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Help! Leaving for CR in a few days!

Old Sep 15th, 2004, 09:03 AM
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Help! Leaving for CR in a few days!

Hey, what a terrific forum! I am very glad I happened upon it. Much of the advice has been spectacular. I hope that someone will be able to guide me as well.

I am on my way to Costa Rica this week for three weeks of relaxation, rejuvenation, peace. All I want to do is commune with myself and nature.

Thus far, my confirmed itinerary includes:

Arriving in San Jose and spending two days in Heredia at Finca Rosa Blanca.

My tentative itinerary includes:

Heading down to Puerto Viejo to the Samasarti Yoga Retreat and to Costa Papitos for about a week.

Then going back to San Jose and hopping a flight to Puerto Jiminez to stay at the Luna Lodge in Carate.

Then I wanted to head up to Manuel Antonio and spend a couple of days at the Hotel Makanda. And finally head over to Montezuma for a stay at the El Sano Banano. Then back to San Jose.

Is this a reasonable plan? I have a bit of flexibility and haven?t locked down my hotel stays yet. Has anyone had any experience with any of these properties? Are there any I must see? (I saw the posts on El Sano.) Any I should avoid?

And should I be worried about the rain and transportation to and from any of these destinations? Is it possible to take a bus from Carate to Manuel Antonio? I like the idea of traveling by bus, although I am a bit worried that i might be underestimating the travel time and the ease in arriving in some of these hard to reach places.

Any help is very much appreciated!

TRobe70 is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2004, 01:36 PM
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Sounds like a wonderful itinerary. Just prepare yourself for a LOT of rain this time of year in the Puerto Jimenez/Carate area. I don't know about bus service from Carate, but we took a bus from Puerto Jimenez with the intention of going to Dominical just south of Manuel Antonio. If memory serves, there wasn't a direct bus route to Dominical and we were going to have to take the bus to San Isidro, then change buses to Dominical. We decided rather than stay on the bus so long, we would just ride as far as Palmar Sur, then hire a taxi (for about $35) to take us on to Domincal, which wasn't very far. Unfortunately, it had been raining buckets all day and a makeshift bridge washed out about 7km south of Dominical and we were unable to cross. We were just thankful not to be on it when it went. The car ahead of us barely made it, and the river was raging right there at the ocean's edge!

I still think this would be a good option, but because of Ivan there has been a lot of rain in this same area, and I would be concerned about getting through.
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Old Sep 15th, 2004, 02:31 PM
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Hmmm...yes, Ivan. Forgot about that pesky one.

That business with the bridge sounds a little frightening. Glad you made it out safely!

I feared the rain, but I've read so much about that area that I would hate to miss it. Maybe there are respites from the downpours at some point during the day and i can get in a little sun.

Also, perhaps finding a flight up to Manuel Antonio from the area rather than relying on the bus would be my safest option.

Would you recommend traveling on buses with the traditional backpacker's/camper's bag? Is a rolling hard suitcase probably a bad idea? And are the buses hard to navigate, if you don't speak Spanish?
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Old Sep 15th, 2004, 02:55 PM
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The buses are fun--for awhile! You can navigate okay without speaking the language--BUT every little bit you can use is going to be helpful. The buses stop frequently and luggage that is placed beneath is DEFINITELY subject to a disappearing act before you arrive at your final dest. We kept our backpacks in our laps or in the seat next to us if available. You can also place it in the overhead rack if it is close enough for you to watch it. Gringos traveling by bus are rather rare, and we found ourselves usually the ONLY ones on the bus speaking English. I can speak a little Spanish--enough to manage, so it was okay. Lonely Planet prints a really cool little phrase book for Costa Rican Spanish--small turquoise paperback. It's worth a purchase.

Not sure you can fly from the Osa to other destinations without returning to San Jose--I don't think you can.

Hopefully there will be some breaks in the rain. I am just remembering when we were there in early July the guides telling us that Sept. and Oct. were really low months because of the likelihood that all day rains would occur, making everything extremely soggy, water-logged, and muddy. I'm sure there are exceptions. It's a "what are the odds" sort of thing.

But no matter--that doesn't have to interfere with your having a wonderful time. And I think you will. You sound like a free spirit who will be quite comfortable moving about the country in whatever ways you are able to do so. Patience is key! Have a great trip, and do report back when you return. You are visiting some places that will be of interest on this board--especially the Samasati Center. And you are doing things a bit differently than most which will also be of interest. There really isn't any wrong way of "doing" Costa Rica--just enjoy every minute!
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Old Sep 15th, 2004, 02:57 PM
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No, it is not hard to go on the bus with a hard suitcase that rolls. Check on this site: http://www.costaricapass,com?
It will show you the places Interbus goes from to. It may not go exactly where you want,but if you get to a place nearby sure you can get a driver to take you.
I spoke just enough Spanish to get by,but don't think you will find any difficulty with the bus drivers on Interbus-the website I gave you. These buses are faster and better than regular Costa Rican buses. We used them from San Jose to Arenal and back and then San Jose to Manuel Antonio. They took us directly to the hotel we had booked. We booked them on the internet before we left, and there was no problem. Also you can find the website for Sansa Air and Nature Air that can get you quickly from place to place of the nearest area you want to go to. No problem with booking Sansa through the internet either.
Hope this helps.
We had the experience of finding one bridge out on the Manuel Antonio route,but the driver was able to go around this difficulty. Not much rain while we were there last week-2 days,but flying back from there to San Jose you can see how flooded the land was.
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Old Sep 15th, 2004, 03:47 PM
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I have stayed at Luna Lodge. Lana is a real sweetheart. The wellness center is really nice and the little cabinas darling.
Unfortunately, as was mentioned, this is a bad time of year for the Osa. The only bus service to Carate from Puerto Jimenez would be the colectivo and the Costa Rican workers get first dibs on the seats and if there are any left, tourists can take it. Most of the time there is room. It might be difficult to get around down there right now with the rains as there are several stream crossings with no bridges.

Another option in the Puerto Jimenez area would be the Black Turtle Lodge. It is an easy trip from the "airport" and it is right on a lovely beach. Geoff and Mary run yoga retreats as well there. It is a very small place and very laid back. This is turtle time in that area also. Pearl of the Osa just down the beach has a turtle program that takes volunteers. Work is mostly at night and mostly in the rain but very rewarding.

There are flights during the high summer season from Quepos/MA to Puerto Jimenez but none now.

On the bright side.....you should have sun over on the Caribbean side this time of year providing there are no more hurricans of the proportion of Ivan. Costa Rica isn't normally affected by them directly but he is a big one with far reaching rains and winds.
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Old Sep 15th, 2004, 04:51 PM
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MaryAnne is correct in saying that ANY kind of luggage you carry will be safe on Interbus. I thought you were speaking of the public buses! Interbus is a good way to go if their schedule fits yours and if they are going where you want to go from where you are--sometimes they don't. The public buses, of course, run frequently during the day between most locations.

Also, are you referring to those really big camping backpacks? I'm not sure how well they will do on a public bus as it tends to be a bit crowded inside, and I'm not sure the overhead racks will accomodate the size. Perhaps someone else will know?
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Old Sep 16th, 2004, 08:43 AM
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Just as I had hoped, terrific advice.

Thank you all so much!

I'm off to the bookstore to buy the Costa Rica phrase book. Very good suggestion.

And I've checked out InterBus. They seem like they might be a good alternative to the local bus, at least on some of the routes.

I'll ask Lana (who does seem very sweet) if she can help me get to and from Luna Lodge safely. In the meantime, I'll check out Black Turtle Lodge. Sounds adventurous and like a good alternative.

Otherwise, i'll be back around the middle of October and I'll be sure to post details of my trip. I really appreciate all your help.

Thanks!
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