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Last Minute Questions (Monteverde Arenal) - Costa Rica Trip

Last Minute Questions (Monteverde Arenal) - Costa Rica Trip

Apr 14th, 2010, 05:31 AM
  #1  
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Last Minute Questions (Monteverde Arenal) - Costa Rica Trip

I have posted this twice because I forgot to tag it with "Costa Rica" initially and I wanted to ensure it was seen. Apologies for the double post!

Thanks for everyone's advice while I was planning my trip to CR. We will be leaving in a few days and are spending our time primarily in Monteverde and Arenal (about 3 days/nights each, excluding travel). I have a few last minute questions.

(1) Transportation: we have arranged transportation between San Jose, Monteverde and La Fortuna. We wil be staying at El Silencio Del Campo in La Fortuna. We will arrive in La Fortuna I would suspect around 12:00 or 1:00 depending on how much stopping we do with the driver en route and will have the remainder of the day, and then 2 1/2 days thereafter (leaving in early afternoon on the final day). On one of the full days we plan to do the Cano Negro tour, so transportation will be covered. I was wondering if we should plan on taking taxis everywhere or if it makes sense to rent a car in La Fortuna for the other full day or maybe for a day and a half to give us a little freedom. See also # 2 below for more info as to possible itinerary. If car rental makes sense, are there suggestions for a company and would they come to me or would I need to go to them (necessitating two more taxi trips)?

(2) In addition to Cano Negro, among the things we are considering in La Fortuna/Arenal (depending on time/weather) are: the, waterfall, volcano hike (night or day?), maybe check out Arenal observatory lodge trails or El silencio trail, Ecocentro Danaus (either day or night) and perhaps something on horseback (maybe the volcano?). I have not set any of this (or anything in Monteverde, where we plan to go to both reserves and get guides) up yet. I have contacted sunset tours about Cano Negro. Is it a problem to wait and set up everything else (and Cano Negro if I don't hear back from Sunset) when I get to CR? It seems easier than dealing with the back and forth of e-mail.

(3) In Monteverde does anyone have experience with the hidden valley trail night tour and the Children's forest tour?

(4) Any other suggestions, words of advice?

Thanks again.
trips4fun is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 09:53 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2007
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We've done the Hidden Valley night hike in Monteverde, and we had a great experience and just loved it. We got put into a fun group which always helps, and our guide, a woman, was great. Fun to see a woman guide! We saw an agouti, coati, sloth, fox, raccoon, tarantula, birds, porcupine, etc. and had a lot of fun trooping around with flashlights. We got caught in a huge downpour and hadn't brought our rain ponchos since it didn't look at all like rain when we left, but we still loved it.

We really loved the waterfall. I would do it and wear your bathing suit if you want to swim. Go down the little set of stairs to the crystal clear water. I hope you're going to check out Eco Termales or Tabacon hot springs - it's worth doing. We had good lava viewing from out hotel, so a volcano hike wasn't a big priority for us. We've done it once, and I liked it, but didn't love it. I might have felt differently if we hadn't been able to see it from our balcony though. The night of the hike there wasn't great visibility. Really up to you if you want to rent a car or not; we use taxis. We do a lot of tours and they pick you up and drop you back off.
volcanogirl is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 01:13 PM
  #3  
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Thanks vg. We have been considering Eco Termales, but wondered whether it would be worth it since the hotel has something on the property that we can use and we aren't generally into the "soak in the hot tub and sip drinks" sort of thing. But people seem to say that it was a highlight of their time in the area, so perhaps we should see what its all about. Is there more to it than I am giving credit for?
trips4fun is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 02:50 PM
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Well, we had dinner there which we really liked - good food and a really pretty setting with orchids dangling down from overhead. The whole thing was just pretty and relaxing. We didn't have springs at our hotel though. It's just a fun evening activity since the town can be a little lacking in nightlife. We liked the chicken better than the beef, which gets a little chewy in CR.
volcanogirl is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 03:20 PM
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trips,
The thoughts on this board are mixed if you are staying at Silencio. Some say another hot spring is worth the visit and others say to save your money and just do the springs at your hotel. If I was to choose someplace off the Silencio property I would go with Eco Termales. I'm still not sure we won't try it!
Deb15July is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 03:48 PM
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We aren't "hot tub" types either, but the setting is so beautiful and relaxing that our session didn't seem long enough! Don't think hot tubs - think waterfalls and rock edged pools surrounded by lush vegetation. I loved my free massage under the top waterfall - felt great on my neck and shoulders! It is a "must" for me when I return to Arenal. We had thermal springs at Arenal Paraiso but still came here.

Amazingly, drinks are on a honor system - you just tell them how many you had when you pay at the end.
colibri is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 04:03 PM
  #7  
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Thanks all. I guess we'll keep Eco Tamales on the list as at least a good possibility. I know they limit the number of people, so if we don't make reservations before we leave, it may come down to availability.

Deb, thanks for your response to my other (double post). That's all helpful info. How much are you reserving before you leave?

I have been trying to get in touch with Sunset for the last few days to reserve the Cano tour and I have not received any response to my reservation request or to my e-mail.

I've been researching/planning for some time, but oddly I feel completely unprepared now that we are almost getting ready to leave. At this point, I probably don't have time to try to pre-reserve anything, but I have been told this is generally not an issue.
trips4fun is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 04:12 PM
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trips,
Don't sweat it. I'm very OCD so I also have a problem with not having things under control. I get the impression that whatever you choose to do in CR is OK because you will return and have another chance!

I don't have any excursions booked at this point, but I'm not leaving for 3 more weeks. My only reservations are for lodging and both international and in-country flights.
Deb15July is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 05:24 PM
  #9  
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Deb,
I'm going to try to keep the control thing in check. I think for this kind of vacation, learning to "go with the flow" will serve me well and may even result in a better experience. We'll see how successful I am.
trips4fun is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 09:46 PM
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I've stayed at Silencio and loved it! However, if you think you want do visit Eco-Thermales and have dinner that's worth while too. Especially a good way to end the day if you take the Cano Negro tour. You almost have to reserve ahead during peak season since they allow only 100 at a time.
hipvirgochick is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 03:56 AM
  #11  
 
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trips, I'm like you - I do heavy duty research up front and then when we get there, I lay out all the options with my husband and we decide what we feel like doing that day. Agree about Eco T though - book it ahead because we've met people who couldn't get in.
volcanogirl is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 06:25 AM
  #12  
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Thanks all. That helps a lot.
Should we just stick with the big/better known tour operators like Sunset and Desafio or are the others worth a look too? Have seen some positive things about Pura Vida and seems some here have had very good experience with Canoa Aventura on the Cano Negro tour at least. Is it safe to go with hotel recommendations? There is always this little bit of fear that the guides could seem knowledgable and be making all of the stuff up .

And finally (I hope), do you use group guides for hikes like hanging bridges, cloud forest, etc. or do you get private guides? I imagine the latter would be considerably more expensive.

Sorry about all of the questions. It's coming down to the wire with a mixture of apprehension (about the unknowns) and excitement. Hope the weather is good!
trips4fun is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 07:44 AM
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Canoa Aventura is great too . Either one will be wonderful!
hipvirgochick is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 07:57 AM
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We've only used Sunset and Desafio, but if you read good reviews about a company, I'd feel safe going with them.
volcanogirl is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 11:10 AM
  #15  
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Well, I heard back from Sunset, so I decided to book that for the morning after we arrive in the Arenal area. Except for the possibility of Eco Termales we are leaving the rest until we get there.

Thanks everyone.
trips4fun is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 01:19 PM
  #16  
 
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They're a good outfit - we've used them for three Cano Negro trips. Nice boat, and they provide cool drinks, and a stop at the Iguanas Restaurant for pictures. Cano Negro provides some great photo opps.
volcanogirl is offline  
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