Costa Rica Trip part III

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Apr 5th, 2005, 06:06 PM
  #1
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Costa Rica Trip part III

Part III:

Friday, April 1: Early morning start to get to Manuel Antonio Park at 7:30 am, before the crowds. This is a must! They only allow 600 people at a time and it fills up quickly in high season. Did a 2-hour guided tour ($20 each, plus park entrance fee of $7 pp). Highly recommend the guide as they know where to look for the animals and have these great telescopes making a huge difference in what one can see. Saw monkeys, two and three-toed sloths, frogs, iguanas, bats, etc. Then spent an hour at one of the MA beaches, ocean a perfect temp.

Back to the hotel, checked out and drove to San Jose (3 hours) stopping near Jaco for lunch at a “surfer’s” restaurant called Jammin’. Had a nice meal there ($40) while watching the large breakers come ashore. Drove on to the airport to return our car, having driven 1020 km in one week. The Poas rental car guys were great and drove us in our vehicle to the Marriott San Jose, about 3 miles away. This is a wonderful hotel. Cannot comment on the rates as I used Marriott points for two rooms for two nights. The rooms were great, comfortable, typical upscale Marriott. Finally worked out! First “fitness center” all week. Then went to Dinner about 4 miles away at Antonio’s, an Italian restaurant recommended by the Hotel (their restaurant, La Isabella, was “full”). Antonio’s was ok, but nothing to write home about ($175).

Saturday, April 2: Full day rafting on the Pacuare ($85pp). Again, reservations made in advance with Rios Tropicales, our confirmation stated that we would be picked up at the hotel at 6:10am. Indeed, the bus arrived at exactly that time. We were the second of six pick-ups, and ultimately did not reach the Rios Tropicales “center” until 9am. There they served us a “typical” Costa Rican breakfast which was really quite good. We boarded the bus again for another 45 minutes to the drop-in point of the river. After the usual safety talk, we divided up into groups of 4 or 5 to a raft plus guide. The rafting was great, and although the river was a little low because of the dry season, the class III and IV rapids were great (I managed to fall out in one of the Class IV, banged my knee (nothing serious) but to say those moments where “exhilarating” would be an understatement.) Total time on the river five hours, including a wonderful lunch prepared by the guides on the shoreline. Then back in the bus to the “center”. Showers (cold water only) and change, and $40 for a CD-ROM of pictures taken that day. Then back on the bus for the three hour ride back into San Jose. We did not get back to the hotel until 7:45pm! It was a long day, with lots of bus time, but worth it!

Dinner that night at the Hotel, La Isabella ($150), for typical “Spanish” type fare, with lots of tapas. Flamenco dancing too.

Sunday, April 3: Breakfast buffet at the Marriott, the only one we paid for the whole trip, as it was included everywhere else. At $16 pp, it wasn’t a bad deal. Took the 9:30am shuttle for our 11:30am flight, but a security alert at the airport shut it down for two hours, diverting our plane to Liberia. Ultimately we took off at 2:40pm. The gift shops in the airport were the real winners!

Extras:

Hotels: Overall we were very happy with the Peace Lodge, the Marriott San Jose, and El Establo in Monteverde. The Hampton Inn Suites at the airport is just fine for one’s arrival night, but if you arrive early in the day I would suggest heading out of town for your first destination. Los Lagos and Si Como No did not meet all expectations, but they were ultimately fine.

Food: We thought we would have difficulty with the food, water, etc. However, we loved the Costa Rican food! Simple, not too spicy, fresh. The best fruit I’ve had in years. Fresh fish. Breakfasts at the hotels were buffets with a wide range of choices, from cereals including fresh granola, to eggs/omelets to order, pancakes, rice and beans, etc. Desserts were not as good, but then who needs them.

Thankfully, there are no McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s or Starbucks around (except San Jose). Lastly, lunch at a restaurant means time, as the food is always freshly prepared.

Water: We tried to only drink bottled water. My wife insisted on even using bottled water to brush her teeth! (the rest of us used tap water for this and were fine). We ate fruits only without skins. Ultimately, we never had a problem and no one got sick. By the way, the “bottled” water came from Costa Rica, so what did we really gain?

Car: Driving is certainly part of the “adventure”. Some of the roads are awful, but even the ones that are nicely paved can be dangerous, with tight turns and cars passing on blind curves. We were careful, yet aggressive at times. Ultimately you just have to be patient.

Bugs/insects/mosquitos: not a problem for us. Perhaps because it was the dry season.

Tips: If going to Manuel Antonio for just one or two nights, consider flying to Quepos from San Jose…it’s only $44 pp and a 30 minute flight, and Quepos is just down the hill from MA, a short 5 minute taxi ride away.

If doing the full day rafting trip, eat or bring something on the bus because breakfast is hours away.

Try to pack light. There are laundry places in most towns, and you can have your laundry done while you eat lunch.

All dress is very casual…..you don’t need anything dressy at all.

People: The Costa Ricans (Ticos) were wonderful: pleasant, prompt, courteous, and happy to have Americans as their guests. We were told that 75% of all tourists are American.

Things not to forget: baseball caps, sunscreen, more film than you think you need, binoculars, plastic bags (for wet clothes), comfortable sandals (beach, pool, rafting, etc), backpacks for hikes.

Overall: a great trip! Work out your details before you leave, make sure you have all your confirmations, and have a great time!

If there are any questions feel free to email me at [email protected]
SJacobs509 is offline  
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Apr 5th, 2005, 07:30 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 42

SJacob,
Thanks for the great trip report.But I'm curious what didnt you like about Si Como No? We are planning a trip to M/A for 2 nights and are debating between SCN and Tulemar.
cooper1 is offline  
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Apr 5th, 2005, 07:52 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2005
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Great report, thanls so much. We aree doing our first trip in July- 2 nt Peace Lodge, 2 nights Arenal Pariasio,2 nights El Establio, 4 Nights Si como no, 1 night marriott.Tricolor 4wd, but only 2 adults so should be ok.
Only queston is why not so good on si como no?
thanks for sharing.
marleyzoemom is offline  
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Apr 6th, 2005, 05:56 AM
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OK...knew there would be some questions about what was wrong at Si Como No. Basically, if we had two rooms like my kid's rooms, there would be no problem. But, as I stated in my report, our room had a significant ant problem in a kitchen that we didn't need and didn't ask for. When I asked the front desk to spray or do something about they problem, they said they would but ultimately did nothing. At least the ants stayed away from the bed area (we think!). Also, the shower in our bathroom was awful...the water temp never stayed the same. On the other hand, our kid's bathroom/shower was fine. Call it bad luck. By the way, our room was #7, our kid's #8. So just avoid #7.

At the same price as Peace Lodge, the differences were huge. In CR for $200+ per night, I would expect more.

The grounds and other amenities, eg. view, drinks, etc were fine.
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Apr 6th, 2005, 06:41 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Just finished all three parts to your report. What a fabulous review. Thank you so much for the great detail. Travelers will certainly appreciate your report.

Sounds like you had a wonderful adventure. We have been to the places you have mentioned and you have certainly brought back many fond memories.
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