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Wildlife experience with 7 or 8 yr old son

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Edison, New Jersey
posts: 54
Wildlife experience with 7 or 8 yr old son

My son loves wild animals - he loves watching national geographic wild since he's three years old. I would like to go to costa rica and see the turtle nesting, sloth, monkeys in their natural habitat, he's also fascinated with volcanoes. My question is should I go this year that he's 7 year old or wait a year and being 8 year old he may remember much more and appreciate it more. my other question would be should we go for a group tour or rent a car and navigate things with my husband, would it be harder to do things, drive and find these areas ourselves?

Thanks for the advise.

Costa Rica
posts: 23,906
reviews: 26
1. Re: Wildlife experience with 7 or 8 yr old son

1. Your son is not too young at 7 to enjoy the nature and wildlife of Costa Rica.

2. Rent a car and go on your own. You will have so much freedom and flexibility to come and go as you please and visit the places you want to go.

Some suggestions:

For a beach location - Playa Samara is great for families. In nearby Playa Carrillo, there is a small wildlife rehabilitation center where he can get "up close and personal" with an array of animals, some of them nocturnal mammals that he would probably never see otherwise. Besides, when I was there, they had some really cool, large bats!

Manuel Antonio is a good area for families and a visit to the National Park would be great for seeing wildlife.

Another good location is the Arenal area. Horseback, waterfalls, hot springs, a day trip to Cano Negro for the boat trip through the Preserve.




Renting a car and driving yourself is a great way to go but you can also use the shared van shuttles to get from place to place.

Edited: 9:52 am, January 13, 2013
Edison, New Jersey
posts: 54
2. Re: Wildlife experience with 7 or 8 yr old son

Thank you so much for your info, it sounds like this trip needs a lot of research. I'm afraid 7 nights may not be enough for this trip.Did you book through a travel agent or booked directly to hotels. Would you mind telling me which hotels you've used, and does this hotels have the excursions available if I have to do the shared vans. I'm not looking for a luxury hotel, but did you book all-inclusive, if not are food places easy to find?

Costa Rica
posts: 23,906
reviews: 26
3. Re: Wildlife experience with 7 or 8 yr old son

I live in Costa Rica and travel around quite a bit and have never used a travel agent. It's easy just to book directly. I would NEVER book an All-Inclusive. There are many many comfortable hotels and lodges all over Costa Rica and also lots of restaurants.

Costa Rica, unlike some other countries where AI's are popular, has a great tourist infrastructure all over the country. So no problem there. The vast majority of tourists here do NOT use an AI.

At Samara Beach, I can recommend Villas Kalimba. I know families who have stayed there and liked it very much.

This is a good place to look: www.anywherecostarica.com They have a questionnaire where you can provide your answers and they will propose an itinerary or two for you. They can arrange transportation or you can do it on your own.

The shared van shuttles are just between destinations. In a local area, you can book organized tours for your excursions or just use a taxi to get around. In many locations, you can rent a car for a day or two.

To get the best out of your trip, you will need to do some research. But when I plan a trip, I think that doing the research is a fun part of the whole thing.

If you get confused--

1. Figure out what you want to do and see

2. Find the places to do that

3. Look at the lodging available and book it.

There you go!

For a 7-day trip, I would recommend no more than 2 places. Most people like to visit a volcano/mountain location such as Arenal and then a beach location such as Samara.

There are two international airports: San Jose SJO and Liberia LIR. Where you go will depend somewhat on which airport you fly into since they are 4 hours apart.

posts: 3,061
reviews: 33
4. Re: Wildlife experience with 7 or 8 yr old son

Sloths and turtles: Tortuguero

www.anywherecostarica.com is a great company

another place for volcano and wild life : Rincon de la Vieja Volcano

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
posts: 4,100
reviews: 108
5. Re: Wildlife experience with 7 or 8 yr old son

The most popular itinerary for first timers is a combo of the Arenal area and Manuel Antonio. Arenal gives you the volcano, and you can do the Cano Negro tour and Penas Blancas river float to see wildlife and also visit the Proyecto Asis animal rescue center. Check out Sunset Tours and Desafio; both have very good websites. Manuel Antonio will give you the beach and lots of easy access to fairly tame wildlife; take a guided tour of the park, and you'll see tons.

Edison, New Jersey
posts: 54
6. Re: Wildlife experience with 7 or 8 yr old son

Thank you all for the information and web links that I may not find by myself. I'm thinking now to go last week of June ( when kids are done with school) or if I'm not ready then I may have to wait for next June ( unfortunately I'm tied up to school's schedule.) I'm finding out that march and April may be busy ( was originally thinking of going during spring recess).

San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 43,042
7. Re: Wildlife experience with 7 or 8 yr old son

Very much agreee with others...and you do not need anybody to book or plan anything...middle people are just looking for your money...and some of them are not even proffesional Tour Operators or Travel Agents...

Good itinerary for you guys...Arenal...Manuel Antonio and Monteverde...you will see everything you are looking for ....nice in your case to rent a car and hit the road...if you can 10 days will be perfect...but 8 days 7 nights is also good enough...


Costa Rica
posts: 23,906
reviews: 26
8. Re: Wildlife experience with 7 or 8 yr old son

Either March, April or June would be fine. Just avoid the week before Easter which can be hectic since it is a major vacation time for Costa Ricans.

Otherwise, Costa Rica is not really a "Spring Break" kind of place so most of the "crowds" would be families like yours. You don't have to go to the most popular places -- and even if you do, it won't be wall to wall people.

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 5,704
reviews: 22
9. Re: Wildlife experience with 7 or 8 yr old son

I think you should go ahead and plan for the last week of June this year. If you combine Arenal and a beach, it's pretty straight forward.

Unlike the other posters, I think it's a good idea to use a travel agent or tour operator for your 1st ip to a new destination, I would just recommend you pick a Costa Rica based agency that has the latest up-to-date info on the country and is easily accessible to deal with any issues that come up during your trip.

There are a number of recommended agencies on this forum if you do a search, but I'd suggest you start by contacting any of the agencies listed below. Tell them you are looking at a 7 day trip split between Arenal and beach. Preferred beaches are Samara or Manuel Antonio. Ask them to include a rental car with GPS. Give them a rough max. budget and see what they come up with.

Check the hotels they come up with against tripadvisor reviews and you have a complete package deal, with or without airfare. Some people love to spend hours planning trips but I understand when you want to rely on someone with local knowledge to save hours sorting through all the information out there. There are many more great agencies out there then just these 3 but I have had good experiences contacting these guys.

Anywhere Costa Rica, www.anywherecostarica.com. They have a great website with tons of info to explore.

Horizontes Nature Tours, www.horizontes.com

CR Referrals, www.crreferrals.com

Edison, New Jersey
posts: 54
10. Re: Wildlife experience with 7 or 8 yr old son

Still debating when to go, I guess I should have put in that my son is just Turing 7 this May. Anyways I'm continuing on my research, cuz i don't know if I can wait longer. I want to see the volcano action at nighttime viewing, any suggestion where to stay and how to go about these? Also, if I want to see turtle nesting, when is the best time to go and would it really be rainy during these times?