Senior Travel in Costa Rica

Old Dec 8th, 2004, 08:01 PM
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Senior Travel in Costa Rica

Want to travel to Costa Rica with my parents, in their 80s who can't walk much. We will rent 4WD SUV and drive to San Jose, Arenal, Monteverde and Manual Antonio. Does anyone know if that will work -- will they be able to take limited tour (golf carts?)of cloud forest and MA park? Will they survive the bumpy roads? Any tips for us?
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Old Dec 9th, 2004, 04:03 AM
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My advice would be to stay out of San Jose. There isn't anything there you'd want to do that wouldn't require quite a bit of walking--and risky walking at that! Traffic and conditions of sidewalks. . .a nightmare for your parents!

Can't speak to Monteverde, but I think Arenal would be a good location for your parents to enjoy. Seeing the volcano (should you get lucky) would be a highlight for them.

Manuel Antonio is beautiful, but very hilly. The park is flat, but a tour would require slow walking for about 3 hours. There are shuttles to take you back and forth between the hotels (in the hills) and the beach.

To my knowledge, there aren't any golf carts available at any of these locations.

The road to Monteverde is quite bumpy, but is in the process of being paved. Don't know just how much has been done so far. Perhaps it would be possible to take short walks there?
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Old Dec 13th, 2004, 10:15 AM
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Regarding bumpy roads, the one leading to Arenal is fiercesome! We were there last February and found ourselves driving between 5-10 mph most of the way, in order to avoid huge potholes and washerboard effects.
Carol L
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Old Dec 13th, 2004, 04:02 PM
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My wife and I are 60ish with three real knees between us. I think you will find your parents physically stressed by the adventurous pavement in the backcountry of CR. If they want to see the natural beauty of Costa Rica but are not limber, read our trip description under 11 days in Paradise and try something similar. Our driver had a ten passenger van. Rent two wheelchairs (I never saw any at the sights) and have him ferry you. That way you can cut down walking to a minimum and save their energy to look around while you push them. Not having to drive gives you time to attend to their needs as necessary. If you want more, I can give you a day by day rundown via email-just contact me.
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Old Dec 13th, 2004, 09:17 PM
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Actually, the road to Arenal from San Jose is very decent. It is the lake road (around Lake Arenal) and to Monteverde that would give you the most trouble.
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Old Dec 13th, 2004, 09:51 PM
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From Arenal there are several things your parents would be able to enjoy. Just driving up to the entrance to the Hanging Bridges and leaving them to sit and enjoy the magnificent views of the volcano while you take a nice walk on the bridges would probably be something they would enjoy. The bridges and paths are not difficult but they might be too long. There are nice bathrooms there should they need them and a small restaurant I believe. The restaurant was still in the construction phase when I was there. Another option that is great and requires no walking is a full day tour to Cano Negro. It is a great place to see tons of wildlife and the viewing is all done from a boat. Another option would be a day trip to the Sarapiqui area. If you are driving you could stop at the old burial grounds for a quick look and then on to another boat tour. Selva Verde lodge would be a good place to have lunch. Possibly an overnight at La Quinta de Sarapiqui would be nice if you have the time. They have done some great things with the gardens there over the last couple of years and the people who run the place are very nice. The food is always very good also.

The trip up to Monteverde is very rough. A friend who lives there mentioned something about a couple of small areas being paved between the village of Santa Elena and the reserve but the roads are still pretty rough even when you get up there. Several of the lodges up there have their own private cloud forest areas that your parents might be able to take some short strolls through. The Hummingbird gallery at Monteverde reserve is a great place to just sit and enjoy the huge amount of hummingbirds that come in to the feeders. A great gift shop also. The butterfly Farm would be an easy walk and there are plenty of places to sit while enjoying the butterflies. There is an orchid garden that is not too difficult. Gabriel is self taught and has done an amazing job with it. Some of the orchids are so small that they give you a magnifying glass to see them.

I am afraid your parents will probably have to skip Manuel Antonio park. Possibly someone who has been there recently can think of something they would be able to enjoy while there. Possibly a sunset cruise? It is a bit touristy there for me so I haven't returned recently. My first hand experience there is getting a little dated. In fairness to you I am going to leave that to more recent travelers to that area.

Costa Rica is full of wonderful places and even though some of them are difficult to get to and enjoy there are always options so that everyone can find a way to enjoy this beautiful country.
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 07:30 PM
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Thank you all for your thoughtful replies! Esp. shillmac for responding so early. After reading more of the messages and talking to others who have been there, I decided I had to start thinking outside the box and find something more "accessible." I am now thinking of the Selva Verde lodge for a couple days, then driving to Arenal, skipping San Jose and Monteverde altogether. I'm still going to try for MA for the monkeys! I am curious as to why Jessie recommends Selva Verde only for lunch but La Quinta for a longer stay. My search in a more accessible direction started when I happened upon an itinerary for wheel-chair bound people. My parents are still somewhat ambulatory but the itinerary highlighted accessible options, such as the highly-rated aerial tram thru the rainforest (near Braulio Carrillo Park) and several nearby lodges and areas with accessible walkways. I think we'll be OK with the paved road to Arenal and hopefully to MA. Also, Cano Negro is considered accessible so we'll definitely try to do that. Any other thoughts and tips, please let me know and thanks so much again! I will report back after our trip but we're not going until Feb/March. I'm so glad we're actually going now -- that I didn't have to give up because of all the bad roads.
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 09:29 PM
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rbwoods,
Your parents are going to love Costa Rica. You have made some very good choices and decisions that will allow all of you to enjoy the country. I admire you very much for working on these details for your parents. Costa Rica is one of those places (at least for me) where one is surrounded by beauty almost everywhere with very little effort! You sure don't have to go searching for it! Your parents will enjoy just getting from one place to another. And, fortunately, the country is getting more handicap conscious, slowly but surely! Have a great trip!
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Old Dec 15th, 2004, 02:58 AM
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I am interested in hearing from carolll describe the route she took to Arenal that was bumpy. Must be from Monteverde. Let us know, carolll. From San Jose to Arenal, the roads are not bumpy. If I could have driven faster from SJ -> Arenal, I would have missed some interesting sights.

Also, remember that road conditions which exist at one time are not constant for all times.
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Old Dec 15th, 2004, 06:47 AM
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Sure...the road my husband and I found riotous and rigorous was the ring road around Lake Arenal, out of and into Fortuna. We were there last February. The roadbed had been disturbed by significant rainfall earlier in the year and was being worked on, slowly, by road crews. Dirt was in the process of being moved about, enormous boulders were along the road's edge, there were many, many washerboard sections to the road, and finally, there were the huge potholes.
That was then and this is now. I cannot speak to current conditions, but for everyone's sake, I hope they are much improved!
Carol L
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Old Dec 15th, 2004, 10:08 AM
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I've never seen the lake road in anything but poor condition. Perhaps at times it is less poor, but still the pits!
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Old Dec 15th, 2004, 07:19 PM
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I stayed at both Selva Verde and La Quinta this past Feb. I had visited Selva Verde for lunch and the rainforest a couple of times previously and had stayed at La Quinta previously. We stayed at Selva Verde first in Feb and then spent a couple of days back at La Quinta. We found the people so much nicer at La Quinta. It is a smaller local place rather than Selva Verde which is owned by Holbrook Travel so they had a more personal touch. The rooms were pretty comparable. We thought the food was much better at La Quinta also. The gardens and pathways at La Quinta are beautiful and they have added a couple of ponds. The new frog area is fascinating and there are several types of poison arrow frogs that you can easily see. Selva Verde does have its own natural rainforest that is beautiful. Very dense and moist. You get to it by crossing over the Rio Sarapiqui on a hanging bridge. La Quinta is way off from the road where Selva Verde does have a problem with noise from the road in some of their rooms because they are close to it. Both lodges are in the same general area.

I have not done the Aerial Tram but it is a popular place to visit. I have spent a lot of time in the Sarapiqui and Braulio Carillo areas over the last few years and find it to have some of the most fascinating flora and fauna in CR. This is real rainforest so do be prepared for mud and rain. One time it will be dry and beautiful another time it could be wet and beautiful.

You could contact a person that we use every year to travel with us. He has worked for many tour companies and now has his own. He is finding all kinds of neat little out of the way places for us. At least once a year he has a large group of elderly people that he arranges a tour for. At that time he rents a bus and hires medical people to travel with them for the week or so. He is familiar with the needs and limitations of the elderly. He could possibly make suggestions and help you set the lodges/hotels up. [email protected]

A good company that has trips for the less active is Horizontes. We used them for a part of a trip about 10 years ago or so and they did a good job. Again, even if you don't travel with them they could possibly help with hotel/lodge suggestions and help you make reservations. As you have probably read, many people are getting frustated trying to do it themselves this time of year.

Sorry this wasn't answered quicker. My plate is definitely full this time of year. Between helping a young couple make ends meet by babysitting for their little one for free a few days a week and helping my daughter find all those hot toys that the grandkids have to have, I am definitely stretched a bit thin. I also have several people that I help plan their CR trips privately every year. I do enjoy my month down there every Feb. My husband has finally given his partner notice and I can't wait until we can go and stay.
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