Report - Arenal inc. tours and Peace Lodge

Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 11:35 AM
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Report - Arenal inc. tours and Peace Lodge

Our trip started off with a bang - American was two hours late getting us into SJO. Luckily passport control and customs were essentially walk-throughs (I LOVE just carrying on luggage). We got out of Tricolor at around 3:30 instead of 1:30, and were told we only had about 1/8 tank of gas. So we stopped at a station about 1/2 hour on the way to Arenal, and got hit from a car in front of us when getting back on the highway (he backed into us without checking to make sure noone was behind him). Luckily some police were just down the way, and I called the insurance company immediately. An hour later we were on our way to Arenal, but at least half of the drive was after dark, just what we were trying to avoid. But the highway was just fine, and even included reflectors for after dark driving in some places.

We finally found Arenal Springs Resort, a very comfortable place. The room was good sized, clean, included a fridge, the food was decent, and all the cabins had enough foliage out front to give each room a feeling of seclusion. It had a great view of the volcano, except it most mostly quite cloudy. However, we were told the lava side had changed again, so even had it been clean no lava view. This is our second time to Arenal, and no lava viewing again, so now we'll just have to make a third trip someday!

We signed up to do the Rio Celeste our first day. Bit of a mistake, since though Arenal was dry (though cloudy), it rained buckets on us over there (it's an hour and a half drive away). It would have been a great hike if we hadn't been so soaked and cold, and the blue color was muted due the rain. And we were charged $100 each, a little steep, though the lunch at a local restaurant was good.

The next day it rained on and off at Arenal. But instead of hopping in our car and going someplace dry after the day before, we stuck it out. At noon I roused the troops to go to Arenal Observatory Lodge (where we'd stayed last year - I love this place) for lunch, the little volcano exhibit there, and hopefully a hike in the park. But it was still raining pretty well, and our son had a headache so we headed back. On the spur of the moment we had the hotel check, and yes we could visit Ecotermales that evening. We spent two wonderful hours soaking and talking, then had dinner at Choza de Laurel (sp?) - Ecotermales had too many others staying for dinner to fit us in.

The next day was better weather, so Rick and I hiked in the park to the lava flow. Very easy and flat until you get to the lava, but part of us wished we had a guide to help us understand all we were seeing. I loved all the orchids growing out of the otherwise pretty barren rock, and the views were great. Then it was on to Pure Trek for canyoning/rappelling waterfalls. We'd done this the year before, and again it was a lot of fun and very safe. Dinner was at El Novillo, a place recommended here. We couldn't believe we were the only ones at 6:30 to be there, the food was good and well-priced.

We wanted to wait to do Skytrek ziplining when it was clear, and our last morning in Arenal was sunny and hot. We couldn't get reservations for the morning before (too full) so we had them this morning at 9. By the time we had started a bit of rain came, nothing but a tiny mist for a few minutes while we were up there, but it was still a lot of fun. I was expecting the ride up on the tram to be totally lame, but we saw a spider (at a safe distance!), monkeys, slothes, and learned about a lot of the vegetation.

The bad news that the 1 1/2 hour tour took 2 1/2 hours. We were very late getting out to Peace Lodge/La Paz Waterfall Gardens, and weren't helped by taking the wrong road out of La Fortuna. So we ended up getting there at almost 4 instead of around 2, hurried through the waterfall walk and exhibits, and then got to our standard room. Wow! Our son asked why we hadn't stayed there the previous 4 nights. As expensive as this place was, it was well worth it and we plan to go back. We'd been hurried and stressed on the trip in, so decided to stay put and have dinner there. It was more expensive than our other meals, but it was worth it to us, very delicious.

The next morning I got up by 6 to walk around the place a few times, had breakfast with the guys, we checked out exhibits we hadn't gotten to the day ahead and headed to the airport. After the fiasco the day before we gave ourselves 1 1/2 to get to the airport, but it took us at most an hour. We braced ourselves for Tricolor's reaction to the fender bender (even though we had all the documentation from the police and insurance guy), but they thanked us for our honesty and didn't charge us for the scratches. We got to the airport 3 hours in advance as we'd been sternly advised by American, but since it was a Thursday we breezed through everything and had over 2 hours to spare.

Next up - Peace Lodge again and Bosque del Cabo.

rickandpat is offline  
Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 01:06 PM
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Wow, an accident first thing and you had such a great attitude! What insurance company did you call--Tricolor's? I'm impressed how well you took care of it.

So, which way is the lava flowing now? Where did you start your hike to the lava flow?
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Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 02:22 PM
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thanks for the up-to-date reporting. You sound like non-hysterical travelers, my favorite type!

What time was your flight leaving from SJO? I'm tempted to not leave Peace Lodge until 11 am for our 2:20 pm flight (Tuesday in May).
fishee is offline  
Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 05:31 PM
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We were told by Tricolor to call the police and the insurance inspector, both listed on a sheet they gave us. As for the lava, I believe you could see it more on the Observatory side, although one local said Montana de Fuego would be a good place to watch. Wish I could be more definite, I have no first-hand experience to draw from!
The hike we did was just up from the entrance to Arenal Volcano National Park, the one opposite Heliconia. It's only about 2 km. to the 1992 lava.

We left Peace Lodge at 9:15 for a 1:55 flight. We did get a little lost getting to the rental car return, and of course there were some slow trucks. 11:00 might be cutting it a little too close, but then again if you use a driver they would probably be faster than we were.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 06:18 PM
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Hi Rick and Pat -- Wondering if you felt the Rio Celeste hike could have been done independently (w/o the tour/guide)? If one were able to find the trailhead, is the trail well-maintained and clearly marked/easy to follow? Is it too strenuous for children?

Also, did you end up doing Vernado Caves? It was something you mentioned in advance of your trip you might do.

Glad you had a god visit. Thanks for any thoughts/advice you might have.

Take care.
mma513 is offline  
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