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-   -   Costa Rica Trip 8/16-23 (https://www.fodors.com/community/mexico-and-central-america/costa-rica-trip-8-16-23-a-419168/)

Reisender Aug 25th, 2008 10:10 AM

Costa Rica Trip 8/16-23
 
Just returned from first trip to CR and we are in love with the country! We flew into Liberia on American and then transferred to Arenal (used Conexions Uni - great outfit). We stayed at Arenal Volcano Lodge which is a great hotel. The view of the volcano from the terrace was awesome, the rooms were very nice, the grounds beautiful, and the staff was excellent. The hotel had two pools, one heated with swim up bar and a very large whirlpool. Both of the hotel's restaurants served nice food with broad selection. Breakfast, which was substantial, was included in the room rate. Prices at the bars and dining were pretty inexpensive - our average bill for dinner for two, with a couple of beers each, never exceeded $24 (and that included tip and taxes).

We did the hanging bridges excursion and it was excellent. Our guide was excellent and we were lucky enough to see all three species of monkeys -howler, spider and whiteface. Our guide told us this was rare to get to see all three. There were also many types of birds but sadly we did not see toucans or parrots.

We also did the evening Arenal Volcano Hike, but it pretty much got rained out and we ended up hiking for an hour or so in pouring rain and the clouds were so dense and low we could hardly see the mountain let alone any lava.

We wished we had spent more time here as we did not have time to go to Monte Verde. Oh well next time. From Arenal we transferred to the Papagayo Gulf, stopping on the way for a raft trip down the Corobici river with Safaris Corobici. This was a very smooth ride, very peaceful and we saw lots of monkeys, crocodiles, birds and even a colony of small bats. After the raft trip we moved on to our hotel, the Casa Conde Del Mar on Playa Panama (just north of Playa Hermosa and Playa Coco).

Casa Conde is a great small hotel, with only 30 or so rooms grouped in 4 per bungalow. It has a very large and very nice heated pool with swim up bar and one restaurant which serves very good food. Prices were much like we experienced at Arenal with our average dinner running about $20-24 for two. Breakfast, which was good and substantial, was included in the room rate.

We did not book any excursions here but did rent a car (from Adobe through the hotel) and just explored on our own for a couple of days. We found driving to be quite easy and nowhere near the horror stories we have read here and elsewhere. We had no problems. We spent 5 days at Casa Conde and were quite happy with the hotel. Nice and quiet and peaceful.

We loved Costa Rica and will return for sure to explore more. Our only regret with this trip is that we did not stay at Arenal for a couple more days then we did.

Oh, and we really liked flying into and out of Liberia. Nice open air little airport and easy to get in and out of. The service on American was excellent both ways.

colibri Aug 25th, 2008 10:54 AM

You lucked out on Arenal Hanging Bridges! That was fantastic to see all three types of monkeys, most people are lucky to see even one there, some see no wildlife at all, but enjoy the tour anyhow.

Next time you must be sure to visit Monteverde. We spent four nights there in March and loved it. There is so much to see and do that it's hard to make decisions. But you'll also have to return to Arenal and see if you have better luck with the lava flow views.

Yes, I agree Liberia is a breeze to fly in and out of, especially for Monteverde and the NW beaches.

Thanks for sharing, sounds like you will be back again.

Kinkazote Aug 25th, 2008 01:11 PM

Did you see a spider monkey, or was it a squirrel monkey?

shillmac Aug 25th, 2008 01:17 PM

kinkazote, I think the only places you can see squirrel monkeys are at Manuel Antonio and down on the Osa. . someone please correct me if I am wrong! Wouldn't be the first time. . . :)

We have always been thrilled to see them on the Osa, but this year, had wonderful and unexpected and CLOSE UP visits from them just outside our room at Tulemar Bungalows, MA. Villa Mot Mot. . .we'd never before been able to get really good photos. .this time I nailed the little suckers! :)

Reisender Aug 26th, 2008 05:02 AM

They were spider. The whitefaces were very close to us and our photos of them are great. Our guide was so excited about seeing the whitefaces that he even grabbed his own camera and took photos. He said maybe once every 6 months or so will he see all three on one hike. We spoke with a local and he said he had never seen one. So I think we had a rare treat!

hipvirgochick Aug 26th, 2008 07:25 PM

Sounds like a wonderful trip! I agree that many people underestimate how much there is to do and see in the Arenal area. We've been twice and I'm sure we'll go back. Great wildlife sightings!

volcanogirl Aug 26th, 2008 07:45 PM

Us too; we are huge fans of Arenal; it's a place I could visit again and again. Glad you had such great wildlife sightings. If you ever go back, try to take the Cano Negro tour; you'll see loads of wildlife.


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