Trip Report - 10 days in Costa Rica!

May 8th, 2007, 02:10 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 999
Trip Report - 10 days in Costa Rica!

It's been rough adjustment getting back to the real world after a wonderful vacation and what better way to procrastinate, than to relive it a bit more by doing our trip report! Plus I have to get it down before I forget the better details!

We flew into San Jose, arriving around 11:30 am on Friday morning, so that allowed us to head out to La Fortuna the first day. We found the San Jose airport to be very clean, and well run. Immigration would have been a breeze, the line was short, but the computer system went down with about 10 people ahead of us. But this gave us some time to talk to some of the people in line and find out what kind of trips they were on. I also found out that my cell phone worked, which I was glad for. I own my own business, and while I was extremely glad to be getting away - it was very reassuring to be able to keep in touch if things came up. I'd never been totally out of touch from both the office and my kids for 10 days before!

So, after immigration and customs, we found our Tricolor rep waiting for us right away and went right to their office. We did the paperwork and off we went! We had a Terios, which is their smallest 4x4, and next time I would definitely pay a little more for a little more horsepower. Going up the mountains was a bit of a strain on that little engine! We were going to be staying at Tabacon in Arenal, so I had printed out directions from their web site, and I had bought a map of Costa Rica, so we were all set. We also got a small Costa Rica translation Spanish book, which was invaluable - especially for those who are driving and know little Spanish! It helped so much with things like road signs! Those are things that I never would have thought about the fact that I would have had no idea what they said!

We were hungry, no food on the airplane, and we didn't think to grab something in the airport - so we stopped at some "mall" place on the way out of some little town. I waited in the car while my husband ran in to of all places a KFC! We didn't want to spend time stopping to eat, plus of course we had a car full of luggage and we had no idea what we would find on the road to eat as we drove further. So, our first meal in Costa Rica was Kentucky Fried Chicken - but it was with a CR flair - not totally Americanized! We ate on the road and the drive to Arenal was beautiful. While the roads were incredibly curvy and at times narrow, they were fully paved and we had no problems at all. The directions we had were fine. However, there was one point where we came to a bridge where there was some roadwork going on. A man was attempting to tell us that we could not pass. They weren't actually "doing" anything at the time and the bridge was over a ravine - there was no other way to go and obviously we would have no idea of any other way to get to Arenal at this point! A steamroller type thing went over the bridge, they weren't paving anything, so I had my husband take the map, and our trusty "dictionary" book out and somehow tell the man on the steamroller thing that we needed to pass. After about 5 minutes of very animated hand conversations and spanish that we had no clue what was said, apparently the man said to pass over the bridge. However, the men on the bridge didn't seem to agree!! But, we did some more pointing and said Si, Pase or something like that and over the bridge we went! It was pretty funny! And after we went over the bridge - several cars came towards us in the other direction, so I'm curious as to what they did! Were they allowed to pass?

Anyway, as we got into La Fortuna, what a breathtaking sight Arenal is!! We were just mezmerized by the awesomeness of the volcano. The sky was so blue with just a bit of clouds over the very top of the volcano. The town is just charming! We found Tabacon with no problem. Our room wasn't quite ready, so we waited at the bar, and walked around the grounds for an hour or so. They have nice grounds. We were shown our room and we did pay extra for the volcano view, which in hindsight I would not do again - the whole town has a volcano view, so why do you need it from your room??? And our view wasn't really so great anyway. There was no patio to sit out on and we had a telephone pole or something that ran right across our view. We went to the hot springs that night and they were not crowded at all. For the most part, in each pool/spring we were in, there was at most two or three other people. At some points, we were the only people in the pools at a time. It was very peaceful and incredibly relaxing. It felt wonderful and I would have loved to spend every evening there.

As far as the hotel at Tabacon itself, it was fine - the rooms were nice, they were a good size, the bathrooms were very nice. Would I stay there again, probably not. Having done all the research that I did, all I kept thinking was that most hotels around were half the price for likely similar accomodations. Maybe the rooms weren't quite as nice, but how much time do you spend in the rooms? I found the desk staff to be just ok - not overly friendly, but also not rude or anything like that - just ok. They were there and did their job. Their food was way overpriced. Their breakfast buffet was $22/person and it was just mediocre. It was a standard Sunday Brunch typ buffet, but then you add on the 13% tax and 10% service charge and any additional tip and any water - because they always give you bottled and any thing else, and it becomes an expensive buffet. It seems most other hotels breakfast is included. We never had dinner or any other meal at Tabacon. We ate in town or around Lake Arenal for our other meals and found the food to be very good and the service was always good.

La Fortuna sort of reminded me of a combination of a quaint mountain town/beach town/Key West combo. It also was not peak tourist season so it was pretty empty as far as the restaurants were concerned. I am so very glad we rented our own car. It gave us so much freedom in a place like this. We got to really decide where we wanted to eat, we didn't have to rely on tours - for example, we didn't have to do the Hanging Bridges at a certain time - we just decided to go on our own when it was convenient. We drove around Lake Arenal, not the whole lake - it's huge, but part of it. And best of all, we drove down close to the Arenal Observatory Lodge at night and got to see the lava flowing! That was amazing! We said it was like people going to see fireworks, all sitting on the bridge waiting for the show! It wasn't massive streams of lava, more like red sparks tumbling down the side, but it was a memorable event to see!

We did the Cano Negro Wildlife Tour and really enjoyed that. It was a rainy day in Arenal, so this got us out the that weather and brought us to a unique boat ride. On the was to Los Chiles our guide told us about the farmlands and towns we went through, although he did spend quite a lot of time speaking in Spanish to the drive, which my husband and I got quite a kick out of! We had no clue what they talked about, but the drive barely stopped talking the entire ride! We had an "authentic" Costa Rican lunch right before the boat ride, in some little town, if you can call it that. It was quite good. My husband and I were the only people on the tour, so it was like a private guided adventure. We boarded the boat and saw quite a bit of wildlife! Many, many caimen...tons of birds, most that without my guidebook I can't remember, but it seems that there were several kingfishers, a bunch of vultures, the common pootoo - which we were told is a super WOW bird to see!!! We saw white faced capuchin monkeys, and I was actually the first to find one of several three toed sloths we'd find! Although when I pointed it out, I thought it was a monkey - silly me! It was a sloth! Oh and we saw the howler monkeys there too. I love the howlers! I had ordered one of those fold out Costa Rica wildlife guides that was mentioned here a few weeks back, and it's one that you'll see that many of the guides use on the tours you'll go on. It's a great resource for those who got it! I carried it everywhere with me!

Oh, another thing I forgot to mention - when I woke up on Saturday morning, I had little red bumps all over my arms and legs - turns out what we think happened is that I had Strep throat the week before the trip and I was taking Bactrim, which is a Sulfa antibiotic. I was a week into it, and had never taken it before. But sun light and apparently extreme heat can cause a severe reaction, and if I'm allergic to it, which it turns out, I probably am - the Tababcon Hot Springs heat caused me to break out in SEVERE hives all over my body! By Saturday night I had hives on my entire body except my face and hands, the only parts that were not really in the springs for any extended period of time. They were worse on Sunday and Monday I called my Dr and spoke to the nurse, she said that an allergy to the Sulfa in the antibiotic intensified by the heat was likely the cause and to take tons of benadryl and drink tons of fluids, stay out of the sun - good think I was in the rain forest! And as long as I could breathe, they weren't in my throat! Of course having had Strep, my throat was still not 100% so I kept 2nd guessing how my throat felt, but I got real familiar with the pharmacies in La Fortuna and how they sell Benadryl, which is actually by the pill and it's one that is in a box in a drawer, not in a "commercial" box like Tylenol! It's been more than a week and I still have the marks from the hives all over me. They don't itch and they're not bright red anymore, but the entire trip I looked not so great! Hopefully they won't scar!!! So, I really didn't get to take full advantage of the hot springs included in our room rate at Tabacon!!

We also did the Hanging Bridges with a guide. I highly recommend paying the extra for a guide. It is only $12/pp more and I know we wouldn't have seen nearly as much as we did with him! Our guide was so informative! We really enjoyed this hike. It's about 3 hours long and is not difficult. There was one part, going up to the highest bridge that was a bit difficult, but I would later find that compared to other hikes on our trip, it would be a breeze! We saw many howler monkeys, we saw an eyelash pit viper!!! But that was from a bridge and it was down in a ravine. We saw an blue jean frog, which I just loved! I enjoyed learning so much much about the rain forest - the leaf cutter ants are fascinating! The birds are amazing and without our guide, I know we would have missed the majority of them. Oh, and we actually got to hear the volcano rumble while were there! Very cool!

The only thing we didn't get to do that I would have liked was the zip lines, but it just didn't work out - I wasn't feeling myself between the hives and the benadryl and the fact that my husband is terrified of heights, so we skipped them, but that will give us something to do when we go back!

So, Monday we had a nice breakfast in town. Then we went back to the hot springs during daylight so I could take some pictures, since it was night time when were there before. Man would I have loved to soak in the springs! Oh well! Around lunch time we headed off towards the Peace Lodge. Again, we had directions from the hotel's web site and were pointed in the right direction from the staff at Tabacon. This drive was again incredibly scenic and the roads were all paved. But the turns were very tight. We had an occasional horse or chicken in the road, but nothing too treatourus and we really enjoyed driving through the country. At one point, my husband really was doubting my navigation skills since it seemed were were driving forever with not a sign of civilization, so there couldn't possibily be a lodge anywhere in sight - but I kept insisting that there was no were for miles that we could have made a wrong turn, and then we saw it - La Paz - the biggest waterfall one could imagine! It was very majestic! Just as our directions said, it was there on the right and somehow, so were cars stopped along the road and roadside stands selling souvinirs! Up ahead should be the Peace Lodge! And it was....

The Peace Lodge - well....we loved it! It blew Tabacon away. The customer service is hands down the best we had and the views and the luxury is unbeatable! We have stayed at some nice resorts and this was right up there! The owners of this lodge have created a retreat on the side of a mountain that lets you escape with luxury and still enjoy nature. They in no way want you to lift a finger, they do not want to see you lift your own bags....someone from the desk will accompany you to your room, which is a bungalow type unit that is named after a butterfly. There are not many units, so the number of guests will be small. When you get to your unit, your name will be on the outside of your building in wood letters, it's charming! Then you are let in to your very luxurious room. We had the deluxe room, but as far as I can tell they are all very luxurious! We had a tour from our staff person and he showed us how everything worked, from the CD player with a selection of Cd's to choose from to the DVD player with the many DVDs we could choose from to borrow at no charge, to the gas fireplace set on a timer, to how to order room service, then onto the complimentary bottle of wine because it was our anniversary (no such ammenity at Tabacon), Then onto the amazing bathroom with the jacuzzi with the switch on waterfall behind it (again, I couldn't use the jacuzzi due to the hives - darn!) and the shower that appears that you are out in the jungle, that has a waterfall option or a regular shower option, or if you don't like that, you can use the "regular" shower around the corner - not a regular, "regular" shower, but a big regular shower! And then onto the various aroma therapy oils you can dump into the little plug in thing to make your jungle bathroom with the real flowers and sky lights smell oh so pretty! And the soft cotton bathrobes! But, unfortunately, he says, they do have to charge for using the slippers - I told him that was ok! And then the toilet area, behind closed doors - with a bidet in it! The bed was a beautiful wooded 4 poster bed with a misquito netting, that was strictly for show. There was also a sitting bench in front of the fire place. And coffee and tea was complimentary. Then onto the deck, which you could leave the screen opened to to hear the jungle sounds. We had a second jacuzzi, a hammock a table and chairs and as all the patios had, a hummingbird feeder, that kept the hummingbirds coming at a constant pace. After settling in, we went down to the Trout Bar restaurant for lunch, which was recommended by the front desk area as it is reserved only for hotel guests and not those who just come to the gardens for the day. We had a very nice lunch and then the weather patter while were there showed - rain every afternoon at 3:00. Not just rain, but apparently rain that gave the rainforest it's name rain! It was hard and steady rain! We decided to go back up to our room - which by the way, means climbing steps, a lot of steps. And in the rain, it's not all that much fun! But once back at the room, I made a frest pot of coffee and sat on our deck and read while my husband sat in the deck jacuzzi as we watched the was so nice! Then we got ready for dinner.

They do their dinner in three seatings at the Vista Poas restaurant. The restaurant is upstairs from where the breakfast buffet is and next to the restaurant is a little bar with a game area and small lounge. The bar has a computer with free internet access, and there are also two computer rooms next to where you check in with free internet access. We really liked the restaurant. The meals are $28/pp and include soup, salad, entree and dessert. We thought by US standards, for the quality of food this was an excellent price. You can also get any of the items a la carte if you don't want to do the full $28 option. We thought the selections were plentiful and we ate there both nights we stayed. Their La Paz salad was very good and one night I had a shrimp entree that was very good and the other night I had their crab cakes that were good and a very large portion. My husband had one of their specials each night. Their breakfast buffet was good as well. In addition to what is on the buffet, they will cook you omelets and pancakes. And the buffet is included in the price.

On our full day there we got up early and drove to the Poas Volcano hoping to see the crater, but no such luck. It was like looking at a wall of white. It was so odd, because to look at the person next to you it was as clear as could be, but looking at the crater, total white. But it was a nice walk. Then we walked up to the lake crater. That's quite an uphill hike! And again, when we got ther it was totally clouded over. But as we were sitting there resting from the walk, lo and behold, we actually got to see the clouds clear and we saw the coastline of the lake! So, we walked back down the path to the active crater hoping it had cleared, but no such luck, it was still clouded over. But it was a beautiful drive from Poas to the Peace Lodge. The mountains are gorgeous!

When we got back to the Peace Lodge, we had lunch and then did all of the activities in their gardens. The butterfly observatory is amazing. To see a butterfly emerge from a cocoon and fly away is something I never expected to see and never will forget seeing! I loved the aviary! Regardless of what some comments are, those birds are ones that unless you hunt throughout the country, you just don't get to see that closely, or maybe not at all! And it helped to stand there with a guide explaining about what birds we were seeing and to learn about them! It's no different than any aviary in the US and it's by no means small. The birds are not in cages - they fly. The macaws are beautiful and the Toucans are amazing! I actually got to handfeed one! It was so gentle and an amazing experience! Even though I'm told that Toucans are aggressive birds! The guide was very careful about the way he handled the food and the presence of other guests at the time so the bird was not scared. It was so impressive! And who can forget the frogs! My new favorite animal! We of course went on the night frog tour, with Alex and he truely loves his job and his animals! I never thought I'd want to hold frogs or that I would not be a bit "freaked" out when one would jump from the guide to my shoulder or my neck, but it was hilarous and I just found the frogs to be one of the highlights of the trip! The tree frogs and the other species are just amazing....that something so small can make so much noise! And I adore the looks of the poison frogs as well and even got to spot some out in the wild later on!

Later that day, we did the trail starting from the Trout Pond all the way to the La Paz waterfall. It's a beautiful trail, but very filled with steps. Up and down, up and down. But the trail was virtually empty, until we got to the waterfalls and even then it wasn't what I'd call crowded. Just a couple of people there. Enough to get some pictures of the two of us! But let me tell you, when they say the shuttle back to the lodge will pick you up at the end of the trail, they don't exactly tell you it's up about 300 steps to get to the shuttle! I guess what I'm saying is the trail is not difficult, but be prepared to do a lot of steps...a lot!

We had a 10:30 Sansa flight on Wednesday, and we wanted to drop off some luggage at our final hotel in San Jose so we didn't have to worry about the weight limit, and we had to drop off the rental car at Tricolor, so we had breakfast and were on the road by 7:30 am. The Peace Lodge actually has printed cards with directions from their location to many different locations in the country, so just ask and they likely have something already printed up. Their directions were very good with the exeption of the last mile or so. We were trying to get to the San Jose Marriott to drop off the luggage and got a little mixed up. So, we found our way back to Tricolor and asked them to either take us to the marriott on the way to Sansa or to give us directions and we'd do it. Turns out we were about 1 mile away before we'd given up and gone back to tricolor! Oh well! We ended up driving ourselves to the Marriott, dropping off a suitcase and then back to Tricolor to get rid of the to Sansa and Bosque del Cabo!!!

Sansa....easy check in, fair enough terminal...boarded on time, took off on time. Very smooth flight. Landing was very smooth. All in all, for a plane that size, we expected it to be much worse! It really was quite nice! We were met right there on the gravel runway next to the cemetary in Puerto Jiminez by Frank from Bosque del Cabo. The ride was us and another couple, on the way, Frank spotted a Common Pootoo and told us to be wowed - our second this trip - we were lucky!

We arrived at Bosque and had our lunch and took in the surroundings. It was lovely as expected. It was nice to be somplace tropical and jungle after being in somplace rainy, cloudy, and cold, yet jungle! After lunch we were taken to our casita - we had Lapa. It was nice. I think what we liked the most was the overlook, 500 ft cliff right down to the Pacific. The cabina was nice - although, having just come from the Peace Lodge - it was a bit to get adjusted too! Of course we knew we were coming to the more rustic life, but still, it's a bit of a culture shock! I was not impressed with the bathroom, the toilet leaked water onto the floor, so it always felt like there was a puddle around my feet. That bugged me....not that anything could really be done. But we did truely love the outdoor shower. However, ours never got close to even warm water. It was quite cold. Not a problem after a long hike during the heat of the day, but when you wait until after 4 or 5 to take a shower, when the sun it going down, it's a bit brisk out there! But I will admit, taking a shower with the monkeys playing in the trees above is probably one of lifes finer experiences! It is something that not many people can say they have done! It is an amazing thing to do!

We saw the bulk of wildlife right from our overlook. At one point sitting on our chairs, to the left were spider monkeys, to the right were howler monkeys, in the trees behind our cabina were white faced capuchins! And two scarlet macaws flew by often! It was an incredible sight to see! Unfortunately after the first night the howlers moved on and we didn't see or hear them again! This really bugged me, because I really loved their sound, even at 3am! It made me laugh! I wanted to record it on my cell phone to bring home to play for my kids, but I didn't think of it until after they were gone! They were so loud that first day and night, and then they were gone! But the spider monkeys were right there the whole time and we never tired of watching them. We saw a couple of Toucans from our cabina.

The food was very good. As has been mentioned, the tuna melt was excellent! We were a bit aprehensive about the family style dining - but as we soon realized at a place so small, you quickly get to know most of the guests and sitting together at dinner becomes natural. You spend the meals discussing the events of the day, plans for the next day and before long you feel like old friends! It's amazing how quickly you get close to people who you have just met! Maybe it's the type of people who would gravitate towards that type of vacation or maybe it's the peacefulness of the lodge, but it's just a friendly place!

We went on the Sunset Hike with Phillip, which was interesting. Although I will say it was only 45 minutes or so and it really could have been longer. My husband actually ended up finding more wildlife than Phillip found, which was a bit annoying -such as a fruit bat! Which apparently had been missing for several days! But we did see many frogs, most of which we had learned about at the Peace Lodge, but now were seeing in their natural habitat! We saw some snakes, and toads and spiders. This was the only time that bugs were swarming, mainly due to our flashlights and the pond!

The hikes - we did the creek trail, trogan trail, the one that starts with a Z that is used for the Primary Forest guided hike, but we did it on our own - on that one we were right under a huge troop of spider monkeys! It was so cool! We also saw a coati, the only one we saw in the jungle - the rest were up by the lodge. We also saw what may have been the peccary - but it was small, we heard pig like noises, but by the time we saw it it was running away, so we're not sure what it was! And the Pacific trail. That one was tough going back up! Once down on the pacific trail we walked towards the waterfall for about an hour, but never got to the waterfall - which is fine - we heard it wasn't great anyway. We enjoyed walking on the rocks and tide pools. The sand is very difficult to walk on as it's deep and nothing like New Jersey sand!

We enjoyed an afternoon just relaxing at the pool there and reading, sipping tropical drinks! It was a nice winding down day. We were going to do the Titi trail, but somehow the day got away from us and it was too late to start it by the time we got around to it! Another time!

Overall, the bugs were no problem - never once used or needed bug spray and only got maybe less than a dozen bites on the entire trip. The heat was only rough while actually on a trail. For me, the Pacific Trail was the hardest, going back up, and I think only because we walked for an hour plus on the beach before going up. It's a brutal walk back up - think 500 feet, up steps, that wind back and forth, in the heat and humidy - at times I thought I wasn't going to make and I'd need an airlift!! Several guests related similar stories! Sleeping - we never were too hot, but by 6am the room felt hot to me and the bed felt hard. I was ready to get up. We could read by the lights over the bed without too much of a bug problem, only a few little bugs with no big issues. We used the mosquito nets and kept our doors shut. Most people I talked to did the same. I found it odd that there are no locks, room keys or anything there! It's quite a different world! People are very trusting and I hope it stays that way! We talked to several people who changed cabinas during their stay and it seemed to happen often, one couple was in ours before us and were currently in a different one - they had no hot/warm water in Lapa, like us - but in the one they had after moving they had hot water!!! So, it's Lapa with no hot water!

We left Bosque on Saturday morning, settled our bar bill, we did no excursions while there - had planned on doing the dolphin watch/animal sanctuary, but in the end, ended up just relaxing and hiking! And off to Sansa. Our Sansa flight was about 45 minutes late - I'm glad we didn't try to do a connection from Sansa to San Jose/US home on the same day. It would have been too stressful. We were picked up by the Marriott shuttle right at the Sansa terminal and taken to the Costa Rica Marriott. This is a very nice hotel. It was so nice to get into air conditioning! While at Bosque, I honestly didn't miss it, but once we had it, it felt so good! And to be on a comfortable bed that last night! To have a last night of luxury! I had picked the Marriott for two reasons - one because they have a pool, and two we have a friend that works for Marriott so we got an excellent rate - well, the pool - it rained like you wouldn't believe! So, forget the pool! Although it looked beautiful! But the rate was great! We had a nice lunch, their food was good and we just realaxed our last night. We had a pretty good dinner there too and the prices were very reasonable. Got the shuttle to the airport the next morning for our very long day of travel home to the US....

And on the way home, I spent the entire plane ride - all 9 hours looking at my Moon Costa Rica guide trying to figure out where to go on our next trip - this time with the kids!
ShellD is offline  
May 8th, 2007, 03:49 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,088
Hi ShellD,

Thank you for taking the time to write such a great trip report. It was quite fun to read. I appreciate all the little details that you have included. It sounds like you had an amazing trip! It is great to hear that the driving went so well for you. We are considereing renting a car for our next trip and had almost decided not to because it sounded pretty difficult. I will now keep that part of the trip in the running.

Just a note- when we were at BdC our cabina (Palma) did not have hot water but I read in the book that they have in the room that if you do not have hot water to just let them know and they will fix it. That is what we did and that is what they did.

What was your favorite from this trip and where are you thinking of going on the next trip, with your children?

sparklegem is offline  
May 8th, 2007, 04:12 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 44
What a great tip report! Sounds like you definitely got the CR "bug"!! We just were there in Sept. '06 and we are going back in 4 weeks!
I know this may be a silly thing to ask but you said your husband is very afraid of did he do with the hanging bridges? We are trying to decide if we want to do a zip line, hanging bridges or both. Was he ok with the bridges? Thanks in advance!
Nolegirl0923 is offline  
May 8th, 2007, 05:46 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
What a great report, ShellD! Sounds like you had a very good time and all the details were fun to read!

Your "take" on Tabacon (hotel) fits with many of the reviews that it has gotten over the years---not so great. I haven't stayed there, but just from this board, I've gotten the impression that the rooms and food aren't all that--it IS nice to have free run of the springs, though. Very pretty, there, huh?

What a bummer you had hives. I've done that very thing--sulfa. I've "listed" it as an allergy on medical forms for years now. Don't want to EVER repeat that experience. I remember being very miserable, and I am sorry it happened to you on vacation.

You make me anxious to get to Peace Lodge in a couple of months. We'll be there with our 2 year old granddaughter for 2 days--just doing nothing but enjoying it with her. We've been a few times, but never stayed there before. Looking forward to that little splurge, so especially enjoyed your details of the room.

We were in Lapa at Bosque del Cabo last month. Didn't have a problem with the water (it was hot) or the toilet leaking. Thank goodness! Kim told me that several of the cabins needed some repair, though. Guess that's one of them.

I would have to disagree with one thing in your very excellent report. The waterfall on the Pacific Trail is actually VERY cool, and we considered it a real treat. We did, however, get very explicit directions for getting to it (regarding how far to walk down the beach), as we had talked to several people who had had difficulty finding it. Everyone in our family got a real thrill from climbing up and standing under that ice cold fall. It was pretty fun. But you sure nailed the description of the Pacific Trail itself; as someone else stated recently on this board--it's quite a Stairmaster!

Thanks again for posting such a great review. . .welcome home!
shillmac is offline  
May 8th, 2007, 07:35 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 8
Please let me know where you got the foldout wildlife guide...leaving for CR in two weeks. Thanks
Patty74 is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 08:25 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 999
Sorry for all of the typos in my review! I thought I had edited them out, but for some reason, my edits didn't get saved when I posted! Oops!

Sparklegem - It's hard at this point to come up with a favorite part of the trip. Each was so different. I liked La Fortuna because there was so much to do, and I loved the volcano! But I wasn't thrilled with the climate - too much rain while we were there! I absolutely loved the Peace Lodge, for it's luxury, but as others have mentioned, two days is enough. However, the area around it is absolutely gorgeous with the coffee plantations and the rolling hills. And I'm sure there is much to see and do in that area. I also enjoyed Bosque, and would have liked one more day there, the wildlife was incredible. So, I can't say I have a favorite! However, my husband still prefers the all-inclusive Mexican Riveria type vacation. While he enjoyed this, it was too much travelling for a vacation for him. He thoroughly enjoyed the wildlife and all that CR had to offer, but it's not his "thing"! As for going back with the kids - mine are going on 6 and 8 yrs old and while I know kids that age go to places like Bosque, and a family with kids that age were there when we were, I personally would not enjoy myself with my kids there. I'd be too worried they'd slip and fall over the edge of either the drop off in front of the cabina's or on one of the trails. They would love the wildlife, but I wouldn't enjoy it with them at this age. I would definitely take them to Arenal - they would enjoy the volcano. I'm thinking a beach area, and maybe Arenal, Monteverde or who knows....Maybe in a year!

Nolegirl0923 - as far as the Hanging Bridges and my husband's fear of heights - he said that surprisingly they didn't bother him. The bridges are sturdy - they don't sway and they sides are at least waist high - even though you can see through them. He said probably because the trees are dense he didn't feel as if he was as high as he was, yet even looking down didn't bother him. He never felt like he was going to slip and fall off. Now the bridge at Bosque bothered him a bit - that one was more wobbly and the sides were much lower - yet it was the same type of bridge. Personally, I think he could have done the zip lines as well. We did one in Mexico and he enjoyed it - It was only one line though and it was much shorter and lower than the highest and longest one that is part of Sky Trek!

Shillmac - I think if we would have gotten a boxed lunch we would have ventured to the waterfall on the Pacific Trail, but I knew the hike back up the steps would take a long time and I didn't want to miss lunch! Another couple told us that the area around the waterfall was really muddy and while it was nice, it was hard to actually get to, even once you were there - and that we didn't miss much. Maybe they were just trying to make us feel better about missing it!

Patty74 - I'll try to find the link to the fold out nature guides - although I think I remember seeing them even at the airport down there and in the hotels. I know a few people here bought them about a month or two ago...anyone remember the web site?
ShellD is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 10:18 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 29
Thanks so much for your report! I will be staying at Peace Lodge in 3 weeks and I will be sure to print out your report and bring with me. Now I'm even more exicited!! Cant wait to catch the "CR Bug"!
lmsiegel is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 04:18 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 15
Hi ShellD! It's Meredith - my husband Joe and I were at BdC at the same time as you and your hubby and we traveled back to PJ together. We were bummed we didn't run into you guys at the Marriott, but we were so tired that we went to bed around 8 p.m. It was a GOOD choice for the last night and we were so glad that you talked us into it. And yes, the A/C felt SOOO good. If you send me your e-mail address I'll send you the slideshow of our pics. Take care! - Meredith
merijoe is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 05:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
The all-inclusive vacations appeal to a lot of people, purely for the several days of relaxation they allow! The Mexican Rivera is the best place for that type of vacation, with the short day trips offered nearby, like Xel-ha and Tulum, etc.
We've enjoyed AI's in Costa Rica, mainly for just a couple of weekend days here and there between destinations. However, you're right--
Costa Rica lends itself better (perfectly, in fact) to exploration, hiking, more activity in general.
And the people you spoke with regarding that waterfall were absolutely right about it being tricky to get to. I don't remember any mud, just a short hike up the shallow riverbed. Once at the waterfall, there was quite a steep climb up some huge boulders. There was then a narrow passage through the rocks to the waterfall/natural pool area. So yes, it did require some effort! We had to make a "rush trip" as it was getting late in the day and there was a thunder/windstorm approaching.
I agree with you that BdC wouldn't be a relaxing place with children. Heck, adults can't even afford to have too many drinks and then try to maneuver on the deck areas that sit on the edge of that drop-off!
Manuel Antonio is a good place for kids to enjoy and of course, as you say, Arenal.
So you're planning your next trip?
shillmac is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 07:07 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 999
Hey there Meredith! We were sorry we missed you guys at ther Marriott! We had dinner at the less fancy restaurant and wondered if you'd be there. It was good! And I shopped in their gift shop, they had a good selection! But we mostly just relaxed in the room. We watched Independence Day - with Will Smith! I was so bummed that it stormed so badly when we got back to the hotel - I really was hoping to go to the pool. It looked really nice! I'd love to see your picturs. My email is sdilworth at

I'm glad you found me here! I'm working on uploading my pictures now - it's a long process!
ShellD is offline  
May 10th, 2007, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 608
Enjoyed reading your trip report - thanks for posting it!

I agree with you about kids and Bosque del Cabo. I wouldn't want to bring my kids there until they are teenagers. We stayed at Bosque for our entire trip - we had the same mind set as your husband - just wanted to park it at one place and relax. I think when we go back to CR, we want to check out Arenal and MA, especially if we brought our kids.

There are definitely some differences of opinion about the waterfall along the Pacific trail at Bosque. IMHO, the scenery of the waterfall isn't spectacular, but man, it felt soooo good after a hot beach hike.

Glad you had a good trip! There is just something about CR that gets into one's soul, isn't there?
janenicole is offline  
May 10th, 2007, 10:56 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,750
ShellD -- Really enjoying your trip report. So many tips and answers to questions before I have to ask them I just love reading another happy traveler story about CR! I'm TRULY now on countown time...9 more days! Well, 19 until BDC
hipvirgochick is offline  
May 10th, 2007, 03:22 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,088
I just wanted to say that we stayed at Bosque del Cabo with our daughter and we all had an amazing time. It will be a trip that she will remember forever. We all will. (and just in case we forget) We will be headed back next year, hopefully with our friends and their children, too. It can be a terrific place for children but it important to know what will work for each indivual family.

sparklegem is offline  
May 12th, 2007, 08:55 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,265
Hi ShellD,

I just had a chance to read through your report. Thanks for sharing your impressions!

I made my first visit to CR last December, and loved it so much that I'm heading back down there this coming December for trip #2.

We spent our first night in CR at the Peace Lodge. You did a nice job of summing the experience up. We arrived there on a chilly, drizzly night, and I'll never forget waking up the next morning and looking out the window at that gorgeous view, with the hills in the background and the hummingbirds whipping around the balcony feeder in the foreground. Magical!

We also really enjoyed the Hanging Bridges, Cano Negro and Tabacon Hot Springs in Arenal.

Your report brings back some wonderful memories! I'm glad you also had a wonderful experience in that beautiful little country.
cmerrell is offline  
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