local tour operators

Old Sep 21st, 2002, 07:31 AM
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local tour operators

I'm planning a 9-day trip to CR in March with my 13-year-old daughter. I've decided not to go with a travel company, since we want to spend time relaxing in a couple areas, rather than racing from place to place. I'd like to depend on local tour operators, but am nervous about getting "stuck" without one, or maybe getting scammed.

Any suggestions on finding good tour guides near Machu Picchu, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio?

Also - any suggestions on non-chain hotels in those areas would be appreciated.
Old Sep 21st, 2002, 07:55 AM
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Kelly - Without knowing your hotel budget or the types of tours you want to take, it is difficult to make recommendations. Both areas everything between high-end accommodations and budget accommodations. I can highly recommend Fonda Vela near Monteverde and Villas Nicolas near Manuel Antonio. If you want to hire a guide for hiking in the Monteverde reserve,I can recommend Samuel Arguedas (your hotel will make these arrangements for you). There are also several canopy tours in the area. (We did the Sky Walk, which I loved.) If you and your daughter like to ride, I can also highly recommend a wonderful horseback ride in Manuel Antonio with Finca Valverde (our hotel made the arrangements).

I would strongly recommend that you do some research before you travel. Machu Picchu is in Peru, not Costa Rica. There are no chain hotels in Monteverde or Manuel Antonio (unless you count the Best Western in nearby Quepos). I can recommend two great guidebooks on Costa Rica: "Costa Rica Handbook" by Christopher Baker and "New Key to Costa Rica" by Beatrice Blake. You and your daughter will love Costa Rica.
Old Sep 21st, 2002, 08:38 AM
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Arrggghhhh!!! I'm not as dumb as I sound - perhaps I've done too much research! I'm actually trying to research and plan two trips right now - one in Costa Rica this year, and one in Peru next year. Hence the mix-up.
Old Sep 21st, 2002, 09:51 AM
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Kelly: I'm glad you clarified that - you had me worried! I can appreciate how difficult it is to plan 2 trips at once. Unfortunately, I can't help you with Machu Picchu, but hope to travel there myself someday.
Old Sep 21st, 2002, 11:02 AM
Mexico Specialist
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There is a very good Tour Company that can do a FIT For you.
go to www.elegantadventures.com

They specialize in Costa Rica and have an excellent choice of hotels all over Costa Rica
Old Sep 21st, 2002, 02:15 PM
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Yesterday I returned from my second trip to Costa Rica. I was there in November; that first visit was with a guided tour. And this recent go-round was an independant trip with a friend who's been there on several prior occasions. When visiting Manuel Antonio, he only stays in one place, La Mariposa. And so, that's where we spent a 2-nite stay. La Mariposa has the BEST view in the area --- the swimming pool and dining area overlook the water and provide a truly stunning & spectacular vista, overlooking the water. This may seem like hyperbole, but I promise you, it's a grand perch.(fyi, the hotel restaruant is good for breakfast, but you'll do better eating your lunch/dinner elsewhere). One caveat, if you do book at La Mariposa --- you DO NOT want to stay in the 'standard' rooms (older & not as well appointed as newer sections). Opt for the standard deluxe, or if in your price range, the junior suite (room 35 has a breathtaking view).

If La Mariposa is unavailable, then my other choices would be either Si Como No or Makandas By the Sea. Both of these are popular choices; and having only seen their exterior, I'd have to go with Makandas, as it sits lower and closer to the beach. Yes, and that's another thing to be aware of --- all three hotels that I've cited are nice, yet do sit up high. I'm under impression that hotels that are close to beach level are older properties and more budget accommadations. For me having A/C was a must --- there are lovely breezes, yet the high humidity would make it too uncomfortable sleeping, even with open windows. Under no circumstances would I recommend staying at the Best Western in Quepos --- let me make that emphatic, do NOT stay at that hotel. We ate dinner in downtown Quepos at El Gran Escape (good, I'd recommend it) and it's on the same street a few blocks down from the Best Western. After dinner I wanted to take a brief stroll --- crossed the street and walked up on escarpment/a park area running alongside beach. Bad idea. We weren't bothered by guys lurking in area, however I do believe the drug dealer wasn't used to seeing folks out for their after dinner passagiata. I don't wish to convey idea that this is a frequent occurrence in downtown Quepos --- overall CR is a very safe place. I just wouldn't stay in that particular neighborhood.
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