4 weeks Costa Rica itinerary - your thoughts?
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Aug 27, 2012 4:23 AM Last Post By: bigblue70
Jul 10, 2012 2:16 PM
4 weeks Costa Rica itinerary - your thoughts?Hi Costa Rica experts!
On 22 December I will travel to CR for 4 weeks. This is the first time that I willI go to that country but generally I am an experienced traveller (41 year old guy) who has done many trips all over the world. I am interested in a good mixture of breathtaking landscapes like vulcanos, rainforests, beautiful beaches, nice and relaxed little towns/villages with some good night life (that is still suitable for a person of my age :-) and intersting fauna like whales (!) and parrots, tucans, tapir and so on. I have a first rough idea of the travel itinerary which is mainly inspired by the LP guide book... So I would very much appreciate your thoughts / comments, especially if you have made some personal travel experiences which are different to the obvious LP recommendations.
My first rough itinerary is as follows:
2) La Fortuna (3 nights, Volcan Arenal, Cano Negro, ...)
3) Parque Nacional Volcan Tenorio
4) Parque Nacional Rincon de la Vieja
5) Parque Nacional Palo Verde
7) Mal Pais & Santa Teresa
9) Parque Nacional Carara
10) Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio
13) Peninsula de Osa
14) Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
15) Bocas del Toro (Panama) (??)
My flight back to Europe has a stop over in Panama City. I assume that I could also finish my trip with a few days in Panama and travel straight to Panama City at the end of my 4 weeks to catch that plane. What do you think about that option? Or maybe there is a direct flight from Osa to the carribe side?
Looking forward to some advice.
Edited by: bigblue70
Edited by: bigblue70
Jul 10, 2012 3:31 PM
11. for visiting tenorio, rincon de la vieja, palo verde and tenorio national parks, you don't say where you will be staying or for how long?
2. i agree that you should probably skip manuel antonio and use that time in corcovado. plan on spending something like 4 days there. wikitravel has a good overview of the osa peninsula. you can also do day trips to corcovado from uvita. take a look here http://www.tikivillas.com to see the kinds of things offered in that area.
3. i would skip jaco. it's the second favorite sex tourism destination in the country with everything that goes along with that.
4. i would do your trip in a slightly different order.
after alajuela, go to the osa - plan on flying. then make your way to domincal and uvita.
from there, to the northern parks, arenal, tortuguero, the caribbean coast and bocas del toro.
Edited by: wiremu
Jul 10, 2012 8:59 PM
2I would skip Montezuma for another beach place in that area.. and skip Jaco. I would also skip othrplaces and spend 6-10 days in 2 or 3 places. However, thats my style- staying and meeting people I see every day whom I can know, converse with and see on another trip. I am very excited about returning to a few places this trip.
Since its December, rates will be higher and you may need soem reservations. Plan ahead.
Jul 11, 2012 8:24 AM
3Here is my two bananas...good advice from #1 & #2.
In regards to your catching the flight in Panama, that would not be wise, if you dont show up for the flight in SJO< then the next leg will be cancelled, so you need to confirm this with the airline, but I am pretty sure you need to be back in SJ.
But, you still have plenty of time to do a loop thru Panama from one coast to the other or just hit Bocas Del Toro.
Now back to your plans for CR-
I imagine you have Jaco on the plan you can catch the water taxi to and from Montezuma to access Mal Pais/Santa Teresa areas, which is one the nicest beach areas in the country, great surfing and cool places to chill and hang. Yes Jaco is best avoided for most, but at the same time it is a fun town for guys for sure, its like a big bachelor party, but also a great surf spot, though the beaches are pebbles and dark sand, and hard to swim due to the big surf, but you pass thru and spend a night in order to catch the water taxi, not end of world.
Arriving on Xmas week is peak high season for the country, but also for the beaches that week, so the idea of being inland and in the mountains os great, you dont have to fret about lodging reservation and avoid the crowds overall. The areas you wish to visit are great, especially Cano Negro and Tenerio and Rincon. A nice beach break after those would be good. From Liberia you can either head to pacific beaches like Tamarindo (good party town but crowded during the holidays) or Samara/Nosora easily on the bus, or, get to Puntarenas and get the ferry/bus to Montezuma/Mal Pais. From there, water taxi to Jaco early morning, and then head to Quepos, you could see all the park at Manual Antonio in a few hours hike, but as others say, this a is avery touristy park and area, its nice, but nothing compared to the others on your list and for where you are about to go in the Osa. So maybe day trip and catch a last bus to Dominical or just taxi hire, hell, even hitch...or just get to Quepos and then a bus to Dominical and chill there.
Now you need to decide if you want to access Corcovado from a boat via Drake Bay, or from Pt Jimenez to hike the loop, and sleeping at ranger stations with meals, or enter from Carate and hike to Sirena as a overnight or just the area.
If you dont want to hike the Loop, then DB is good way to go, you would get a bus from Dominical to Palmar Sur, then a taxi or bus to Sierrpe, then a boat from Sierrpe down the Rio Sierrpe to the Pacific oceans and out thru the waves and down the coast to DB, From DB you can access San Pedrillo ranger station by boat, or also Sirena R.S. The lodging would have to arrange any overnights at either. You cant hike from San Pedrillo to Sirena, no trail, but you can hike from Sirena to Carate, and then collectivo to Pt JImenez, the problem with the last option is you would have your pack with you, and its not a easy hike in the heat and humidity for 6 hours and you have a river to cross times with the tides...
You also can use Shuttle Osa from Quepos, maybe even Jaco, to Sierrpe, then boat to DB from there. You can also fly from Quepos to Palmar Sur on Nature air.
If you do use DB as a base, this essentially means you would not continue to Panama border, you can but its not easy from there. It would be ideal to just fly back to SJ, then continue on for the caribe portion of the trip, which I suggest you hit Tortuguero Canals 2 nights, and then go to Cahuita, then to Pt Viejo, and enjoy the beaches and vibes of this coast south of PV to Manzanillo, then raft your way back to SJ, or if you have time and desire, head to Bocas Del Toro Panama 2-3 nights. You can fly from San Jose to BDT Panama or back from BDT Panama to SJ on Nature Air, but its not everyday. Just so you know, Nature Air departs from a airport in Pavas, closer to downtown San Jose, not SJO in Alajuela. But, this would allow you a night out in the capital which can be fun, especially a weekend night.
You can also shuttle between Pt Viejo and BDT Panama. But bus/ferry is easy enough...Keep in imd when you fly from SJ to BDT you pay the $28 Departure Tax, which you will have to pay again when you fly to Panama/EU flight, so think about going to BDT and flying back to SJ...after working your way down the coast...
Okay back to Corcovado, if you want to hike the loop, which is really the ultimate in nature and wildlife, as Corcovado should be the main focus of a visit to CR IMO, as its the most bio diverse park on the planet. Getting to Pt Jimenez from Dominical is not easy, but you would get to Palmar Sur, then a bus to Pt Jimenes which is 2 hours from Palmar Sur.
Using Pt Jimenez as your base, arrange permits/guides/reservations/meals in PJ and leave pack in PJ, then hike the grueling first day to Sirena, a solid 8 hours, then 1-2 nights at Sirena RS, then hike to Carate/La Leona, then collectivo back to PJ, From PJ you could fly back to SJ, on Sansa to SJO or Nature Air to Pavas, then continue to caribe side, which Pavas would be better as you can taxi from there to Gran Caribe terminal for busses to Tortuguero/Cahuita/Pt Viejo.
Or, if you are wanting to do a loop thru Panama, then you woudl get a water taxi from PJ to Golfito, then bus or taxi hire to PanmAm and then bus ot taxi hire to Panama border, then cross here, and make your way to David, then either to Boquette and on to BDT or to Panama City and the canal, then back around onward to BDT Panama, then cross via ferry/bus to border at Sixoala and on up to Pt Viejo CR.
If you did the Panama loop, you would really not have time for Montezuma/Mal Pais areas IMO.
You also could do this the other way around, and head from SJ to Pt Viejo, then to BDT Panama, then to Boquette or PC, then to David, and then to CR/Panama border and then Golfito>Pt Jimenez.
So now you know all your options.
I think the main focus based on your interest, should be Corcovado, Tortugeuro, Cano Negro, Rincon/Tenerio as far as nature and wildlife. you can throw in beaches along the way.
Get the MOON guidebook, its the bible for me and getting off the beaten path.
The only problem I see with going to Corcovado first from SJ, is that first 10 days Dec 22 to Jan 2 may be very difficult getting reservations for Corcovado if you plan to hike and sleep at the Ranger stations, waiting till after peak week may be better,...but there are lot of ways to slice this trip up as far what you can do first or last.
You could also just go from SJ to Osa, then loop thru Panama and hit Darien/San Blas and then BDT, Caribe side CR from Pt Viejo to Tortuguero and back to SJ and call it a month...but I have not been to Panama other than BDT.
Hope that helps.
Jul 12, 2012 11:00 AM
4Wow - what an amazing feedback! Thank you very much everybody!
@ Tim (my name is Tim too by the way :-) Especially your very long post is full of good advice and very helpful. I think I will leave 1-3 spots out in my list and concentrate on your recommended places and maybe don't do Panama at all this time (or perhaps just BT)...
So is there is no flight going from the Osa region or the pacific side to BT or to Puerto Limon (Caribe side)? That would be perfect. Is Uvita similar to Dominical? Should I do both or just one of them?
@ wiremu (#2): Regarding your question 1) I have to say that right now I don't have any idea when I will be there and where I will be staying at that places. Do you have any recommendations for this?
Jul 12, 2012 11:12 AM
5You have to connect in SJ for flights to BDT. No easy way between the two.
Uvita is smaller and more local in feel, and Dominical is more beach town with surfer/party/chill out vibe to it, more gringos and options to eat. Its also right off the road, where as Uvtia is haul to the beachside area of the town.
Jul 12, 2012 11:40 AM
6it is possible to stay at one of the beaches of the northern pacific and visit four national parks: santa rosa, rincon de la vieja, tenorio and palo verde -- all two hours or less from, say, playas del coco or playa hermosa. this is why i ask whether it is your intention to actually spend nights in the various locations or just day trips.
Aug 27, 2012 4:23 AM
7Thanks again for your input. Finally most of my itinerary is fixed now (except Dominical/Uvita, the guided Corcovado tour and Cabo Matapalo). I decided to skip Pto. Viejo and to put a main focus on Osa. Now it is like this:
Alajuela (1 night, 22-23 Dec - Hotel 1915)
La Fortuna (3 nights, 23-26 Dec - Las Colinas)
Cano Negro (1 night, 26-27 Dec - Hotel de Campo)
Rincon de la Vieja (2 nights, 27-29 Dec - Hacienda Guachipelin)
Montezuma (3 nights, 29 Dec-01 Jan - Hotel Amor de Mar)
Jaco (1 night, 01-02 Jan - Clarita's Beach Hotel)
Dominical and/or Uvita (5 nights, 02-07 Jan - no hotel yet)
Drake Bay (3 nights, 07-10 Jan - Rancho Corcovado) -> flight to PJM
Pto. Jimenez (1 night, 10-11 Jan - Iguana Lodge, where I can leave my main luggage)
Corcovado (2 nights, 11-13 - La Sirena Ranger Station, no tour booking yet)
Carate (1 night, 13-14 Jan - Look Out Inn)
Cabo Matapalo (2 nights, 14-16 Jan - no hotel yet)
Pto. Jimenez (1 night, 16-17 Jan - Iguana Lodge) -> flight to SJ
Alajuela (1 night, 17-18 Jan - Hotel Buena Vista)
Concerning the Corcovado tour: As far as I have seen it should be wise to book only a 4 wheel drive taxi in the early morning from PJM to Los Patos and a tour guide and to arrange all other things separately. Anyone who likes to share a guide on this dates?
Edited by: bigblue70
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