should i drop my plans to rent a car ??

Old Dec 18th, 2007, 05:26 PM
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should i drop my plans to rent a car ??

We leave for Costa Rica next week (2 adults + 2 kids, first trip there). I thought I had everything planned - 3 days in Osa, then one week in Monteverde / Arenal. And my plan (set since September) was to rent a car from Tricolor, and drive from San Jose -> Monteverde -> Arenal -> Paos -> San Jose.

Then I saw the recent posts on this forum (don't rent from Tricolor, got robbed/mugged/raped renting a car, etc). And now I am waffling. I am leaving next week so I don't even know if I have time to change plans at the last minute, but at the same time the recent posts are giving me pause.

What would YOU do

a. Stay with the current plan, rent the car.

b. Drop the rental plan, arrange a driver if possible (is this even possible at such short notice & at peak time ??).

c. Drop the rental plan, go for interbus & cabs.

Input appreciated. And I thought I was done planning.....

ashta is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2007, 08:40 PM
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I've been to C.R. about 12 times. We always rent a car. There are many companies to rent from. I've never heard of Tricolor. I have also never had any problems with any of the companies that I have used, ever.

I have heard a lot of rumors about things that can happen to people if they rent a car in C.R. Such as violent crimes while being robbed. I have no idea what people are talking about it. We drive in some very out of the way off the beaten path parts of Costa Rica for many hours and have never had any problems. We are careful and don't drive at night.

It's a beautiful country; and I hope that you will be able to relax and enjoy it. You are, however, doing a lot of driving for a such a short trip. I also think that a week in Monteverde is too much but that's just my humble opinion.
Old Dec 18th, 2007, 09:19 PM
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I was in the same situation as you before I left for my trip but I decided to stick with my original plan (rent a car) and I'm glad we did. It gave us flexibility to do things we wanted at our speed. My b/f did all the driving and he enjoyed it. Driving in CR is an adventure itself as roads are windy and sometimes aren't paved with potholes.

I'd stay with the plan to rent a car. Be cautious and careful just like when you travel to any other countries. CR is a beautiful country, you'll enjoying it.
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Old Dec 18th, 2007, 10:41 PM
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Thanks for the responses. BTW - its not a week in Monteverde (2 days Monteverde, 4 Arenal, 1 San Jose, 3 Osa - 10 days total). And I am flying to/from Osa, so the car for the week is for SJ -> Monteverde -> Arenal -> SJ.

Still waffling though about rental versus arranging transfers...

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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 06:48 AM
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I thought Interbus was a great system, and my fiance and I used it when we went traveling around CR. However, we DID see the need to rent a car at Arenal since things are a little spread out there ( and we didn't want to hitchhike, like one hotel owner suggested!). We used Mapache. We didn't have any problems with the rental car or the company--it's a good choice if you want to rent one at Arenal. The roads around Arenal seem better than most--they are in good condition, and have little traffic.

Another thing...after riding around with Interbus and seeing the conditions of the roads and the crazy drivers, I wouldn't want to drive around CR for ten days, but that's just me.
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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 06:56 AM
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I've rented from Tricolor several times and have had nothing but an excellent experience each time. Taking Interbus with 4 people would get expensive as it is $30/person. Also taxi s are usually smaller toyotas and would have trouble with 4 people and all their luggage
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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 07:00 AM
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We drove this route last year on our first's pretty easy (except the Monteverde part, where the road is a joke). We liked the freedom of having a car and it wasn't bad at all.

We're renting again this year through Tri-Color (recommendation of Shillmac), as there has been more positive than negative feedback on this company, I'll stick w/them.

Don't let a couple of negative posts scare you. If you look at all the posts collectively, 90% of them are on the positive side.

Have a great time!
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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 09:44 AM
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We rented a car last year (SJO to Arenal, back down to Peace Lodge area and then back to SJO before flying to Osa) We were very glad to have the car, especially in Arenal. The flexibility is nice. It also allowed us to do some activities without having to do prearranged tours. We found the roads to be overall in good condition where we were, although many were quite winding and there were often steep drops off the sides! We didn't drive at night, except to and from restaurants in La Fortuna. We rented from Tricolor with no problems and found them to be quite professional and helpful with directions etc.

We're going back this coming August and have no hesitations to rent again.
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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 10:23 AM
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Tricolor usually gets rave reviews on this board; I've only read one negative post (recent). I think you'd be okay to stick with your original plan - just get good directions and don't travel at night; be very careful in San Jose. If you do change your mind, you can probably get drivers through your hotels; we did that before we left, and that worked for us, but the vast majority of people drive with no problems.
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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 11:48 AM
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I would stick to your original plan. Unfortunately the small % of problems gets the largest % of notice. Someone just posted recently, I'm sorry but forgot their name, that they just returned and had been nervous as well and came back so happy they'd rented the car, all was fine etc.
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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 01:46 PM
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I would not be afraid to rent a car. Just be careful and don't leave your valuables in the car. Lots of the stores in tourist areas provide guards to your car while you shop.

I rented from Mapache and was happy with them.

I think the big caveat is for you to determine road conditions where you plan to travel and rent a 4X4 if you are going to travel where the roads are poor. (e.g. Monteverde)

Have fun in CR.
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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 06:00 PM
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Just got back from Costa Rica. Did the self drive. Beautiful ride, roads can be an adventure but great to have the flexibility.

We did get robbed first day of 8 day trip . All our luggage stolen. Although Costa Rica is a relatively safe country, remember, be cautious. Do not leave even for a minute anything in the car. They are incredibly quick and good a robbing you quickly. We lost our stuff in 3 minutes to a ring of thieves, walked 100 ft to water to take a picture, there was a lookout and vendors to distract, stuff was gone. So to those who did not have this happen to them, that is great! But, I am a seasoned traveler and have traveled the world. This was a first for me too. Take this experience and use it. Stay out of towns like Jaco (a criminal town). On the way to the Osa, if you drive, you may go by this town -- just keep going. Be cautious: do not leave stuff in car or unattended. We had to travel at night after our stuff was stolen and did not have a negative experience. I would not recommend traveling at night if you can help it though. We enjoyed the drive. I would say go for it, enjoy and just be cautious. Do bad things happen, apparently, is it high crime area, I didn't feel that way. Get the GPS!! Getting lost in some areas is not a good idea, especially San Jose which is hard to get out of. Signage is limited. We used Sixt for our car rental. They were good.

Again, have fun, enjoy the drive, get GPS, stay out of Jaco (or areas like it), keep an eye or 2 on your stuff (not having your own stuff is horrible!!), don't drive at night.

Osa is a beautiful, beautiful place. Where are you staying? This is a wonderful, rustic area and the people are great.

mvski is offline  
Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 02:39 PM
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Thank you for all the responses. I was sick the last few days (and still had to go to work to finish up a ton of stuff before my vacation), so I had no chance to look into alternatives to the already-planned car rental. On balance, just as well - I have decided to go with the car rental. I have a 4x4 reserved with Tricolor, I have reserved a GPS, and I will avoid all night driving. Thanks for all the tips and responses - we leave Christmas night and return Jan 5, I will post my trip report after I come back !

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Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 03:37 PM
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ashta, it's a good thing for you to be asking these questions. I would be doing the same thing. Recent reports would give me pause as well.

I hated reading that ag123 (I think) was disappointed with Tricolor's service, rented in Liberia. Seems they should have been more helpful to her, no doubt.

I can tell you that we have had literally DOZENS of excellent experiences with this company. It's a local company (many are, and I think they are generally best). They have 3 locations: Paseo Colon in the city, airport, and Liberia.

Tricolor has been extremely helpful to us the couple of times that we have needed them. Never had to call for roadside assistance, though. We always rent from the office near the San Jose airport. Christian, who manages that office, is our go-to person if need be. Great guy.

There was a recent poster who talked about being robbed in Jaco. Left their stuff in the car and walked a short distance away. SO unfortunate, but completely avoidable. You just don't do that. Anyone who has researched "do's and don'ts" on this board would know to keep from setting themselves up as a target. It does make a HUGE difference that you take those precautions! Sometimes things happen anyway, but many of the situations you DO have control over.

Go in good faith and have a great time! Let us hear from you when you get back!
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