costa rica/panama w/ kids

Old Feb 16th, 2007, 08:05 PM
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costa rica/panama w/ kids

Hi. I'm traveling for 3 weeks to costa rica and panama w/ kids aged 10, 11 15. This is my "planned" itinerary-any suggestions?
i mainly want to go to panama to see the canal, so i want to arrive in panama from US and stay 1 night in cheap hotel (sheraton) see canal, then head to gamboa hotel (monkey boat tour, aerial tram, general beach fun) for 4 days (is this enough time?). then would like to head to costa rica for remainder. Flamingo htoel looks good for about 5 days (waverunning, sunset cruises, night tours for turtle hatching - is this the right time of year?, forest/volcano exploration, beaches). Is flamingo good for the above? are the excursions listed on their web site nearby? does anyone know if you can still hold the monkeys at the monkey park? i've heard mixed things. am interested in spending rest of vacation at Los lagos hotel, i hear the wildlife boattrip is good but not sure where it is in comparison to hotel. also, does anyone know about decamaron hotel in panama (Colon) w/ atv rides? we're looking for a few days of resort-y being waited on $$ doesn't matter and then a few days of an ok hotel and $$ does matter (!)next to really cool locations. I HATE spending a fortune at an all inclusive and then finding out that the best things are off site. Sorrry for the length of this, i just want to make sure this is a good trip. if anyone wants info on brazil w/ kids, email me at [email protected]. thx for the info
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Old Feb 16th, 2007, 08:30 PM
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Flamingo Beach Resort is one of our favorite hotels--love the area and the beach with its magnificent sunsets!

It is fairly close to most of what you mentioned. I, too, have heard "no more holding baby monkeys". Disappointing, but probably best? Still a nice little park. The turtles nest at Playa Grande (30 min. away) December-March. Haven't seen that, but sure would like to one day. We got to see one of the green turtles laying eggs at Tortuguero last summer--it was amazing.

Flamingo area and Arenal would be a very nice combination. Your kids would enjoy a day trip into the Rincon de la Vieja for horseback, ziplines, mud baths, huge waterslide down the mountain. .they call it the Buena Vista MegaCombo. You'd be closer to THAT (and to Arenal) if you stayed further north, around Ocotal or Hermosa (lots of AI's up there as well as regular hotels). You could still drive down to the Flamingo area via the Congo Trail (country road, not bad) into Playa Potrero. But you'd miss out on the Flamingo Beach Resort!

I don't think you mentioned which month you are traveling. We're thinking about a little time in Panama ourselves this summer. What would work well for 5 nights or so?
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Old Feb 16th, 2007, 08:35 PM
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thanks for the info. Is driving in CR OK or should we hire a cab? sorry, i think you misunderstood me, we spent time in brazil, not panama (we want to combine our CR trip w/ panama this June). an awesome place for kids is salvador, brazil, and about 30 minutes outside of that is praia de forte (sp?) an all inclusive resort. my kids don't want to go to CR/Panama, they want to go back to praia de forte, but me and my husband want to see somewhere new! if you are considering brazil, let me know. how far is Tortuguero from flamingo?
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Old Feb 16th, 2007, 08:37 PM
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oops, soory, i see the turles are about 30 minutes away. not to sound ignorant, but what's an "al" as opposed to a hotel, and could you recommend one? thanks
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Old Feb 17th, 2007, 07:17 AM
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AI--All Inclusive.

Flamingo - Tortuguero--all the way across the country. About 3 hours driving if you were in the U.S.! About 11 hours in Costa Rica. 5 hours Flamingo to San Jose, 3 hours to Limon/Moin, where you board a canal boat for a 3.5 hour transfer up to Tortuguero.

Or an hour flight from Tamarindo to San Jose, another hour (or less) to Tortuguero. . .
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Old Feb 17th, 2007, 08:40 AM
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Shillmac, if you're thinking of going to Panama for 5 nights or so, I bet you'd enjoy a couple nights in Gamboa or at a hotel in the city - to see canal and explore Gamboa area - then maybe hop on plane to David, get rental car and drive up to Chiriqui area - so beautiful - lots of great hiking and birds up there. Los Quetzales in Cerro Punta and Coffee Estates Inn outside Boquete are both great (though very different) places to stay.

jubie2, are you planning to stay at Gamboa Rainforest Resort? They have a nice big pool there, but no beach in that area. 4 days will be more than enough here I think. Lots of reviews of Gamboa Rainforest Resort on tripadvisor.com. We enjoyed our time there though, lots of nature oriented activities in the area, and there's not much else out there in the way of accommodations other than the resort.
It's a lovely property and area really, just don't go expecting five star service and great food, as apparently many folks do. We stayed in one of the "villa" - older housing built for canal workers. Some people hate these, but we found great birds (trogons etc) right behind ours, so we were happy.
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Old Feb 17th, 2007, 11:52 AM
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Hi jubie,
We were at monkey park in January of this year and they do not allow you to hold the monkeys. We went specifically for that reason and were told no. There are signs all over that animals are not to be touched. We did stay at Los Lagos hotel for two nights and I think your kids would love that. They have pools and water slides and the grounds are bautifully landscaped. In Arenal do the Cano Negro boat tour and they will see monkeys. Another hotel we stayed at for the first time this year was Sugar Beach. It is near Flamingo and there lots of iguanas and there were monkeys on the grounds two of the three days we were there. If your older kids are adventurous they might like the waterfall rapeeling in Arenal. We did that with Desafio expeditions and had a blast. It is not hard as we are nearly sixty and had no trouble. If you stay at Los Lagos they have a road you can drive on that leads you very close to the volcano and this time, which was our third trip to Arenal, we did see the volcano at three in the morning. (They call your room.) You will have a great time.
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Old Feb 17th, 2007, 12:40 PM
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Hey Glover, if you don't mind, work up a sample itinerary of what you think would work nicely for 5 nights. It seems like such a short time, and I know virtually nothing about Panama. Haven't researched it at all and don't feel I have the time right now. You know we like the nature activities, beach not necessary, canal would be nice. Or you can e-mail me at [email protected]

Thanks a bunch! I don't mean for you to go to a lot of trouble, just outline some of the stuff you mentioned above with a time element thrown in! Thanks. .
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 10:29 PM
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Flamingo Beach Resort is the one for me
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 02:41 AM
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A warning: DOWNTOWN COLON IS SERIOUSLY DANGEROUS. I found a great hotel last year out in what was the Canal Zone: Harbor Inn. Very safe. I paid $16 a night for a large room with bathroom. The Harbour Inn is round a corner from the luxury Melia. I walked down and used the Melia pool. I was there ten days waiting for passage for self and small Honda to Cartagena. I spent hours each day watching ships enter and leave the canal. Facinating. Cross the canal and you drive through the national park - beautiful trees and I saw various animals. More information in the Panama section of my Blog: www.simongandolfi.com and hit the Blog button. Good luck, take care and have fun...
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