Planning a trip in 5 days!

Old Mar 4th, 2004, 08:42 PM
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Planning a trip in 5 days!

This might sound nuts, but I'm attempting to plan a trip to CR for next week. I have some time off between jobs and figured I'd take advantage of it by finally checking out this amazing place. It's all very short notice but I'd love to make it work if possible. However, I'm getting a bit nervous that I'm attempting the impossible. I know this is "high season" but does that mean it's so crowded that it's hopeless to think I'll be able to book rooms/tours?

My trip idea is:
2 nights La Fortuna (Volcano, River rapids)
2 nights Monteverde (Canopy tour)
4 nights Tamarindo or Montezuma (beach, snorkel, relax)

Thanks for ANY advice you might have.
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Old Mar 4th, 2004, 11:10 PM
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Keep in mind that you may have to spend the first and/or last night in San Jose depending on your arrival and departure times.
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Old Mar 5th, 2004, 05:17 AM
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Good advice from LA_Fadeaway. Hopefully your international flight will arrive before noon in which case you can make it to Arenal the same day. Are you planning to rent a car and drive? If so, follow the usual rules: do not drive after dark (6pm) unless it is local driving, don't leave valuables in the car.

It is high season but not Easter week or President's Day week which I think are the busiest so I think you should be able to get rooms - maybe not in first choice hotels but there are plenty of options available. There are also cancellations etc.
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Old Mar 5th, 2004, 05:28 AM
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This is a very busy time of year down there. Be prepared to have to spend some time looking for a place to stay. You might want to check availabilities at a few places before you head down just to test the water.
Your best friend, if you go without reservations, would be a good, current, guide book. Your second best friend will be the phone card (it is for the CR phone service and you can buy one when you get there). There are no toll charges so you can call anywhere in CR with that card from anywhere else in CR. You will need it to save time finding a place to stay once you are there. When you know when and where you are going call ahead to be sure you have a place. Go to a good book store and look at as many guide books as you can stand to find the one that gives you the most info on what you are interested in. Some guide books have more info than you might want on the history etc of CR. Some don't have as complete a listing of places to stay as others. That is the most important thing for you to look for.
You should be able to find a place to stay but it might not be where you initially decided you wanted. If you can get ahold of a CR travel agency or tour company your chances of getting it figured out before you go will be much better. As far as tours go...it has been my observation (and personal preference) that most people set those up when they get there although some people do get their reservations in beforehand. Your chances of getting on the tours will be just as good as anyone elses.
Depending on when you get there and when you leave, you may want to think about skipping Monteverde. As you have probably read, travel times are deceptive down there.
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Old Mar 5th, 2004, 02:12 PM
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Thank you guys for the suggestions. I've added in some buffer time for nights over in San Jose to cover off on flying in and out. However, does anyone think I could make San Jose to La Fortuna if my flight gets in at 1pm?

Regarding Monteverde - I was told that was the best place to go for the canopy tour. I'm dying to do that but is it just too much to think I can get there from La Fortuna & then get out easily to Tamarindo or Montezuma from there?

And then speaking of Tamarindo or Montezuma - anyone have a favorite between the two? I'm traveling alone so I'll like to be among other travelers (not just honeymooners or couples & families looking for seclusion!) Not sure if that makes a difference. It sounds like both of the places are pretty similar.

Thanks again!!
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Old Mar 5th, 2004, 02:44 PM
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You can easily drive from San Jose to La Fortuna that afternoon. Your flight arrives at 1:00? Plan on it taking an hour and a half or so to get through immigrations and get your car picked up. You will definitely be pushing it to do all three locations, but it can be done. 2 nights Arenal, 2 nights Monteverde? Does that leave you only 2 nights at the beach or three? You will want to head back to San Jose a day early mostlikely. Definitely go to Tamarindo this time. Simply because it is easier to get to and you won't have the time to go to Montezuma. It involves taking the ferry, which in turn involves getting in line, an hour and a half crossing and another hour or more to Montezuma. A hassle when you are trying to pack as much in as you are. Tamarindo is quite interesting and so is the area nearby. You will like it there. I agree that you would have a more relaxed trip if you bypassed Monteverde this time, but your schedule sounds as if it is possible. . .if you don't mind a lot of loading, unloading, packing, unpacking, and not much beach time! Have fun. . .we'll be there that week as well!
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Old Mar 6th, 2004, 07:26 PM
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We vacationed in Costa Rica in January. Took us about 15 minutes to get through immigration and customs. But we had only carry-on luggage.

Drive to Arenal took exactly 2 hours by local driver. Barring some bizarre occurance, you'll have no trouble getting to La Fortuna if your plane lands at 1 PM.

We had 5 days--spent 3 in Monteverde and 2 in Arenal area. Loved Monteverde--and volcan Arenal erupted beautifully for us both nights.
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Old Mar 6th, 2004, 09:09 PM
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OK, I think I'm getting this together better! Thanks for all the advice. I've played around with my itinerary and I think it's set up a little better.

I still want to skip staying in San Jose if possible. Rufus, I see that you used a local driver. How did that work out? Did you just find someone upon arrival or did you set it up in advance? Also, what was the cost? My hotel said they will pick me up - for $100.

And following the suggestion of Tamarindo - and getting some more beach time - my shedule is now to spend 3 nights in La Fortuna, 1 night in Monteverde (might seem short but I really want to do the canopy tour and the jeep/boat/horse tour from La Fortuna to Monteverde) and then 3 nights in Tamarindo before heading back to San Jose and staying the night there before my flight home. Of course part of me was thinking I could just take a morning flight from Tamarindo to San Jose to catch my flight home that same morning. Anyone done that before? NatureAir has a flight that gets me in 2 1/2 hrs before my flight home. Are they generally on time or is it too risky?

Sorry for all the questions. I really do appreciate any feedback!!
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Old Mar 7th, 2004, 07:20 PM
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I think it would be a bit stressful. These domestic flights don't always run on time. Although it can be done, I am sure, a good rule of thumb and just to be on the safe side (because the consequences are a little steep) is to get back to San Jose the night before your flight. If you were going to arrive in SJO by domestic airline 4-5 hours before your international, it might be less risky, but 2 and a half hours doesn't give you much cushion should there be an unexpected delay!
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Old Mar 8th, 2004, 08:08 AM
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Thanks Shillmac, I agree. Better to play it safe and leave the day before.

Do you know how long is the bus ride from Tamarindo? Maybe I'll cut some costs and just take the bus instead of fly since I'll have the time now.
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Old Mar 8th, 2004, 12:12 PM
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Check Interbus or Fantasy bus, I think it is somewhere between $25-38 and is about 5-6hrs.
Last year I was scheduled to leave Puerto Jimenez at 9:30 and then go to the international airport to go home at 3pm. The first flight out of PJ had been changed to a charter so wouldn't take me. No problem, Christian tells me another plane is coming soon. That plane showed up and didn't have room (it was a really tiny plane so I am just as glad). Not to worry, Christian tells me another plane is coming in about 20 min. This time I did get to go but my backpack had to be left behind. Not to worry it will show up in San Jose in another plane that will arrive in another 20mins. By this time I figured that at least I could still make my flight back to the states even if my backpack didn't. Had time to wait the extra 20 mins fortunately and sure enough there was my backpack. We both arrived home safely. This is just to show you the kind of things that can happen. Most of the time the flights are on time with no problem but you never know. This year I headed back to San Jose the day before.
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Old Mar 8th, 2004, 12:33 PM
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Thanks for the insight Suzie. I think I'll just plan to return to San Jose the night before.

Now..just to find a good place to stay - any recommendations? I think I'll fly from Tamarindo so I can come in early in the day if there's something in the area worth checking out. But I'd like the hotel cost reasonable with hopefully stress-free transfers to the airport in the a.m.
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Old Mar 8th, 2004, 07:07 PM
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I haven't gone yet, so I can't speak from definite experience, but we're staying our first and last night in San Jose at the Hampton Inn and Suites by the airport. It's relatively inexpensive and has a free shuttle to/from airport. Good Luck!
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Old Mar 9th, 2004, 12:29 PM
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Check out Orquideas Inn. It's only 10-15 minutes from the airport and has WAY more charm than the Hampton Inn which is right on the highway! Very good prices and a fantastic FULL (not just 'continential) breakfast buffet included in the price of the room. They will take you to the airport. It's not a free service, it's $8 or $9 dollars (for the ride, not per person) but the charm of the hotel and the free BIG breakfast is worth it.
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Old Mar 9th, 2004, 05:18 PM
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Thank you!!!
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Old Mar 9th, 2004, 05:26 PM
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I guess your leaving tomarrow. We are leaving tomarrow too! We are staying at the Orquideas Inn tomarrow night I here that it is a value and a great breakfast. Staying a Vista Del Valle on our last night. Have a great time! Patty
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