Tortuguero or Monteverde

Old May 24th, 2004, 12:10 AM
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Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 68
Tortuguero or Monteverde

I've finally booked my flight for a 9-day Costa Rican Tour, arriving at San Jose on July 28. I want to include Tortuguero, Monteverde and Arenal in my itinerary as well as the popular 4-in-1 tour in San Jose. On top of that, I'm interested in canopy tour and hanging bridges, or probably the arial tram too. However, I understand I can't pack too much in 9 days, considering my friend and I are not the atheletic type. Anyone did the 4-in-1 tour before? Does it include boat trip and jungle walk? Should I skip Monteverde or Tortuguero which also involve boat trip and jungle walk? Or do without the 4-in-1 tour? If I skip Monteverde, where else can I do the canopy tour and hanging bridges? Do I need to make reservation for everything before I go? I dont mind to join a small group to save money. However, all the travel agencies I've contacted offer private transfer and private guide. I'm both excited and nervous for the trip because my friend and I dont speak Spanish. The worst is that we are easily suffered from motion sickness and we can't swim. It make the road/boat trips seem a little difficult for us. Can I have your opinions on the itinary? Thanks.
lachat is offline  
Old May 24th, 2004, 12:01 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Oh boy, lachat! Okay, you have 9 days, right? The planning could depend on your flight arrival time.

If you arrive San Jose by 2:00, I would suggest:

Day 1: Drive to Arenal and overnight
Day 2: Overnight Arenal
Day 3: Overnight Arenal
Day 4: Return to San Jose and spend
rest of day exploring area
nearby. .Sarchi,perhaps or just
an afternoon walking tour of
downtown. Evening, check out
El Pueblo. Overnight San Jose.
Day 5: 4-in-1 Tour. .is this the same
as the Highlights Tour? I've
done the Highlights and it is
tremendous! Full day.
Day 6: Transfer to Tortuguero,
overnight Tort
Day 7: Overnight Tort
Day 8: Overnight Tort
Day 9: Flying out this day, next day?

If you have an extra night that I have overlooked, just stay in or near San Jose and check out more of the central valley. It is a tremendous area all around. Ideas: Irazu volcano,Orosi Valley, Lankaster Gardens (1 tour).

Of course, you can always adjust according to your preferences by staying an extra night (or one less night) anywhere you choose of these places. I would not try to fit Monteverde into the plan unless you can drop one night somewhere else. You can also do this in reverse. You will be able to see the turtles nesting at Tort. this time of year. At Arenal, you have the canopy, the hanging bridges, etc. Near San Jose, if you invest an extra afternoon or morning, you can do the aerial tram.

Many people don't like to stay IN San Jose, although we have always rather enjoyed spending a little time there. The Hotel Don Carlos is an excellent choice (great location very close to downtown sights--5 minute walk--and a 5 min. taxi ride to El Pueblo). They have a wonderful tour organizer who can set you up with everything you want to do, including Tortuguero plans.

That is why I am thinking, do Arenal first, then return, hook up with Juan Carlos (the tour guy) at the Hotel Don Carlos and let him help you plan the rest of your time. This would be very easy on you.

shillmac is offline  
Old May 24th, 2004, 05:37 PM
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shillmac, you're always here to offer advice. Thanks so much. We'll be arriving San Jose around 1pm on July 28. I dont think we'll do much that day. My friend will probably need to get some sleep because we set off at 4am from Toronto the night before. Dont laugh, we're both couch potatoes who keep asking if a Costa Rican tour fit for us. I plan to do Tort. first when we still have "full" energy for a tough tour. My tentative itinerary is as follows:

Jul 28 arrive at San Jose. Check into Don Carlo Hotel or Best Western.
Jul 29 4-in-1 hightlight tour ( $79, including coffee fields, Poas Volcano, cloud forest trails, Botos lagoon, La Paz Waterfalls Gardens, lunch, jungle ride in Sarapiqui River, butterfly garden). Is this the one you did before?
July 30 bus and boat to Tortuguero. Overnight stay (I'm checking the tour offered by Mdesto Watson, any good or bad comments?)
July 31 return to San Jose via boat and bus. Overnight at Don Carlo Hotel or Best Western.
Aug 1 Go to Arenal. Hot spring. Overnight at Hotel Arenal Paraiso/Tabacon Resort or Montana de Fuego Inn)
Aug 2 Canopy tour and hanging bridges in Areanl.
Aug 3 Transfer to San Jose
Aug 4 Walking around. Check out some interesting places such as El Pueblo as you recommended. BTW, what is El Pueblo?
Aug 5 Early transfer to airport.

We wont drive by ourself. Are there any group tours to Arenal that I can reserve in advance? Will it be too short noticed if we book the Areanl and 4-in-1 tour upon arriving the hotel on July 28? In this way, maybe we can shop around a little bit. I'm thinking of staying at Best Western in San Jose because they may offer free transfer. This will save us much money. At this point, I'm still struggling a bit between Tort. and Monteverde. What is your opinion? Oh, did you do the Coffee Brit tour before? Should I do it?
lachat is offline  
Old May 24th, 2004, 05:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Hi! Have heard the Cafe Britt tour is excellent, but no we haven't. Drink Cafe Britt everyday. . .we'll have to get around to that sometime!

Yes, that sounds like the right Highlights Tour--no, I don't think it will need to be booked more than a day in advance.

I am not familiar with the tour group to Tortuguero that you mentioned, but am a little concerned about just one night there. Won't it take the better part of a day to arrive, and then you will leave the next morning?

El Pueblo is a "mall" of bars, restaurants, and shops. Kind of neat for an evening out. . .appealed to me because it is all under one roof, and I wouldn't feel comfortable checking out individual bars in and around town. It seems very "secure" for a night out! Also, if you are into that sort of thing, the Teatro Nacional (gorgeous facility) often has performances in the evenings.

Yes, you can get a transfer to Arenal with other people. Check out This is a small turismo company that uses a mini van for small groups. Should cost you about $25 each to get to Arenal and back again.

Can't really advise on Monteverde. Unless you really want to be in San Jose another day and night (return there August 3 as you mentioned), I think your time would be well spent with 2 nights Monteverde and 2 nights Arenal. There is an interesting boat transfer between the two places, I am told. UNLESS you decide to add another night at Tortuguero.

If you end up with an extra day in San Jose, just know that there are many things to do that could easily spend this day nicely! The Cafe Britt tour, as you mentioned, would certainly be one! Also, did I mention a tour to Lankaster Gardens, Orosi Valley, Cartago (old capital) and Irazu Volcano? This makes for a nice day with great scenery. Have fun!
shillmac is offline  
Old May 24th, 2004, 06:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I have just a couple of comments to add to those posted by shillmac, who, BTW, has offered you some excellent advice:
1. I know I'm in the minority, but I thought the Cafe Britt tour was overpriced and, well, corny. I've heard great things about the Doka Plantation tour. In fact, I believe the 4-in-1 tour stops at the Doka Plantation for breakfast. You might be able to kill 2 birds with one stone (so to speak).

2. Your first 4 days seem awfully hectic to me. I'm concerned that you haven't given yourselves a chance to catch your breath and settle in to the change in climate. I've actually found that I was more energetic 2 or 3 days into my trip, rather than after I first arrived. Could be because I need to adjust to the humidity (it's just not that humid where I live), so depending on what you're used to, you may be fine with such an active start to your trip. Believe me, I completely understand the temptation to see as much as possible in a short period of time!

3. Whether to go to Tortuguero or Monteverde really depends on what you would like to see - they are so completely different. Monteverde is a beautiful place and I think the area is charming and full of things to do. However, you're not likely to see much wildlife. Tortuguero, on the other hand, is packed with wildlife and nesting turtles (the main reason I'm going there this July).

4. If your 4-in-1 tour is through Ecoscape tours (which is the one most everyone does), you should note that you won't actually enter La Paz Waterfall Gardens, but rather will stop at La Paz Waterfall which is accessible from the road on the way to Sarapiqui.

Hope that helps. As shillmac and others will attest, you're going to love Costa Rica no matter where you go!
TAGriffin is offline  
Old May 24th, 2004, 07:30 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 150
Ditto on the Coffee Britt tour...over priced and corney...has to be a better way to spend an afternoon!
CLynnWeg is offline  
Old May 25th, 2004, 12:07 AM
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Posts: 68
TAGriffin, appreciate your advice. Do you think I should start with Arenal and then Tortuguero? I go to Tortuguero mainly for the green turtle. that's why I stay only one night. Are you booking the Tort. trip with a travel agency? On the other hand, I'm longing to go to Monteverde as well, mainly for the canopy tour (because I think I should have seen lots of forest after the Tort. trip). I'm seriously thinking packing Monteverde into the 9-day trip. Do you think it's crazy?
lachat is offline  
Old May 27th, 2004, 08:52 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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My opinion may not be helpful to you whatsoever, but these two places both have a great deal to offer. Both of them take time and effort to get to. It just doesn't seem feasible to go to either Tort or Montev for the purpose of doing just one activity while there. Other than that little bit of unsolicited advice, I'd say "suit yourself". Costa Rica has much to offer and you will enjoy yourselves regardless of which you choose to do! There really are very few activities that you wouldn't enjoy and be able to do even if you do consider yourselves inactive and in "not so great" shape. Costa Rica and its many activities is very accomodating to people of all ages in various stages of physical condition!
shillmac is offline  
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