Costa Rica Itinerary Advice

Nov 5th, 2007, 10:15 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 55
Costa Rica Itinerary Advice

I am making my second trip to Costa Rica January 6-16. Flying to/from San Jose. The first trip was Golfo Dolce - Manual Antonio/Quepos - fantastic !
This trip I would like to stay in and around the Central Valley. I have booked the first two nights at Peace Lodge.
Here is where I need your expert advice. I would like to do Arenal, Monteverde and Cano Negro possibly including at stay at La Carolina. I was thinking Leaves and Lizards in Arenal. Instead of driving to/from I was thinking the boat/horseback riding over the mountain.
Should I go from Peace Lodge (2 nights) to Arenal (3 nights) to Monteverde (2 nights) to Bijagua-La Carolina (2 nights)? or
Peace Lodge to Monteverde to Bijagua to Arenal?
Cano Negro is 2 hours from La Carolina in Bijagua so would it be better to go there from Arenal?
Also, where to stay in Monteverde?
I'll be alone and I won't be driving myself, I'll rely on drivers and buses. Thank you
spres242 is offline  
Nov 5th, 2007, 02:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Great locations. . .an interesting problem logistically and a little difficult to comment on! Throwing in La Carolina will add some travel time no matter how you arrange the itinerary, but it (my opinion) was SO worth it!

I THINK I'd do this: Peace Lodge to Arenal to Bijagua to Monteverde. Your long distance is going to be Bijagua to Monteverde. Maybe about 5 hours--which I guess isn't just awful.

To me, going to Monteverde (and the pain it is to get there) just isn't worth it for 2 nights. I'd select another location, but I can understand your interest in going there. It's the time in Bijagua that puts you a couple of hours out of the loop. So that AND Monteverde make for a tricky itinerary. . . .

To me, it would be better to do Cano Negro from Arenal. Your 2 nights at La Carolina will give you one full day. Plan on arriving in the early to mid afternoon (or later if you want to linger at Arenal). You'll go to bed early--and I mean early. Dark at 6:30, no electricity (unless they've added it and I haven't heard--hope not), so 7:30 we were like. . .okay, time for bed! Up at 5:30, though!

Anyway, during that one full day, you'll want to spend the morning on a guided hike of Volcan Tenorio and the Rio Celeste. In the afternoon Alejandro can take you horseback riding--he's a very nice guide. No English, but it will be okay. Adds to the fun! So that's pretty much all your time at La Carolina. I think you should get an early a.m. start to Monteverde. AND I think drivers will be much easier for you than buses (at least up to Bijagua and back).

Good luck!
shillmac is offline  
Nov 5th, 2007, 02:32 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 470
I am not familiar with La Carolina or Bijagua, so I will leave that to people who have been.

I can tell you that I agree that two nights is not enough time for Monteverde. We usually recommend a minimum of three.

Scratch the horseback ride up the mountain. This tour was extremely hard on the horses, and is not offered by reputable operators any longer. Some have capitalized on the popularity of this tour by offering another in its place. Most people don't know that difference. But this is not the full ride up the mountain.

This is a horseback ride along the western shore of the lake, then joining up with a van for the ride up. This is the same van ride that is offered on the boat / jeep transfer that you may have heard about. I think that there are better horse tours offered all over the country. I would just take the boat / jeep transfer, and find a good horseback tour in Monteverde or Arenal.

If you don't have a car, you want to stay close to Santa Elena when you visit Monteverde. I don't know your hotel requirements. So it is difficult for me to make a recommendation. But I like El Sapo Dorado, Poco a Poco, or Finca Valverde in this area.

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

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
(Travel professional)
Pat_Hewitt is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 07:37 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 55
Thank you for the great advice. I agree 2 nights is not enough in Monteverde. I was able to change my flight to arrive a day earlier, arriving January 5-January 16, giving me 11 nights. Should I go from San Jose to Monteverde (3 nights) to Bijagua ( 3 nights) to Arenal(3 nights) to Peace Lodge ( 2 nights) to home? or go the opposite way?
I'm glad you told me about the horseback riding over the mountain. I didn't realize it's so hard on the horses !!!
I really appreciate your help.

spres242 is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 07:54 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,750
Regarding the horseback transfer, I actually read on a website (can't remember which one) that they were actually required to let the horses rest for 4 days after those trips! I'm glad to hear most of those tours have shut down.
hipvirgochick is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 10:39 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,541
I don't have anything to add but please post if you stay at Leave & Lizards (well, post regardless!) I'd really like to hear more about it.
tully is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 04:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,211
spres, I think you can do it either way. You have a very nice itinerary! Anxious to hear what you think of La Carolina--it's quite an experience! We really enjoyed our stay there.

On second thought, I believe you should end up at Peace Lodge so you'll be closer to the airport toward the end of your trip. Of course, I don't know your arrival and departure time.
shillmac is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 06:42 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 55
Ok - I have one more question before I book everything. I am now arriving 1/5. La Carolina does not have the in between dates available for me to go to Monteverde first so I would need to go to La Carolina (3 nights)then Monteverde ( 3 nights) to Arenal (3 nights) and last two nights at Peace Lodge.
OR Should I skip Monteverde do 4 nights at La Carolina and two nights near Cano Negro and then Arenal and Peace Ldoge.
spres242 is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 03:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,211
I think you'll find 2 nights at La Carolina plenty. Add the extra night at Arenal. Great itinerary! I'm so glad you get a bit of extra time, eases you up a bit. Arenal is well worth 4 nights.
shillmac is offline  

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