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danandmelissa Sep 27th, 2004 04:28 PM

overambitious itinerary??

We have found this site very informative in planning our June 2005 trip to CR. We wanted to post our itinerary to get opinions on whether or not it is doable:

Thurs. June 30: Arrive in San Jose. Pick up 4WD vehicle from Dollar. Drive to Peace Lodge, La Paz. Stay there for two nights.

Sat. July 2: Drive to the Arenal Observatory Lodge. (Does anyone know how long this drive is?) On Sunday take trip to Canas Negro (arranged by the lodge). Leave Monday morning.

Mon. July 4: Drive to the Monteverde Lodge (Again, how long is this drive?). Stay until Wed.

Wed. July 6: Drive to Manuel Antonio (Hotel Makanda). We have read that this is a great drive, lots to see on the way. Any suggestions and estimations on travel time?

Saturday: Leave for San Jose and fly out the next morning.

We appreciate all feedback--thank you all!!

Dan and Melissa
Boston, Massachusetts

shillmac Sep 27th, 2004 04:42 PM

It is a bit ambitious for 10 days, and you are going to be spending a considerable amount of time on the road and probably not as much time as you would like at your destinations. Certainly, if you are doing the Cano Negro Tour, you need to allow another day to enjoy the Arenal area because there is so much to see and do there.

It is do-able. . .but 4 locations in 10 days is a lot. 3 would be ideal for maximum enjoyment at each.

We always enjoy driving from here to there, but not if the driving itself robs us of time we would rather spend enjoying an area.

Approximate times:

Airport to Peace Lodge--about an hour

Peace Lodge to Arenal--roughly 2 hours, possibly a bit more as you may see something you want to do on the way!

Arenal to Monteverde--not sure, others will know, but I could guess 4-5 hours.

Monteverde-Manuel Antonio--6 hr. It is an interesting drive and you will want to stop to see the crocs at the Rio Tarcoles.

Manuel Antonio-San Jose--3 hours.

danandmelissa Sep 28th, 2004 03:55 AM


We had thought this was going to be too much, our problem is that we can't decide what to cut out. Any thoughts? We added the Peace Lodge based on such rave reviews about it and don't really want to cut this part out. Can we see as much in Manual Antonio as we would in Monteverde? In which case we could cut out Monteverde and stay longer in many decisions!! Thanks for all you help!!

shillmac Sep 28th, 2004 04:06 AM

Understand that Manuel Antonio and Monteverde would be two totally different experiences. Monteverde is cloud forest, cool, rainy, literally in the clouds. Manuel Antonio is rainforest (actually moist forest)--less rainy, hot, humid, sea level! As far as wildlife goes, based on reports others have made, I do think you would see more at Manuel Antonio.

There really isn't that big of a decision to make. After all, Costa Rica has so much more than what you are going to be able to see on this trip. What about that stuff? Point is: you're gonna want to return, anyway! Choose one of the above locations and save it for next time. :)

danandmelissa Sep 28th, 2004 07:00 AM


Thanks again for the info. One more question (promise!!)--what do think about our choice of accomodations?

Dan and Melissa

elcolibri Sep 28th, 2004 07:10 AM

Hello Dan & Melissa,

We agree with Shillmac 4 locations is a little bit to much. We think three locations is better.
About driving times, like shillmac says it depends if you want to see something more or drive straight ahead. We always prefer the first, so from the Peace Lodge to La Fortuna is about three hours (you can make a stop at La Marina, a small interesting zoo).
About the Arenal Obeservatory Lodge it certainly is a nice location , however far from La Fortuna and you don't have a view at the red lava at night from that side of the Arenal volcano.
We advise forget Monteverde this time and go from La Fortuna directly to Manuel Antonio. This will be a drive of more or less 6 hours. Follow the road from La Fortuna to San Ramon - Puntarenas - Orotina - Jaco - Quepos.
Have a nice time in Costa Rica!!

danandmelissa Sep 28th, 2004 07:34 AM


Have you heard anything about Arenal Paraiso (sp?)? Would that hotel be in a better location? Thanks!

Dan and Melissa

elcolibri Sep 28th, 2004 08:03 AM

Hello Dan and Melissa,

There are a lot of hotels along the road from la Fortuna to Tabacon. We only recommend hotels we personally know and where we slept at least one or two nights. We have good experience with some budget places and the Volcano Lodge. Besides we don't know all the answers at this forum but Tabacon is situated in one of the more or less dangerous places if there is an eruption of the Arenal Volcano. It is almost always the first hotel what needs to be evacuated for safety reasons, this is one of the main reasons why we don't go there.
We don't know Areanl Paraiso ourselves, for this reason we prefer say nothing about this hotel.

lvk Sep 28th, 2004 08:03 AM

Dan & Melissa,

If you do a search on this board, you'll see what people have to say about both the Arenal Paraiso and the Arenal Observatory Lodge. There are pros and cons to both. From what I read on this board, it appears that the Arenal Paraiso, Montana del Fuego and Los Lagos have the best lava viewing. My first-hand experience is with the Arenal Paraiso. We stayed there in August and really enjoyed it. Accomodations were basic, but the lava views were great from our front porch and our beds. We also found the rooms & common areas to be very clean.
The canopy tour there was also very fun.

However, I've also read great things about the Observatory Lodge, mainly about the hiking trails there. You should decide what is most important to you.

I've also read good & bad things about Makanda on this board. Who was it who posted about the "toilet paper" issue? I think they were surprised about being at an upscale $) resort and not being able to flush toilet paper? Please correct me if I'm wrong, Shillmac & others. I don't want to unfairly taint Makanda. I'll see if I can find the old post.

lvk Sep 28th, 2004 08:19 AM

Okay, I've found the post from MonaManuel:;tid=34513829

Of course there are also plenty of wonderful reviews about Makanda on this board and others. However, if I were planning a stay there, this would be information that I would want to know.

Have a great time, wherever your final choices lead you!

danandmelissa Sep 28th, 2004 08:54 AM

Hi lvk,

Thanks for the info. It is hard to decide because everyone has such different experiences!! But this is very helpful and we appreciate the firsthand account of Arenal Paraiso. We will do more searching...

Dan and Melissa

shillmac Sep 28th, 2004 01:25 PM

I would second the thumbs up on Arenal Paraiso. Great volcano viewing, very decent restaurant, pretty pool and grounds, etc.

As for Makanda, haven't stayed there, but even the more luxurious places prefer that you don't flush toilet paper. The sewage systems just aren't equipped to handle it. It has never caused us an inconvenience. Just takes getting used to! Any place that is as expensive as Makanda must be pretty darned nice or we would be reading a lot more negative reviews that have been posted. People tend to speak out considerably when the price doesn't match the accomodation!

RufusTFirefly Sep 30th, 2004 04:35 PM

As mentioned before--Staying at the Arenal Observatory Lodge kind of defeats one of the main reasons to go to Arenal--seeing the volcano erupting in the night. The Lodge is on the wrong side of the volcano now.

We stayed at AP in January and had 2 nights of great lava flow watching from our bed. Tell the staff that you want to be awakened if the volcano starts to put on a show, and they will knock on your door-give a tip to the knocker.

RufusTFirefly Sep 30th, 2004 04:37 PM

Oh, the AP restaurant. We found it a mixed bag--some excellent dishes, some not so excellent. Interesting layout with the semi-outdoor dining area. Breakfast was very good.

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