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Ducko Aug 29th, 2006 07:39 PM

Monteverde Cloud Forest
We are considering a trip to Costa Rica in the first week of January, primarily to visit the beach of Guanacaste. On the way we would like to spend a few days at Menteverde Cloud Forest. Any suggestions on lodging and/or guided tours or other ways to experience the Cloud Forest? Also, can you comment on the roads between San Jose, Monteverde and Guanacaste? Thanks!

glover Aug 30th, 2006 05:52 AM

The final piece of the journey between San Jose and Monteverde is legendary! Forget how many miles - but will take you 3 times as long as you might expect.
It's a fairly wide dirt road. As my husband said, I was prepared for bad, and for potholes, but they didn't say anything about boulders! That said, many people drive it and you should consider it part of the adventure in a 4x4. Unless you REALLY hate this kind of driving. At both reserves in Monteverde there are numerous guides willing to take you in. It's good to get to either early as I believe they limit the number of visitors (though this may only be an issue in high tourist season). There are many nice places to stay in Monteverde area at all price levels and many folks will chime in with favorites I'm sure. We stayed at El Sapo Dorado which we liked a lot. Rooms are large and cabin like with nice balcony porches looking out on valley. Office staff is helpful and happy to arrange any activity you want to try.

Jeff_Costa_Rica Aug 30th, 2006 06:52 AM

The road up to Monteverde is 35 km (21 miles) from the main highway but can take about 90 minutes, to give you an idea of how slow going it is. Take it slow and you'll make it.

Since the Monteverde-Santa Elena area is so spread out, no matter where you stay, you're close to some things and farther from others. If you have your own vehicle, that gives you the most flexibility, but there are taxis up there too.

You say "the beach of Guanacaste." There are many; that's an entire province. Do you have a specific place in mind? The roads leading to many of the beaches up there are in pretty bad shape right now. So you go slow and watch out for the potholes. :)

islandgirl04 Aug 30th, 2006 11:11 AM

I have already rented a small car for my week in teh Guancaste area- do you think a regular car will make the trip in to the Monteverde Cloud Forest (if I go slow and am very careful)??

sandyc Aug 30th, 2006 01:43 PM

I don't think a regular car is a good idea. Even a lot of those roads in Guanacaste are hideous and require high clearance. The road to Monteverde is not just a dirt or gravel road -- it's a rock road. There will be a whole lot shaking going on!!

shillmac Aug 30th, 2006 02:49 PM

Islandgirl, you need to upgrade--it won't be a problem, and shouldn't cost that much extra this time of year. You will definitely need the extra clearance for MOST of the roads in Guanacaste. Some of the main ones are in worse condition than I have seen them in 5 years. The potholes will eat your lunch, so to speak! And for sure, 4 wheel drive a must for Monteverde!

fitzpowell Sep 1st, 2006 05:35 AM

I have never been to Monteverde, but everything I have read indicates that high clearance 4x4 is absolutely necessary.

A beautiful beach town is Nosara. It is about 2 hours south from the Liberia airport. The first road through Nicoya is paved. It "T"s to a rutted dirt road, turn right to head north to Nosara, left is south to Samara.

The beaches of Nosara are three beaches, each wide, undeveloped (no building 200 meters zone), and uncrowded. Waves are consistent, long and slow, great for sensible surfing, learning, and swimming. There are many lodging options and fabulous restaurant choices discreetly built off the roads. Agood map of the twisting Nosara roads is on the Nosara travel website.

There is an airport there also served by NatureAir and Sansa. I also saw a rental car office, but can't remember which one. It may be easier to catch a flight from SanJose after Monteverde, and get a car in Nosara.

I understand that Samara's beach is calmer, more suitable for children to enjoy.

We just loved Nosara. Many Americans have settled there. It has a great "atmosphere", many middle-aged, laid back folks, a number of younger surfers-but no raucous youth scene. There is no nightlife to speak of, but getting up to see the sunrise and hear the howlers in the morning is worth getting to sleep early anyway.

Sorry this is so long, but I just can't say enough good things. We stayed at the Gilded Iguana. There's not much written about it in the guide books, but it was perfect. Reasonable rates, friendly atmosphere, good food, just no problems at all!

Enjoy your trip.

flycatcher06 Sep 2nd, 2006 08:33 AM

we are staying at the gilded iguana in March so glad to hear you loved it there!

guanacaste Sep 2nd, 2006 11:52 AM

i'd recommend you stay in santa elena insteads, less crowded and more chance of seeing wildlife:

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