driving mal pais to arenal

Old Mar 7th, 2005, 09:10 AM
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driving mal pais to arenal

Am I out of my mind thinking I can drive from Mal Pais to Paquear/Puntarenas to Arenal in one day?

Would you suggest driving to San Ramon, then head north? OR driving to Canas then heading east?
Is the scenery nice?
Are the roads pothole-riddenl?
What is the estimated driving time for each route/are there tradeoffs?

Another idea, is to get to Puntarenas and stay overnight to split up the driving. If we do this, any recommended hotels that are clean and decent? (We wouldn't be "vacationing" this night, just stopping to sleep and then heading out early in the morning. Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old Mar 7th, 2005, 10:33 AM
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Nope, you're not out of your mind at all. We went from Arenal to Montezuma in November. I believe we left Arenal about 9 or 10. We had to wait about 30 minutes for the ferry at Puntarenas and I think we got to Montezuma around 3. The roads around Mal Pais are horrible but from Puntarenas to Arenal they're OK. The scenery is beautiful. One thing to be aware of, when we were headed back to SJ from Montezuma, the 10 am ferry got stuck due to low tide. We didn't end up getting on the ferry till after 1.
As for the routes, from SJ to Arenal we turned off at Naranjo and went thru Zarcero. Roads were fine, scenery was great. On the way from Arenal to M-zuma, we went via San Carlos. Roads weren't as good as before but not bad.
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Old Mar 7th, 2005, 12:39 PM
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thanks a lot akeale!

can you be a little more specific with respect to driving directions? (maybe name a few towns to go through?)

when looking at my map, from la fortuna to san jose, there's a route through chathagua, tigra, san ramon OR from la fortuna to muells to ciudad quesada, zarcero, naranjo, etc.

similarly, from puntarenas to arenal, do i go north through sardinal, lagarto to canas then head east OR do i go puntarenas to espara to san ramon and then north through tigra?

thanks again!
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Old Mar 7th, 2005, 02:56 PM
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From San Jose to Arenal, the route through San Ramon and La Tigra is faster than the other possibilities. The scenery is really beautiful along that route too.

If I were drviving from Malpais to Arenal, I would probably take the ferry to Puntarenas then get on the Pan American Highway, turn off in Canas and go through Tilaran and around the lake. I think it will be a long drive (you are probably looking at 8 hours including the ferry waiting time and the crossing) but doable in a day. Just remember to leave early in the morning - you do not want to drive after dark (6pm), especially around Lake Arenal, as that road is in really poor shape.
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Old Mar 7th, 2005, 03:35 PM
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i hate to be a stickler for details, but... (A) going from puntarenas to canas (pan american highway) to tilaran around the lake to arenal VS. (B) going from puntarenas to san ramon through tigra to arenal...

which route is the fastest (in terms of time)?
is this also the best route in terms of road conditions?

we'd like to get to arenal before dark for a hike or light activity.

thanks again, guys!
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Old Mar 7th, 2005, 05:41 PM
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The better road is going to be through San Ramon/La Tigra. The lake road is rougher, but a nice and interesting route. The route further east through Zarcero/Cuidad Quesada is a nice one as well if you had more time (would take longer) because Zarcero is a beautiful little town with a topiary in front of the church.

I would estimate these times (we've driven all of this):

MalPais-Paquera 1.5 hour
Ferry wait .5
Ferry ride 1.5 hour
Puntarenas-Las Canas 1.0 hour
Las Canas-Arenal 2.0 hours

(Of course, a stop for lunch would add a bit--you can always stop and buy snacks rather than have a sit down meal)

Other route:

MalPais-Puntarenas via ferry 3.5
Puntarenas-San Ramon 1.5
San Ramon-Arenal 2.0

These are just estimates based on my best recollections. You can see that the drive is going to take you about 7 hours, a little less if you get lucky. I don't think it will make much difference. If the road through Tilaran were better (around the lake) it would no doubt get you there quicker. Think of these choices: the view as you drive around the lake or the cloud forest you will drive through between San Ramon and Arenal. Again, both are interesting drives.

As a matter of reference, the other route through Zarcero would probably take closer to 8 hours.
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