Just back from Costa Rica May1st-May10th

May 13th, 2010, 11:15 AM
  #21  
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Tuesday

6am and dressed and drinking coffee on the balcony. Enjoying the birds, the butterflies, the view and the peace. It rained last night but has cleared this morning. We can see the volcano. The clouds clear and then quickly return hiding the top---and then clear again. When you walk in your room for the first time and see this view out to the volcano, you are quite impressed. It continues to impress me.

We walk down to breakfast. All our breakfasts in Costa Rica started with them bringing us each a plate of sliced fruit. This morning they even brought us passionfruit to break open and try--that is one unusual fruit. You then ordered what you wanted from a few choices on the menu. The cooked to order complimentary breakfast is very good.

Today we are either going to hike the Rio Celeste or do the Cano Negro--depending on the weather. If it is raining, we will go to Cano Negro.

Erick picks us up at 8am. We totally enjoyed Erick. He charges $35 for half day trips and $75 for full day trips. A driver is extra. He worked several years at La Selva and is a bird expert. He leads several birding groups and promises that you will see 400 birds in an 8 day trip. And we believe it. What he spotted when we were driving 40-50 miles an hour was totally unbelievable. He would have our driver stop and turn around so we could see toucans, monkeys, a sloth. He sets up his scope and you get an upclose view. We passed many orchards, pastures with cows grazing, farmland, a pineapple plantation. We enjoyed all he shared with us about the countryside. It was an enjoyable ride. The road is paved and very good until about the last 4 km--dirt road and bumpy.

We stop along the dirt road at a definite "stop here" place--easy to see that you should stop here--some big tree, that if I took notes, I would be able to tell you what kind of tree it was. The area below the tree is full of tiny tiny frogs--the ones that look like they are wearing a pair of jeans--perhaps someone knows their name. The tree is covered with bromeliads and the frogs carry their tadpoles on their backs up the tree and drop them in the bromeliads that are always filled with moisture. Pretty amazing.

We arrive at the Rio Celeste Lodge and place our food order since lunch will be over when we return. We order casadas with either chicken or pork. We pay our $10 entry fee to get into the National Park. We pick up a hiking stick.

It is clouding up--that should have been a warning.

There are a row of rubber boots to borrow--probably another warning.

A hose is there to clean off

We walk to the trailhead through 5 foot tall hedges covered with beautiful red blossoms. The hummingbirds are everywhere. I mean at least a hundred hummingbirds. It is definitely hummingbird heaven.

We start through the forest and it is beautiful. We immediately see a MotMot. We head first to the waterfall and then will soak in the hotsprings and hike along the river to the lagoon. We have worn our bathing suits under our hiking clothes.

It's a beautiful but somewhat muddy walk to the waterfall. Erick points out insects, birds, frogs, a snake, lizards, plants and trees along our way. We get to the waterfall--it's beautiful. The water is the unusual blue color that you see in photos. We climb over the rocks and get in the pool in front of the waterfall. Erick says it is safe if we stay to the left of the waterfall, where the water is calm.

We head back down the trail and it starts to rain. We have this massive canopy of trees above us so we think we may be ok. Then it starts to pour--it is a deluge. We get out our ponchos and umbrellas. The trail turns into a river. We walk in ankle deep water on the rocky trail--there is a lot of water and mud. I am pretty coordinated but I was the klutz on this hike. I slid several times ending up with a free mudbath. Fortunately, we had brought a couple of handtowels from Lost Iguana--probably never to be used again.

We return to the Rio Celeste Lodge--we have abandoned our plan of hiking more trails. We are drenched--one of us is quite muddy. I did wear my Keen H2Os which were perfect for this hike. We hose ourselves down and change into our dry clothes--bringing dry clothes was one of my better ideas on this trip.

We have a great lunch at the little soda there at the lodge. They had fabulous pineapple juice. The pineapple plantation is right next door.

In retrospect, we should have gone to Cano Negro. We love to hike though and everything I had read about this hike seemed spectacular. We just had to try to do it. Erick said it is probably his favorite place to hike in Costa Rica. We may try again next time. I may never convince my husband to do this hike again though.

We drive back to Arenal. Erick asks if we would like to stop at the Maleku community. We agreed and stopped by the road at an what looks like an art stand. My husband thought it was a tourist trap, but my goodness, who would even know it was here? Erick's friend told us about his indigenous community and of course he had the rain machines, balsa masks etc. to sell. The prices were very reasonable. I bought a round shell hanging, all woodburned with toucans for $10. The masks were $15. The masks are hanging everywhere we went in CR and would have been a nice souvenir but we were flying to the Osa and did have a problem already fitting everything in our suitcases.

Once again, Erick finds birds and notes different things he sees as we drive back to Lost Iguana. We get back to Arenal and everything is dry--no rain there today.--go figure.

Time for happy hour on the balcony. The volcano gives us a showing. Another wonderful dinner with a croaking frog that would not give it up.

After dinner, we hang things to dry, pack up and are ready to be picked up at 7:30 to drive to the airport in San Jose (Pavas)for our 11:30 flight to Puerto Jiminez. Bosque del Cabo--here we come!!!
LindainOhio is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 11:39 AM
  #22  
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Pizote is being rebuilt--I was kind of glad we weren't in Toucan--there was some hammering and noise down there.

I forgot to mention--there were some recommendations, other than the "where to stay/what to do" recs from you Costa Rica experts that were great and that I was glad I knew about.

The ebags convertible Weekender--I asked for this for my birthday. When it arrived, I thought I had maybe made a great error--that bag looks so small, but honestly it just grows. I know a lot of you use the packing cubes with the bag but I just roll about 3or 4 tops together and that worked fine. I took 5 prs of capri hiking pants, about 12 shirts, my hiking boots, my Keens, my toiletries, flip flops, sandals--the list goes on. I couldn't believe it still zipped. It weighed in at 29.8--our friends who had to pay for their extra weight couldn't believe it. NatureAir allows 30 pounds in your suitcase +10 pounds in your backpack.

The Keen H20s have been recommended. They can be hosed off and dry quickly, have the thick sole and rubber toe--worked great for me.

Lancome waterproof eyeshadow--I had to laugh when I stopped and bought this the day before I left. There must have been 25 replies to that post on makeup. It definitely stays on and doesn't run in rain or when sweating--and I did sweat a bit when we were hiking.

I'm sure there were other suggestions that I used but I can't think of them now. The Costa Rica regulars here are just great--this would have been a difficult trip to plan before Fodors and the internet. I was so clueless about Costa Rica.
LindainOhio is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 11:52 AM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
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I'm enjoying your travel log. I'm planning our next trip back this June/July and looking for ideas---and you've given me lots!
LaurafromFL is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 12:05 PM
  #24  
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We loved our stay in Arenal but it would have been nice to have one more day. Probably because we got in a definite chill out/relaxation mode. We did the "stay 3 nights at Lost Iguana and get the 3rd free" package. If I had to plan our first visit again, I might do this itinerary:

Day 1 Drive to Arenal. Do the waterfall
I had asked Elsy(Wilson's wife who arranged our driver) if we could stop at the Fortuna waterfall on our way or if Alex could drop us there after we dropped our luggage at the hotel. Then we would get a taxi home. She offered to have Alex take us on the canopy tour that you pass on the way into La Fortuna. We didn't want to do that--I didn't press it. It takes about 2 hours from what I read to hike to the waterfall and back.

Day 2 AM Canopy tour/zipline Afternoon pool
EcoThermales for dinner and hot springs

Day 3 AM Hanging Bridges
PM Waterfall if missed the first day
or
Cano Negro--all day if you don't mind leaving Arenal--rain wouldn't really ruin this trip

Since we had 2 couples splitting the cost of the driver, it was nice to hire drivers. We did talk about renting a car for one day in Arenal. We would have if we hadn't taken a tour with Erick or ziplined. I would not have hesitated renting a car for the Arenal part of this trip, especially if I was visiting with my family. I inquired and the rental agencies would drop the car at Lost Iguana. The roads were fine.
LindainOhio is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 01:01 PM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 999
I'm really enjoying your trip report! Love all the details and can't wait to read more! We leave in July and are doing a similar trip (Arenal/BDC) and I can't wait!!

I'm so glad you had a great trip!
ShellD is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 03:05 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
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GREAT report, Linda. I am really enjoying it. Sounds like my kind of place!
shillmac is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 04:23 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: May 2007
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Linda, I'm having fun reading your report. We love our weekender convertible bags too. I'll have to check out that mascara!
volcanogirl is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 05:28 PM
  #28  
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Correction to post above: it was Lancome's Definicil MASCARA not eyeshadow. The one you girls all talked about in your posts

Another note: Don't bring travelers checks--at least that was our friends experience. They brought extra because they were using them to pay their BdC bill. We jsut payed our bill at Bosque with a check backed by our credit card. Our friends had a terrible time cashing their travelers checks. they couldn't even use them to pay their departure tax at the airport(which is still $26pp). We probably should have just gone to the bank to cash them.

Wednesday:

Awaken early. We have blue skies and are heading to Bosque del Cabo today. We eat a breakfast and our driver--Carlos who drives for Lost Iguana sent someone, can't remember his name--arrives promptly and we are on our way at about 7:30am.

We arrive at the airport at 10:40. Our bags and backpacks are weighed and we are asked to also step on the scale with our backpacks. Our friends have to pay $25 for their overweight bag. It is thankfully a beautiful day to fly. does anyone feel comfortable getting on these small planes--in rain, I would have been really nervous. The views from the plane though are pretty impressive especially between Drake Bay and Puerto Jimenez.

We are picked up by the BdC van and drive the bumpy dirt road to the Lodge. We cross 3 streams--what do they do during the rainy season? It has actually rained here for 9 days straight--they had 11 inches of rain during that period. We bring the sunshine to BdC and it stays with us for our 4 night stay.

Bosque del Cabo is worth the trouble it takes to get there. I had thought about heading there first and then to Arenal but was advised by several on this forum to end our trip here. Good advice. Bosque del Cabo may get me back to Costa Rica.

Be back......
LindainOhio is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 07:36 PM
  #29  
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Another correction: The entry to El Silencio for the night hike was only $7pp--that makes me feel a lot better. I thought $14 seemed like a lot.

Back to Bosque:
We are greeted with a smoothie and then lunch. It is a beautiful sunny day. Everything is perfect and our friends and my husband are really pleased. We enjoy our first happy hour(s) on the Congo deck looking out at the ocean, a great dinner. We walk back to the cabinas. The sky is filled with millions of stars. It is so dark.

You gotta love that outdoor shower.

Thursday:

I wake up early. I am too excited to sleep and there is a lot of noise. "What the h*** is that?" I hear my husband say. We had never heard howler monkeys before--it is an otherworldly or at least Jurassic Park kind of sound. I head out to see them behind Mariposa where our friends are staying.
I am loving this place. I get coffee, sit on the deck and am very happy.

We eat breakfast and then head to the Titi Trail--leaf cutter ant heaven. Those little buggers are unbelievable. We walk part of the Creek Trail and I tell everyone to walk the suspension bridge several times since we missed the hanging bridges in Arenal. We stop at the vista on the way back

Lunch and then we decide to take the Pacific Trail. Low tide is 2:45pm and they suggest starting down 2 hours before low tide. For some reason I always envisioned this trail in complete sun. It is all shaded and not nearly as difficult as I expected.(A lot easier than the Saeno Trail, which we call the Say no Trail--that was a difficult trail) Once we got to the beach though, we did have total sun, but it is beautiful. The waves are huge. We walk past the rocks, past the tidepools, look for turtle nesting sign 43 and then follow the stream to the waterfall---good directions, Philip.

We cool off at the waterfall, head back down the beach, cool off in the tidepools, holding on when the waves come in and then back up the trail. We are entertained by a troop of monkeys--nice to have a monkey break on the way up.

We clean up--how nice to see the ocean from the shower--I'm loving the outdoor shower--how do they keep it so clean?

The monkeys are having a time over at Mariposa. Mary is showering and is creeped out that her husband is taking pictures right there by the shower--there was a great view of the monkeys from that shower. There is something unsettling though about showering outside and your husband nearby with a camera.

Another great happy hour and dinner. We are in bed at 8:30. we actually may have been in bed every night at about 8:30.
LindainOhio is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 07:41 PM
  #30  
 
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Loving your report. Btw, $15 for the masks is a great deal!
tully is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 06:48 AM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
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I am really glad to hear you liked Erick. I have him hired for next month. Thanks for all the time you are taking to give us a wonderful trip report.
livinglong is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 06:50 AM
  #32  
 
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We stayed in Mariposa, loved that outdoor shower. And, those howler monkeys, one night they were going crazy around 3AM, thought we were in Jurraisic Park. I'm very tempted to plan another trip back, such nice memories.
owlwoman is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 08:17 AM
  #33  
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owlwoman--
We loved Mariposa too. Did you use the outdoor tub with the waterfall faucet?--I loved that thing and thought it would be a wonderful place to relax etc....but those mosaics are beautiful but a bit uncomfortable--they just need a little bathmat or something--it would be a beautiful soaking tub, but has a few comfort issues.

Friday:

Another gorgeous morning. It has rained here in Akron ever since we got back on Monday, when we arrived home it was 45 degrees--how bad is that? How can we visit a rainforest and have less rain than here at home? Everything here is really green though.

The monkeys are quiet this morning. I get coffee, sit on the deck--great way to start the morning.

Breakfast and I get their stuffed french toast--really delicious. We met Philip at 8am for the Primary Rainforest Tour. He is a really wonderful guide. It is a tour that focuses on the flora and fauna, as they say, not the wildlife--- we learned so much and had a very enjoyable time. We walked the Zapatero Trail. It made you want to go out and buy a "Save the rainforest' tshirt. We had the added benefit of seeing many monkeys, spider, capuchin and howlers, birds and of course the amazing leaf cutter ants. You have to take this tour to find out the big deal about these ants--truly amazing insects--and they are everywhere. Everyone who walked this trail during the week came back with monkey sightings.

Several groups also did the Gulfo Dulce Trail down to Matapalo Beach. They saw a lot of monkeys on this trail. You can request a pick up home ($10) so that you don't have to take the trail back. We wanted to take this trail but ran out of time. Two couples actually got a ride both ways so that they didn't have to walk either way. Then they spent the day at the beach. They took boxed lunches that the kitchen will make up for you.

We got back from our hike with Philip at 12:30 and had lunch. We spent the afternoon at the pool. Our husbands got their first ever massages. They were totally relaxed--well they weren't really uptight before the massage--but now they can go home and tell their children that they had a massage. Our kids are all into having massages.

Every afternoon, there is always a little homebaked sweet on the coffee table. They all seem to go very well with the drink of the day.

Monkeys in front of the cabina before happy hour--they head over to Mariposa. We all get a little monkey entertainment. Chip who was in Toucan, spent one day just relaxing at his cabina and said he had numerous wildlife sightings, right from the deck there while he read.

Bosque del Cabo does have the wildlife. Coatis in the yard, macaws flying and squawking, always 2 together, agouti also in the yard, araecarea(spelling? its a fabulous bird with a beak almost like the toucan, pronounced almost like Harry Carey)some big turkey like birds... the list goes on--this place definitely makes you want to work on bird identification. There are some really beautiful birds on the property. There is a birdwatching tour available. Mybe next time.

Another wonderful dinner. We enjoy talking with the other guests. The meal always starts with a wonderful homemade soup and then the buffet.

We enjoy another beautiful day in the rainforest.
LindainOhio is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 10:05 AM
  #34  
 
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If you go back, definitely do the early morning birding tour with Carlos; he's great and spent an hour finding a toucan for us. We hadn't seen one yet. He spotted a lot of things we wouldn't have seen on our own. I loved the way the Primary Rain Forest tour showed how everything interacts. Their guides really are spectacular.
volcanogirl is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 10:24 AM
  #35  
 
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No, didn't use the tub, I'm a shower person. And, yes, if you go back, Carlos' bird tour is quite informative, we even saw an anteater on ours! (hi VG)
owlwoman is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 10:34 AM
  #36  
 
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Hi, owl! We saw an anteater while we were there too - wow, that was cool. I did use the tub - it was fun sitting in the tub and having monkeys swing over your head. Wish I could do that at home!
volcanogirl is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 10:39 AM
  #37  
 
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An acari is a type of tucan, if memory serves. Did you see the tucan at Bosque del Cabo? I just love the call they make.
MonicaRichards is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 10:43 AM
  #38  
 
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Memory does not serve! The toucan birds in Costa Rica are actually called the collared aracari and the fiery-billed aracari.
MonicaRichards is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 10:45 AM
  #39  
 
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I've always thought those aracaris look sort of mean. Is it the eyes or the beak?
volcanogirl is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 08:18 PM
  #40  
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We were lucky to see toucans everyday. Walking down the driveway to the trailhead, we heard a sound like a squeaky wheel, we looked toward the trees along the drive and found the toucan. We had one in the tree by our cabina. We also saw one at Lost Iguana in Arenal.

I did think the aracari looked like a toucan. The beak was long and he had a large seed in it that he was carrying--the beak wasn't yellow though like the other toucans we saw.
LindainOhio is offline  

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