Just back from Costa Rica May1st-May10th

May 11th, 2010, 11:54 AM
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Just back from Costa Rica May1st-May10th

It was fabulous! I will write a more detailed report later. If anyone was reading my posts as I planned this trip, you may remember that I have wanted to visit Costa Rica for 3 years but had difficulty convincing my husband to visit a rainforest (we live in rainy Akron, Ohio--in fact the forecast is for rain in Akron every day this week. We had 5 days with no rain, day or night at Bosque del Cabo--how unbelievable is that?)He finally agreed, and since I had been reading this board for 3 years, I was able to book everything pretty quickly after getting our reward tickets on Continental. Thanks to all on this forum who helped me plan this wonderful trip.

We had another couple join us on this vacation. They are probably the reason that we finally got to Costa Rica (not that my husband doesn't enjoy making me completely happy at all times and granting my every wish). Anyway, that very sweet David called my husband and said that if we were planning on visiting Costa Rica, they would love to join us---they have hiked with us in the Canadian Rockies and Grand Canyon. They are very fun to travel with and they let me plan everything (that can actually make me a bit nervous but they are the most agreeable couple and I am good at planning vacations).

We actually have several other friends that love to hike together. We invited them to join us. They would have loved it. Hope they can join us next visit. I don't like to make return trips to places we visit--- there are so many places in this world that we have not been to, but Costa Rica is a really special place that definitely makes my short list of places to return to.

We stayed the first and last night at Xandari(15 min from the airport), 3 nights at Lost Iguana (Arenal) and 4 nights at Bosque del Cabo (Osa). When we walked around the Congo cabina and my husband saw the view from that deck, he announced that everywhere we had stayed had been wonderful but that I had outdone myself with choosing to stay there.

I can't begin to tell you how much we enjoyed sitting on the deck at Congo with our friends, enjoying wine and Imperials, watching monkeys, macaws, birds, the ocean. Early mornings on that deck were peaceful and wonderful--and you do have very early mornings at BdC.

We actually enjoyed happy hours on the balcony at Lost Iguana and at the pools at all 3 places we stayed. We had the pools at Lost Iguana and Xandari all to ourselves everyday. When I write my report, you will see why we have to return to Arenal--we missed a few things that we planned on doing--but we did have a great time. We were happy to relax in such beautiful settings and didn't feel like we had to "do it all". We did zipline though, with SkyTrek--absolutely beautiful day with the volcano visible--the views across the lake as we ziplined were really fabulous.

We were very lucky and did see the volcano everyday, but it could cloud over in about 5 minutes. It would be clear one moment and then cloud over that quickly. We never saw the lava flowing at night though--we could have driven over to the bridge if we had a car--one disadvantage to having a driver--or could have taken a taxi over, but that's just one more thing we didn't quite get to in Arenal. You no longer see lava flowing at night from Lost Iguana. When I booked Lost Iguana, the lava was visible at night--that would have been a perk. I would not hesitate to stay there again though--that place is beautiful, the staff is great, we heard great things about the spa, and was only $123/nt with a great cooked to order breakfast. The view of the volcano from Lost Iguana and your rooms is great--we did hear and see a daytime eruption with really dark smoke.

I'll write a report. Many thanks again to all of you who take the time to make suggestions, recommendations and answer the same questions over and over again.
LindainOhio is offline  
May 11th, 2010, 12:07 PM
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You wrote a great mini-report and looking forward to the full one. So glad you enjoyed yourself after waiting so long to get there.
tully is offline  
May 11th, 2010, 12:08 PM
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Glad to hear you enjoyed my cabin at BdC. Isn't it amazing? Nearly impossible to pull yourself from that deck and that view -- it's mesmerizing. (I guess we should call it tully's cabin, to be fair.) Can't wait to hear the details...
plumboy is offline  
May 11th, 2010, 01:27 PM
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You have got me so excited about my return trip in July!!!! Isn't Costa Rica magical? Like no other place in the world!!
costaricalover is offline  
May 11th, 2010, 01:32 PM
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I'm so glad you loved it. You stayed at all my favorite spots. We stayed in Tucan at BdC, but I agree that Congo and Lapa have the best views. We spent a day testing them all out!

So did you get points with your friends and your husband? It sounds like he's a convert now!
volcanogirl is offline  
May 11th, 2010, 05:57 PM
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Yes, we spent a lot of time at Tully's cabina--that deck is amazing. Our friends stayed next door at Mariposa and got the best monkey "action" on the property--the monkeys were in the trees above, screaming on the creek trail and swinging in front of the cabina and above the outdoor shower while Mary was taking her first outdoor shower. She got a little freaked when her husband came around the corner, while she was outside showering, with his camera.

We hope that the other guests at Bosque didn't think we were being unsociable--we never did make it up to the bar for happy hour. Well, the men went up, got an ice bucket, filled it with beer and wine and brought it back--we headed up to dinner when the horn blew at 7pm

By the way, Kim had her baby, Sam--he's 6 weeks old. You would never know she had a baby--she has no baby fat to lose. Phil's mom and her friends were a BdC while we were there so Phil and Kim brought Ben, Sam and Maggie(their cockapoo)up at mealtimes to eat with them.

There were only 20 guests at BdC when we arrived. A party with 4 young boys arrived after us and stayed at Casa Miramar--really nice kids. They weren't cooking at Miramar so they ate with us. 7:00 is late for little ones though. The youngest was probably in kindergarten and he slept through dinner one night--right on the chair.

Wonder where people who live on the northshore of Hawaii go for vacation? A honeymoon couple was at Bosque. They sat at a separate table for dinner--they were honeymooning after all. The rest of us sat family style--we enjoyed having the wonderful dinners with the other guests.

Another couple sat apart from the group. They didn't speak English and seemed happier sitting alone.

I asked several of the guests how they heard about BdC. Most everyone had a friend who had visited and recommended it. I kept wondering if I would find someone else who found out about the BdC from Fodors. I became so obsessed with staying there--I am just so glad it exceeded my expectations.

They tore down Pizote and are rebuilding it. They were just going to replace the roof but found termites so they took the whole thing down to the foundation.

As far as converting my husband, he was very happy with most of the trip. He hates to say too much--says I don't need any encouragement in the trip planning department; that I do a fine job with absolutely no encouragemnt--but he did love Costa Rica and especially Bosque del Cabo.
LindainOhio is offline  
May 12th, 2010, 04:47 AM
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Travelers: 2 couples

May 1- May 10, 2010 First week of the "green" season--that would be the "rainy" season when they offer discounted rates.

Our itinerary:

Sat: 6am flight out of Cleveland--on award tickets--left our house at 4am
Arrived in San Jose at noon. Picked up wine at the duty free shop, no beer here
Complimentary transportation to Xandari (15 minutes)
Lunch, walk through the beautiful grounds and then relaxing by the pool
Dinner Xandari

Complimentary breakfast at all the hotels we stayed at. We felt lunch and dinner was very reasonably priced at Xandari and Lost Iguana--and the food was very good.

Sun: Breakfast and then pick up at 9:30 for drive to Arenal
3 hr. drive with a stop in San Ramon for Mass, at Soda la Parada in La Fortuna for lunch, grocery store for beer and snacks. Driver $160
Check in Lost Iguana ($123/nt) Walk the grounds
First of our daily happy hours
Night hike at El Silencia with guide Erick Guzman
6 pm www.tarabatours.com $37+ $32 for driver total for the 4 of us
Dinner at Lost Iguana 8:30 pm

Mon: Breakfast and then complimentary pick up at 8:30 for Sky Trek Canopy tour booked at the hotel the night before $60pp
Lunch and then afternoon pool time, happy hour and cards in the bar
Dinner Lost Iguana

Tues: Breakfast and then 8 am pick up for Rio Celeste Hike with Erick Guzman $75 guide $120 driver=$58pp including entry to the National Park and our driver
Lunch at the Rio Celeste Lodge
happy hour
Dinner Lost Iguana

Wed: Breakfast and then 7:30 pick up for drive to Pavas airport to catch 11:30 NatureAir flight to Puerto Jiminez $140 driver and flight $200 pp (my only glitch-a flight from La Fortuna to Puerto Jiminez was not available the day we traveled)
Lunch at Bosque del Cabo at 1 pm and then check in.
First of our happy hours on the Congo deck

Thurs., Fri., Sat., Bosque del Cabo--more details later

Sunday: Breakfast and then 11:15 drive to Puerto Jiminez to catch 12:45 Nature Air flight
Lunch at Xandari, pool, dinner

Monday: Morning hike to 2 waterfalls, lap swim, breakfast, transfer to the airport 11am for 1 pm flight
LindainOhio is offline  
May 12th, 2010, 04:57 AM
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How was the night hike? Did you guys see much wildlife?
volcanogirl is offline  
May 12th, 2010, 06:36 AM
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I'm so glad to hear that you had a great trip to CR, and that your husband liked it, too!
janenicole is offline  
May 12th, 2010, 11:45 AM
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I don't know if I would recommend the night hike. Erick is a wonderful guide, what he can see is amazing and I would recommend him highly, but I think I misunderstood this hike. We did see several frogs, a tarantula, insects, the lightning bug with the neon eyes, and were really startled by a Fer de Lance(sp?)coiled in the middle of the trail--and he uncoiled and didn't want to move--we did back away from him. It was a beautiful but cloudy evening. I thought we would do the nature walk but I also thought it included a possible view of the volcano at night. It would have been easy for our driver to go to the bridge and let us have a few minutes there to see if the lava was flowing. The bridge is not far from the main road and we drove right by it. That evening was cloudy though, so I suppose the volcano was shrouded anyway. There was also a $14pp charge to enter El Silencio that I felt was too much. With the driver, guide and entry it cost about $30pp so half of that was the entry into the park.
LindainOhio is offline  
May 12th, 2010, 12:21 PM
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Saturday, May 1st

Other than the horribly early departure time--we got up at 3:15am to get to Cleveland by 5am, our flights were great. Upom arriving, we went quickly through immigration and customs, stopped in the duty free shop, picked up our bags and met our driver outside the airport--very nice, large, new airport.

Xandari is beautiful. The grounds include trails to 5 waterfalls, 3 pools, a botanical garden, lots of art pieces on the property, an art studio, a restaurant and a spa. They offer guided walks and tours to places nearby. We enjoyed walking around the grounds and headed to the beautiful pool that is shown on the website's homepage. We had the whole place to ourselves. We enjoyed relaxing here.

The rooms are large and decorated with more original art. The owner is an artist. Lots of bright colors, collages, mosaics; the art makes you happy. Complimentary bottled water, juice and cookie in the frig. The large terrace looks out over the valley and was a popular spot for the hummingbirds--a beautiful red flowered bush was a hummingbird magnet.

Dinner was very good at the restaurant. We totally enjoyed this place and were glad that we would be returning for our last evening in Costa Rica

In bed at 8:30

Sunday May 2nd

I awake at 3:30. With the 2 hour time difference from home, it's really 5:30. At this early hour though, the birds are singing--there are lots of birds on the property. I finally get up and walk to waterfall #5--the easiest to get to. Very nice way to start the day.

Back to the room, take my coffee and my book out to the terrace and enjoy the bird show. It is a beautiful morning. pat, my husband, swims laps in the pool right outside our room. We have breakfast and our driver arrives at 9:30 am to drive us to Arenal.

We had contacted Wilson to drive us. He has been recommended on this forum but he was busy and sent Alex. It's a beautiful drive. We enjoy the drive and enjoy talking with Alex. He drops us off in front of the church in San Ramon and waits with our luggage. We are a bit early so we head to the store to buy a belt for my husband (he forgot to pack one) and a calling card. We end up walking into church right at 11am and the very large church is packed. We have to stand for Mass.

After Mass we continue on to La Fortuna and arrive to see the volcano completely cloud free. We eat lunch at Soda La Parada and then drive about a half hour to Lost Iguana.

Lost Iguana is another beautiful place. Once again, there is no one around. We love the lush landscaping and are driven up the hill to our rooms. We look out over the trees and out to the volcano--it is a fabulous view. Too bad that old mother nature had to move that lava flow--that would have been a definite plus.

We walk around a bit and then gather on the patio, enjoy our happy hour and then head down to meet Erick for our night hike at El Silencio.

A note: As I reread my itinerary, it looks like we are big drinkers and we actually aren't. It was great though to get together with my husband and our friends in the evenings, enjoy an Imperial or a glass of wine and be awed by the fabulous views that we had at every place we stayed.

We returned at about 8:30 and had a great dinner at lost Iguana--we loved this restaurant. We thought the food was reasonably priced and very good.

More later......
LindainOhio is offline  
May 12th, 2010, 01:08 PM
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See and I am such a big drinker that your drinking doesn't seem at all unusual!
MonicaRichards is online now  
May 12th, 2010, 01:45 PM
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Monica -- Ha! I was thinking the same thing! ;-)
hipvirgochick is offline  
May 12th, 2010, 03:37 PM
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Me three. I can guarantee you that we will be enjoying evening happy hours daily ('s' was intended ) !!

I have been second guessing my decision to not stay at Lost Iguana, my original plan, because of possibly missing the lava at night. I am glad to hear that I can put my mind at ease and while I am sure Lost Iguana is fabulous, I decided to go out of my comfort zone (and for a few other reasons) stay at Arenal Green Hotel instead.

I am enjoying your report so can you please hurry up and finish, at least the Arenal part of your trip report, as we leave 6 AM Saturday morning!
odie1 is offline  
May 12th, 2010, 04:10 PM
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None of us noticed the drinking - what does that say about US?!
volcanogirl is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 05:17 AM
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Ok then I can move on

We hear it rain hard through the night. I get up early--the birds are singing but it is cloudy. I am bummed about the clouds since last night, we went ahead and booked SkyTrek for this morning at 8:30--they will pick you up at that time.

Lost Iguana is air conditioned, the only place we stayed with air conditioning. We did use it and just turned it off when we left the room--it cooled very quickly.

We eat breakfast in the lovely open dining area--surrounded by greenery, flowers, birds singing--we can't get over how beautiful it is here.

Sky Trek picks us up. We cross the bridge and cannot even see the volcano. I think this is the dirt road that heads to AOL that everyone says is so bad--they have repaired it up to where the road vees and goes to Sky Trek--I don't know if the rest of the road to AOL has been done.

We arrive, suit up and take the tram to the top. There would be a beautiful view if it was clear but it is cloudy. Amazingly though, when we get to the top, the sky does clear and we end up with a beautiful morning. I had debated about ziplining, but we really did have a wonderful time. The views were beautiful--and honest to goodness, every person that heard we were going to Costa Rica asked if we were ziplining. How could we go home and tell them we hadn't done it? It is not a scary experience. It would really be a shame to close your eyes. Some lines go through the trees, most above, it's fun going above them, the views out above the trees and across the lake are spectacular. The other zippers--there were about 18 of us were very nice and a lot of fun--most were from the US. And my husband loved it. I can't imagine doing this in the rain though--be sure to wear sunglasses to block the wind/rain in your eyes.

We stop at the bridge on our way back and take pictures of Arenal in all her cloudless glory. We can see trails of smoke moving down the side of the volcano. It's really beautiful.

Back at Lost Iguana, we change into our bathing suits and head over to the dining room for lunch. We are on a hill and it is much better to take everything you need for the afternoon, rather than climbing back up to the room. The staff will always shuttle you back if climbing the hill is difficult for you.

During lunch, it pours and we are totally grateful that we are done ziplining. It is a short shower and we are able to spend the afternoon at the pool. This would have also been a good time to do the Hanging Bridges(a.m. viewing is better--I would have loved to have done this with Erick--how he sees what we all miss, and then aims his scope at it for a close up) Lost Iguana is right next door to the Bridges and Lost Iguana will even drive you there. We just needed an extra day. We also missed the waterfall.

This was also the evening that we could have gone to EcoThermales--we missed that too. (Has anyone else written a report where they mentioned so many things that they missed? I just kept telling my husband that we would do those things next time. No one seemed compelled to see it all this trip--I can only hope that we will return soon.)It was so great though to have the whole pool area to ourselves. We relax, read, enjoy the beauty, cool off in the pool. We only see a few couples here. We did meet the owner's next door neighbor from Florida. He and his wife had been there for a week and never left the resort. He did get a massage everyday and raved about the spa. We could see the volcano from the pool--even an eruption with dark smoke encircling the top.

It starts to sprinkle at about Happy Hour--how perfect is that--and we head into the bar for the 2 for 1 specials and Euchre--the guys against the girls--girls win.

Back to the room, change, we are jsut drawn to the view from the balcony--the volcano clears again. Another great dinner. I do suggest that we call a cab and drive down to the bridge to see the volcano. Everyone is happy to head back to the room. We love this place.
LindainOhio is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 06:32 AM
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I am enjoying your report. You were planning your trip when I was, so I almost feel like we know each other. I'm glad it was so successful.
traveler2005 is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 07:21 AM
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Also enjoying the report, we've also enjoyed our stays at the Lost Iguana, never left at night as we enjoyed our "happy hour" too and didn't want to drive anywhere
owlwoman is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 09:13 AM
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Very good trip report with interesting and helpful information.
1bhcrashman is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 10:17 AM
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Sounds like a wonderful trip so far...great that you had some friends join you. That's always a bonus to have some good traveling partners. Sad about the Pizote Cabina, I stayed there two trips ago and loved it. I guess it will be back again at least.

Thanks for posting...looking forward to the rest.
hipvirgochick is offline  

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