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Help Finalizing 14 Day CR Family Vacation - MV, MA, Osa, SJ

Help Finalizing 14 Day CR Family Vacation - MV, MA, Osa, SJ

Old Jan 21st, 2007, 03:51 PM
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Help Finalizing 14 Day CR Family Vacation - MV, MA, Osa, SJ

Planning to be in CR from July 22-Aug 4, 2007. Family w 2 kids ages 7 and 9. Flying into Liberia and out of SJ cuz that's how I was able to get my free airline tix during the timeframe we wanted .
We decided to lessen any driving stress by not renting a car and just using drivers/guides when needed. Also Arenal area is out of consideration as my youngest would rather see volcanos from as far a distance as possible .
Itinerary:
1. Fly into Liberia . Then either Monteverde area or Guanacaste area for 3 nights/4days. I was leaning toward Monteverde as we will go to MA after and will get beach time there. But in reading posts, it seem that drive from Liberia to MV is kinda brutal. Guanacaste is closer. We would hire a driver if he did either one. Then there is the question another potentially bone-jarring drive from MV to MA. Any other way to get to MA ?
Questions:
a Recommended Guides/drivers to take us fr Liberia to MV. Then recommended guides in MV to go to cloud forest.
b. Hotel recommendations in MV or Sta Elena. Arco Iris seems to keep popping up for price performance/proximity to other services like restaurants, etc. Any others? Budget $120/night or less.

2. Manuel Antonio for 4nights/5 days
Looks like La posada Jungle bungalows is a family friendly place so we will likely stay there. Thoughts?

3. Osa for 4 nights/5 days
Do you recommend flying fr Quepos to Puerto Jimenez or hiring private car and riving down? This is where I have decided to splurge as far as accomodations. Am really torn b/w staying at Lapa Rios or Bosque del Cabo. Both sound awesome . How do they compare?

4. San Jose/Alajuela are for 2 nights
-Look like best option is flight fr PJ to SJ
- Staying at Marriott SJ (free nights) .
- Suggestions for day trips? La Paz Waterfall, hummingbird...etc
- Orosi valley sounds wonderful too.. that feasible from Alajuela?
General questions;
1. A tour company that I could possibly work w to book guides, drivers, puddle jumper flights for whole trip. I checked into CR Expeditions as they are really good but they quoted me $13K for a 14 day trip!
2. I'd be willing to work worth w regional companies instead if it would save me some money so your suggestions are welcome
3. We really struggled w going to Tortugero as this time is turtle nesting season. Just couldnt figure out how to fit it in. Cut one day each from MV and MA? Also was already staying at 4 diff hotels as it is and thought adding another hop was probably too much? My kids have travelled a lot and are troopers but dont want to push it either.

Anyway, sorry for the long post. CR is has so much to offer its very hard to decide! Thanks in advance and I look forward to your replies.
travellin4 is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 11:29 AM
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The last 30km of road to Monteverde is the bumpy bit, itll take you at least 5 hours to get to MA from Monteverde.
In Monteverde Arco Isis and El Sapo Dorado are my fave hotels.

http://monteverde.typepad.com/montev...ome/index.html

Use shuttle buses to get from town to town unless you enjoy driving in CXR with kids?!

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Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 12:02 PM
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Our family used Holbrook Travel for all our travel arrangements for 13 days in Costa Rica, and we were very satisfied. They can answer all of your questions, even if you decide not to use them.

The vans that picked us up were newer, the drivers reliable and friendly- and always early. You work- first through emails, and then by phone- with someone (in our case it was Sandy Schmidt) who will help you plan the itinerary that you want, and then will make all the arrangements for you- vans, hotels, activities- even food stops on your travel days can be arranged and paid for up front. When we said we wanted a half day boat tour of Lake Arenal they came through with a boat large enough for forty- for the nine of us! You'll get the vouchers in the mail before you go so it's pretty worry free. All of this didn't cost any more than the group tours that we looked into.

They're based in Florida but you can email them online to have an agent contact you to set up a customized trip.
Have a great trip!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 09:25 PM
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Thank you Guancaste and MomLyn!
Have you visited both MV Cloud Forest and Sta Elena reserve? Can I just pick one or the other? Also what may be the closest hot springs to MV? Aside from Tabacon which just looks way too touristy for me.

Regarding Manuel Antonio, am especially concerned about undertow and riptides in beach as I have 2 small children (7 and 9). What is the "calmest" beach in MA area?
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Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 10:17 PM
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travellin4,
We spent lots of time on the second beach inside the park (I always get the names confused) with our 18 month old granddaughter last summer. Of course, she wasn't out there swimming, but lots of kids and adults were. It is in a little cove and very swimmable. Not so the FIRST beach into the park.
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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 04:34 AM
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The 2nd beach you get to once "inside" the park is indeed the calmest for swimming, its called a bunch of different mames. Playa Manual Antonio, Playa Blanca, or Beach#3. The 1st beach is the public beach outside the park(Playa Espadilla), the first beach you see upon entering the park is Playa Espadilla Sur(or Beach No2). Confusing!
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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 07:22 PM
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Wow, thanks for the clarification on those names. Sounds like Beach #2 INSIDE the park is what we need to be certain to ask for. Thanks for this invaluable tip! Cant wait to go!
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 08:32 AM
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Hello
I can give you some advice on Osa. Nicuesa Lodge is a great place, remote, fun, green, great food. It is one of the best places I have visited in CR. Hope this helps.
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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 09:35 PM
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travellin4 - I would love to get your take on La Posada in MA when you return. Please post a trip report!

Buon viaje!

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Old Jun 28th, 2007, 08:43 AM
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We just got back yesterday from a 12 day trip which included Arenal, M.A. and Alejuela. La Posada was my kids favorite place to stay! It doesn't look like much from the outside, but you will enjoy your stay there. Mike, the owner, set us up with a guide for the park, ATV's, etc. They have movie nights on Tues. and Thurs. on the patio, where they serve dinner, which was pretty good and cheap! We even met a family that lives 10 minutes away! We told Mike we wanted to move in! As far as the public beach, which is a 5 minute walk, my 3 kids surfed, boogie boarded and swam there. I guess at this time of year, you don't have to worry about riptides. The beach inside the park was smaller and more crowded, but beautiful also.
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Old Jun 28th, 2007, 10:32 AM
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kim -- I'm happy to hear you like La Posada because I'm considering taking my 10 year old there next year How many nights were you there? Did you spend most of your time on the beach, besides the park w/guide? What is within distance of the hotel?

Thanks for the info!
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Old Jun 29th, 2007, 07:10 PM
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All,
Thank you, thank you for all the help. Here is our final itinerary (well, final as far as hotels, days, airlines...some tours are still being debated Our trip is almost here !! July 22-Aug 4, 2 adults, 2 kids 7 1/2 and 10 yrs.
Day 1. Arrive Liberia -- transfer to MV
2 nights Arco Iris Eco Lodge. Just relax,see the town, maybe do a night hike.
Day 2 Tours: Guided hike Santa Elena Reserve; Selvatura for zipline, hanging bridge, gardens etc.
Day 3: Drive to MA from MV.
On way to MV, stop by Tarcoles and do Jungle Crocodile tour (2 hrs). Arrive at MA, 4 nights at La Posada Jungle Bungalows, Monkey Room
Day 4 - MA. Beach (yep got the Playa Manuel Antonio tip), hike in MA Park. Advise was to get Mike the hotel owner to set you up w guide. Maybe surf lessons for the kids?
Day 5 - MA. Finca Valmy horse / waterfall tour.. My daughter is horse crazy so this is a must. Nixed the water rafting as for 7, 9 yrs old in rainy season, Class II-III rapids may be more intense.
Day 6 - MA . Maybe beach again, or Dolphin Watch tour. Any thoughts on this? Planetdolphin.com
Day 7 - MA to Osa; 7:40am (yep brutal, only one flight per day from Quepos to PJ) Nature Air flight to Puerto Jimenez and arrive at Bosque del Cabo ! 4 nights at Casa Blanca.
Day 8, 9, 10 - BDC! Suggestions, suggestions needed on hikes, beach, should i do dolphin tour here, etc.
Day 11 - BDC - San Jose. Fly Sansa. 3 nights a SJ Costa Rica Marriott (yes! free nights..i need it after BDC expenses .
Day 12 - Tour Poas, Waterfall Gardens, veg back at hotel
Day 13 - Need to hire a driver to do Lankester Gardens (hubby loves gardens), drive to Orosi Valley and do one of the thermal hot springs there... since we missed out in Tabacon.
Day 14 - Fly back home to Austin

Comments please, did I completely miss out on a "must do", or plan to do a tour that should be "fuggedaboutit".

For HIPVIRGOCHICK.. didnt I read somewhere you went to BDC w your 10 yr old. What activities did you do with your child?
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Old Jun 29th, 2007, 07:27 PM
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Hip chick, nevermind my last question, I just saw your post!.. I'll read thru it to see what all you did at BDC. So excited to read thru it..

Ok. Cant resist two more questions to everyone
a) Footwear. Rainy season time. Some said no heavy hiking boots as they will never dry from one day to the next. That true? We all have Keens type covered footwear but dont rocks and pebbles get in these jungle hikes. I can just hear the whining. We use them a lot here in Austin but I'm sure our hike and bike trails here so piece of cake compared to BDC hikes. Worth it to bring our own rubber boots? Have no idea how i am ever going to comply with the 25 lbs luggage limit per person. i'm sure i'll manage somehow..not that there is a choice anyway!

b) I have read in other posts about how especially in the remote Osa the kids there could really use some school supplies, soccer balls, outgrown soccer jerseys, cleats (there are loads among my sons schoolmates) gently used clothing etc.. How am I going to get that on those little teeny planes with the luggage weight limits . I'm stumped on how to do this. Maybe I can just leave in Monteverde at beginning of our trip.. But to whom?
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Old Jun 30th, 2007, 04:51 AM
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At BdC I usually have with me hiking shoes (low cut), a pair of water shoes (like Salomon Techs) and flip flops. I usually wore my hiking shoes during the day, mainly for the great grip they have, plus they felt a little sturdier than the Techs.

If you would like to bring down a platic tub of stuff for the Osa, your best bet is to contact BdC and ask what they suggest. If you were flying into SJO, Alberto could meet you and take the tub then, but from Liberia I'm not sure. If the flight is not full from MA to PJ, the extra charge shouldn't be too much, I think a dollar per pound?

Also, if you need a driver for your last days there, you could contact Alberto, he works for BdC but is in San Jose along with another driver Carlos. His email is [email protected]
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Old Jun 30th, 2007, 01:31 PM
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travellin4 -- We didn't find the trails very pebbly at BDC. We never wore our Tech's there, only our Keen's. I'm not a tennis shoe wearer at home either though.

I need to finish my trip report! Things I haven't mentioned yet are the horseback riding and the nightwalk at BDC. The horseback ride was a really nice ride on good horses through a shallow river bed, jungle and beach. They would probably enjoy that if they like horses. I'm not sure if they have helmets though. I also recommend the night walk because you get to see creepy crawlies, bats, snakes, bugs and frogs you won't see during the day.

Also, if you are watching your budget at all, you may want to keep track of everything including tips, because you put everything on your tab while you're there and pay at the end. It can hurt a little You can take cash for guide tips, or you can write down names of waitstaff, bartender, guides, etc. and the amount of $ to go to them and pay at check-out.

Can't wait to hear about La Posada!
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 10:52 AM
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Hi Hip Virgo chick,
La Posada is right next door to the park exit, about a 5-10 minute walk to the beach and park entrance. Mike set us up with a guide one day, which was fun. We went river rafting one day, beach/surfing/kayaking one day. My kids loved it all! We were there 4 nights. The monkeys come by the La Posada around 2:30, that was a highlight! The public bus is super easy to take, goes from M.A. to Quepos all day long for around 25 cents each, and makes lots of stops for you to get off. We did not have a car there. I hear the horseback riding is fun, we did that in the L.A. cloud forest instead. On Tues. and Thurs. evenings, Mike has a dinner/movie night on the patio which was fun, we met some nice people, even a boy my son goes to high school with, small world!!
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 11:39 AM
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Kim,
When you stayed at La Posada, what room did you book? I'm at Monkey room but have option still open to book La Casa. Have 2 kids. Price difference is kinda steep $65 vs $150 per night for La Casa. Hoping Monkey room is fine (as the description indictes) vs having to spring for La Casa which is more of a house.

Fellow Fodorites,
For Monteverde area, what zipline/canopy tour do you recommend.. Selvatura, Aventura, Skytrek? And why? Have a 7 yr old that may not want to go super fast so Skytrek may be out of question?
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 03:48 PM
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We stayed in La Casa. Our 3 kids are older, and my husband and I wanted some space of our own for part of our trip, so it worked out great! Otherwise, when our kids were younger, all of us in one room was best. A couple families of 4 we met stayed in bungalows. A little tight, but ok. I didn't see the monkey room, we were going to take it but the Casa opened up.
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