Two free days in CR. Arenal or Monteverde

Old Oct 30th, 2004, 02:49 PM
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Two free days in CR. Arenal or Monteverde

We will be in CR in January. Our first two days are unplanned. Do we have time to see Arenal or Monteverde? We have seen volcanoes in Hawaii. Is Arenal that different? What is the travel time from San Jose and is there time for a canopy tour? If so, which is the best: Original Canopy in Monteverde, Tobacan, or Sky TRek in Monteverde?
We will be with our two sons in their 20's. Last part of the trip will be white water rafting and down to Osa Peninsula. Does anyone have an opinion about Drake Bay versus Cabo Mdatapalo?
I have asked alot of questions and greatly appreciate any help I can get.
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Old Oct 30th, 2004, 08:00 PM
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Yes, I think that Arenal is different from Hawaii in many ways; besides the difference in the type of flow, the flora and fauna that surround it are vastly different. The trails we went on weren't as developed. At Arenal, you won't be hiking or driving up to the rims of volcanos {at least most people wouldn't!}nor hiking down to smoldering volcanic floors.

My husband and I got clear views of Arenal and saw sparks of molton rock rolling down, but weren't fortunate enough to see the brilliant show that a lucky minority experience. Even so, it was awe-inspiring. We wouldn't have missed it, and would return in a heartbeat.

We have been to Drake Bay {an experience we won't soon forget}, but not Matapalo.
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 02:52 PM
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Thanks Molly. Did you also visit Monteverde? If so, which do you prefer?
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 04:19 PM
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When we went to Arenal a cloud covered the volcano the whole time. The town was dumpy and dirty and the hot springs were overly touristy.

Monteverde is a more unique experience that you would not see other places. Also the canopy tours there are fun, and lots of good restaurants. The frog museum is great--go at night!

Maybe if it is not cloudy Arenal is worth it, but I hated it there!
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 05:34 PM
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Hi again, soleil, No, we didn't visit Monteverde; instead, we stayed a few nights at Savegre Lodge, a wonderful family-owned place in the cloudforest of the San Gerardo De Dota mountain valley. It's a couple of hours south of San Jose.

We didn't stay in La Fortuna, so can't comment on whether it is "dumpy and dirty"! We stayed at the Arenal Observatory Lodge which we had very mixed feelings about - wonderful in many ways, but poorly managed.

I think that there are so many factors that determine whether someone likes Arenal or not {or anywhere for that matter} - interests {ours is primarily nature and the outdoors, meeting people, some adventure}, expectations, weather, chance.... we absolutely loved it, and did and saw so much in a few days.

We also found the hotsprings {not Tabacon} too touristy for our tastes, but this may have been because we were there on a weekend. We had some cloudy, rainy periods, but also some wonderful weather.

It sure is hard to narrow down where to go, isn't it - but a good dillema. Good luck!
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 05:42 PM
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Just remembered your original message. I really don't think that two days would allow you much time for Monteverde, based on all I've heard. Even Arenal might feel a bit rushed, because it takes so long to get anywhere in Costa Rica.

Do you have two full days? Have you considered daytrips out of San Jose? People rave about the "highlights" tour.
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Old Nov 1st, 2004, 04:04 AM
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Thank you Molly and NB. Sounds like we won't have enough time to do either with two days. Maybe I will see how far away LaPaz Waterfalls is.
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Old Nov 1st, 2004, 05:59 AM
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I don't think that La Paz is is very far, and sounds like an excellent choice. You didn't say whether you'll have a car. If not, there are tours, taxis, private drivers...

Another good option might be Poas Volcano, which I have not been to. My guide says that it is 37 kilometers from San Jose.

San Jose itself is very interesting and relatively safe, as long as you stick to certain areas, with several excellent museums.

You can't lose!
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Old Nov 2nd, 2004, 03:05 PM
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The assessment by NB doesn't surprise me. Fortuna could be called "downtown", while Arenal could be called "uptown". In the center of any city in any country, your expectations should be the same. As you move up into the hills, you experiences are greatly improved.

SkyTrek operates a tour in Monteverde and a tour in Arenal. Tabacon is a resort, and I'm not aware of their canopy tour/zip lines. If so, they could be only minimal, as the topography of their grounds doesn't provide for much altitude nor variety.
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