Costa Rica activities

Old Apr 26th, 2014, 08:01 AM
  #1  
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Costa Rica activities

I cannot believe our trip to Costa Rica is only a week away! Thanks to lots of helpful comments here, I think we have a great trip planned. We have a list of tours and excursions that sound good to us, but I have not actually made reservations for any. I was planning to do that when we arrive so we have some flexibility in our plans. Would it be better to make reservations before we go?

Also, I would love to get comments on our "short list". A little about us: we are nature lovers and look forward to seeing the wildlife. We are both active and experienced hikers. I prefer doing things on our own to guided tours, but I know a guide will show us things we would completely miss on our own. I am hoping to get a good balance of guided and independent activities.

Bosque del Cabo (4 days):
Hiking grounds on our own
Botanical Gardens tour
Tree climb with Everyday adventures
Maybe sunset kayaking with Escondido Trex

Lost Iguana, Arenal (4 days)
Hanging Bridges - on our own or guided tour?
Tabacon
Sky tram Canopy tour - should we do this or the zip line in Monte Verde?
La Fortuna waterfall

Hidden Canopy, Monte Verde (3 days)
guided forest walk first day then go back to hike on our own a later day
night walk with hotel guide
self-guided suspended bridges tour
Canopy zip line with Original Canopy or Sky Trek (if we do not do zip line in Arenal)
bat jungle?

Thanks,
AnaB
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Old Apr 26th, 2014, 09:14 AM
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"Sky tram Canopy tour - should we do this or the zip line in Monte Verde?"

The zip line at Arenal Sky Trek (ride up the Sky tram) has superior views, in my opinion. (It's not like you are going to see any animals or special foliage up close while screaming through the trees, so the vistas matter.)
The hanging bridges at Arenal (Lost Iguana) are very doable on your own (but if you see a tour stopped, check out what they are seeing). We saw more animals (esp. coati) as we were finishing the hike.
The Monteverde suspended bridge walk at Selvatura (http://www.selvatura.com/) was recommended by our host, and we thought it was a nice experience. They have a lot to do in their base area, also. Didn't do the Sky Trek version ("Sky Walk"), but I believe they are all pretty similar in the Santa Elena/Monteverde area.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve (or an alternative, the Santa Elena Cloud Forest park) is a little quieter (IMO), but guides will probably be able to help you see more; I liked that you can choose your loop(s).
Just be prepared that the bridges walks are more about being in the trees and forest (and clouds), and less about spying animals (especially if there are high-pitched whining zip lines and people hollering on them nearby). And go before too much fog rolls in.
sylvia3 is online now  
Old Apr 26th, 2014, 08:33 PM
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Bosque del cabo--you probably have four nights? Which is more like three days. Don't waste time doing more than one excursion that requires going back to town. (except maybe the tree climb, that may be close)

The guided tours at Bosque are not twenty people in a bunch. We did the Primary Forest tour with just the two of us. The tours are all worth it. You don't have to reserve before you get there. Just check the activity board; if too many people are going don't sign up. Do a tour a day or so, and walk around by yourself (trails, road, grounds) the rest of the time. And don't miss mealtime.
emmajm is online now  
Old Apr 27th, 2014, 05:52 AM
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Agree re not doing tours at BdC. With only 4 nights, I wouldn't leave the property. Too many trails there to do on your own plus the excellent Primary tour with Philip and the night tour w/him as well. Carlos, the birding guide there, used to do a tree climbing tour on the property, I would ask.
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Old Apr 27th, 2014, 10:02 AM
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We are going on vacation in June with 5 children(ages 21,20,17,16,13) all active. We are spending 3-4 nights in Manueal Antonio and 3 nights in either Arenal or Monteverde. Do you suggest Arenal or Monteverde for our crew?
Would appreciate suggestions on activities in Arenal or Monteverde and Manuel Antonio. Thanks!
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Old Apr 27th, 2014, 04:12 PM
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Thanks for the helpful comments. Bosque del Cabo sounds wonderful. I really like the idea of staying on the property and exploring rather than going back to town for other excursions.
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Old Apr 27th, 2014, 07:38 PM
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We did the Primary Forest tour with Phillip and learned so much, also really loved early morning birding with Carlos. The one trip off site that I think is definitely worth it is the animal sanctuary. A monkey came running down the beach into my husband's arms, and I got to hold a sloth. Seeing everything so up close was amazing, and we saw dolphins on the boat ride over.

We've done the Hanging Bridges both on our own and with a guide; on our own we saw some beautiful views but pretty much zero in the way of wildlife other than ants. With a guide we saw howler monkeys, a toucan, a green honeycreeper and lots of things we would have missed on our own so I would definitely go with a guide if you want to up your chances of seeing wildlife. The waterfall hike is fantastic; you can swim in the crystal clear river there if you want to. There's a small set of steps on the left hand side that lead down to it. I like the ziplines in Arenal due to the views that Sylvia mentioned; we had a fantastic view of the lake and the volcano, plus Monteverde can be really foggy and the weather was cold and rainy when we were there. We've also done the Original Canopy Tour and really liked it, but you mostly go through the trees rather than above the canopy, so it's a different experience. The night hike at Hidden Valley in Monteverde is nice; we saw some cool things including a fox and a porcupine when we did it.
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Old Apr 28th, 2014, 12:15 PM
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I was thinking about the animal santurary but was not sure about it. I take it the conditions for the animals were pretty good?
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Old Apr 28th, 2014, 12:25 PM
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The conditions of the animals is good, they are very committed to caring and releasing them. It is just Carol now btw, Earl is gone. VG not sure how long ago you visited but it did go thru a big change about 5-6 years ago. It used to be much wilder, very casual. Now they have it set up with new cages and more of a start tour here/end tour here kind of vibe. For me I just miss the old tour and Earl, so haven't been back in a couple years now. Plus it's a good half day to do it, and I always hate to give up time at BdC. Not to mention it gets pricey with the boat. Can't hurt to just keep in the back of your mind and maybe you will meet others who are going and that will help with the boat cost. Or you may decide once you get there not to leave.
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Old May 27th, 2014, 06:35 PM
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Are you referring to the big cat refuge center? I have read about it and was wondering if it was worth the visit. How far is it from LaFortuna? Is it more like a zoo or can you get close to the cats? Thanks for the info.
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Old May 28th, 2014, 10:23 AM
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Ana, yes, the animals were in very good condition. tully, Earl was still there when we went. Where did he end up going? I thought he and Carol were married.

aodantin, I was referring to the animal sanctuary on the Osa. It's in a completely different part of CR than the La Fortuna area. If you want a nice little sanctuary near Fortuna, Proyecto Asis is great. We got to help feed monkeys, a sloth, and macaws when we went there. There's also a big cat refuge at The Springs Resort and Spa, but I wouldn't bother with that one. It seems more zoolike to me, and it didn't seem like they focused much on releasing the animals like Proyecto Asis does.
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Old May 29th, 2014, 06:13 AM
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Yes, the sanctuary tour is - or was - excellent. I haven't been there since Earl left. It was combined with snorkeling and seeing dolphins. We only did this on our second visit, however, as there's so much to see and do at the lodge. and only because we weren't able to access it from a closer point.

I totally agree; take Phillip's on-site tours. They are wonderful, and give you a good perspective for hikes on your own. Birding tour with Carlos is great also, I'm sure, though we never seemed to manage one - not early birds! The horseback-riding is another tour that is highly recommended, and just a short ride from the grounds. You ride through the forest down to the beach, where if the tide is right, you can soak in warm "tubs" of water.
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Old May 29th, 2014, 09:22 AM
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OP has probably been there and back by now.
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Old May 29th, 2014, 11:06 AM
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Hanging bridges - I'd do a tour if I was there again. We did it ourselves and didn't see any wildlife except a column of marching red ants. But apparently there are all kinds of animals in the park so if you want to see them, hire someone that knows where they are.
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Old May 29th, 2014, 03:52 PM
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t, we had the same experience. We went once on our own and saw ants, but went back another time with a guide and saw howler monkeys, a toucan, and some other cool things including a beautiful honeycreeper.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 12:39 PM
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I have indeed been there and back. We had a fantastic time! I will get my act together in the next week or so and post a trip report.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 04:00 PM
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Looking forward to your report, and I need to do one of my own too! Glad you had a great time.
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Old Jun 27th, 2014, 08:40 PM
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Ana--wondering if you decided to make reservations ahead of time or book your activities when you got there? We leave in a month (will be staying in Arenal at silencio del campo and Manuel Antonio at Tulemar), and are on the fence about what to reserve before we get there. Since the weather is unpredictable, it would be nice to see what each day will be like before making plans, but we also don't want to miss out on anything. Would we be able to get guides once we're there?

Any input you all have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,
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Old Jun 28th, 2014, 08:22 AM
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Aside from transportation from one city to another, we made reservations once we were there, usually the day before. We did not have any problems getting guides. There are other posters here who have lots of experience visiting CR, hopefully they will weigh in as well.
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