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Driving in Costa Rica

Old Feb 19th, 2004, 08:40 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
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Driving in Costa Rica

I am trying to plan a vacation to Costa Rica and I see that there are so many places to visit. Has anyone driven a car in Costa Rica? How difficult is it for a person who can find any place with bad map and knows intermediate level Spanish? Many of the adventure/tour website speak about driving from here to there.
cherylfj is offline  
Old Feb 19th, 2004, 10:27 AM
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Driving in Costa Rica is not about your ability of reading map or knowledge of Spanish. It is about some roads that are in terrible condtions with huge potholes.
earlxx is offline  
Old Feb 19th, 2004, 10:31 AM
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Dear cherylfj,
I live in Costa Rica and drive everywhere all the time... If the thought of renting a car doesn't make you uncomfortable - rent one! Having your own car allows you flexibility, and if you want to go to more than a couple of places, it also makes the most sense. It is not that it is so hard to drive in CR, it is just that the roads are not in very good condition, so it what looks close on the map usually takes a few hours... If you drive, always try to leave as early as possible on days you have to get to a new destination, just so you don't get there when it is dark. Also, with a little bit of Spanish and a good map, you shouldn't have any problems.
Please, feel free to write me directly for any more info or advice. Since you are at the preliminary stages of planning your trip, I recommend you read "some thoughts about planning a trip to Costa Rica" (I'll bring it to the top).
Pura Vida,
Neta Talmor
costaricafinca is offline  
Old Feb 19th, 2004, 10:39 AM
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I drove in costa rica with very basic spanish and a junk road map. Its not that hard, the Ticos are friendly and will point you in the right direction. The only thing you should know is reckless driving is common there. Much more than I am used to. Passing on blind turns and solid lines are common. Just have to drive very defensively. Other than that, driving is the way to go.
koa is offline  
Old Feb 19th, 2004, 11:14 AM
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Unless you have zero confidence in your driving ability, fear not! Driving IS the only way to go, and it DOES help to have a map and a little experience with the language. Don't believe that it doesn't! Out of the cities and resort areas, not much English is spoken, and we have often had to ask directions. It has never been a problem, as others have said, you will meet friendly people willing to help. Some maps you will purchase in Costa Rica may not be as accurate as you will need. Go to a good bookstore such as Barnes & Noble and purchase a good laminated map of costa Rica. I have one that we use every time we go. . .and it is very accurate and helpful.
shillmac is offline  
Old Feb 19th, 2004, 06:33 PM
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Its not nearly as bad as you might have heard; yes there are potholes and narrow roads. Just take it easy, don't be in a hurry and don't drive at night! A map and a working knowledge of Spanish will of course help a lot. Don't worry, you'll do fine. We have driven all over CR in a regular sedan, not 4wd, with no problem. Good luck and have fun!
dncee11 is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2004, 01:29 PM
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Don't mean to contradict, because we were, at one time, frightened to drive at night because all the guide books said DON'T. However, since we have become more familiar with the country and the roads and what kind of hazards to expect, we don't think too much of it. After all, it gets dark around 6 :00 p.m., and sometimes, if you've traveled somewhere for the day, it isn't easy to return before that! Just always exercise caution and don't speed. There are some roads (such as the one to San Isidro that are not advisable at night under any circumstances.
shillmac is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2004, 03:12 PM
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Shillmac, I would sure agree, if you are familiar with the territory then you know what to expect. One of the greatest hazards at night, in addition to other cars, is animals like loose cows or horses!
dncee11 is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2004, 06:51 PM
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Yes! And people and bicicletas! Always very interesting, isn't it? I guess so far we have been lucky. My husband is way more cautious about driving at night. It really makes him nervous. Everytime we go, his blood pressure goes up the first day or so with the driving situation! Then we remember where we are, take it in stride, and just have a good time! How long have you been going?
shillmac is offline  
Old Feb 21st, 2004, 12:49 PM
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Shillmac, you are right on about the pedestrians and bicycles! I just tell people to avoid driving at night since most turistas freak out when they see the narrow roads and potholes; they think everyplace should be like up here! The potential for an accident is just so much higher at night especially out in the country with no street lights. I have been to CR once by myself and twice with my family; e-mail me if you want to hear more. I am interested in your experiences also; it sounds like you live down there?
Thanks, DNC
dncee11 is offline  
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