CR September Itinerary

Old Jun 7th, 2004, 06:57 PM
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CR September Itinerary

My wife and I have a vacation to CR planned for September (12-20th). We are flying into Liberia midday and departing San Jose 8 days later mid afternoon. In reading these incredibly informative posts we are looking at the Tamarindo area to start our vacation for 4 nights (sueno del mar) and then onto Arenal (montana de fuego)for 3 nights. We feel comfortable renting a 4x4 to get around and go explore. I was wondering what would be a good place to visit/stay on our last day or so. We have one more night and our flight does not leave San Jose until @ 3:00pm. Any advice is always appreciated as well as any comments about our tentative hotel choices so far, and any car rental companies (liberia p-u and san jose drop off) recommendations.
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Old Jun 7th, 2004, 07:54 PM
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Sounds like a good plan! I'd suggest Dollar rental. I know they have an office near the Liberia airport, and you can drop off in San Jose (near the airport as well). They have given us splendid service on several occasions--and decent rates.

As far as a great place to stay, I'll leave that to the other posters--so far we've only stayed in San Jose, and I think you might prefer to be outside of town at one of the really distinctive hotels you'll soon be hearing about! Have fun!
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Old Jun 8th, 2004, 06:48 AM
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In San Jose we stayed at Hotel Grano de Oro ( We had a standard room for $85 a night. I would highly recommend this hotel, it was very charming, clean and comfortable. The staff was great - friendly and helpful. They also have a delicious restaurant.

The hotel is very close to the downtown shopping area of San Jose. Aside from that you might look into a stop at La Paz Waterfall or Poas Volcano - about 1 hour from San Jose. We didn't make it there, but I've heard nothing but great things.

We rented a car through Mapache. I booked it through (this site will also give you ideas on tours/things to do from San Jose including coffee plantation tours, city tours, etc). We had a Toyota 4x4 that was in great shape. Mapache drops it off to you at your hotel and picks it up from you at the end. Their cars are 2 years old at the most, I think. Driving was not an issue for us, we actually enjoyed it very much. Was a great way to see the country. The road to Arenal was gorgeous as was the ride around Arenal lake.

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Old Jun 8th, 2004, 07:00 AM
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Although I have stayed at Don Carlos, I find it to be awfully noisy and the rooms a little dingy. It is a popular place but I much prefer the Hotel Santo Tomas. You get a lot more for your money at a lovely place.
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Old Jun 8th, 2004, 07:34 AM
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We've just returned from a CR trip and highly recommend Le Bergerac Hotel in San Jose (in the embassey area, 50 m. south of Avenida Central - just inside the roundabout between SJ and San Pedro.
$85 a night will get you a nice room with a garden and wonderful bathroom. A great French restaurant on premises. Lots of English proficiency and travel services available. They got us a rental quote from Adobe and Adobe delivered and picked up car (on time) from hotel. We had a good experience with the hotel and Adobe. Highly recommend.
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Old Jun 10th, 2004, 07:53 AM
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Some follow up questions. No one can answer for sure but what are the chances of seeing the Arenal volcano in September? If not good, would it be worth to forfiet Arenal for Monteverde? The Vista de Valle outside of S.J. looks great. Is that worth more than one night instead of all 3 nights in Arenal or Monteverde or would that experience be somewhat redundant? Is most of the rafting done in the central valley?
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Old Jun 10th, 2004, 10:10 AM
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Was just in CR on a site inspection... 2 nights in Arenal area - stayed at Tilajari Resort - nice and simple - the Montana de Fuego looked great - didn't have time to stop this trip.. 3 full days in area might be too long - Saw the volcano late in afternoon - smoke plumes etc but by night it was completely socked in so no lava shows - very hit and miss throughout "green" season.
La Paz Waterfall has some incredible rooms - been in hotel business for 17 years and they blew me away with attention to detail - not particularly cheap but for one night if you get there early to explore their nature reserve.
Also visited a nice hotel up in the hills above San Jose in Heredia - La Condesa - about 1/2 -3/4 hour drive from airport depending on traffic but superb view over city - Heredia seemed like a nice town to walk around - colonial buildings. Might be an option for last night.
Hope this helps,
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Old Jun 10th, 2004, 05:09 PM
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I've made two trips to Arenal and have yet to see the volcano completely unobscured. Still, it's one of my favorite areas. (In fact, I'll be returning this July.) We stayed at the most wonderful hotel last year. It doesn't have a view of the active side of the volcano, but since we couldn't see it anyway, we didn't care. The hotel is called Villa DeCary and it's a wonderful inn on Lake Arenal. I've stayed in 12 different hotels on my last 2 trips and it was by far one of my favorites.

I also love Vista del Valle. We stayed there 3 nights and loved every minute of it. The only downside for us is we didn't have a car, and the inn is somewhat secluded and not within walking distance of anything. Having said that though, we were fortunate enough to meet a wonderful couple who was staying there and who offered to let us tool around with them. Since you'll have a car, it's not at all an issue. I think 2 nights at VdV would be perfect.
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Old Jun 11th, 2004, 05:35 AM
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Fortuna/Arenal residents told us that seeing the volcano is a matter of luck. With 3 nights, your chances are better, but plan your stay there based more on what activities you want to do while there - hot spring, waterfall, skywalk , volcano hike, cave, etc. We were so lucky that even though there were storms and heavy downpour during the 2 weeks we were in CR, we at least got a clear view, although not the lava flow at night. The night we were at Tabacon hot springs, it rained very heavily; so much that the downpour must have used up all the clouds ;o). Early the next morning, we woke up and there was not a cloud around the volcano. Later in the morning, the volcano got covered again.
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