Costa Rica experts, please help!!

Old Apr 17th, 2007, 11:20 AM
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Costa Rica experts, please help!!

We have most of our itinerary worked out but need some help filling in the blanks. We had planned to go to Monteverde but are thinking we might want to try somewhere else, perhaps San Gerado de Dota as we would like the cloud forest experience. Here is what we have so far:

Day 1 Arrive at SJO. Overnight at Vista del Valle
Day 2 Vista del Valle
Day 3 Arenal Volcano
Day 4 Arenal Volcano
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8 Manuel Antonio
Day 9 Manuel Antonio
Day 10 Manuel Antonio
Day 11 Manuel Antonio
Day 12 Manuel Antonio
Day 13 Overnight near airport
Day 14 Fly home

We will have a rental car and do not want to fly anywhere. We really want to spend the 5 nights at MA so that cannot be changed. Any suggestions for what to do on those 3 days would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 11:28 AM
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How about Monteverde?
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 02:00 PM
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It really wouldn't make any sense to travel all the way from Arenal to San Gerarodo de Dota. How about somewhere like Bosque de Paz?
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 02:58 PM
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I am hardly an expert on Costa Rica.

I would do Monteverde since it is sort of along your line of travel.

You could drive there on Day 5, rest up after you get there and just do some "little things" like the Skywalk , Hummingbird place etc.

Then the next day you could do the zip line , a bird nature walk with a guide and then walk about the little town and have lunch and dinner.

The next day ( Day 7 ) you can start your drive to get to Manuel Antonio.

shillmac , explain to them better than me ,what they should do.

Percy
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 03:38 PM
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I would add Monteverde or, if you don't mind driving a little further, the Rincon area. Or the San Ramon area for cloudforest for 1 or 2 nights then Ama Tierra (Neta's old place) for a night or 2 on your way to MA.
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 04:44 PM
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I would make a couple of changes.

Vista del Valle is a beautiful property, but there is not much to do there. Why spend two nights? I would eliminate one night here.

Vista del Valle is also a little out of the way. If you stayed in San Jose or Alajuela for the first night, you could save a day of car rental.

If you are going to rent a car anyway, and spend two nights. I would think about staying closer in, and do a day trip up to La Paz waterfall gardens.

I would then add a minimum of three nights at Monteverde for your cloudforest experience.

I hope this helps. Let me know if I can offer more advice.

Pat Hewitt
(Travel Professional)
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 05:17 PM
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I would also recommend Bosque de Paz (hope to have that part of my trip report up soon), if you're looking for a quiet spot with a cloud/rainforest virtually all to yourself that is definitely the place to go, approx 2hrs from the airport (probably about the same distance from Arenal, going towards SJ)

They have day tours from there, but we just spent three days hiking their very well maintained gentle trails (8 miles of trails within a 3000 acre private preserve) & watching wildlife (tons of hummingbirds, agouti, coati, black guan, etc) -- in 3 days of hiking we only saw 2 other people on the trails & one was the trail maintenance man! Truly a slice of heaven far far from the tourist masses.
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 06:54 PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions. Pat, we have already booked Vista del Valle and thought we would visit Sarchi, Grecia and Zarcero from there. Is it too far from Poas and La Paz Waterfall Gardens? Is there enough to do in Bosque La Paz for two days if we decide to go there instead of Monteverde? It seems that everyone thinks we should go to Monteverde so maybe we'll stick with our original plan 2 days Vista del Valle, 2 days Arenal Volcano, 3 days Monteverde and 5 days Manuel Antonio.
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 07:20 PM
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I'm just wondering why you were rethinking Monteverde and considering San Gerardo de Dota? It is true that, since you will be at Arenal (which, by the way, needs 3 nights--I'd just spend one night near the airport as well, then see La Paz, as Pat mentions, on the way to Arenal), Monteverde seems a natural progression.

But I'm a huge fan of San Gerardo de Dota, simply because it is lower key, fewer visitors, quieter, and quite lovely. If you're into birding at all, time spent with Marino Chacon is unmatchable anywhere else. So I'm thinking:

Arenal to Monteverde 3.5 hours?

Monteverde to Manuel Antonio 5 hours
(total of 8.5 hours via Monteverde)

On the other hand:

Arenal to San Gerardo de Dota (through San Jose, unfortunately)
is about 5.5 hours (probably would end up being 6)

San Gerardo de Dota to Dominical via San Isidro 2.5 hours

That's the same amount of drive time, but then you've still got about an hour and a half to get to Manuel Antonio on a rough road. Still, it will be rough up to and down from Monteverde as well. . .

BUT you get to pick up another locale with Dominical. 2 nights at Savegre is enough (particularly if you stay there until mid morning before driving to Dominical). Consequently, I'd stay a night at Dominical before driving on to Manuel Antonio.

Or could you reverse the trip? Start at Manuel Antonio, drive to San Gerardo de Dota (using one of your nights at Dominical or not).

San Gerardo de Dota back to San Jose, spending a night there at Vista del Valle, perhaps?

Then on to Arenal.

Just a thought. I'm guessing you'd like to finish up at the beach.

Again, Monteverde seems like the obvious choice, and I know it's probably just me, but after visiting both, San Gerardo de Dota is the place I keep choosing to visit again and again. Not as convenient in your travel itinerary, that's for sure. But certainly do-able, and it all depends on what kind of experience you'd prefer. Following lots of activity at Arenal, a quieter, more laid back destination might appeal.

Doing things the easy way isn't always my strong suit!
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 07:22 PM
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Hi Percy. . .unpacked yet?
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 07:58 PM
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Hi shillmac

Yes I am unpacked and recovered from the Flu..
I was luck as I got the flu the day after I got back from South America.

Planning for the next one , will let you know how it turns out (end of August).
Take Care
Percy
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 08:15 PM
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I know you've told me, but where are you going now? Your pattern seems to be every spring/fall. Is that right?

Sorry you've had the flu. Kind of late in the season for that, isn't it? Hope you've recovered completely. How's Vi? Did she enjoy S.A.?
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 08:52 PM
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Hi shillmac

No my pattern is not really spring/fall ,it is just that the summers are so short and nice here ,that one hates going away during June July and August.

I do not have the luxury that tully has to bask in the Florida sunshine all year round.!!
Am I jealous of tully... you bet I am !!!
I am looking into the Baltic Cruise for Oslo Norway, Stockholm Sweden, Helsinki Finland, Copenhagen Denmark,Gdansk Poland, Berlin Germany,Tallin Estonia and two full days in St. Pertersburg Russia.

Will let you know how it turns out if I can get the bookings for the end of August.
Good Night shillmac and you too tully
Percy
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Old Apr 18th, 2007, 10:42 AM
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Percy it is nearing 80's here but we had a cold snap last weekend, low of 60's had this floridian shivering

You can always retire here, everyone else does! But your travel plans don't exactly look like warm weather though! Always wanted to go to Russia and you are going to our sister city - St Pete! Looking forward to hearing about it!
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Old Apr 18th, 2007, 04:02 PM
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Here, too, Percy. Always glad to hear from you from afar--either Canada or Chile or Egypt or Oslo or Sydney. . .wherever!

Did you post a full report somewhere of your latest trip? I'd like to read the full deal.
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Old Apr 18th, 2007, 04:53 PM
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Hi shillmac and tully

No ,I have not posted a report as I got sick the next day after my return!

Then I was not able to get on Fodors because I forgot my password when I was in Chile and so I attempted to change the password... well

that did not work ,but when I got home , I was not able to get into Fodors, so I e-mailed them and they helped me get back into Fodors.

But at first they told me I could not use the screen name of Percy because it was already taken.!!!
I said ,Yes it is taken..by ME!!
So they gave me the Percy name back again...whew!

I have answered many questions on South America since I got back, so hopefully I have helped someone.

Very quick summary:

Machu Picchu ...a super site, just like in the pictures.

Buenos Aires... I could live here in a heart beat.

Iguassu Falls:...my first impression as I walked up to the Devils Throat part ( 14 falls combined into one and the drop is 375 feet) was WOW!!!

Rio de Janeiro:.... Very hot , it never gets below 65-68 F, yes, I walked the famous Copacabana Beach and went up to Christ the Redeemer on top of Corcavado Mountain and a cable ride to Sugar Loaf Mountain.

The Amazon:... the temperature was 101 F when I arrived.
Macaws everywhere ( shillmac I send you some pictures of the Macaws.)

Went parahna fishing,visited many villages, and yes shillmac I did see the meeting of the waters ,just like in the pictures I sent you!!

Sao Paulo is the heartbeat of Brazil..this city is HUGE, 19 million people !!!

Santiago Chile...I could live here also.
Toured the wine country, fo course I sampled wine along the way.!! They forced me to do so..!!!!!

Toured the Pacific Coast of Chile where all the money people live in their lovely second homes!!

Just a quick summary.

Yes tully I sure would like to see all those lovely places in St. Petersburg.
If they are half as nice as in the pictures , then Wow!

Thanks for rubbing it is that you have 80 above weather..I needed that !!!(LOL).
Take care both of you
Percy





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Old Apr 18th, 2007, 05:55 PM
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Yes, I remember. All photos were excellent--and all places I'd like to visit! Particularly Buenos Aires. . .seems to hold a special place in the hearts of many of Fodor's--similar to CR in that respect.

The power of the falls must have been an awesome sight!
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Old Apr 18th, 2007, 06:06 PM
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maryvh,
I awoke during the night thinking of your itinerary! Now that's gotta be ridiculous! I really DO have a life. . . LOL!

How does this sound?

Day 1 arrive, overnight Vista del Valle (truly a relaxing place to recup from your flight and get in the Pura Vida mood!

Day 2--late morning drive to Arenal, arrive early p.m. Overnight Arenal.

Day 3--Arenal, overnight Arenal.

Day 4--Arenal, overnight Arenal.

Day 5--Drive to area north of San Jose around La Paz and Poas Volcano, perhaps overnight at Peace Lodge on the La Paz property or Poas Volcano Lodge. Enjoy La Paz in the early afternoon, Poas very early the next a.m.

Day 6--mid morning departure to San Gerardo de Dota through San Jose, arriving around 2:00 or 2:30 p.m. Lunch at Cartago? Overnight Savegre.

Day 7--day at Savegre--birding, waterfall hike, trout fishing, horseback? Overnight Savegre.

Day 8--mid morning departure, lunch Dominical, Manuel Antonio by 3:00 p.m.
Overnight Manuel Antonio.

Day 9--Manuel Antonio, overnight.

Day 10--Manuel Antonio, overnight.

Day 11--Manuel Antonio, overnight.

Day 12--Manuel Antonio, overnight.

Day 13--mid morning departure back toward airport. Doka Coffee Estate tour or Zoo Ave in La Garita. Overnight near airport, Orquideas Inn?
Vista del Valle again?

Day 14--Fly home.
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Old Apr 19th, 2007, 03:02 PM
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Thanks, Shillmac. This sounds very doable. We'll definitely look into this itinerary.
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