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1st time: Itinerary HELP???

san diego
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1st time: Itinerary HELP???

I am planning my 1st trip to Costa Rica for January 2007. I will be going with my boyfriend and do not plan on renting a car. We want an adventure filled trip that will make the most of the time What do you think about this itinerary ?.are we overdoing ourselves?.... also any thoughts on the accomodations we've chose as far as quality and location (w/ no car, mid-priced budget, willing to plurge if worth it) ???

Day1: Arrive San Jose

- Stay at Hotel Aranjuez

Day2/3: Overnight Pacuare Rafting Trip

-Exploradores Outdoors w/ direct transfer to La Fortuna

Day 3/4/5: La Fortuna

-Stay at Arenal Volcano Lodge

- Bike tour around the volcano, canyoneering w/ Pure Trek, Tabacon, hanging bridges,waterfall hike, cano negro boat tour

- Transfer to Monteverde via horse/boat /taxi w/ Desafio

Day 6/78: Monteverde

- Stay at Arco Iris Lodge

- Monteverde cloud forest guided day & night hike, coffee tour, Original canopy tour,

Day 9/10 Rincon de la Vieja

- Stay at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin

- Hotel activities including: tubing, horseback riding, waterfall, sulfer

Day 11/12: Playa Grande

- Stay at Hotel Bula, Bula

- Relax, night turtle tour, day trip to playa Tamarindo

- Transfer to airport in Liberia if possible

Thanks,

traveller327

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1. Re: 1st time: Itinerary HELP???

Someone really did their homework... Looks excellent. The only thing I would do differently is to stay longer at Playa Grande. Give yourself another day to unwind on the beach... I'd get that extra day by either doing the day trip on the Pacuare instead of the overnight and/or cut a day from Monteverde.

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2. Re: 1st time: Itinerary HELP???

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Removed on: 5:34 pm, December 11, 2006
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3. Re: 1st time: Itinerary HELP???

While this may not be a post about your itinerary, I do strongly suggest to any one going to Costa Rica to buy some mosquito repelent and some anti-itch cream before you go, and pack it in your suitcases. If you forget to bring something to Costa Rica, please do not let it be either the repellent or the anit-itch cream,/gel. Any hydrocortisone cream or a benedryl stick, it's the smallest and easiest to carry with you while in Costa Rica. They do not sell anti-itch cream or aything like it in Costa Rica for some reason, so if you do not use the whole thing before your trip is up, give it to another tourist that needs it or better yet, a local who will love you for life!!!! Oh yes, and another thing, especially for women, bring along a packet or 3 of tissue or compact tiolet paper with you everywhere, as well as handi wipes, the one's that come individually wrapped are the best. Have fun, and don't forget the repellent, anti-itch cream, tp, or handi-wipes.!!!!!!

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san diego
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4. Re: 1st time: Itinerary HELP???

I'm now contemplating Hotel Bula Bula vs. Rip Jack Inn (got good Trip Advisor reviews). Any thoughts???

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5. Re: 1st time: Itinerary HELP???

wizze makes a good point! A personal/purse size of personal wipes is a very good idea. Also, antibacterial lotion/cream for quick hand washups when a bathroom/sink/soap is not avail. Great idea .. benedryl stick as it is not sold here (yet!) In some areas, the local grocery does not sell repellant and anti-itch creams; however, the farmacia generally does. Maybe not a brand you're familiar with (might be the generic or otherwise) but still quite good. I've found the farmacias here to be fabulous ... from antibiotics to personal care to general pain management. Generally a prescrip is not needed for most items. Lisa

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6. Re: 1st time: Itinerary HELP???

I was in Costa Rica last month and would suggest a couple of changes:

Aventura Canopy Tour in Monteverde - Awesome, and includes a tarzan swing. The last zipline was something like 650 feet long.

Two Day Pacuare River Trip with Rios Tropicales - that is the one I took, and I still shake my head at how fantastic it was. With two days you get to "play" more in the rapids, float down the river and stay at the lodge at the edge of the Pacuare. While at the camp, we got a taste of ziplining, where our guides led us through a 4 - platform zipline the afternoon of the first day. We also were able to swim in a waterfall pool at the edge of the camp in the afternoon, and the next morning at another waterfall pool above the lodge area.

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san diego
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7. Re: 1st time: Itinerary HELP???

Yes, I would LOVE to do the rafting trip with either Rios Tropicales or Aventuras Naturales as I have heard that they & grounds are impressive. With Exploradores Outdoors, the "tent" camp looks very rustic. THe ONLY reason why I chose Exploradores Outdoors is because they offer a free transfer to La Fortuna after the trip (instead of heading back to San Jose). RT and AN can set up a private shuttle to La FOrtuna, but for a $130. On the other hand if we get dropped off at San Jose it would be too late in the day to take 'interbus' shuttle to La Fortuna which would mean checking into another hotel & staying the night, then losing half of the next morning traveling to La Fortuna for another $80 in public shuttle (for 2 travlers). Either way if I go with Exploradores Outdoors I will be saving time &/or money.

If anyone with 1st hand experience with Exploradores Outdoors can comment it would be much appreciated. Is the extra time & money worth choosing another rafting outfitter??

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8. Re: 1st time: Itinerary HELP???

Your itinerary looks great, but I think you wouldn't have enough time for everything you have planned in La Fortuna area. Even if you transfer there on the evening of day 3, you will have the following:

day 4 - Bike tour around the volcano, canyoneering w/ Pure Trek, Tabacon, hanging bridges,waterfall hike, cano negro boat tour. This is impossible because biking is either half or full day, canyoneering is 4 hours morning or afternoon, but I don't think you would be able to or should combine it with biking in the same day, and Cano Negro is a full day trip. Plus, you will need a few hours for Tabacon, a few hours for hanging bridges, and 3 hours for the waterfall hike. You need 3 1/2 days in La Fortuna for all these activities.

day 5 - Transfer to Monteverde via horse/boat /taxi w/ Desafio - that leaves in the morning

I just search the forums for Exploradores Outdoors and found one post from someone who went with them:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g309265-i4753-k373…

Here is how I would suggest you change it:

- Day1: Arrive San Jose

- Day2: Pacuare Rafting Trip (1 day)

-Exploradores Outdoors w/ direct transfer to La Fortuna

- Day 3: Bike tour around the volcano, Tabacon

- Day 4: canyoneering w/ Pure Trek, hanging bridges

- Day 5: cano negro boat tour

(skip waterfall hike because you will have enough waterfalls on your canyoneering adventure)

- Day 6: Transfer to Monteverde via horse/boat /taxi w/ Desafio

- Day 7: Monteverde cloud forest guided day & night hike

- Day 8: coffee tour, Original canopy tour

- Day 9: Transfer to Rincon de la Vieja

- Day 10: Hotel activities including: tubing, horseback riding, waterfall, sulfer

- Day 11: Transfer to Playa Grande, relax, night turtle tour, day trip to playa Tamarindo (if you want to)

- Day 12: Relax, afternoon transfer to airport in Liberia (or you can fly from Tamarindo to San Jose)

We haven't been inside the rooms in Bula Bula or Rip Jack Inn but ate at the restaurants in both and prefer Rip Jack Inn for the amazing food, atmosphere, and service. Bula Bula was fine, but we enjoyed Rip Jack Inn more. If you will not have a car stay in Rip Jack Inn. From there you will be able to walk to the turtle tour (bring a flashlight). From Bula Bula it's a few kms and you will need to arrange a ride. In Rip Jack Inn get the room that is not under the restaurant - it would be quieter. We also ate at Hotel Las Tortugas and would rate it below the other two. There is another place right next to Rip Jack Inn - Playa Grande Inn (PGI), if you want to try for variety, but I don't know how good it is. Make sure to book your turtle tour in advance. Here is an earlier post discussing turtle tours:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g309245-i8952-k485…

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9. Re: 1st time: Itinerary HELP???

Reminder about travel to Costa Rica:

As of January 8, 2007, passports will be required for all U.S. citizens traveling to or from the United States via air or sea, to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.

travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html

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10. Re: 1st time: Itinerary HELP???

We went with 3 adults and 3 kids on a 19 day package put together by Rod at CostaNica Tours. It included many of the activities you have in mind, including the PureTrek canyoning (not as "kid-friendly" as they advertise, but fine for adults.....it does involve alot of standing-around-time, though, while waiting for other members of the group to descend. And there' no time or suitable place for swimming at the bottom of any of the waterfalls). We went (half-day) rafting on the Sarapiqui with Aguas Bravas, which provided our transport from La Fortuna, (and back there for those who weren't staying overnight close to the river). They were very professional, well-equipped and fun--more so in all respects than companies we've rafted with on rivers in W. Va. At Monteverde we loved the Finca Valverde's lofted cabinas (a short walk to town, but nestled-away), though the front desk staff was woefully ignorant about the short-but-scenic forest trails we discovered, right on the hotel grounds' hillside. We LOVED the ziplining and tarzan swing at Selvatura (from Monteverde), and the guided bridges walk there was also wonderful. We enjoyed the all-day Cano Negro tour. The night tour at Monteverde Reserve was just "OK", without enough visible sights to keep the kids from getting sleepy & winey. We stayed at Hacienda Guachipelin and enjoyed the lovely grounds, a long horseback ride and a waterfall hike & swim there, but the food (other than buffet breakfast) was so-so.

At Arenal, we stayed at Erupciones Inn, on a dairy & horse farm with a great (luckily, clear) view of the volcano, but no food or beverage service (just the included, light breakfast), and an 8 mile taxi ride to town if you can find the owners to call one. There's a great and reasonably-priced steakhouse restaurant, El Novillo, about a 1/3-mile walk down the road, though, so we ate our meals there, with the bonus of its spectacular view of glowing, night-time volcanic action---but we're told that clouds obscure the view 80% of the time.

Allow more time for Tabacon, if you can. We went at night after an afternoon volcano hike, and wish we could have seen the gorgous landscaping and setting during daylight hours....and we could have easily spent a whole day in the various hotspring pools there. The buffet dinner was the best food we had in CR.

We went to Samara Beach instead of Playa Grande since the turtles at Ostional lay eggs in July but the leatherbacks don't visit Playa Grande then. The turtle tour ended up going to another remote beach, south of Samara down some really rough roads toward the Isleta Resort, instead of to Ostional...and the guide was pretty unprofessional, but we did get to see 3 turtles laying eggs. We stayed at Brisas del Pacifico in Samara, one of only a couple of beachfront hotels. A brand-new one down the beach that looked very nice, opened the weekend we left, just in time for a group that arrived to stay there. Brisas was fine, though its restaurant menu was very limited and there were very few restaurants along the beach or in town (open during the 'green' season, at least).

We also went to Drake Bay (Marenco Lodge) for 4 nights, and stayed at Neotropico along the Sarapiqui, adjacent to the Tirimbina Reserve.

For the 6 of us, Rod arranged comfortable private or shared (as with the van-boat-van trip from Monteverde to La Fortuna, across Lago Arenal) transport. Their package included (besides hotels and transportation) most of our tour activities, which we later learned would have been quite expensive to book separately, and we were glad he'd chosen reliable providers for us so we weren't confused by cost comparisons and alternative tour choices during the trip. For some reason Marenco's meals (even breakfast) and tours weren't available within the package, and they were quite pricey, with the isolated location making us captive customers. CostaNica was also the only tour company we checked-out that included transport to & from the Liberia airport in their package (others would have required us to get a taxi for that, and with 6 people a van-taxi is not always available). We stayed at Best Western Las Espuelas our 1st and last nights due to its much-closer proximity to the Liberia airport than Hacienda Guachapelin, which was booked-up our 1st night there anyway.

Rod went out of his way to meet our tour and budget criteria (making requested revisions up till a week or so before our trip), and was very professional and generous with us in accepting "last-minute" credit card payment (from a US-based processor, so no foreign exchange fees on our credit cards). He also refunded a credit to us later for the difference in pricing on a room-type-change (due to construction activity) at Brisas, and hotel change (the original hotel, Selva Verde, he'd put into our package for Sarapiqui was full). He is very interested in feedback and in keeping himself up-to-date about all the options available for different destinations, tours and accomodations. We would recommend Costa Nica highly and wouldn't be surprised if you would save $ (compared to booking all the tour components separately, yourself) through them rather than it costing you more.

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