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Desperate for advice on two-week itinerary in Costa Rica this August

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May 22nd, 2014, 10:26 PM
  #1
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Join Date: May 2014
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Desperate for advice on two-week itinerary in Costa Rica this August

Our family (2 adults + 2 kids under 10) is taking our first trip abroad to Costa Rica this August. We want to make the most of the trip by balancing fun & adventure with exposure to a new culture. I have the basic outline of our two weeks in Costa Rica, but need help on how to knit together the whole itinerary.

We're currently "locked" into the major stops on our vacation: Manual Antonio and studying Spanish (+ volunteering) at Proyecto Asis. This is what we have planned so far:

Fly into San Jose (arrive late Monday: stay near airport)
4 nights at Manual Antonio National Park (Tulemar Bugalows)
2 nights (open - no reservations) - help fill this hole!
5 nights at Tree House Lodge, while taking Spanish lessons at Proyecto Asis
2 nights (open - no reservations) - help fill this hole!
Fly out of San Jose (late Monday afternoon)

I'd love any advice you can offer!
Chester_n_Chutney is offline  
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May 22nd, 2014, 10:57 PM
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Probably use the last 2 night hole with a trip to Tortuguero. Peak turtle nesting season.
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May 22nd, 2014, 11:12 PM
  #3
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Do you think we'd have enough time for a 48 hour trip to Tortugero? I was definitely considering it, but not sure we could squeeze it in.
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May 23rd, 2014, 12:47 AM
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A 2 day trip is the norm for the area. Check this site, Fran and Modesto Watson, for info. They are highly regarded and see if something will work for you.
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May 23rd, 2014, 12:49 AM
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Or cut some time out of the Tree House. 5 or 4 days of Spanish are not going to make much difference in what you learn.
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May 23rd, 2014, 09:52 AM
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Two nights in Tortuguero could be fun. Selva Verde is another one that's good for two nights. Also Monteverde. If you just want something indulgent that the kids would love, go for the Peace Lodge to hike waterfalls and hand feed the hummingbirds. We haven't stayed there, but some people like the Uvita area; it would be close to Manuel Antonio.
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May 23rd, 2014, 11:30 AM
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I love Tortuguero and have gone three times w/ Fran & Modesto Watson www.tortuguerocanals.com but I don't think you should stay there your final night prior to flying home. It's a good 2 1/2 hour boat trip, so you don't get back to the dock at Moin until 11am or so - boats motors can have issues, have been stuck on sandbars, landslides on highway, etc., then it's another 2 1/2 hours or so back to San Jose. I wouldn't be comfortable being that far from SJO for my final night, so if you do this, I would drop one night in Arenal.

Selva Verde in the Sarapiqui region is about two hours from SJO and offers a great variety of activities and wildlife. You can set up tours at La Selva OTS, go birding at Nature Pavillion, rafting or boating on the river, plus the lush grounds at Selva Verde usually offer up a good number of birds, frogs, animals.

Have you thought about filling in the other two days at the Rio Celeste area? We stayed at La Carolina and absolutely loved it. We drove from SJO (not Manuel Antonio) and that was around 4 hours, so not sure how far from MA. The waterfall is stunning and the rustic lodge offers hiking and horseback riding along with a hot tub alongside the river.
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May 23rd, 2014, 01:32 PM
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The La Paz Waterfall Gardens would be a good last night (Peace Lodge or the more affordable Poas Volcano Lodge); you could then also easily visit the Poas volcano crater in the National Park the next morning (http://www.anywherecostarica.com/att.../poas-volcano; go early to avoid cloud cover).
From the volcano park to the SJO airport is about 20 miles (but allow plenty of time, it's a long 20 miles).
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Jun 8th, 2014, 10:09 AM
  #9
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Thanks for the feedback! REALLY helpful. I'm still trying to piece it all together. The driving seems more precarious (distant & expensive) than we originally thought.

Now, we're debating whether we should rent a car or just use private-paid transportation from location to location. Any thoughts on that? (BTW, no one in the family speaks Spanish beyond asking for the restroom, so I'm concerned that renting a car will create too many challenges.)
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Jun 8th, 2014, 11:55 AM
  #10
 
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If you visit only touristed areas, almost everyone will be fluent in English. I speak basic Spanish, and the only times I've used it are when I want to just try to improve my skills and get a little practice in. CR is very tourist friendly. It does take a long time to drive from place to place. If you have your own car, don't drive between cities at night; things are dark and not well marked, and don't leave anything in your car unattended. A GPS is really helpful too. We usually hire private drivers when we go, but plenty of people drive without any problems. I like having a driver because they can act as a guide and point things out that we would miss. Coming back from Manuel Antonio, our driver pulled over because there were flocks of scarlet macaws in the trees that we would have driven right by.
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Jun 9th, 2014, 08:57 AM
  #11
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Thanks Volcanogirl. I'll think we'll follow your advice and stick with drivers!
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Jun 9th, 2014, 10:03 AM
  #12
 
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You're welcome, c. I think it really depends on where you go. You might want a car in the Arenal area; taxis can really add up there because things are spread out. Things in Manuel Antonio are fairly close together. We walked just about everywhere, and taxis were cheap there.
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