vacation advice

Oct 12th, 2004, 09:22 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 33
vacation advice

We are 2 families going to Costa Rica Christmas-New years. (8 people) We would like some advise. We have booked Oscar (after much discussion) for the whole time to drive/guide us. Here is our itinerary:
Dec 25- arrive and drive to Manuel Antonio (hotel El Parador)
Dec 26- tour MA and beaches
Dec 27- either horseback Finca Valmy or rafting
Dec 28-either canopy at MA or Turubari canopy
Dec 28-drive and stay at Finca Que Ama
Dec 29- drive to Arenal (Tabacon Hot Springs Hotel) maybe stop at Los Angeles Cloud Forest
Dec 29-Jan 1 Tabacon Hot Springs Resort
either raft or canopy here (vs MA). Also hanging bridges and waterfall.
Jan 1-home

my questions:
1. Should we raft in MA or Arenal?
2. Should we canopy in MA, Arenal, or is Turubari worth a canopy ride?
3. Is a stop in Los Angeles Cloud Forest worth the time?
4.Has anyone done a day trip to Monteverde from Arenal

thanks in advance
jquentzel is offline  
Oct 12th, 2004, 09:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,183
Don't try to do a day trip to Monteverde from Arenal. It's like three or four hours EACH way, so you wouldn't have time to see or do anything.
LA_FadeAway is offline  
Oct 12th, 2004, 10:59 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Your Question (1) Can you give us an idea of what type of rafting experience you'd like to have? There's a broad range of rafting from "safari floats" in the Mangroves to Class II-IV rapids on several rivers. This might help in recommending where you raft. Kayaking at MA is a good idea, too, if a person has the arms for it. ;-)

(2) If you're planning to visit in Arenal, can I suggest that you surf on over to to investigate. This company has one of the safest handle-braking systems for canopy zip line tours. Others may ask you to wear gloves and brake by grabbing the cable to cause friction for braking. Every once in a while, somebody panics and grabs the cable ahead of the pulley, instead of behind the pulley. You can drive or be driven from Arenal to their location in 20(?) minutes. Does the thought of being 230 meters above ground knock your socks off?
On the other hand, the "superman" style zip line offered elsewhere is something else. Using the Fodors search function, you can locate and read the other recent posts/threads on Turbari for more info.

(3) somebody else needs to help here.

(4) I agree with LA_FadeAway in terms of driving two ways for 6-8 hours. The group would have to get out the door by 5 or 6am to make it a full day - and then eat dinner before returning to the hotel. Not saying this is idea impossible. You might consider contacting a tour company directly to determine what they would include on the trip to make it worth while.

After staying in Arenal for a few days of the first week of September, I quickly learned the value of rising pre-dawn to maximize our experiences.
TripleSecDelay is offline  
Oct 13th, 2004, 04:52 AM
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Posts: 33
TripleSecDelay- Thanks for the reply.
We are 8 people so we differ in what we want out of a rafting trip. A couple would probably want a class III-IV trip. I think if we find a class III we can probably all go.

Thanks for the info on Arenal but I have heard that the Skytrek is great but I was under the impression that it is in Monteverde. Is there also one in Arenal?
jquentzel is offline  
Oct 13th, 2004, 12:36 PM
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There's two. I gave the website on purpose, my friend.
TripleSecDelay is offline  
Oct 13th, 2004, 01:40 PM
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Hi there,

Sounds like a great itinerary. You don't say what the ages or interests of the people in your group are, but here are my two cents worth:

A. The canopy tours at Turubari have a more modern braking system. However, the suspended sidewalks between them are a little scary. We did these zip lines and the ones at the Arenal Paraiso and enjoyed them both. The AP ones actually have wood blocks attached to the glove for squeezing. However, several people did brake too soon (had to propel themselves hand-over-hand to the platform) or too late (running into a tree or person on the platform).

B. The "Superman" zip line at Turubari was really fun (but costs extra, in addition to the regular lines). It is one kilometer long and you are harnessed in with your hands free.

C. Turubari gives you the most choices - long or short canopy tour plus Superman.

D. If you have younger kids, I'm not sure how much they will enjoy Turubari. My 9 year-old was kind of bored. It is also pricey, but Neta will get you a great discount.

I envy you the rafting and Finca Valmy ride. They're both on my list for "next time".

Tell Oscar that Linda and "El Jefe" said hello! I think you'll enjoy your time with him.

Have a great trip.

lvk is offline  
Oct 14th, 2004, 11:54 AM
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Posts: 33
Thank you all for the information. I guess I was confused about Skytrek because for some reason I can't access Arenal on their website. I can only get it in Spanish. (Monteverde is in English) I see there is one in Arenal-thanks.
We are 2 families with kids 12, 15, 16, and 17. Most likely we will all want to do something different but since I am researching I guess I have most of the control.
I know whatever we decide it will be great. Thanks.
jquentzel is offline  
Oct 15th, 2004, 12:50 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,120
Sorry about the website problems. Hate it when my good ideas fall flat.

You're in good hands, obviously, with Oscar. We were this close [ ] to hiring him and opted out at the last moment - since it was only 2 of us. He'll be sure to make everyone in your group busy and informed.

FYI : Los Lagos Hotel at Arenal has pools and slides - not like an amusement park - but the environment would more support wound-up teens than say, Tabacon. (they are on the same road, about 6 minutes apart.)

This comment is not meant to be offensive, but I like to "wear out the kids" in the middle of the day with activities so that we can all sleep through the night. To that end, the hikes and such can be a great thing.
You're probably already aware that Volcan Arenal can rumble at night and cause people to wake and view the lava. This may disrupt somebody's sleep pattern. FYI.

Class II and III rapids can be had on all the rivers. Looking back at our photos, we didn't encounter any IV rapids on the Pacuare. And the other rivers are rated similar - so my point is that you're fine on river choices no matter where.

See if one of your group members can keep a journal and post a trip report for us. Many here would like to know what it's like during the holidays in CR.
TripleSecDelay is offline  
Oct 15th, 2004, 04:54 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 33
Thanks for your advice. Do you know where the Skytrek is in Arenal?
I think we are tied in to Tabacon. Everyplace I called was booked for New Years and we finally had a travel agent make us this reservation. I think we will be fine there because 2-3 of the kids will be happy to soak in the hot springs all day. My daughter for one would be happy to get a spa treatment too. Regardless I am planning on keeping everyone very busy. Besides at least 3 of the teens would have no problem sleeping until noon everyday if we let them. I think we will hike, do the hanging bridges, visit the waterfalls, and probably canopy there.
Thanks for the rafting info because the 2 things my husband grumbles about is that we won't have time for Monteverde and we are too far to raft the Pacuare. It is nice to know that that is not the only river to see. We'll just have to return.
I will be happy to post a trip report when we get back.
jquentzel is offline  
Oct 15th, 2004, 11:41 AM
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"Besides at least 3 of the teens would have no problem sleeping until noon everyday if we let them." ROFLMAO! Ahhhh, teenagers. Like infancy all over again. Eat & Sleep. As a teen many years ago, I once slept through a New Year's Eve and was mad at my parents for not waking me the ONE time it was important to wake me!

Oscar will know this for directions to SkyTram / SkyTrek : Continue downhill on the asphalt road after exiting Tabacon and turn left onto a graded, but unpaved road After the Observatory entrance and there are two or three more sign clusters that direct a person there. 20 minutes (?) as I recall. River crossings. Jurassic Park-type scenery. Are the kids aware it was filmed in CR? (Exact location unknown.)

The company likes to price this as a package, broken down as SkyTram $20 and SkyTrek $20. This allows a person to opt out of the cable rides, and simply ride the Tram up to the observation deck in the cloud forest -- then ride the Tram downhill again.

This is the only place in CR I was food for mosquitos.

We had a great lunch (with the entire restaurant to ourselves) at the nearby Linda Vista Lodge - which overlooks the manmade hydroelectric Lago Arenal and provides an alternate view of the volcano. Also well-marked with signs.

Regarding Tabacon : somebody might opt to close the door on the bath mat towel to keep any curious insects from walking through the gap in the door. Maybe your room is different than ours.

Also, we liked the "Moth Tour" provided by the array of moths that gather outside everyone's porch lights, but didn't like them following us into our room. We learned to partially unscrew the bulb near our door when leaving for the day or evening. (The staff will screw it back in when you're not looking and "safely" inside again.)
TripleSecDelay is offline  
Oct 15th, 2004, 01:59 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 33
Thank you so much for your great advice. I guess we'll canopy in Arenal then and horseback and raft in MA.
I can't wait to go. I'll post my report when I return.
jquentzel is offline  

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