Solo Trip Tamarindo to Monteverde

Old Mar 22nd, 2010, 10:18 PM
  #1  
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Solo Trip Tamarindo to Monteverde

Does anyone have a suggestion on the best way to get from Tamarindo to Monteverde & Arenal? This is my first time in CR, staying in Tamarindo, and I will be traveling solo for a few weeks. I'm unsure if it is best to take a tour (which one?), hire a driver, or stay in one or both of these areas while exploring? I'm fairly certain that I don't want to drive, not by myself at least, and being a female I would like to be in a group or with another person who is familiar with the area and can point out sights. Can anyone help?
SEBERHART is offline  
Old Mar 23rd, 2010, 05:38 AM
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Have you checked out Interbus shuttle service? It's an economical way to get place to place w/o renting a car. A good option from MV to Arenal (or back) is the jeep-boat-jeep transfer which takes you across the lake, cutting off an hour or so. Do a google search on it, will bring up various operators.

Don't try to do daytrips from Arenal to MV or vice versa. Each destination requires its own stay, about a 4 hour drive, 3 via the lake.

In Santa Elena (MV) a reasonable hotel is Arco Iris Lodge, great cabins and landscaping, many tours with transportation offered and staff will reserve spots for you.

Do an early morning hike at both MV and Santa Elena reserves, a night hike (several options), visit the Hummingbird Gallery - lots of MV options.

In Arenal Sky Trek is the most popular zipline, Eco-Termales for hot springs, Cano Negro boat trip for best wildlife viewing, also hanging bridges, La Fortuna waterfall and Arenal National Park hikes.

We like Arenal Paraiso, has its own zipline (11 platforms) and hot springs.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2010, 12:21 PM
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Better to go to Monteverde or Arenal - if you have to choose between?
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Old Mar 23rd, 2010, 01:10 PM
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I think it depends on what you're looking for, but I would pick Arenal every time - lots of adventure activities, the active volcano, and the natural hot springs push it over the top for me.

Monteverde is nice if you want to see the cloud forest and are interested in birding and seeing quetzals. We had very cold rainy weather when we were there.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2010, 01:22 PM
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Two very different areas - MV has less wildlife and is a mecca for birders and botanists. It's a beautiful cloud forest, nice hiking, great zipline and hanging bridges at Selvatura.

Arenal has the hot springs, zipline, hiking at the hanging bridges and national park, great waterfall, Cano Negro boat tour - and, of course, the volcano!

Both areas are fairly spread out and having a car is nice for dining options, etc. But tour operators pick up at most hotels for activities.

It's hard to say one is better than the other, very different and you should choose based on your interests.
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Old Mar 24th, 2010, 06:32 PM
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colibri,
We will only have two nights in MV and won't arrive until around 5-6 PM the 1st night. Our 1st morning we will head to Selvatura. Is there a particular package you recommend there? There are so many options and I'm not sure I want to spend the whole day there since we plan to do the Hidden Valley Night hike that evening and it starts at 5:30.

On our departure day, we will be doing a jeep boat jeep in the afternoon to Arenal, so we will have some time in the morning. I'm wondering whether the Cheese Factory Tour or the Don Juan coffee tour would be a good activity early that day. I'm also wondering about restaurant recommendations...keep in mind that we won't have a car, but I've heard that taxis into Santa Elena are quite reasonable.
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 09:53 AM
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Deb - depends on what you are looking for at Selvatura. Are you looking at hiking, hanging bridges, zipline or all?

You don't mention visiting Monteverde or Santa Elena reserves which are the reasons most people come to MV. Quetzals are usually seen at both reserves.

Both Selvatura's canopy tour and hanging bridges are good, but if you are doing either at Arenal, I'd skip Selvatura and head into one of the reserves for hiking.

Since you have so little time there (1 full day and a morning) I personally would spend most of my time in the reserves. I take loads of photos of plants, birds, flowers, trees, wildlife, so that is my main interest.

The Don Juan Coffee tour was very good, but we had four days at MV, so plenty of time for it. You have very little time for the effort it takes to get up there!

I have heard that the Cheese Factory tour is quite interesting, but didn't do it.

We ate one evening at the Tree House - pretty good, not outstanding, but ok. The rest of the time we just chose sodas, can't remember any of their names, but all our meals were good. We aren't terribly particular and don't go to CR for the food. We stayed at Arco Iris so could just walk right into town.
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 10:53 AM
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We liked Pizzeria de Johnny, and Fonda Vela also had good food. They had a fireplace in the dining room which was nice because it was so cold when we were there, lots of rain, etc. Sophia's and Morpho's tend to get good reviews also.
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 07:33 PM
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colibri,
I'm somewhat conflicted now about my plans for our full day in MV. I was under the impression that Selvatura was in the general Santa Elena cloud forest area and that animal/bird sightings were just as good there. I've also read that Monteverde can be very crowded, but like you, I'm on a mission to see wildlife of various shapes and forms! I would especially like to see at least one quetzal.

We are planning to do a zipline canopy tour in Arenal with Mundo Aventura and possibly the hanging bridges the morning of the day we depart. I was hoping the Hidden Valley Night Hike would be as good as what is offered in the Monteverde Reserve. It gets really good reviews and is closer to our lodging.

So...what do you think?

vg,
I have read good things about Morpho's and Sophia's, but the top rated dining spot on TA is Restaurante Sabor Espanol. I don't think I've seen anyone on this board mention it, but 100% of visitors on TA recommend it. Supposedly it has great paella and Sangria and the owner has formal culinary training.

Like colibri says...some of the sodas might be the best bet for some meals, but this is an anniversary trip, so some splurges are in order!
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 08:53 PM
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I haven't heard of it, but I think it may be relatively new and maybe that's why it doesn't get much talk on the boards.

Pizzeria de Johnny has kind of a dumpy name, but it's actually a beautiful place.
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Old Mar 26th, 2010, 09:31 AM
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We actually saw more quetzals in the Santa Elena reserve than in the MV reserve and it is much less crowded. You are right, Selvatura is down the road from Santa Elena reserve so hopefully with a good guide you would see plenty of animals. (Some people have noted the noise from the ziplines tends to carry and may scare some animals off)

I would just do the guided tour there since you are doing the zipline and hanging bridges in Arenal. You might want to compare prices though - I imagine the Santa Elena hikes are less expensive than hiring a guide at Selvatura - do make sure you hire a guide no matter where you go for best sightings. You will enjoy either one!

We did a night hike at Children's Eternal Forest, very cool to be in the cloud forest at night, didn't see too much - tarantula, stick spiders, agouti, possum but the stars and sounds were awesome.

Even if you don't go to MV reserve, do stop by the Hummingbird Gallery next door for hundreds of hummers flying in at dawn or dusk. The Santa Elena reserve also has loads of feeders.

The ice cream at Sabadores (??) was wonderful and we also liked Stella's Bakery. Right across the street is CASEM - a women's coop with all hand made items.
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Old Mar 26th, 2010, 10:15 AM
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Deb, we had great luck with the Hidden Valley night hike - sloth, fox, raccoon, porcupine, agouti, coati, etc. Loved it!

Agree about getting a guide; ours spotted a quetzal for us in the Monteverde Reserve parking lot before we even paid him. We would have walked right past it.
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