July trip, Sarapiqui, and Tortuguero

Old Apr 13th, 2004, 01:53 AM
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jeg
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July trip, Sarapiqui, and Tortuguero

After spending weeks reading through posts on this incredibly helpful board, I'm finally ready to book our July trip to CR. We're planning to spend two weeks there, but could add a couple of days, if need be. Given that none of us in our group (two adults, two teenagers) feel that we could tolerate those little planes, we're eliminating the Osa from this trip. I had also thought of visiting Rincon de la Vieja, but it seems as if that will be too much traveling time, combined with our other destinations. I'm thinking Alajuela/ Heredia, Arenal, Manuel Antonio, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui (maybe Centro Neotropico Sarapiquis) and Tortuguero. I'm really stuck on the logistics between Sarapiqui and Tortuguero (since we don't want to fly). I thought we could go San Jose to Tortuguero, then on to Sarapiqui, and then to Arenal, but it seems unbelievably expensive for the boat(s) connecting Tortuguero to Sarapiqui. Does it seem like ridiculous backtracking to spend a night or two in Alajuela, do the Tortuguero trip and then spend another night in Alajuela, and then do Sarapiqui to Arenal, knowing that my final night will have to be in Alajuela also? I'd appreciate any advice! Thanks so much.
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Old Apr 13th, 2004, 11:43 AM
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I don't know how much the launch is now but you could go to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui for a couple of days, take a taxi-or drive- (about 1 - 1 1/2 hr ride) to Moin to catch a launch up to your hotel. If I remember correctly, there is secure parking if you are driving. Your hotel in Tortuguero can make the transportation arrangements for you. Be sure the boat you are on has a top and a window. It can be pretty uncomfortable without those for that length of a trip (about 3-4hrs). Be sure you have drinks with you but don't expect there to be a potty on the boat. Have light rain jackets with you also.
You can get there, as you have found out, from Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui but you go up beyond Tortuguero to Barra Colorado and then down to Tortuguero I believe. Most people travel through Moin if they aren't flying to Tortuguero.
Once you get back to your car in Moin you can head over to Arenal (about 4hrs). If you don't think you can make it to Arenal before dark, stay in Puerto Viejo again. La Quinta de Sarapiqui is also a nice place. By staying in a different place you won't feel like you are backtracking as much. La Quinta is on the same road as Neotropico but is very different. You drive through some pineapple fields to get to it so it is off the road. sign on the right from Puerto Viejo. There are lots of poison arrow frogs to look at in the frog garden at La Quinta.
From Arenal it is a 5-6hr drive down to Manuel Antonio. You could stay in the Jaco area for one night, a surfer town, to break the trip up. Villa Caletas is a very nice place along the way that has easy access to Jaco without actually having to stay there. The kids would probably enjoy Jaco more than you but it would give them a chance to be with younger people for a few hours anyway. A couple of nights there would not be bad either so you can visit Carara. Manuel Antonio is only about 1 1/2 hr from there.
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Old Apr 13th, 2004, 03:18 PM
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Thanks Suzie2! I hate to be dense, but what did you mean by checking to make sure the boat has a top and a window? I guess I don't know enough about these boats -- I imagined them to be one-level kind of open-air things. Also, at the risk of sounding neurotic, do I have to worry about some boats having life jackets and some not? Last question for now -- do you think it would be better to do San Jose to Tortuguero and then to Sarapiqui and on to Arenal instead of SJ to Sarapiqui to Tortuguero, back to Sarapiqui and then on to Arenal?
Thanks for your help.
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Old Apr 13th, 2004, 03:57 PM
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Some of the boats do have a roof and a clear plastic wind shield with a sliding door to get into the boat. They are one level. I just spent many hours in those kinds of boats in Feb and honestly can't remember if there are life vests or not. I took one of those boats up the Sarapiqui and into Nicaragua.
My reasoning for going to Puerto Viejo first is that you can get to the dock in Moin easily for an early start. The trip from San Jose would take you about 3 hrs to get to Moin. Then you have the 3 hr or so boat ride. Would make for a long day. This is definitely an option.
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Old Apr 14th, 2004, 03:13 AM
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In March we went from Arenal to Sarapiqui (Selva Verde) to Tortuguero (Mawamba Lodge). Mawamba Lodge has a package that includes a a boat ride from just a couple of miles outside of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui to Tortuguero. We were picked up at their private dock late morning - it took about 3 1/2 hours which included about a half hour lunch stop at a home on the side of the river and a 20-30 minute stop at the Nicaraguan border. We were the only people on the boat (group of 4) and the boat captain made every effort to look for wildlife on the river (we saw a number of crocodiles on the river banks). The weather was great and we thoroughly enjoyed the ride (on 3 different rivers). The boat did have life jackets.

After our 2 night stay at the Mawamba Lodge, which was just wonderful, we returned to San Jose via their typical boat/bus route through Matina. I think our package was about an extra $100 per person for the 3 adults. The Lodge has info on their web site about this particular package.

We took the boat from Sarapiqui to avoid going back to San Jose for the night from Arenal. Although it poured the night we were in Sarapiqui, we liked our stay there very much (the poisen dart frogs were amazing!) Perhaps we could have done it a different way, but for us it worked out very well.

One more note, we didn't have a car so we arranged transportation from Arenal to Sarapiqui through Beatriz, the owner of La Quinta de Sarapiqui (recommended by Mawamba Lodge). It worked out great (I think it was $80) - next time we'll stay with her in the area.

hope this helps.
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Old Apr 14th, 2004, 07:09 PM
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jeg
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Thanks everyone for the information. I have a question for Liz10. It sounds as if your time at Mawamba/Tortuguero was done exactly the way we were thinking of doing it. When I checked the website, though, it looked as if the total price for the four of us would be about $1,100 for the one night package. That seems a little steep, so I may give up on the Sarapiqui-Tortuguero connection. Do you remember it costing that much?
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Old Apr 15th, 2004, 03:48 AM
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Jeg - I just looked at the Mawamba website (grupomawamba.com) and the rates may have gone up since we made our reservation. I think we paid a little less than 1200 for TWO nights that included two rooms (2 adults and a child in one; a single adult in the other).

I do have two suggestions:

1. Contact Ricardo Barrantes in their direct sales office at [email protected] He was absolutely wonderful. I'd ask him to confirm the pricing for you. You can mention you got his name from me (Elisabeth who was there in March and last week wrote him a thank you). He wrote me a lovely response.

2. I'd recommend staying 2 nights. This gives you one full day there that they organize with two small guided boat tours through the canals (one early morning and one late afternoon). They also had a guided walk through the forest. All tours included in the price. We had spectacular weather, but if it's raining, the longer you're there, the better (perhaps!) your chances of getting out on the canals without the rain.

We ended our trip there and loved it! I'd be glad to answer any other questions.
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