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Just got back from Costa Rica

Old Feb 12th, 2006, 04:59 PM
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Just got back from Costa Rica

We also just got back from 10 days in Costa Rica. All I can say is Wow! We loved it all. Out itinerary was as follows: Day 1 flew to San Jose, took a shuttle to Hotel Bourganvillea (Beautiful hotel and gardens). Car arrived next morning from Mapache. It was 4 wheel drive. Drove to La Fortuna and stayed the next three nights at Arenal Paraiso. Really liked that too. They had their own hot springs although not as elaborate as Tabacon. We did the Sy Tram/ Sky Trek. The ziplines were great. The guides talked about the rainforest while riding up the tram stopping to look at monkeys and different tree features. Then we zipped down. It was wonderful..The guides will go with you if necessary. I am 58 and normally afraid of heights but just loved this!!!Having a car was great if you like checking out in-town stuff. We did go to Arenal National Park and hiked to a lava field. You could see the rocks tumbling down with each blast. The sounds are awesome. Also hikde to La Fortuna Waterfall. (500 steps down and up)but worth it. Also did the hanging bridges. Also cool. Then on to Monteverde for three nights at the Cloud Forest Lodge. A wild drive. The roads were horrible, a real adventure. We had a guide, Rafeal, who was great at the MV Reserve. Also took a coffee tour which was the only place we saw a toucan. It rained most of the time and when not raining you were in a mist. It didn't stop us at all. Next we drove to Manual Antonio and stayed 2 nights but wished we had more time there. The public beach was great, but swimming in the lagoons in the National park was wonderful. No waves. You could just float and swim all over. Also the trails had monkeys sloths both two and three toes, and iguanas. Amazing. Stayed at Costa Verde hotel. Loved it. Food was great and we found local music at La Cantina across the street. Took a 12 seater plane (Sansa Airline) back to San Jose the last day. Our car was picked up at the hotel the day before keeping our rental to a week even though we were there 10 days. 25 minute flight which as great for seeing the coast line and mountain ranges. We were so glad we did that. Only 58 dollars per person. Peggy at Vacationcity.com helped us with reservations after getting great ideas from this board. I will try to help anyone with specific questions, but am not on the computer everyday. You may have to wait for my reply. But we definitely want to return to Costa Rica. Just loved the country and the people. I only speak a little spanish, but being on our own what I could speak did make a difference. I would recommend having a driver or a tour if you speak no spanish. My husband was amazed at how my spanish helped and believe me it isn't very good.


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Old Feb 12th, 2006, 07:37 PM
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Glad you had a great time. Did you take a tour to the lava flows or did you do it on your own?
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 02:55 PM
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No, we didn't have a guide. We just drove to the Arenal National Park which is really priimative, not what you think of as a national park in the US...only an attendent who directed us where to park. We just followed the sign and hiked to the lava field. There was quite a rock climb just before the field. We didn't actually go across the field because the park closes at 4pm and it would have been pushing it.
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 03:01 PM
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Also, Meliss35, I think I got quite a lot of imfo posted by you...like Hotel Bourgainvillea near the Airport which was lovely. And other ideas too. So thank you for your help.....and all other posters too.
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Old Feb 25th, 2006, 04:04 AM
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Heyjude21919

Thanks but that wasn't me who wrote about Hotel Bourgainvillea. I haven't been to Costa Rica yet. I think that was Melissa5 who wrote that. Anyway, did you go with a guide at the Hanging Bridges?
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Old Feb 25th, 2006, 07:20 AM
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THanks for a great trip report. We did many of the things you did. I think the Costa Rica board is one of the best on fodors. You wouldn't need to have a guide at hanging bridges. It is all laid out and there's no way to go wrong.
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Old Feb 25th, 2006, 08:58 AM
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About the last comment, you might not need a guide to keep you from being lost, but having a guide makes a huge difference in the experience of the tour. If you haven't tried it, get a guide next time just so you can see what I'm talking about. There's a big difference between walking through a park and admiring all the beauty and walking through w/ a naturalist who can teach you and show you amazing things you wouldn't know. It makes it so much more interesting. Also, they can see and hear things we can't and you see a lot more animals w/ a guide, not to mention getting to use their scopes and good binoculars. There's a lot more going on that you're missing if you don't have a guide.
Sandy
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Old Feb 26th, 2006, 02:57 PM
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No, we didn't have a guide for the hanging bridges, but did have a guide at Monteverde. The difference is whether you enjoy just a hike or whether you really want to learn about the environment. Sometimes we prefer to just hike alone, but were really glad we had a guide in MV. He did have a scope with him and we saw 4 quetzals....just beautiful. We're hoping to return to costa Rica but this time want to go to Corovado Nat. Park and other places on the Osa pennisula..If anyone has any info on that or a great itinerary, please post. Thanks. Judy And Melissa, I hope you go to CR soon.
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Old Feb 26th, 2006, 03:00 PM
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Hey Jude,
Was it muddy in Monteverde...we have a Selvatura zip line scheduled for the 1st week in March? Also, can we pay the departure tax with a MasterCard? Thanks.
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Old Feb 27th, 2006, 05:59 PM
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I agree the guide or not depends on what you're looking for and where you are. We had a guide at La Selva Biological Station (it not only is required but essential. You can see the birds without one but his ability to get the birds in his powerful scope and to tell us about them were irreplaceable. Maybe hanging bridges had more than we saw but the monkeys were clearly visible and everthing is laid out so it is a place where a guide may not be as necessary.
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Old Feb 27th, 2006, 05:59 PM
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we paid our departure tax with credit card.
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Old Feb 28th, 2006, 11:55 AM
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to flagal2...yes it was muddy at Mondeverde. the roads being mostly dirt and stone are dusty anytime but when it rains which it did on our trip, it looked like all mud in no time at all. So hiking we got our pant legs really muddy but everyone did so it didn't matter. Also I think I paid the departure tax with a credit card.
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Old Feb 28th, 2006, 12:47 PM
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HeyJude,
Great report..we're leaving tomorrow for our 1 wk trip..going to Arenal, Arenal Paraiso), Monteverde (El Establo) and Manual Antonio (Playa Espadilla). Was it chilly in Monteverde..what will I need to wear there. Also doing a zip line (Selvatura)..pretty nervous about it.
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Old Feb 28th, 2006, 12:48 PM
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HeyJude. forgot to ask...was Sansa strict re luggage weight? Any good restaurants to recommend in the 3 locations? Thanks.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2006, 08:00 AM
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Afraid my post is too late for you. But yes Monteverde was the coolest place. We wore jackets and slept under covers at night, but not uncomfortable. And Sansa was not picky about the luggage. We were over about 15 lbs each and they did not charge us extra. Its only 56 cents a pound. It may depend on what everyone else is carrying on. And as afar as restaurants go, we liked most everything. In La Fortuna we enjoyed a restaurant which was behind the town park, just around the corner from the taxi place. don't remember the name but it was shaped like a dome covered with grass I think and we had a great meal there. Crawfish were excellent. In Santa Elena we liked a little place call cuzuco's. Not fancy but good food. And in MA we loved the Anaconda at our Hotel Corsta Verde and also La Cantina just across the street. Live music everynight. Ziplines are great fun! Enjoy!!!
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Old Apr 29th, 2006, 07:40 AM
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Thanks for the info. Could you tell me how LONG the drive is between Volcano Arenal and Manuel Antonio? Are the roads just horrible like everyone states?
Could you see the lava flow from Arenal Paraiso? In which direction was it flowing when you were there. We are trying to find a hotel where you can enjoy the lava flow , if possible.
Who did you rent your car from and were you happy with them.
Thanks.
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Old Apr 29th, 2006, 08:47 PM
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FLtraveler,
The lava flow is to the southwest at this time. Check out www.arenal.net and click on maps. You will get a great diagram of the lava flow (as it is now), updates, current information, and hotel locations. Very helpful. We will be staying at Arenal Observatory Lodge to the south. Lost Iguana would also be good for viewing, should we all get lucky!

Arenal to Manuel Antonio is about 5-6 hours and Tricolor Car rental has the best rates (all inclusive) we've ever come across. Very happy with their level of service, have used them many times.

www.tricolorcarrental.com
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