Help for planning Costa Rica trip from Dec25-31, 2012
Replies: 19 - Last Post: Nov 21, 2012 12:43 PM Last Post By: placid2003
Nov 11, 2012 5:49 PM
Help for planning Costa Rica trip from Dec25-31, 2012Hi, I know it is a bit late to make our plan for the upcoming Costa Rica trip in Dec. I was just too busy at work so really didn't get time until this now.
We (2) will fly to SJO at later afternoon on Dec.24 and leave at early morning on Jan.1. I am planning to rent a car, and plan to visit Volcan Arenal, Monteverde, and possible Guanacaste region. My plan is to drive or bus to Volcan Arenal on 12/25, go to Monteverde on later afternoon 12/27, leaving 29 afternoon to Guanacaste, 12/31 afternoon drive/bus back to SJO.
I have couple questions:
1. Found out Vamos rental car was sold out, Budget still has car available but this local company seems has bad reputation from tripadvisor's review. I am still waiting for Thrifty to get back with me on the rate, but somehow I got the impression that the rental car experience was not greatest in CR. Is it better to use shared shuttle to visit those religions or too much hassle or inconvenience, especially from either Arenal or Monteverde to Rincon de la Vieja or Playa Grande? Or should I take bus for the first 2 legs and rent a car from Liberia? I understood from SJO to either Arenal or Monteverde r pretty easy using shuttle bus.
2. Hotel selection. I can either go with mid range hotel or hostel, depends on the availabilities. Anybody can recommend good lodging in Guanacaste region?
3. I am also interested in Santa Rosa NP, mainly like to visit one of the largest dry forest in the central America, but also learned that it is very remote and the road condition is bad. If I only like to see the landscape and hopefully to see some wildlife, will the short hiking trail around station La Casona provide the possibilities?
4. We are interested in wildlife and plant and I'd like to visit La Selva Biological Station if possible, but seems I don't have that much time.
Any suggestions/recommendations/input will be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot in advance!
Edited by: placid2003
Nov 11, 2012 6:22 PM
1here's my comment on your proposed intinerary: hahahahahahahaha
really, you will need to find out a bit more about costa rica. it's a small country but takes time to get around. look here for distances and driving times: http://www.yourtravelmap.com
basically, you can figure that it takes about 1/2 a day to get anywhere! the itinerary you are thinking of will mean that you can visit a place, say, "uh huh", sleep and then drive away the next morning. you will spend most of your time either in a vehicle or sleeping without ever getting to know anything about the locations you have visited.
slow down a bit and pick two spots. this will give you 3 days in each place. for instance, if you go to arenal, you can do the activities around that area and also take a couple of day trips - to cano negro and to the tenorio national park.
you could stay in one of the beach towns of the northern pacific and easily visit both santa rosa national park and palo verde national park.
you could visit arenal and the sarapiqui area for la selva - or just visit the palo verde biological station which much closer. check out this website: http://www.ots.ac.cr/index.php?option=com_content&task=section&id=10&Itemid=349
pare down your itinerary and let us know where you will be going for lodging recommendations.
for rental agencies: toyota, national, adobe, alamo, solid, service. if you use an agency that has a presence in the us, be sure to go to the website of the costa rican agency.
keep in mind that you are visiting at the very busiest time of the year so it won't be especially easy to find either the car rental you want or the hotel or sometimes even the tour you want.
Nov 11, 2012 6:41 PM
2hi, wiremu, your input is greatly appreciated!
yeh, I knew I rush a bit to plan for the trip, 7 days is so short and I want to see more.:). I knew it would take half day to go to a location, was thinking to plan 1 or 2 activities in one location, so was thinking about two night's staying. I will need to think about taking one location out, which might be northern pacific area.
Thanks for all the links, will do more research on that. And the tip for the rental car is good, will sure to check its CR website.
Nov 11, 2012 7:03 PM
3you actually have 6 days. if you arrive late afternoon on the 24th, you should stay somewhere near the airport and start out the next morning. (you can get the rental car agency to deliver your car to your hotel the next morning.) if your flight leaves early on the 1st, you should spend your last night near the airport. (you will need to be at the airport 3 hours ahead of your flight.)
if you split your time into two places, that works well. just about anywhere you go (except monteverde) will allow you to do some day trips around the area.
Nov 11, 2012 8:47 PM
4Yes, we will stay at Alajuela for the night of Dec.24 and 31. Will the rental car agency charge extra fee to deliver the car to our hotel? how about returning the car?
For arenal, I don't have activities planned yet. Since I have hiked the volcano in Hawaii and saw the lava flowing out, I am not particularly interested to hike arenal, also we are not big fan of the hot spring, so not sure what we will do other than sightseeing, any recommendations?
Monteverde is the main reason I wanted to visit CR, so I will spend more time there. I am thinking to do night walking, sky bridge, and zipline. I learned that it would be better to go to the cloud forest very early to avoid the tourist, say, before sunrise, I guess that I have to live very close to the park if I don't get a rental car, any hotels(below $100) or hostels to suggest? seems the town of Santa Elena is not THAT close.
Nov 12, 2012 3:41 AM
5I think you might be underestimating how busy things can get during that holiday week. Although Monteverde has greatly increased its capacity on beds you had better get anything you can right now if you don't want to sleep in your car (if you can get a car!). Seriously- get it booked! (it really isn't a question of great recommendations- the good stuff is probably already booked solid!)....
Nov 12, 2012 4:05 AM
6for arenal: http://www.arenal.net
for day trips: http://www.ruralcostarica.com
for monteverde: http://www.monteverdeinfo.com
whether the rental car agency will charge to deliver your car will depend on the agency. probably not. at that time of year, you will be lucky to find a car, actually.
if you can't get a car, you can use the shared van shuttle: http://www.anywherecostarica.com/transportation or http://www.shuttlebus.co.cr or http://www.easyridecr.com the shared van shuttle provides hotel-to-hotel service in a 12-passenger van. then use local taxis to get around.
Nov 12, 2012 9:22 AM
7I just returned from a couple of places you mentioned, and would definitely recommend no less than 2 nights in each location and picking 2 places to focus on. It took us about 3+ hours to drive from Alajuela to Arenal and another 3-4 hours from Arenal to Monteverde.
In Arenal we visited the waterfall at La Fortuna, which I would recommend for a half-day trip. It's lovely and you can swim in some of the pools around it, unlike a few of the other waterfalls we visited. It's $10 and there's a parking lot at the top of the hill or you could arrange a taxi/shuttle. We did Volcan Tenorio separately but would recommend it as a day trip option from Arenal. Muddy but lovely.
Can't remember who we did the night tour with at Monteverde, but I would highly recommend it. Can dig up the tour operator/location if you're interested. Cost $23pp plus guide tip, and our guide was great. Did the hanging bridges at Selvatura ($30), which was fun, but we didn't get lucky with any wildlife spotting. Think it's too touristy. The park at Santa Elena actually doesn't open until 7 or 8, so there's no way I'm aware to do it or Monteverde park at dawn. Could be wrong.
We stayed at Monteverde Villa Lodge ($50 low season, includes breakfast), and the owners may be the nicest people on the planet. The location is just okay - it's kind of shoehorned into a corner, but you can walk into Santa Elena easily. Rooms are big and quite clean. Stayed at Hotel Arenal Green outside of La Fortuna in the Arenal area - $60 for a low season double, includes breakfast. Would recommend it highly, but you'd want a car to get into town - it's a 20-30 minute walk, no fun in the dark or the rain.
We rented a car from Payless, which I don't know if I would recommend or dis-recommend. They were willing to shuttle us to/from the airport or our Alajuela hotel for free. Stayed at Los Volcanes in Alajuela our last night, which was $60 for a double including breakfast. Super nice staff.
Nov 13, 2012 4:09 PM
8Thank you so much, BOOMER1, wiremu and bollygrl. I decided to take shared van shuttle and stay in Arenal and Monterverde only. I will do the night tour, zipline and also hanging bridges at Monterverde. Still not sure how to arrange my 3 days at Arenal yet, might do the waterfall and the hiking around the volcano.
bollygrl, what is special about Volcan Tenorio? is it possible that I can go with a tour since we don't have a car.
You guys/gals are great help! Thanks!
Nov 14, 2012 9:44 AM
9Tenorio is where the Rio Celeste is - mineral deposits in part of the river turn it a milky blue. On a clear day (good luck with that), you can see Volcan Miravalles as well. There's a huge waterfall in the park, and if you have a guide, you might have good luck with wildlife-spotting, as it's less trafficked than both Arenal and Monteverde. You can definitely go with a tour from Arenal - we saw them advertised everywhere. It would likely take the whole day, not sure of the cost.
I've been updating my travel blog, and should have something on Tenorio up there this afternoon. http://molly-on-the-road.blogspot.com/
Nov 15, 2012 4:41 PM
Nov 16, 2012 5:20 AM
11When we were on the Tenorio trail, we saw a big group of tourists in their 50s and 60s (many with hiking poles) who were doing the whole hike, as well as a couple of kids who did the part to the waterfall and back. We didn't find it too strenuous, just a bit challenging with the mud. The stairs are somewhat steep, but they're poured concrete, so they're pretty wide and very new.
Nov 17, 2012 4:02 PM
12Thanks, bollygrl. Great information, will do this tour, a bit expensive though, around $105 per person from Anywhere CR, but I think it will be good choice from pictures I saw on websites and in the tour books.
I checked Hotel Arenal Green, looks like a nice spot away from the town. Is it SW from the town? walkable to La Fortuna waterfall? I am thinking to find a cheap place close to the waterfall that I might be able to do a short hike in the afternoon when I arrive. Walking for 20-30 min is not a problem, if not raining.:)
Nov 19, 2012 2:18 PM
13Hotel Arenal Green is SE from town, and is walkable to the waterfall, though the road up gets quite steep. It took us about 3 hours, round-trip, to do the whole waterfall excursion, and at least half of that was walking to/from the waterfall.
Not surprised about the Tenorio tour price, given that it is a 2-3 hour drive from Arenal, plus the excursion, guide, etc. Hope you enjoy it - and get less rain than we did!
Nov 19, 2012 2:49 PM
14while the tour price to the rio celeste might seem a little high, keep in mind it covers: "Lunch, water bottle, juice, guide, transportation, and entrance fee to the park. " the park entrance fee is $10 per person.
another option would be with http://www.ruralcostarica.com
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