Costa Rica: Itinerary and some questions

Old Dec 4th, 2013, 01:57 AM
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Costa Rica: Itinerary and some questions

Hi!

We will be in Costa Rica for 2 weeks between the end of January and the beginning of February.

We tried to plan a bit the itinerary and we came to this:

1: First night in San Jose, we will arrive late in the evening.

2: Organized trip to Tortuguero (it is maybe good to have something organized for the first days since we will have some jet-lag problems...).

3: Back to San Jose and flight to Puerto Jimenez (if we do not manage to fly the same evening, we will sleep in San Jose and take a plane the next morning).

4: La Leona ecolodge

5: Walk to Sirena

6: Walk back to La Leona

7 e 8: Rent a car and spend the two days on the coast to Puntarenas.

9: Arrive in Puntarenas, take a ferry to Playa Naranjo,and drive to Samara.

10 e 11: two nights at Villa Baula.

12 e 13: Poas volcano.

14: Back to San Jose, and then back home the next morning at 7.00!

Some questions:

- What do you think about our itinerary? Should we "move" some night somewhere else?

We are wondering if we should spend one more night at Sirena and one less at Poas.

- Corcovado tour: we asked at La Leona ecolodge and they can organize a guide for us for 120 $/day for the walk to Sirena. It is quite a lot... Can maybe someone recommend to us a "private" guide? Would it be cheaper?

- Always for Corcovado: do we really need boots?

- Car rental: What is the best option for a car rental, assuming that we are at La Leona?(Where? Which company?) La Leona suggested us: toyotarent, alamocostarica, solidcarrental.

- 2 days on the coast (7 and 8): some advice? What are the best places to visit? Where to stay?

It should be all for the moment...

Thanks a lot!

Giulia
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Old Dec 4th, 2013, 07:49 AM
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Overall, too many destinations crammed into that time period. Tortuguero is not a day trip from San Jose. It requires typically a 2 night stay there so you can get a day on the canals.

So, I would probably save that for another trip.

One night near Poas is all you need. Poas in the morning, La Paz waterfall gardens in the afternoon. You can visit Poas from the San Jose airport vicinity pretty easily--they're both west of the city of San Jose itself.

I would definitely add more time to your Osa stay. Spend at least one additional day at Sirena so you can explore the trails around there.

$120 a day for a guide is incredibly reasonable. Very unlikely you can get a better deal for a good guide.

I highly doubt you need a car rental at La Leona. Just get a cab/shuttle ride in and out.
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Old Dec 4th, 2013, 08:25 AM
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We did Tortuguero as a two night trip; it takes a long time to get there unless you fly. When we hiked on the Osa, we just wore running shoes, but we did get muddy. Have not hiked in Corcovado itself.
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Old Dec 4th, 2013, 10:46 AM
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I would have two kinds of shoes with you in Corvocado:

1) a hiking boot with good ankle support that's at least water resistant;

2) a water sandal that doesn't trap too much sand if you're walking on a beach (love my Keens, but they turn into sandboxes on the beach).

Walking in/out between Sirena and La Leona will be on/near the beach, but there will be river crossings. Go inland, and you're hiking on tree roots and up and down on uneven terrain.
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Old Dec 5th, 2013, 01:50 AM
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Hi,

Thank you for your answers.

We will then probably skip the 3 days at the Nicoya peninsula, add 1 day to the Tortuguero trip, stay 1 day longer at Sirena and 1 on the coast.
Or is it better to skip Tortuguero and keep the nicoya peninsula?

Thanks,
Giulia
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Old Dec 5th, 2013, 10:15 AM
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I personally loved Tortuguero; it was kind of like fancy camping. The wildlife was spectacular. We were there in turtle season, so getting to see them was really amazing, and we also toured the canals and saw monkeys, toucans and other birds, crocs, caimans, roseate spoonbills, otters. If you like the idea of riding around in a boat spotting wildlife, then you would enjoy Tortuguero. For us, it had a very magical feeling, kind of isolated, lots of blue morphos flitting about.

Regarding Poas, I think it depends on what time of day you arrive; if you get there early then one night would work, if later then two. Poas can get really enshrouded in fog, so they recommend that you get there early for the best view. We also liked hiking the waterfalls at the La Paz Waterfall Garden and visiting the Doka Coffee Estate. It gets dark around 5:30ish so just account for that in your planning.
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Old Dec 5th, 2013, 11:54 AM
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Tortuguero vs Nicoya--really depends what you think will complement the other destinations you're keeping.

Maybe sacrifice the coastal time near Puntarenas instead--truth be told, there aren't a lot of good options. Certainly nothing that compares to the Nicoya peninsula. You could also look at beaches in northern Nicoya, Tamarindo area as well.
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 02:29 AM
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So....new version of our itinerary....

1: San Jose

2 and 3: Tortuguero

4: back to San Jose

5: La Leona

6 and 7: Sirena

8: Back to La Leona

Option 1:

9, 10 and 11: Uvita/Dominical

Option 2:

9: Trip to Samara

10 and 11: Villa Baula

Then:

12: Poas or Cartago and Irazu

14: Back to San Jose

What is better? Option 1 or option 2?

We have a "jolly" day remaining, how to use it?

And we are still not sure about which volcano to choose...
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 08:27 AM
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I think Poas is a good choice because there are some other neat things in the area too. It can be cool up there; we had to wear fleece jackets when we went. If you get to see the crater, it's beautiful - bright blue when we saw it.
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 08:48 AM
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Option 1 is a winner.

You could see Irazu and maybe the Orosi area on day 13, Poas and La Paz on Day 14, and then fly back on Day 15. You can easily stay at the same hotel for Poas, Irazu, and the SJO airport.
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Old Dec 11th, 2013, 02:26 AM
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Let's go with option 1.

I just discovered we have 15 nights instead of 14...
Should we add one more night at La Leona? Or stay 4 nights on the coast? Or add something else?
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Old Dec 11th, 2013, 07:56 AM
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Add another night at La Leona, probably after Sirena to give yourself time to relax and bask in the Osa vibe.
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Old Dec 16th, 2013, 05:14 AM
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Hi,

I have some questions again...

We are thinking to spend one night (or two, and then stay only two in Uvita) at bahia Drake after Leona (instead of staying one night longer at La Leona). Is it doable? What is the best way to get there from La Leona?

We thought to rent a car in San Jose and drive to Sierpe, but we have no idea how long it takes... The boat trip from Sierpe to bahia Drake looks very nice...

Again about Tortuguero: is it really worth to stay two nights there, even if it will be the end of January, so the wrong season?

How long does it take from Poas to Irazu? We have to plan where to stay, we saw a very nice place near to Poas, but then it is maybe not so good if we plan to see Irazu as well (since it seems it is better to geth there early in the morning).

Thank you,

Giulia
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Old Dec 16th, 2013, 10:10 AM
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It's really just up to you if you think Tortuguero would be worth it or not. If you have your heart set on seeing turtles then no, but if you want to tour the canals and see other wildlife, then you would enjoy it. It's pretty isolated, so touring the canals or maybe kayaking are the main draws.

We stayed at the Peace Lodge when we toured Poas. It's kind of pricey; there are some smaller more affordable lodges as well.
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Old Dec 16th, 2013, 10:58 AM
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And what about bahia drake?
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Old Dec 16th, 2013, 04:18 PM
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I would reconfigure your trip in that case to:

La Leona=>Sirena => Drake Bay. You would walk in, meet your guide, and get a boat ride out back to Drake (arrange in advance of course!)

Alternatively, La Leona=> Sirena=>Puerto Jimenez by way of Los Patos trail, then drive to Drake Bay.
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 06:05 PM
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$120 a day for a private guide is very reasonable. Costa Rica is not an inexpensive country as in SE Asia. Restaurant prices, for example, are only slightly less than in the US for a good meal. If you eat casados, well casados are cheap but after awhile that will get old (not to mention all the starch).

I just returned from a 4 week home exchange in Costa Rica. I was based in San Jose near Cartago, so I did Irazu. I never went to Poas. Also near Irazu is Lankester Gardens, a botanical garden run by the University of Costa Rica. It's a great place for photographs.

You may get some ideas from my blog on the trip:

http://altecockertravels.weebly.com/...mber-2013.html

I went to Tortugero (which is 3 days/2 nights or you are simply wasting your time), Puerto Viejo, La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio on overnight trips. Puerto Viejo was with friends, so I had a total of 8 nights in hotels in the month long trip. Don't put too much into your trip and you will be much happier. I also got to Savegre--which I loved most of all. Some Costa Ricans took me there. They are now friends for life.

I did drive everywhere but Savegre as I had a car with the home exchange but not an SUV. I did stay off the unpaved roads. You must have a GPS if you are going to drive in Costa Rica as there are no house numbers. Directional signs are so so even on main routes. Directions always are by referring to landmarks. It takes a bit of getting used to, but, outside of the San Jose area, you are not dealing with a lot of roads.

I had a wonderful time and may rehomeexchange with the people in a couple of years.
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