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-   -   SJO to Monteverde - Is it possible? (https://www.fodors.com/community/mexico-and-central-america/sjo-to-monteverde-is-it-possible-712180/)

jmoeller Jun 11th, 2007 08:36 AM

SJO to Monteverde - Is it possible?
 
I am planning an early August trip and I need some advice. Is it possible and fairly reasonable to go from SJO to Monteverde the same day?

Additional Details:
August (green season)
Scheduled to arrive at SJO by noon
Renting 4x4 SUV at airport
I have driven in Costa Rica before, so I am generally familiar with the challenges, but I haven't made the trip to Monteverde.

It would really be nice to make the trip, but is it reasonable?

Thanks,
Jonathan

allison04 Jun 11th, 2007 10:06 AM

On a trip in June, I went from SJO to MV on my first day there via Interbus, and it was dark by the time we got there. I would NOT drive myself to Monteverde--the roads are worse than those in other areas of CR, and you're basically on the edge of a mountain most of the time. My husband and I drove ourselves in other areas, but were thankful we had left the driving up to Interbus for our drives to and from Monteverde.

I know some people do drive there, but there's no way I would, especially if it might be dark for part of the drive.

roadadvisor Jun 11th, 2007 10:39 AM

Hi jmoeller...yes it is possible to drive to monteverde from San Jose is only 3 and half hours...100% reasonable...if you are renting a 4x4 ...not a problem...about three differents roads from Pan Am Hwy North can take there...By Sardinal...by Junta de Abangares and the other one that will, connect somewhere along the way with the one from Sardinal...

Again is possible..!!

R.A Luis

Just buckle up and enjoy the ride from paradise!!

100% costarican and proud of it!!

Pat_Hewitt Jun 11th, 2007 04:32 PM

I have drive this route several times a year. So I see no problem with driving here. The road is pretty bad, but passable. It is very bumpy and washboardy. My wife always advises our female guests wear their sports bras. That should give you a good idea.

Allison does bring up a good point about the guardrails. There aren't any! And the drops are huge. I have made the drive after dark, and I certainly drove slower than usual. I was probably a little foolhardy to do this. But I never recommend this to my customers. Also the worst sections are closer to the end of the drive, so you could have to do this in the dark.

It is certainly possible to drive here the first day. But you need to hope your flight is on time, and that you don't run into any glitches along the way. Because you will be pushing it.

Figure you need to allow a good 90 minutes to get through customs / immigrations. Sometimes, you can breeze through in 20 minutes. Mid-day is busy, and lots of flights are arriving. So you could conceivably be in customs for a couple of hours, or more. Then you need to pick up your rental car from the offsite office. Figure 30 minutes minimum. You have to get their shuttle or a cab, then fill out the paperwork and inspect the car for damage (very important).

If everything goes perfectly, you are on the road for 2:00 PM. It is a 3 to 4 hour drive, and sunset is between 6:00 and 6:30 PM. So this is doable. But if a jumbo jet is hitting customs at the same time, or there is a problem with the rental car pick up, you could be on the road after dark.

Many tour companies recommend first and last nights in San Jose anyway. What happens if your flight is delayed four hours? You will be exhausted, and then be faced with a long drive when you arrive. Or you stay in San Jose the first night, and get stuck paying for an extra night.

Another option would be to have a private transfer. You are met at the airport and whisked away. Even if you get stuck on the road after dark, the driver is an experienced local. You can then get a transfer to your next destination, and pick up the car then if you need it.

No matter when you drive, you need to know about the partially paved route to Monteverde. As you drive north on the Pan American highway, you will pass Puntarenas. Go another 10 miles, and you will pass a Shell station. You will pass a restaurant, Soda Garabito (Great cerviche!). You will cross a bridge. Look for the paved road on your right, with a new gas station right on the corner.

From here, it will take you about 90 minutes to reach Santa Elena. This is the road that will take you through Sardinal (don't miss the left turn at the soccer field) and Guacimal. The first ten miles or so are paved. The remaining eighteen are not, and this is the legendary road you have heard about.

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
(Travel professional)

sandyc Jun 13th, 2007 10:47 AM

I wouldn't try it. It will add a lot of stress to your trip whereas you could spend the night in SJ and relax and take your time the next day. The last few times I've flown into CR the immigration lines were outrageous. It took about an hour and a half to get out of the airport.

Plus it's green season and could be raining, so you don't want to hurry, and you sure don't want to be on that road when it's dark.

The road to Monteverde is covered with rocks -- not gravel -- and is extremely bumpy. My head hits the ceiling of the car a couple of times. It takes a strong grip on the wheel, and going around the peaks with no guardrails is scary. I like to leave it to the professionals!

Sandy

rummikub Jul 2nd, 2007 01:15 PM

We have the exact same plan, and our flight gets in around 11:30am on a Monday. We are adventurous but know this will be a tough drive, and we are hoping also to arrive at the hotel by sunset. Thanks for this information everyone.


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