Trip to Costa Rica in July

Old Apr 10th, 2007, 05:26 PM
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Trip to Costa Rica in July

HI,
I'm from San Francisco.
My wife & I are planning to trip to CR in July
(most probably the first week of July. If not the last week of July).
Need suggestions on itenerary for 6 days (taking a night flight from SFO. Arriving on Day 1 at 10:AM in San Jose, CR
Returning on Day 6 at 5:00PM

So, that gives us half a day on day 1 and day 6, making it a total of 5 full days.
We are interested in Nature. Birds,Animals, Rain/Could Forest, Volcano in that order.

My wife wants to see all the red colored parrots and stuff out in the wild and some tortoise if possible. A canopy tour would also be nice.

Given this, what would be a good itenerary ?
1) Arenal + Monte Verde
2) Arenal + Manual Antonio
3) Tortuguero + Arenal + Monteverde
4) Arenal + Osa

Which is the best rain forest ? Monteverde, Osa, Manuel ?

We are willing to either fly or take buses+boat within CR.

Thanks a lot for your time
TB
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Old Apr 10th, 2007, 05:35 PM
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With that short of a time, I would cross #1 and #3 off. You could do Arenal & Manuel Antonio pretty easily, you may save a little time flying to your destinations if timing is right. The best rainforest experience, imo, is the Osa, but with only 5 nights I would say to spend all nights there. You'd lose too much time trying to fit in a place like Arenal before or after.
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Old Apr 10th, 2007, 05:52 PM
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I agree with Tully. Osa is your best bet. It is the deepest "jungle" Costa Rica has to offer. The Scarlet Macaws there are the most beautiful "red colored parrots" in the wild, and the Howler Monkeys will make your day.
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Old Apr 10th, 2007, 05:55 PM
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I used to live in Carmel, now I am in Costa Rica, long story... anyway let me try to help as much as possible.
1 day...easily you can drive almost anywhere you like that day...to Arenal volcano about 3 hours...many hotels to choose from...

2 day...Arenal , hiking down to La Fortuna waterfall, horse back ride, rafting, kanoing , etc.

3 day...transfer to Manuel Antonio...it is a place near Jaco up in the hills we visited there a few days ago we so some macaws wild!!!

4 day...Manuel Antonio..visit to the park is a most..a lot of birds, sloths, monkeys.

5 day...Manuel Antonio.

6 day...back to San Jose, drive is about 3 hours.

Note: Tortuguero can be switch for Manuel Antonio. Osa is great but to far and expensive for only a couple of nights.Monteverde can be nice if you cut one night in Arenal...a lot of hiking there.

If you need more help let me know e-mail me [email protected]
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Old Apr 10th, 2007, 06:17 PM
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If you want to see wildlife and forest I would skip Arenal and go straight from San Jose Airport to Monteverde for 3 days and then to Manual Antonio for 2 days. Monteverde is a very dense cloud forest and there is also Santa Elana reserve there as well. The views on the road up are beautiful. I don't believe there are Scarlet Macaws there however there are Quetzal, Toucans and many many more birds and animals. The area is home to many species of Bromeliads, Orchids and wildlife some you will not see anywhere else in the world. The longest and tallest canopy tour is in the Monteverde area as well. Manual Antonio has great beaches, lots of wildlife and Macaws and is a warmer climate. You will see several different species of monkeys everywhere in and around Manual Antonio.
...........or as has been said do only Osa.
Personally I like to take time to enjoy and get to know a little bit of the area without rushing off to the next destination. In July you won't need reservations to find good places to stay so you can change your plans as you go. There is always next year.
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Old Apr 10th, 2007, 08:16 PM
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And if you really want to see quetzales, you'd be better off driving south of San Jose on Highway #2 to San Gerardo de Dota. The quetzal can be seen in abundance there (not so abundant at Monteverde as per our experience)! Beautiful area, less crowded than Monteverde. . .wonderful climate. Check out Hotel Savegre de Montana owned by the Chacon family.

Sorry if this confuses you even more--just so many great places to visit!

San Gerardo is about 4 hours from Manuel Antonio through San Isidro and Dominical. The road between Dom and MA is rough, but you only have to be on it once, as opposed to driving to and from Monteverde on rough roads. . .
just a thought for further introspection on your part!
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Old Apr 10th, 2007, 09:40 PM
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Hi travelbaba,

My wife and I have been to CR a number of times and it just gets better every visit. Our first trip was a 7 day and here is Reader's Digest version: First arrival day stay at Orquedias Inn in Alajuela. Great jumping off and final nights wonderful little hotel. See their web site. Don't try to arrive at noon, eat lunch, and make a 3 hour drive anywhere. Rain in July every afternoon and you don't want to be driving in it (or at night due to poor roads and no signs and typical wild and crazy local drivers!). But DON'T be afraid to drive! It is a blast and offers freedom.
Next morning, early departure to Arenal. Look at the Arenal Paraiso for lodging in the La Fortuna area. Take the afternoon to float the "White Cliffs" river with a guide. Excellent and relaxing after the fun drive....LOVE THOSE BRIDGES!!! 2 nights in Arenal is plenty...next entire day is good for Arenal viewing...hot springs...waterfall ...etc. early morning departure the 4th day and great beauty drive to AmaTierra just outside a wonderful little village of San Pablo de Turrabarri. That afternoon is hiking, swimming in the wonderful pool, enjoying the view and nature. Next day (5th) is a GREAT DAY AT Parque Turubari, a private park with wonderful flora and fauna, animals and birds plenty! Best zip lines we found also!! After the 2nd nights at AmaTierra (see their web site and the BEST food in the entire country from their local staff and sweetest people), the morning of the 6th day drive to Quepos/Manuel Antonio. Isla Verde is a very nice hotel up on the top of the mountain overlooking the MA beaches. Quepos is a neat town altho it first struck me as a poor man's Key West. Free spirits and laid back. Eat lunch at El Gran Escape! Seriously, the park at MA is te most visited but after Parque Turubari, you might be less than enthusiastic. I know...you said 6 days...to heck with that! Stretch it to 8! All that stuff at home will be there when you get back! Stay a day in MA and and the early morning of the 8th day, drive back to SJ for departure in the afternoon!
Really, you can't go wrong anyplace in that beautiful country. Keep your camera ready and the binocs close!!!! Don't leave your car unattended with "stuff" showing in the back!!! Other than that, the is a wonderful place and sweet people! ENJOY regardless of what you do!
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 08:25 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions folks.

Would it better to book the tour as a vacation package from a company or should I try and book separately on my own.

ASsuming my options are:
1) Monteverde+Manuel Antonio OR
2) Osa/Corcovado park

Please recommend any companies that might book this kind of pakcage. We dont want to drive. We can take buses and we have modest budget. So, luxury resorts are out. (Say 100-120$ per night max. Is it even reasonable ?)

Thanks
TB
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 09:06 AM
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Busing to the Osa will take a whole day and also back. Fly Sansa or Nature Air if you go- to Drake Bay or Puerto Jimenez. Best place for the Scarlet Macaws is the Osa.
Cabinas Las Caletas near Drake Bay is a reasonable moderate budget place on the Osa. The $65/70 pp rate also includes all meals and some equipment use. Mirador in Drake Bay is cheaper yet.
On the Carate side of the Osa is La Leona Tent Lodge about the price of Cabinas Las Caletas pp and near the Corcovado Park entrance avoiding costly tour expense. Requires a walk from the cheap/wild ride collectivo taxi drop off site in Carate
coming from Puerto Jimenez.

A guide is good to see much more than you would on your own.

In other areas there are many moderate budget places.

I always book myself.

Taking the bus keep all valuables on you and guard your luggage in the stations.
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 09:06 AM
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I do have to disagree on this one.
If you can get in by 10am, get on the road and enjoy the country! You could probably be in Arenal by 2 pm or sooner depending on how long to get out of the airport, if you have a driver. Slightly later if you drive yourself to allow for car pick up time. You have plenty of time to get someplace. If you are worried about driving your first day in a strange country a driver is a good way to go. Get your car rental in Arenal. Either way, don't waste it hanging around the airport area when you could be sitting in hot springs listening to or seeing a volcano. If you really want to get your legs moving you would probably have plenty of time to hike down to the base of La Fortuna waterfall or even do the Hanging Bridges. We get in at 1:30pm on all of our trips and we get someplace every time. If you had a longer trip, staying by the airport could be an option if you wanted to see some of the airport area things but you really need to optimize your time. Don't get me wrong, I have certainly had my share of good things to say about Orquideas but nothing beats really getting the vacation going by getting out of the city. It is a pretty drive through San Ramon so don't think of it as just travel time.

I'm not a huge fan of Manuel Antonio but it does offer wildlife viewing and beach time. I have seen scarlet macaws on the drive there by the Tarcoles bridge. For me usually early morning or mid-late afternoon were the best times to see them. You could leave arenal around noon and drive to the Tarcoles area to look for them. Villa Lapas is nearby as is Carara reserve. You could spend the night there before heading down to Manuel Antonio. Pack your stuff and leave it at Villa Lapas and tour Carara and then go back to get it before heading down to MA. You can see a good bit at Carara in a couple of hours and be in Manuel Antonio for lunch if you get out early for the birds and wildlife. If you want a place with a few more stars you could think about Villa Caletas instead of Villa Lapas. Their sunsets are beautiful. I know this will involve a little back and forth driving because of the luggage but better to spend a little time covering the same ground than have to worry about loosing your things out of your car the whole time. Villa Caletas is a little further towards Jaco than Villa Lapas.

Do your zip/canopy line at Arenal, plenty to choose from. Use your time at MA to visit the park (closed mondays). You can most likely leave your car there and just fly back to San Jose to catch your flight home.

The Osa is the best IMHO but as was mentioned, 5 days isn't enough for it and another place. Too much travel time wasted. You can always go back like most of us and see more.

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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 09:20 AM
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Okay, didn't see the budget constraints.

There are afternoon shuttle buses to Arenal. Monteverdeinfo.com has one. Interbus may also. I still think you need to get out and get your vacation going rather than stay near the airport. You get in way to early to not take advantage of that.

You can then take a shuttle to Manuel Antonio.

There are places to stay in both areas that would be in your budget.

Flying can be expensive. The Osa really is your best option for rainforest and Scarlet macaws. How about the Pearl of the Osa? On a beautiful beach, Scarlet macaws almost all day long. Possibly turtles at that time. Plenty of options to get out and visit that area of the Osa depending on how far your budget will stretch. You could think about the colectivo to Carate and back as a day trip from there. Very inexpensive but a long rough ride. They have boogie boards and sea kayaks for guest use at the Pearl. They also have bicycles and a ping pong table. Friday night they have a buffet and live music.
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 11:59 AM
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Thanks folks. BTW, how is the weather in the end of August - first week of September ? Is it going to be really rainy either in MA/Monteverde or in Osa ?

Thanks a lot
TB
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 12:40 PM
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Here is a CR weather guide map.
http://costa-rica-guide.com/Weather/WeatherMap.html

Put courser on different map areas to see rain amounts for each month in different areas.
Most say the rains are afternoon and night though some days washout.
We've only visited during the dry season and it was'nt always dry though usually the rain was night or early morning.
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 12:52 PM
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We were in the country the end of August last year and didn't have much rain. We weren't on the Osa but were still in the southern part of the country as well as in the Los Angeles cloud forest in San Ramon. It was nice one day and rained the next in San Ramon, we had no rain while south just below San Isidro. I am going to venture a guess that Monteverde will be pretty wet. The Caribbean side of the country is actually starting their dry period. Sept and Oct are a bit drier then. Great nature and wildlife on that side as well and lodging costs will be down.

I have talked to Toby at the Pearl/Iguana lodge about that particular time because I wanted to see the turtles and he did say it can be quite rainy but it is when the turtles are there.
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Old Apr 12th, 2007, 04:38 PM
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I am planning a December CR trip with 4 adults-staying at Los Suenos Marriott for 6 nights-please suggest an itinerary-am I making a mistake staying in one area or will tours show us enough with time for one round of golf?
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Old Apr 13th, 2007, 04:18 PM
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Ok. SO, I booked my flights. Arriving in
San Jose on July 4th at around 10:00AM.
Departing July 9th at 5:30PM.
Please help me plan.
The options I'm considering are
1) Arenal/Cano Negro + Manuel Antonio
2) Osa

Is Osa better than Manuel ? Getting to Osa seems pretty expensive. Even if I were to squeeze myself & cough up the money, is it worth almost double the cost at Osa ? Looks like there are 2 options at Osa
1) Drake Bay Area / Corcovado Park
2) Puerto Jiminez Area (Bosque del Cabo)

Which of these places do you recommend ? Its around 280$ per night for 2 people here+the around 180$ per person round trip to Osa.

Not sure how expensive MA is, but is the scenery and birds & wildlife similar to Osa ? Also, how different is Drake Bay/C'vado scenery from Bosque area ?

We could go to Osa if its way better than MA. Sorry for bugging you all. Any inputs from you will help a lot.

Thanks a lot.
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Old Apr 14th, 2007, 08:28 AM
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Hi Travelbaba,

Unfortunately, I can't offer a direct comparison between MA and the Osa yet. I did the Arenal/MA itinerary last December and will be visiting the Osa Peninsula this coming December (staying at Bosque del Cabo).

I was in your same position last year; trying to figure out where to go and what to do. I second guessed myself a lot because there were so many places that sounded fascinating to me. Like you, we were a bit concerned at the extra cost of traveling down to the Osa (last year just wasn't a good time to incur that extra cost, financially).

We ultimately settled on Arenal/MA and were absolutely delighted with that choice! This itinerary offers a really nice overview of 2 completely different parts of the country. Both areas are gorgeous and there are lots of activities to partake of at both.

We did Cano Negro, the Hanging Bridges, Tabacon Hot Springs and Sky Trek ziplines in Arenal. In MA, we spent one full day enjoying the nat'l park and beaches, and did the Damas Mangrove tour on our second day. We are real nature/animal lovers and saw sloths, butterflies, crocodiles, tayras, coatis, all four species of monkeys, and lots of beautiful birds. We loved every single activity we participated in!

The Osa peninsula gets rave reviews and I can't wait to see it for myself. I am fully prepared to be awe-struck!

I seriously don't think you'll go wrong with either choice. Both offer the nature; birds, animals, forest that you are interested in. The Osa Peninsula is more remote and untouched. Arenal and MA are more heavily visited, but you are not going during peak tourist season and shouldn't have to worry about crowded conditions. Both have options for hiking and a variety of day tours.

Good luck with the decision making process. Costa Rica is an amazing destination; very easy to fall in love with. Perhaps you'll end up leaving your heart there, rather than in San Francisco.



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Old Apr 14th, 2007, 10:37 PM
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Thanks cmerrell, suzei2 and others.

We're leaning towards Osa. Which part of Osa would be more covinient/scenic
1) Drake Bay
2) Carate (Corcovado Tent/Luna Ludge etc)
3) Iguana Lodge/Bosque Del Cabo area

Are the birds/animals/scenary the same in both the Corcovado Park area and in the Bosque area ? Which is better - Hiking in the park or hiking in Bosque ?
We want to see the Macaws/birds/other animals + have a bit of relaxed time.

Thanks a lot.
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 05:54 PM
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Hi:

We spent four nights/three days at Drake Bay in March. Took a boat from Drake Bay and landed at the beach in Corcovado about 1 mile from the Sirena ranger station. Hiked in and did two loop trials with a guide. Amazing amount of wildlife and vegatation). Saw howler, white faced capacian and spider monkeys, am anteaters and a bunch of birds that the "bird nerds" in the group were pretty excited about.

We also went ro Monteverde and Arenal on the same trip. For nature, I would rank Corcovado number if you want remote.
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 06:02 PM
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Forgot to add that we used Costa Rica Expeditions. They did a great job getting us around wo/o any problems and made the flight and transfer arrangements as well as lodging and tours.
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