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Please advise: Driving from San Jose to La Fortuna

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Halifax
posts: 8
reviews: 1
Please advise: Driving from San Jose to La Fortuna

My husband and I arrive in San Jose on January 8, he wants to drive to La Fortuna. I have a terrible fear of driving on roads with no shoulders, no land beside me, with cliff like drop offs with no guardrails, etc. Are the roads like this? Also, I watched a wonderful video on you tube by Travelcostarica.com that gave three different driving routes to La Fortuna. Would someone please check this video out and advise me if taking route two which turns right at Bajo Rodriguez, then to Santa Clara, to Angeles, to El Tanque and then to La Fortuna avoid the above mentioned road conditions if they in fact exist? Also we have no definate planned itinerary, want to travel around. Is it necessary to book lodging in advance? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Maryellen

Costa Rica
posts: 19,484
reviews: 23
1. Re: Please advise: Driving from San Jose to La Fortuna

One thing you could do - hire private transportation from the airport to the Arenal area and then rent a car there. This way, you can get a feel for the roads yourself. It's hard for anyone to say whether they would bother you or not.

It's a pretty busy time of year and I would definitely book your first couple of nights. If you don't mind having to look around a bit and not getting your first choice, you should be OK otherwise.

Philadelphia...
posts: 4
reviews: 25
2. Re: Please advise: Driving from San Jose to La Fortuna

Our family of 4 adults and 2 older teens just returned from that exact experience. While we enjoyed the trip immensely, there are a few items I would advise. We wasted a lot of time dealing with rental cars and related problems, in addition to the fact that roads and directions were a concern. My feeling is that if you are seriously up for an adventure and want to explore MANY areas in Costa Rica, then go ahead and rent a car to have the needed flexibility. However, if you are going to one or two destinations within the country, then just pay for the transfers and you will be happier. You can always find someone offering to drive you where you want to go. We dealt with Hertz and had many problems; the La Fortuna region seems to recommend Alamo. Have fun - the ticos are happy to have you visiting!

Halifax
posts: 8
reviews: 1
3. Re: Please advise: Driving from San Jose to La Fortuna

Thank you so much for the prompt reply. Yes, we have considered hiring a shuttle etc. but normally when we travel we rent a car and drive ourselves. Are you familiar with the video I mentioned in my post and the alternate route that was suggested and if this would possible be a better option for me. We are only there for one week and previously we have travelled the Pan American, and the 21 to different areas in Guanacoste Province. Would love to drive ourselves . Please advise as to if there are shoulders on the sides of the road. Thanks, again.

Halifax
posts: 8
reviews: 1
4. Re: Please advise: Driving from San Jose to La Fortuna

Thank you for your reply. We really want to explore as much as possible during our one week stay, so we will probably rent a car at some point.

Costa Rica
posts: 19,484
reviews: 23
5. Re: Please advise: Driving from San Jose to La Fortuna

OK. There are shoulders in some places - others not. It's hard to describe all the roads in Costa Rica and it's hard to describe all the ways to get to the Arenal area. What you might consider "scary" I might consider "normal" or vice versa. In general, don't expect to find shoulders, railings, or sheer drop-offs in most of Costa Rica.

By taking private transportation from the airport to Arenal, you haven't done anything except substitute ONE LEG of your trip from rental car to private transportation.

Doing this will give you a good idea of road conditions in Costa Rica for the rest of your trip and you can ask the driver about other road conditions in other parts of the country.

You can rent a car in La Fortuna for the rest of your trip.

But, of course, it's your vacation and your decision.

London, England...
posts: 2,210
reviews: 80
6. Re: Please advise: Driving from San Jose to La Fortuna

The drive is a easy 3.5 hrs, just pay 10 bucks for the sat nav and it'll take you the perfect route. Roads are all in excellent condition, paved and well marked. They do meander quite a bit as you get higher up the mountains but the tico drivers aren't half as hectic as some people make out and it really is perfectly easy going. Don't let the lack of multiple lanes and shoulder put you off.

Costa Rica
posts: 19,484
reviews: 23
7. Re: Please advise: Driving from San Jose to La Fortuna

Great advice, David E. Much better than mine.....

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 4,950
reviews: 20
8. Re: Please advise: Driving from San Jose to La Fortuna

I haven't watched the videos and frankly don't have the time to do so. I agree with Hattie's advice. The problem IMO is that what is an easy scenic drive on a sunny bright morning is much more problematic on a rainy day, particularly if coupled with fog on the stetch at higher elevation that runs thru the Los Angeles cloudforest. All 3 routes run thru or edge this cloudforest.

Halifax
posts: 8
reviews: 1
9. Re: Please advise: Driving from San Jose to La Fortuna

Thank you all for your help and information. We appreciate your responses.

Philadelphia...
posts: 4
reviews: 25
10. Re: Please advise: Driving from San Jose to La Fortuna

A lot of varied advice - given your window of time, I agree with the recommendation of private transportation to Arenal and then car rental within that area. We used Route 702, which was "direct" but lots of bridge re-construction and extremely windy. It is NOT an easy drive, although scenic. Yes, about 3-1/2 hours tops.