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Packing List & anti-malarial medicine for Costa Rica questions

Packing List & anti-malarial medicine for Costa Rica questions

May 16th, 2004, 03:13 PM
  #1  
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Packing List & anti-malarial medicine for Costa Rica questions

I have a few more questions about our upcoming trip to CR in August. We are going to MA, Arenal, Poas, and Central Valley.I looked at the packing list website for CR & it seems to recommend a lot of clothes! For example, it recommends 1-3 pairs of long pants. Is 3 pairs really necessary? Based on what I've read, it seems to me that it will be cooler and rainier in Arenal and Poas, so we plan on bringing at least one pair of long pants (no jeans) but I didn't think 3 would be necessary. Also, what do people where when dining out at night? I assume we will go to some casual restaurants as well as some nicer restaurants, such as Karolas in MA. Would I need a skirt for the nicer restaurants, or would slacks or nice shorts be suitable? I thought we would also bring inexpensive rain ponchos and light-weight jackets or sweaters for Arenal and Poas. I want to be prepared but also want to travel as light as possible. I appreciate any advise from travelers who have been to these places.

Has anyone taken the anti-malarial medication? Lonely Planet recommends it for CR lowlands. Do we need it for any of the places we are going to? We might take a tour to Cano Negro when we are in Arenal...haven't decided yet.

Speaking of Cano Negro, has anyone on this board taken that tour? It sounds really interesting.
Kwoo is offline  
May 16th, 2004, 04:19 PM
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Hi Kwoo,
You really don't need to take all that many clothes! We haven't taken anything special for any of these areas other than a light jacket. I usually pack one pair of capri jeans or khakis, but wouldn't take more than that. We just never have experienced enough rain to cause any clothing problem at all--even with jeans--even in August--even at Arenal.

Dining is certainly casual. Sometimes I take a sundress or a skirt but never has it been necessary. Packing lightly is definitely the way to go!

Also, for these areas we've never felt the need for any type of anti malarial meds. Even on the Caribbean and a little bit of back country over there, just never thought about it! If you have anything at all to worry about, it is probably dengue fever. There was quite an outbreak last year, both coasts, and one of my friends from language school came down with it. Another Costa Rican friend ended up in the hospital for a week followed by a week of bed rest. Just protect yourself from mosquito bites with a good repellant.

Wish I knew more about Cano Negro. We almost made plans to go there this coming July, but opted to travel south toward Panama and the Osa instead. It is a fairly popular tour and I think it sounds really enjoyable. I hope you have a great trip!
shillmac is offline  
May 16th, 2004, 04:59 PM
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Shillmac, thank you for your helpful reply. Have you ever brought rain ponchos to CR when travelling in August? And if you didn't, did you ever feel the need for them?

I hope you post a trip report when you return!
Kwoo is offline  
May 16th, 2004, 06:01 PM
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No, Kwoo, we never have. Been there several times in August (well, first of August) and never needed a poncho. We've never even carried umbrellas except I did take one when I was in the Central Valley for 3 weeks of school last year in July--used it once for a few minutes, I think! Seems kind of crazy, but the only terrential downpour we've ever experienced was in Guanacaste on the coast in March! But, of course, it does happen occasionally--it just hasn't been our experience. We've noticed that all the locals carry umbrellas during this time--of course, they do a LOT of walking. I don't know what activities you are planning--the regular stuff?--
but I think you will be pleasantly surprised. . as least I hope you are!
shillmac is offline  
May 16th, 2004, 06:38 PM
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I agree with Shillmac - pack light! I usually take 2 pair of zip-off pants and 2 pair of shorts, which has been more than enough. For rain, I take a lightweight windbreaker-type jacket with a hood that fits into it's own pocket. I've taken umbrellas my last two trips, but I'm leaving the umbrella at home this year. It's not that I haven't needed it, but they are so easy and cheap to buy down there that I decided there was no point in taking up extra room in my bag. By the way, I traveled both of my trips (one for 3 weeks and the other for 16 days) with just a carry-on suitcase and a daypack as my purse.

I have never taken anti-malarials. Just take a good bug spray or lotion and use long pants and long sleeves if you are out at dusk or dawn in areas with mosquitos. I also take Brewer's yeast, which works amazingly well for me. I was very skeptical about using it, but mosquitos love me so I figured I might as well give it a try. I couldn't believe I only had 2 mosquito bites during my entire 3-week trip.

I did the Cano Negro tour on my first trip and would highly recommend it. I kept flashing back to my many rides on the jungle cruise at Disneyland as a kid. We went through Aventuras Arenal. The guide was excellent and the lunch they served was delicious - best cole slaw I've ever had.
TAGriffin is offline  
May 17th, 2004, 05:53 AM
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Packing light is definitely the way to go! I would bring one long sleeve shirt to layer over short sleeved/sleeveless ones for the higher elevations. I always bring a rain jacket and always need it at some point even in the dry season. I have been to Monteverde/Santa Elena and it was pouring in the reserves and dry as dust in the town. Went on the highlight tour and it was dry and sunny except for Poas where, once again, I needed it.
KatHep is offline  
May 17th, 2004, 07:03 AM
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TAGriffin:

What is Brewer's yeast? Bugs love to bite me even when nobody else is getting bitten. So, I'm interested in anything that works.

Anybody take B complex vitamins?
cdnelli is offline  
May 17th, 2004, 09:15 AM
  #8  
Iza
 
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We went to CR 3 times in August and my packing list is always about the same (I don't do laundry while on vacation and I am able to fit into one duffle bag of about 26lbs - depending on how many books I take with me . This is for a 2 week trip:

1 pair of zip off (convertible) long pants and 1 pair of cargo cotton khakis
about 5 pairs of shorts
enough underwear to last 2 weeks
enough tank tops/T-shirts to last 2 weeks
a few pairs of socks
2-3 bathing suits and 1 pareo
1 pair of flip flops and 1 pair of water sandals
1 hat (sun protection)
1 long sleeve top that can be worn over a T shirt (usually a zip up hoodie sweatshirt)
1 rain poncho (you can get it for a few dollars at Walmart and it folds into almost nothing)
toiletries and meds
flashlight, bug spray, sun block and sunglasses
a small Spanish/English dictionary and pharase book
books to read

On the plane, I usually wear a T shirt, capris and sneakers or hiking shoes and I have another long sleeve top to wear during the flight.
I take 2 pairs of long pants as they come in handy in cooler spots (Central Valle and Arenal) and for horse back riding.

For any restaurant, even Karolas in MA, you can wear a nice pair of shorts and a clean T shirt.
Iza is offline  
May 17th, 2004, 10:54 AM
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Thanks everyone for all your helpful information.

What is Brewer's yeast?

cdnelli, what would be your reason for bringing vitamin B complex?

Iza, thanks for your detailed list. It is very helpful. I want to be prepared but at the same time, don't want to bring everything but the kitchen sink!! Do you carry your 26 lb duffle bag on to the plane or check it in? I've never traveled with a carry-on only. What is a pareo?

I assume the hotels provide beach towels that you can bring to the beach, even the beaches in MA National Park??
Kwoo is offline  
May 17th, 2004, 11:17 AM
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Kwoo: I've heard that if you take B-complex vitamins then you may get less mosquito bites. I've never tried it and was just wondering if it really worked. Bugs really like to bite me. I had the same question about Brewer's yeast?
cdnelli is offline  
May 17th, 2004, 12:06 PM
  #11  
Iza
 
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Most hotels we stayed at do provide beach/pool towels so there is no need to bring your own. I usually check in my duffle bag and pack a change of underwear and a clean T shirt into my daypack that I take as a carry on in case the luggage gets delayed. I prefer a duffle bag in CR as it is easier to pack into a taxi/car trunk or on those small planes that fly in the country. I try to keep the weight to around 25lbs for the same reason.

A pareo is just another word for a sarong or a beach wrap. I use mine all the time when in CR - I wear it over the bathing suit at the pool or on the beach, or I use it instead of a beach mat. If you don't have one, they are sold all over Costa Rica, so pick one when you get there.
Iza is offline  
May 17th, 2004, 05:00 PM
  #12  
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Many thanks again to everyone for their helpful responses!
Karen
Kwoo is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 03:16 AM
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Keep in mind that if your clothes get wet, which is probable, they can take a long time to dry.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 05:55 AM
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Anyone help us with the explanation of brewer's yeast?
blakeas is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 06:16 AM
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Kwoo,
Unlike Iza's experience, the hotels I stay at generally do NOT provide beach towels. I guess I go a little more 'budget' than her! If you think your beach towels are a little to heavy, you can bring a flat twin sheet. Drys much faster than a towel too!
Ally is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 06:39 AM
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Brewer's yeast is the active yeast used to make beer. It's also a nutritional supplement. The theory is that Brewer's yeast produces a smell on your skin that repels mosquitos. The same theory applies to B complex. I haven't had much luck with Vitamin B, but have had great success with Brewer's yeast. I buy it in tablet form at my local Whole Foods. The recommended dosage is 3-4 tablets 3 times daily, but I usually don't take that much - usually 2 tablets with each meal. I start taking it about 2 weeks before I leave for Costa Rica. Probably doesn't work for everyone, but it sure has worked for me!

BTW, Brewer's yeast is also effective at repelling fleas. I add a little of the power form to my dog's food in the summer when it's flea season.
TAGriffin is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 07:53 AM
  #17  
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Message to Ally,
Regarding the beach towels, we are staying at La Colina in MA, Arenal Paraiso, Poas Volcano Lodge, and Las Orquideas in Alajuela. Do you know if they provide beach/pool towels?
Thanks.
Kwoo is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 08:09 AM
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I'm almost certain the only towels you're going to get are just your bath towels, and those may not be that great!
Ally is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 12:29 PM
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If it's not on your packing list, add a small flashlight--the maglite pocket type is fine.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 03:31 PM
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Kwoo,
I've edited the packing list website for CR so that it now reads 1-2 pairs of long pants ;-) and emphasises the advantages of zipoffs.

Brewer's yeast is one of the best natural sources available for B vitamins, so if B complex works against bugs (my mom swears by it) that may be the reason Brewer's yeast is effective.
costaricaguide is offline  

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