Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Mexico & Central America (
-   -   First Timers to CR- Itinerary advice? (

bigsky1 Nov 2nd, 2007 03:10 PM

First Timers to CR- Itinerary advice?
My husband and I are going to CR Feb 9th-16th for our first time. We enjoy to be quite active but also want a couple of relaxing beach days. We would like to go white water kayaking and thought the Pucuare or somewhere around Turrialba would be good, but then we are not sure where to go from there. Considering Manuel Antonio or Dominical and also the Monteverde area. Not sure if going to all these places is realistic with the short amount of time we have? We planned on renting a car. Greatly appreciate ANY itinerary/travel advice. Wea are really actually open to going most anywhere as everywhere we read about sounds wonderful. Thanks.

shillmac Nov 2nd, 2007 08:00 PM

Rafting the Pacuare would be a great ideal. You MIGHT want to consider the 2 night rafting trip and stay overnight at one of the jungle lodges. We've always wanted to do this as we've heard so many positive comments. It's still on our list!

You could stay somewhere in San Jose (either at the beginning or end) like Hotel Grano de Oro or our choice, Hotel Don Carlos, let them pick you up and return you that night or the next if you opt for an overnight package.

From there I'd head straight to Manuel Antonio for 4 nights or so with the last night before your departure flights at Orquideas Inn or something similar.

The Pacuare rafting would give you a nice view of a gorgeous area of the country, down around Turrialba. Manuel Antonio would allow you plenty of other activites plus some good relax time.

Good luck! It's a simple plan, but seems like a good one for you guys. Sometimes simple is better. With only one week, you really don't have time to raft the Pacuare PLUS two more locations. So doing the extended rafting plus Manuel Antonio seems like it would be right up your alley!

Check out the Aventuras Naturales website as well as Rios Tropicales. They are both excellent outfitters for the Pacuare.

Schaff76 Nov 3rd, 2007 08:15 AM

If you are an active couple, I would HIGHLY recommend the Rafiki Safari Lodge and then doing some beach time in Manuel Antonio.

You can flying to San Jose, then take a puddle jumper to Quepos and the staff will pick up you to take you up to Rafiki. This place is absolutely AMAZING. It is set up in the Mountains, about an hour away from Manuel Antonio/Quepos. And it is right on the River. Hiking, Raftting, Kayaking- this place has it all and it is in the most serene setting I have every experience. I have never had so much fun and been so relaxed in the same day. 3 days here and then 4 days at the beach in Manuel Antonio. We stayed at the and it was perfect. Monkeys all over the place.

I have a friend that is checking into Rafiki today b/c of the experience

shillmac Nov 3rd, 2007 01:33 PM

Yep---that sounds great as well. It's nice to know you can't go wrong with any decision--it's all fantastic! :)

tully Nov 3rd, 2007 02:15 PM

Would really love to hear more about Rafiki, I strongly considering it for next May.

raderbarbarian Nov 3rd, 2007 08:06 PM

Since you will have a rental car, let me suggest the Sarapiqui area, which is quite accessible from Turrialba. This is a wonderful area that is under-visited, but is bound to be discovered one day soon. You can be the first on your block!!!

I particularly like the Centro Neotropico Sarapiquis, a destination to itself, with loads of neat stuff right there on the property, including an archaeological site and a private rainforest reserve:

But there are lots of neat places to stay in the Sarapiqui area, and lots to do. On your map, look for Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, the capital of the region (not the same Puerto Viejo as the one located on the Caribbean coast).

bigsky1 Nov 3rd, 2007 08:24 PM

Thanks for all of the great advice. We are now leaning toward this as a potential itinerary:

Sat: arrive in morning, fly Sansa to Manuel Antonio area.

Sat. - Thursday morning: Stay in general area of Manuel Antonio. Stay at Costa Verde?

Thurs: Take bus to San Jose, stay at hotel.

Friday morning: Get picked up by rafting company for 2 day rafting trip on Pacuare (hopefully enough water to have fun)

Saturday evening: Return to San Jose to fly out Sunday morning.

This would keep us from the potential headache of driving around a lot(or do you recommend it?), but might limit us in the Quepos region. Is that too long to spend down in that area? Are there other things along the San Jose-Quepos route that are recommended to spend a night at or along the coast?

We are considering the rafiki also, as I have heard good things about it, but it's pretty expensive to fit with everything else we want to do. so not sure.

Thanks again!

Schaff76 Nov 4th, 2007 08:59 AM

I can not say it enough, you will be happier about a trip to Rafiki than you will about anywhere in Costa Rica. We were in CR for 3 weeks and Rafiki was by far our favorite 3 days of the trip. I don't need to convince anyone to go there, just do it and thank me once you are done.

shillmac Nov 5th, 2007 07:11 PM

For us, that would be at least a day too long in the Manuel Antonio area.

You MIGHT consider an extra night in San Jose--there are any number of interesting areas in addition to the Pacuare. Sarapiqui area is certainly one of them.

A few years ago, I enjoyed immensely the Highlights of Costa Rica tour ( It was a full day, but we saw SO much of the country including Doka Coffee Estates, Poas Volcano, waterfalls, hummingbird gallery, lunch at Selva Verde in the Caribbean lowlands, a slow leisurely float on the Rio Sarapiqui, then the drive back into San Jose through Braulio Carillo Parque Nacional. Small group, great guide.

There are other things to do as well--Orosi Valley, Volcan Irazu, Lankester Gardens. Your hotel will have a tour desk with lots of suggestions, all of them good.

The central valley around San Jose is often overlooked, but is truly a wealth of beauty and great activities.

bigsky1 Nov 6th, 2007 08:55 PM

Can you elaborate on what made Rafiki so special and what all you did while you were there? I emailed them questions about four days ago and haven't heard anything yet.

The Super Lekkor sounds fun!

mcwinery Nov 7th, 2007 09:11 AM

Please see my post from earlier today about carjacking, phony police, rapes, etc. Do not drive. Roads are dangerous and grueling and while the scenery can be good the driving is NOT relaxing. Not worth the stress on your vacation and definitely not worth your safety.

I just got back a few days ago and the beaches were a mess from all the rains. Lots of debris on the beach and the water was polluted especially in Manuel Antonio and Tamarindo...raw sewage smells from the storm drains emptying to the beaches and reports of E.Coli from others in the hotel. Large trees and logs floating in the water. It should be much better by Feb but as a general rule I'd stay away from rivermouths and storm water outfalls. If you want fairly safe (unpolluted) waters to swim in try to get as far away from a river mouth as possible for a few days after the most recent rain.

bigsky1 Nov 18th, 2007 09:53 PM

Schaff76, we need some encouragement from someone who's been there to go ahead and book our time at Rafiki. They just quoted us a price (paying in cash) for a two night stay in February for both of us for $950 (discounted slightly from normal price). It would include transport from Quepos to Rafiki and a rafting trip that they rarely do on the Upper Savegre. Apparently we hike over a mountain in the morning and put in on the other side. It sounds like quite an experience and something we'd both enjoy, but we're having a hard time paying that kind of money for two days. Thanks for any insight.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:49 AM.