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Help, please! Itinerary advice & less-touristy recommendations

Help, please! Itinerary advice & less-touristy recommendations

Old Jun 24th, 2012, 10:50 AM
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olive_sage; I spend a great deal of time researching travel because I get tremendous pleasure from finding things off the beaten path. Friends and family come to me to put trips together for them that is personalized and reflects just what interests them. I love to discover hidden gems, get a real sense of the culture, etc.

Have spent the last few months making plans for our 2nd trip to CR which will be this December. My first trip was so amazing which is why we have chosen to return. This time it will be completely different and will not be repeating anything. Not knowing how things are going to come together for you at this beginning stage, I have posted some links of highlights of locations of the last trip and this upcoming one. I figured you can browse around these sites if you wish and while doing so it may become more clear to you what you feel most drawn to, what kind of experiences you desire and then see how you can put together the plan. I agree that 3 locations is a good number for the amount of time you will be there. I am happy to answer any questions you have or provide a lot more information. As you read and explore info keep aware of what stirs a little excitement, curiosity, challenge, etc. CR is amazing, so much to see, do, experience, the people are so hospitable.... I remember when planning my first trip to CR I read LOTS of reviews and trip reports and heard just a couple of times about La Carolina mixed in the tons of reviews of the typical tourist places. My curiosity was piqued and we made it on our plan and were so thrilled to have trusted the quiet little voice that said go to La Carolina. Listen for the quiet voice.

By the way, these links are in no particular order but some areas can be combined for an amazing trip. Of course there are things to do that are incredible around each one of these.

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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 11:20 AM
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Artie and Juldie, thank you so much!

Artie, I love the suggestions of trying the highlands, and that's a great point about our two other climates being similar. I will definitely look into that.

Juldie, I think we are already aligned by your Lookout Inn suggestion! I had been in contact with them, and I loved the place. In the end, we ended up booking with La Leona, and that's just because Leona is locally owned (I guess you'd say) — that tipped the scale their way.
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 02:48 PM
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Have fun at La Leona. Saw my first and only tapir on the trail right behind the lodge, so good luck!
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 08:09 PM
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olive_sage - The Osa is amazing and fits your request for an out of the way place to enjoy Costa Rica. (do skip Puerto Jimenez though). In 2004, we stayed in Cabo Matapalo at Kapu Rancho Almendros, almost right on the beach, hiked up to a beautiful waterfall where you can jump in and go swimming, and all the way up to Bosque del Cabo (you'll hear mention on this many times on this forum) for fantastic views of the beach where we began. We saw more wildlife in the Osa than we did our entire rest of our trip (we stayed in Arenal and Monteverde on this same trip). Saw poison dart frogs, leaf cutter ants, sloths, howler monkeys, too many scarlet macaws to even count, blue morpho butterflies, etc. You will have a great time in the Osa no matter your specific choice of hotel.

Juldie - I just wanted to let you know that because of your post my itinerary will now include a stay at the La Carolina Lodge. One night? Two nights? What's your opinion? This is twice now that I have revised my itinerary to include somewhere mentioned be someone on this forum that I would have otherwise overlooked. Thank you for taking the time to post!
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Old Jun 29th, 2012, 03:34 AM
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coryandcarissa; I am glad to hear you picked up on the suggestion. As I said back 6 years ago when planning the 1st trip to CR I saw La Carolina slightly mentioned buried in trip reports from way back. I definitely suggest 2 nights. I stayed 1 and it was not enough. Enjoy the grounds with the river and natural wood fired hot tub. Do not miss taking the hike to Rio Celeste (what you see pictured on their website). It it exquisite of an experience; the guide who led us was informative along the way. The whole experience of the hike there to then arrive at such a spot to behold was a spiritual moment for sure in my life that I won't forget.
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Old Jul 5th, 2012, 09:01 PM
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I stayed at La Leona before and after a 2-night trip into Corcovado. I think you'll enjoy it greatly. They helped me get a permit for the hike (stayed at La Sirena ranger station) and connected me with a very good guide too.

On the Osa I also stayed 2 nights at Ojo del Mar, closer to Pto Jimenez, very delicious vegetarian meals, yoga, (probably massage) and had a tent option that was not so expensive as La Leona (although not the same wilderness experience). http://www.ojodelmar.com/

Because of the transportation (bus from San Isidro; colectivo to Carate for La Leona), I needed to break up my trip from north in Pto Jimenez. I wouldn't make a special trip to go there but it was pleasant enough and helpful to have access to things like internet and laundry a week into my trip.

I like the suggestion of adding in the highlands. Even in the winter, I enjoyed a break from the heat/humidity (I'm a wimp about hot weather, but Corcovado was worth it anyway). I went to Chirippo Natl Park and hiked up to CR's highest peak. The hike is brutal (7000 ft elevation gain in 14 miles up; sleep in a cold, bare-bones lodge for a 3 a.m. departure for the peak itself) but truly spectacular, encompassing multiple ecosystems away from development. And it seems to be a graduation rite of passage, so you meet more Costa Ricans there than in some more touristy areas. You can, however, stay outside the park and just day-hike into the area. I recommend the hostel Casa Mariposa in S. Gerardo de Rivas.

I only passed through there, but the highlands around San Gerardo de Dota were recommended to me. At 9000 ft, you'll cool down. Fantastic birding; other options like mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding. Savegre Hotel de Montana, Trogon Lodge, Cabinas El Quetzal are possibilities.

Have a wonderful time. I see you're leaving very soon so perhaps my tips come too late; sorry.
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