you believe that something in NYC is free??) it takes you by the Statue of Liberty for "great views". That is part of an overview trip I always take friends or family on when we visit the city. Also be sure to stop by "Crumbs Bakery" near Bryant Park for a famous NYC cupcake. They make almost any type cupcake you can imagine- try googling "Crumbs Bakery NYC" to see the selections. We were there in April. Purchased our cupcakes and walked over to Bryant Park to enjoy them. It was a fun girls thing to do.

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