We are planning a trip to Costa Rica in November

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May 25th, 2017, 07:57 PM
  #1
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We are planning a trip to Costa Rica in November

I bought the airline tickets last night, so the trip is official. We planned a trip a few years ago, but things happened and we couldn't go, so I am excited to officially be planning it now.

About us: DH is an avid birder. He went to Costa Rica for four weeks a few years back, and spent the entire time birding. He would do that again this year, but is willing to give me a few hours for things I might want to do!

Me? I enjoy the birding, and I am really excited to see all the hummingbirds (and of course Toucans). I like natural flora, as well as gardens, and am very interested in butterflies. DH noticed an organic farming operation he thought I would be interested in. I'm middle-aged and overweight, but I like to walk, and I have the trekking sticks to prove it.

DH wants me to list the things I for sure want to do so we can plan our itinerary and route. So I have got to work on that and am starting my research. That's where you come in and I would love to hear your suggestions based on my interests above.

Some more details:

Fly into San Jose Friday Night November 17. Arrive 9 pm, stay at Marriott Courtyard that night

Fly out of San Jose Monday December 4, spend night before at Marriott Courtyard

We are planning on staying here some of the time, but haven't made reservations yet:

http://fincalunanuevalodge.com

I know I want to go to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

So, given my interests, focusing first on things to do and places to visit, what are your recommendations?
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May 26th, 2017, 09:48 AM
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Hi, Toucan - good to see you outside the gardening thread. The Waterfall Gardens have a really nice volcano hike with five pretty waterfalls. You can also hand feed hummingbirds in the garden during certain times of day; they give you a little nectar tube, and the birds will come right to you to drink it. They also have a big aviary you can walk through and a butterfly house full of blue morphos.

We had lunch at Finca Luna Nueva when we were in the Arenal area. I thought it was a neat spot and enjoyed touring the property and having an organic lunch there. The Arenal area has a nice river tour where you can see some cool water birds, caimans, monkeys, etc. - it's called Cano Negro; Desafio is a good group to go with. We also like the Penas Blancas safari float and the Proyecto Asis animal rescue center. There's nice hiking at the waterfall and at the Hanging Bridges. You might also like the natural hot springs - Tabacon if you want fancy or Eco Termales if you want smaller and charming.

For birding, the best spots we've been to are the Monteverde area, San Gerardo de Dota, and the Osa Peninsula. Monteverde and SGdD are both cool cloud forest type areas with quetzals, and the Osa Peninsula is down closer to Panama and very warm with toucans and scarlet macaws.

If you want beach time, we like Manuel Antonio, and they have a neat spice/garden tour called Villa Vanilla. There's tons of fairly tame wildlife in the national park, lots of monkeys. You can do a guided tour of the park and Damas mangrove tour with Manuel Antonio Expeditions.
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May 26th, 2017, 03:49 PM
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Thanks vg! I meant to post on the gardening thread that I had finally posted. Once I got the airline tickets I felt like I was shifting into real planing gear.

Thanks for the above, I will check them all out.

I know we talked about drivers, but have you rented a car while there? Any helpful hints about car rental there?

I ordered a more current guide than I had, as well as an actual map (it got fairly good reviews on Amazon for being detailed). I know that I will add GPS to the car rental.
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May 26th, 2017, 07:31 PM
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We usually reserve a driver through our hotels when we book them. Have also used Carlos Bogarin with Destinos Encantados, and he's excellent. My husband thinks driving there is stressful, so we've done it but not often. Plenty of people drive with no problems though. GPS is a good idea; things are not well marked. You definitely don't want to drive between cities at night, and don't leave anything in your car unattended - car break-ins are not uncommon unfortunately. There's also a shuttle bus called Interbus that's popular and in country airlines - Nature Air and Sansa. A lot of the U.S. car rental companies are in CR. There's also one called Tri-color that's pretty popular.
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May 27th, 2017, 12:23 PM
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Did you find the driving stressful because of the shape of the roads? The drivers? Or the lack of signposting?

I'm a little concerned about it to be honest.

I tend to be the one who does all the driving on these trips (it's just how it has evolved for us--he is a better navigator than I am, and I am a slightly anxious driver so keep my concentration--the downside of that is that I am an anxious driver).

When he went to CR for a month, Lars did all the driving and DH paid for the car rental.

I loved loved loved Cornwall, but the driving drove my anxiety through the roof. By the time we ended the day I never wanted to leave the house again that evening. Which wasn't particularly fair to my sister who was with me and may well have liked to have gone to the pub!
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May 27th, 2017, 01:31 PM
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Some roads are in great shape and some are terrible. The road to Monteverde is very long and bumpy. There are some steep drop offs with no guard rails. You can see kids, horses, dogs, etc. in the road. Lots of changes in speed limit so you have to pay attention to that. Some people do love it though. Your husband can probably give you a better idea of what it's like. When we first went to Manuel Antonio the road had huge potholes in it and one way bridges, but they recently redid that road and it's in good shape. The road to Arenal is in good shape too, but can be twisty and turny with lots of ups and downs. I get car sick there, and I never get sick in the States. CR drivers can also drive pretty fast.
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May 27th, 2017, 01:48 PM
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Thank you vg.
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May 27th, 2017, 03:34 PM
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You're welcome, T - also if you do any tours, they'll usually pick you up and drop you back off at your hotel.
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