Please help with Costa Rica trip

Old Jul 7th, 2009, 07:24 AM
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Please help with Costa Rica trip

Hi-

My husband and I just decided we are going to Costa Rica on the 19th so we have less than two weeks to plan. We only have one week so want to maximize what we do and see without running ourselves ragged. My husband loves anything to do with nature-seeing the rain forrest, animals, flora/fauna, etc. I want to kayak, snorkel and do a zipline, plus see the volcano. Given our time constraints, is all of this doable? What area would you recommend we stay? What are can't-miss things to do and see?

We are flying in to San Jose and renting a vehicle.

I appreciate any comments and suggestions!

Jenski
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 09:41 AM
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I agree with Marina that Arenal & Manuel Antonio are your 2 best choices. With these destinations, you will see rainforests, volcano, lots of wildlife, beaches, hanging bridges, ziplines, etc. If you go to MA, I highly recommend horseback riding with Finca Valmy, the highlight of our trip. It's an all day horsback riding trip through rivers, rainforest, etc. with a delicious lunch at the owner's home, swimming, etc. At Arenal, we also went on the Cano Negro boat tour although not kayaking.

In Arenal, we stayed at Arenal Paraiso and saw the lava flows for several nights although I think I read recently the flow has shifted and you can't see it from AP any more. But you should double check that. At MA, we stayed a La Colina. The prices were reasonable, nice clean rooms, delicious breakfast in nice outdoor dining area. I think it is in Quepos along the way to MA.
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 09:54 AM
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Kwoo is correct, the lava flow is not visible from Arenal Paraiso - or at least it was not in February. Check out Lost Iguana or Arenal Observatory Lodge for lava views.

Above suggestions are great - enjoy your trip!!
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Old Jul 8th, 2009, 07:04 AM
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We really enjoyed our stay at Arenal Observatory Lodge. It's a pretty rough 20 minute ride off the main road, but the rooms are nice and large and the grounds are beautiful. You can't beat the volcano view from there, especially if you are lucky enough to get a clear view of the top! The food, though, is not so good (breakfast was okay and was included) you'd want to plan your days wisely so that you aren't stuck eating all of your meals at AOL.

While in Arenal, we hiked, ziplined, visited the Hanging Bridges and Eco Termales and did the Cano Negro tour.
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Old Jul 8th, 2009, 01:00 PM
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I second the other recommendations for Arenal and MA. That was our itinerary for our first trip. Loved it!

I'd try to split your time pretty evenly between the 2 locations as both have a lot to offer. Depending on your international flight times, you may have to spend first and/or last nights near the airport. You'll want to do your driving between destinations during daylight hours as road and weather conditions can be variable.

In addition to Marina's canopy tour suggestion, you can also do ziplines in Arenal. SkyTrek is a real adrenaline rush and they are very safety conscious there.

For MA: be aware that Manuel Antonio National Park is closed on Mondays and plan accordingly as the park is a real highlight in that area.
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Old Jul 9th, 2009, 11:10 AM
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We stayed at Lost Iguana and LOVED it, and also loved Villa Mot Mot in Tulemar in Manual Antonio. We were so happy to have the private beach at Tulemar, our kids loved it and it was so convenient. They had towels, a snack bar, kayaks and boogie boards on the beach so you don't need to bring anything!
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 07:05 AM
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I agree - Arenal and MA would be a great combo for you. In Arenal, our favorite thing is the Sunset Tours trip to Cano Negro. We've done it several times and have seen caimans, howlers, capuchins, sloths, bats, and lots of cool birds. Our favorite hotel is the Lost Iguana. I'd zipline with Sky Trek. I wouldn't get too excited about the snorkeling; we did it in MA, and it was pretty bad because of all the sediment in the water, but MA has a beautiful beach inside the park.
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 07:09 AM
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Thanks so much everyone, great suggestions! I'll post back if I have any more questions as I develop our itinerary.
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Old Jul 14th, 2009, 08:27 AM
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Hi again-has anyone driven from San Jose to the Osa Peninsula? Is this a crazy thing to do during the 'green' season? My husband seems bent on driving but I worry that we will eat up two precious days traveling to/from the Peninsula, not to mention the very real likelihood we'll have some sort of car trouble, or get stuck, etc.
Also-what items do you recommend we pack? I think I have the basics covered (sunblock, hats, but spray, granola bars, etc) but is there anything else you wouldn't go to CR without?
Gracias!
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Old Jul 14th, 2009, 08:47 AM
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I haven't been to the Osa, but I think everyone will urge you to fly there as it will be two full days of driving out of one week just for that destination - no way!

Take binoculars - there is so much wildlife that you each want your own along with your camera, extra batteries and memory cards. Maybe the silica packages for your camera bag - high humidity areas.

LOL - think you meant "BUG" spray, right?!!!
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Old Jul 14th, 2009, 09:30 AM
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Ha! Sorry for the typo, I'm a little scattered trying to work and plan my trip (that is a mere 4 days away!!!).

Great idea on the bag for a camera, I'll add that to my list.

Thanks!
jen
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Old Jul 14th, 2009, 09:53 AM
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Personally I wouldn't drive to the Osa - takes too long and it's rough in places. We stayed at BdC down there and just going from the airport to the lodge, we encountered cattle in the road, bumpy roads, construction, a tree across the road, and a few small streams we had to drive through. I wouldn't want to do it on my own and also wouldn't want to waste the time. Check out Sansa and Nature Air; their prices are pretty reasonable.
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Old Jul 14th, 2009, 09:55 AM
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I'd throw in a pair of sunglasses and also some good shoes. We use running shoes on the trail and Keen's for beach/rafting time. Binoculars is a great rec. We forgot ours this trip!
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Old Jul 14th, 2009, 06:30 PM
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Thanks Volanogirl-you are a wealth of info! We have decided to skip the car and go to Tortuga Lodge for 3 nights and then to Osa for 4 nights (haven't decided which lodge yet). We'll hit the Arenal and MA on our next trip. How did you get from San Jose to both areas-hire a driver? I assume the lodges will arrange this...yikes, can't believe we leave in 4 days!
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Old Jul 14th, 2009, 07:10 PM
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Jen, we had to book Tortuga Lodge through Costa Rica Expeditions; they arranged all our transportation there for us - a driver and then a boat connection to take us there. There aren't any roads in Tortuguero, just agua. Are you sure you want to give up Arenal? We love it there, and you'll miss the volcano and ziplines that you wanted.
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Old Jul 14th, 2009, 08:26 PM
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No, I'm not sure! The other option we're mulling over is having a car for the first 3 days to do the Arenal region and then dropping it off and flying to Osa. Is it easier to have a car in the Arenal rather than depend on taxis to get around? We have our heart set on the Osa for the last 4 or 5 nights but the prices are really high, too bad I even explored that area because now that I've read about it and have seen the photos I want to go, but this is definitely turning out to be a much more costly trip than we'd originally bargained for! I'm usually not this indecisive but feel like I'm all over the map-literally. We may end up just doing the Arenal and the MA like originally planned!
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 03:40 AM
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A lot of people do like to have a car in Arenal; the area is spread out. We always had our hotel/restaurant call a taxi for us, and we never had to wait long. For me, Tortuguero and the Osa are a little too similar - similar style accomodations with no a.c., etc. and lots of wildlife. I think you'd be better off seeing two places that aren't so similar unless that's what you really want to focus on. Arenal is my personal fave.
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 07:36 AM
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Osa lodges can be very expensive. I found Tortuguero to be an extremely reasonable alternative. We paid $295 pp in February for a 3 day/2 night package through Modesto Watson with lodging at Laguna Lodge. It included r/t transportation from San Jose, 8 meals, all canal tours, everything except $10 admission into the national park. We had an awesome time and Tortuguero remains one of my favorite places in Costa Rica - the best place that I've seen wildlife.
www.tortuguerocanals.com
Here is a link to my Tortuguero set of photos:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/brlacol...7615806699254/
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 09:12 AM
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If you really want the Osa, you could shorten your time there; we only stayed 3 or 4 nights, and we got to do everything we wanted - nature hikes, birding guide, saw dolphins, animal sanctuary, etc. The Osa is pretty pricey.

colibri, wow, your photos are so beautiful! Do you happen to know the name of that heron with the yellow on the front? We couldn't find it in our bird book. Our guide called it a yellow-throated heron but we didn't find anything like that listed.
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 09:19 AM
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Thanks, VG - I did LOTS of editing, took so many that I just couldn't post them all. The name of the heron is Fasciated Tiger Heron and I love the photo I got of the pair.
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