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seeking advice for 1st costa rica trip: sarapiqui or cano negro?

seeking advice for 1st costa rica trip: sarapiqui or cano negro?

Old May 20th, 2010, 06:11 AM
  #1  
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seeking advice for 1st costa rica trip: sarapiqui or cano negro?

Hi. Love all the great information on this forum. I'm excited about my first trip to Costa Rica in a 5 weeks. Definitely plan to visit La Fortuna and Arenal for a few days based on all the comments in this forum. Would you recommend Cano Negro or Sarapiqui while in the area. Both sound great but I don't think we have time to visit both (and it may be too much driving to do both). We're thinking about staying overnight in either place also. How are they different? It sounds like one of the big activities in Cano Negro is the boat tour. In terms of what we'll actually see in June/July, how are they different? If we chose Sarapiqui, how hard (time) is it to drive to one of the Central Valley towns such as Sarchi? It'd be nice to see some authentic town life without going to San Jose. Thanks for any info/advice
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Old May 20th, 2010, 10:26 AM
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We've done Cano Negro several times during that time of year and have had great wildlife spotting there. For us, it's fun to get out on the water. We've seen howlers, capuchins, spider monkeys, caimans, sloths, and loads of water birds.
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Old May 20th, 2010, 11:17 AM
  #3  
RAC
 
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Cano Negro provides better boat tour, Sarapiqui provides superior overall ecotours and lodging.

It's a bit of a pain to get to the Central Valley towns from Sarapiqui--an earthquake in 2009 destroyed the only highway between the two areas.
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Old May 20th, 2010, 01:11 PM
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Thanks volcanogirl. We definitely want to see monkeys and sloths and probably won't make it to Manuel Antonio. I originally thought Sarapiqui might fit better into our plans for hitting the central valley area afterwards. I have to take a look at a driving map --- thanks RAC for the road info.
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Old May 20th, 2010, 02:00 PM
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If it's monkey and sloths, then Sarapiqui is probably a better bet actually--when staying at Selva Verde we saw both with quite some frequency. Cano Negro is really a day trip out of Arenal, not a separate destination.
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Old May 20th, 2010, 03:14 PM
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I would think Sarapaqui over Cano Negro as well, mainly because in Sarapaqui you will most likely be hiking and can stop and look at your own pace (or sit and watch -whatever) whereas on the Cano Negro tour you get a chance to stop and see the wildlife, but on someone else's schedule. The Cano Negro tour is great though!
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Old May 20th, 2010, 04:34 PM
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There are Cano Negro tours for kayaking too if that interests you, but we love the boat tour. The guides usually get everyone involved in the spotting. I really don't think you can go wrong either way.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 04:38 AM
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Wow, thanks so much for the great information. I thinking about cutting a day off the Monteverde end and doing a day trip to Cano Negro before moving on to Sarapiqui. Sounds like it could be a nice mix of relaxing boat ride and more active hiking (we'll have young children with us who will need breaks). Will take a look at the fun activities in Sarapiqui. Anyone have thoughts on La Selva, Tirimbina, or Selva Verde? I do like the idea that we might be able to see monkeys and sloths since we're likely to skip Manuel Antonio this trip. ha, ha. I'm already planning my second trip before I've been there for my first. I'm so excited.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 05:24 AM
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We had lunch at Tirimbina after our rafting trip. I wish we had had a chance to do some of the tours there. There's supposed to be a neat chocolate tour that sounded really interesting. There's a pretty view of the river if you walk out over the bridge.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 10:45 AM
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We love staying at Selva Verde in Sarapiqui - howlers, sloths, frogs, toucans, iguanas all on the grounds. There is also a nice pool which the kids will enjoy. Free birdwatching tours are offered early morning and 4pm.

Do be aware that Cano Negro (which is great!) is pretty much a full day's outing from Arenal. It will take around 2 hours drive each way, then a few hours on the boat along with lunch, so it could be a long day for kids.

Again, not sure of their ages - we enjoyed the chocolate tour at Tirimbina, but not sure if the little ones would.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 10:48 AM
  #11  
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You really can't go wrong with any of those choices. Selva Verde has a pool and may be the most kid friendly. We're in our mid-30's (okay, late 30's) and enjoyed it there. La Selva and Tirimbina are working biological research facilities.

The chocolate tour at Tirimbina is fantastic--I would do that rather than the pineapple or banana tours which glorify environmentally harmful industries. Also good at Tirimbina are the bat tour and general wildlife hikes.

There are free birding tours for guests at Selva Verde. Tours are pretty cheap at Tirimbina. Guests at La Selva get one free four hour tour.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 07:49 PM
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Thanks for the input. Selva Verde sounds like it may be the best for the kids - ages 7 and 3 and visting the others. Will try to get a reservation there. Looking forward to doing some of the tours (chocolate and bat at Tirimbina) and checking out La Selva. I really like to idea of visiting research stations. Is three nights too much in the area? We move at a slow pace.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 10:13 PM
  #13  
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We did four nights and could have done another 1-2.

Selva Verde can arrange tours for you.
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Old May 24th, 2010, 09:06 AM
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RAC,

Thanks. That's good to know. I know we'd be giving up time elsewhere but it seems like between the hikes, bat and chocolate tours, etc, there should be plenty to do for three nights. It may be the area with the most wildlife during our stay -Arenal, small towns (still trying to decide which) for the glimpse into real Costa Rican life (thinking about stopping by if not staying near Sarchi), etc. Still trying to figure it out. Thinking also about wandering around the Nicoya peninsula.
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Old May 24th, 2010, 01:27 PM
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We're going to stay at Chilamate. I'm pretty excited about it. Selva Verde didn't have the right rooms for us during our dates (only had bungalows which seemed too far away and across a busy road from the main lodge). Check out the Chilamate website. They're right next door to Selva Verde. I can't vouch for it, but reviews also look good on Trip Advisor. Good luck!

http://www.chilamaterainforest.com/
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Old May 26th, 2010, 03:34 PM
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Awol,

Thanks for the lead. I like taht Chilamate is family-owned/operated from a local and sustainable perspective. I send an email reservation request several days ago and have heard nothing back. Did you reserve by phone? Same re: Selva Verde? Any others with experience re: booking reservations by email versus phone? I haven't had a problem until now with email reservations.
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Old May 26th, 2010, 04:31 PM
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I used email for both those lodges. I did get responses, but perhaps a day or two later. Don't use the reservation link on the Chilamate website, though. Email Meghan at [email protected]. She's very helpful.
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Old May 26th, 2010, 11:13 PM
  #18  
RAC
 
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We reserved at Selva Verde either via email or their website.
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