Costa Rica Itinerary Advice Please!

Oct 3rd, 2016, 06:01 PM
  #1  
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Costa Rica Itinerary Advice Please!

I am planning a trip to Costa Rica this summer for myself (female) and my 8 year old daughter, and would love some help w/ itinerary. We had our Costa Rica trip all planned out for summer 2015, but had to cancel at the last minute due to illness. Our old plans were: Toucan Rescue Ranch - Villa Mot Mot (Tulemar) - Bosque del Cabo - Peace Lodge.

We are planning to visit in July (fairly flexible dates, for a total of 2.5 weeks) I am now thinking of substituting Arenal/La Fortuna and Monteverde in place of Tulemar. After researching online, Manuel Antonio holds less appeal to me as a destination vs. Arenal and/or Monteverde.

We live in Hawaii and are not interested in doing beaches. We are interested in wildlife, especially birds, adventure tours such as ziplining, rafting, etc., being in the rainforest and hiking. My daughter is interested in animal sanctuaries and animal rescue. Would love a combination of adventure and relaxation, and don’t want to spend too much time traveling from place to place... a balance would be nice.

I am thinking: Toucan Rescue Ranch (?) - Arenal/La Fortuna - Monteverde - Bosque del Cabo - Peace Lodge (?)

Any thoughts/feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
honokat is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2016, 08:28 PM
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The Arenal area has plenty of adventure tours. We like ziplining with Sky Trek, rafting with Rios Tropicales, and hiking at the Mistico Hanging Bridges and at the waterfall. Tabacon is nice for natural hot springs in the evening. You daughter would enjoy the Proyecto Asis animal rescue center. We've stayed at Nayara, the Arenal Observatory Lodge, the Lost Iguana, and The Springs Resort and Spa and have enjoyed all of those. Silencio del Campo is popular too. Desafio is great for local tours.

We've stayed in all the areas that interest you, and they all get the thumbs up from us. I love Tulemar too, but since you're from Hawaii, I understand how you might want to switch it up.
volcanogirl is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2016, 10:53 PM
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Thank you volcano girl… you are a wealth of information and always so helpful on this forum. I was actually looking at Nayara and The Springs... and I love your tour suggestions!

Any feedback on the order of this itinerary? From SJO, is it best to go to Arenal then Monteverde then Osa? Or Monteverde then Arenal then Osa? Or Osa first?

It's so hard to plan an itinerary when we've never been there. That's why advice from those who know is much appreciated. Thank you!
honokat is offline  
Oct 4th, 2016, 03:19 AM
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Oh, good, glad I could help. Choosing between Nayara and The Springs, I'd go with The Springs - all the hot springs on site, plus a gorgeous river where you can go tubing and kayak - there's more to do there for kids. Nayara has lots of honeymooners and is a fairly small property. Going between Arenal and Monteverde, we used Desafio's Jeep Boat Jeep service for about thirty dollars per person. Good if you don't want to drive it. I'd lean towards doing the Osa first since you would probably fly there. Sansa and Nature Air are the in country airlines.
volcanogirl is offline  
Oct 6th, 2016, 08:54 PM
  #5  
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I have a tentative itinerary, which will begin probably in late July:

Private driver from SJO to Toucan Rescue Ranch
(1) night at Toucan Rescue Ranch
Private driver from TRR to SJO; fly to PJ
(7) nights at Bosque del Cabo
Fly from PJ to SJO
(6) nights in Arenal (The Springs Resort?)
Private driver from Arenal to Monteverde
(4) nights in Monteverde (Hotel Belmar?)
Private driver from Monteverde to Peace Lodge
(2) nights at Peace Lodge

Here are my questions:
1) Does the order of the visits look good? Would it make more sense to visit Monteverde before Arenal since Arenal might be more “fun”,especially if we stay at The Springs Resort? (Though for 6 nights The Springs will be rather pricey, so I may consider somewhere else) It seems like everyone goes to Arenal before Monteverde, and I was wondering why.
2) Is it better to fly from SJO to Arenal... or hire a private driver?

Thank you for helping!
honokat is offline  
Oct 7th, 2016, 07:54 AM
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Yes, the Springs is pricey, you might think about splitting up your time in the Arenal area between there and another more affordable spot. The Arenal Observatory Lodge is great for spotting wildlife, but may be more rustic than what you're looking for. The Cano Negro tour is another great tour in that area - a covered boat tour where you'll see tons of wildlife like monkeys, caimans, water birds, etc. Penas Blancas river float is also fun, but you probably won't see as much wildlife there. I'd just use a private driver to go to Arenal; we save flying for areas that are harder to get to like the Osa or Tortuguero. You can go SJO to Arenal in three hours driving. In Monteverde, I'd recommend a guided hike in the Reserve to see quetzals and doing the Hidden Valley night hike - we saw some new wildlife there including a fox and a porcupine. Your 8 year old will love the Peace Lodge - over the tops rooms with waterfall showers, fireplaces, jacuzzis, hummingbird feeders, plus an aviary, ranarium, waterfall hike, and hand feeding of hummingbirds at certain times of day.
volcanogirl is offline  
Oct 8th, 2016, 12:38 PM
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Thank you VG… you are a gem! I am now searching for unique places in Arenal and Monteverde that will provide a comfortable and authentic experience. For accommodations, I like to go either luxurious… or unique, "could never have this experience anywhere else" type places.
honokat is offline  
Oct 8th, 2016, 01:20 PM
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Thanks, hono, you're sweet to say that. Monteverde can be more rustic than the others; we stayed at Fonda Vela and liked it. Our room was big and had a tub and a small frig. Nice gardens. We saw some good birds there - toucan and emerald toucanet. It's one of the hotels closest to the reserve and has a restaurant on site.
volcanogirl is offline  
Oct 9th, 2016, 12:08 AM
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Oh gosh, I’m getting really confused! My research on “unique and authentic” accommodations led me to discover other alternatives to Monteverde, but I am confused as to where all these places are in relation to each other and which places would be best for us to visit.

Our primary reasons for visiting Monteverde are to see/experience the cloud forest and to see quetzals and other birds/wildlife. I found the following accommodations appealing: Hidden Canopy Treehouses and Hotel Belmar

It seems that some believe Monteverde to be too crowded vs. other cloud forest areas. My main concern w/ Monteverde is the travel time required to get to and from. Given all of that, is there another area we should see that will provide what we are looking for... or should we stick w/ Monteverde? I found recommendations for Savegre Hotel, Vila Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel, and El Silencio Lodge & Spa.

We will still definitely do Bosque del Cabo, Arenal area (The Springs Resort?) and Peace Lodge. I am now also looking at Finca Rosa Blanca (end of stay?)... and my daughter would still like to visit Toucan Rescue Ranch if possible (start of stay?).

Sheesh. I thought I was making progress in planning our itinerary... but now I seem to have complicated it more. Can anyone help? Any suggestions or feedback would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
honokat is offline  
Oct 9th, 2016, 04:31 AM
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We've stayed at Savegre Hotel. I really liked it. They have a great birding guide named Marino Chacon who is wonderful. That being said, there's not much in the area at all - it's mostly a stop for bird watchers and is very undeveloped. It gets very cold at night there; it was in the 50s inside our cabin. We knew that ahead of time and prepared for it, but I'm not sure if a child would really appreciate the area. We did see a lot of quetzals there. Much more to do in Monteverde. Both of your hotel choices get good reviews. Did you know that The Springs and the Peace Lodge have the same owners?
volcanogirl is offline  
Oct 9th, 2016, 10:45 PM
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That is very helpful, VG. I agree… I don't think my daughter will like Savegre as much as Monteverde.. and I certainly would not appreciate the cold temps. So I guess we are back to Monteverde. Unfortunately, Hidden Canopy Treehouses does not accommodate kids under 16. So that narrows it down to Hotel Belmar.

Do you think 3 nights would be enough time in Monteverde? Or should we go for 4? Also, how feasible would it be to go to Monteverde from SJO (after Bosque del Cabo), then Arenal after Monteverde?

Thanks for all your help, VG. If you ever make it out to Hawaii, please let me know (although I don't know if there is a way to PM members on this forum?)
honokat is offline  
Oct 10th, 2016, 09:37 AM
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For me three nights is plenty in Monteverde. That's how long we stayed, and I remember thinking we could have done it in two if we hadn't built in relaxation time. Monteverde can get chilly too; we had to wear sweatshirts and fleece jackets at night there, but the buildings seem to be built a little better for the weather. Our hotel had the fireplace going. We haven't gone to Monteverde from SJO, only from Arenal. We've been to Hawaii a few times - really love it. We went there for our honeymoon. Sounds like your trip is starting to shape up nicely.
volcanogirl is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 02:47 PM
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Thanks VG… I really appreciate your help. Am looking up all of your suggestions and going to incorporate as many as possible. I cut Monteverde to 3 nights, and already reserved air and almost all hotels (still waiting to hear back from BdC) Here's what I have:

7/28-7/29 Toucan Rescue Ranch (1n)
(Driver to SJO, then Flight SJO-PJ)
7/29-8/5 Bosque del Cabo (7n)
(Flight PJ-SJO, then Driver to Monteverde)
8/5-8/8 Hotel Belmar (3n)
(van/boat taxi/horseback?) Monteverde-Arenal
8/8-8/15 The Springs Resort (7n)
(Driver to Heredia)
8/15-8/18 Peace Lodge (3n) (Yes… saw that it is same owner as Springs!)

I don't like rushing around a lot, yet want to see/do a lot… so I allowed ample time in Osa and Arenal to go at a more relaxed pace.

VG-- I owe you a couple of mai tais next time you make it to Oahu!
honokat is offline  
Oct 12th, 2016, 10:57 AM
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Cheers, honokat, it sounds like an amazing trip! Regarding Toucan Rescue Ranch, you may want to bring earplugs along; the critters don't stay too quiet at night, at least that was our experience. If I remember correctly, they had some on hand, but just in case. Also we had dinner delivered there, and it was very good. The owner has menus you can use.
volcanogirl is offline  
Oct 12th, 2016, 11:23 PM
  #15  
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Thanks so much VG!
honokat is offline  

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