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driving in costa rica - and other questions

Which Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve hotels are on sale?
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toronto
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driving in costa rica - and other questions

Hi there

I am going to CR at the end of December and am wondering a few things. We are planning to go to either La Fortuna or Monteverde - any opinions on which is better? We would like to do the hot springs/zipline/jungle hike.

We would like to rent a car, but can really only afford an economy car. Is a 4X4/4WD required for the mountain roads?

Alternatively, is it easy enough to bus from town to town? I've heard it's hard to get buses anywhere except to and from San Jose, does anyone know different?

Costa Rica
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1. Re: driving in costa rica - and other questions

If you can only go to one place, go to Arenal-La Fortuna area. You won´t need a 4WD to drive to Arenal. You WILL need it to drive to Monteverde and most of the beaches in Guanacaste though.

There is also forest in Arenal. If go there try the hanging bridges and the SkyTram-Sky Trek Tour.

It is not very easy to bus around in small towns such as La Fortuna and Monteverde. You will probably have to flkag down taxis or rent a car. Neverthless, have in mind that it is much easier taking a bus in places such as Tamarindo or Manuel Antonio, probably because of the short and easy roads (less than 4 miles) that connect the towns-attractions area with the resorts area.

Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: driving in costa rica - and other questions

Hi egif,

My bofriend and I just returned from a 2 week trip in Costa Rica yesterday. And YES you DO need 4WD. Imagine driving up the side of a mountain with a sheer cliff to your right, oncoming traffic on a very narrow dirt road next to you and potholes big enough to swallow your car. It may sound funny, but this is a pretty realistic picture. If you're a bit of a thrill-seeker like me, the driving is fun.

But if you can't afford 4WD, you might wanna think about busing it instead. We met many travelers using the bus system and heard no complaints. It's a pretty good network as far as I can tell.

With the exception of the hot springs, Monteverde was much more interesting than La Fortuna, with great canopy tours (we did Aventura's), riding tours, and hikes available (we skipped hiking cause we'd already done something simular in Drake Bay). If you catch some good weather you may be able to see Arenal Volcano from Monteverde, and that's the only main attraction in La Fortuna.

If you do head into Arenal for the hot springs, you don't neccessarily have to shell out for Tabacon. We visited Baldi, it was much cheaper and we had a great time. Hope this helps!

toronto
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3. Re: driving in costa rica - and other questions

Thanks very much to both of you (although you each recommend a different place, I take it that means they are both good :)). We're going to shell-out for the 4WD, mainly because we'd like to be able to go where ever we want and not have to worry that our car might not make it or could get damaged.

We may try and hit up both Monteverde and Arenal area, but only have three days, so we'll see how it goes. Then we're heading to Tamarindo for a few days. After that we've got no plans, do you want to recommend a third place/town/area that we should check out for a few days on the pacific side?

Thanks again for all your input.

Oklahoma City, OK
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4. Re: driving in costa rica - and other questions

Egrif-

Check out ticotravel......on the net. We found their prices to be very reasonable and we got a 4 x 4 for $299 for the week (starting this Friday). That was only $50 more than renting a Yaris or other tiny car. My husband I thought that was pretty good.

Claudia was great to deal with and we ended up booking thru Europcar.

Have Fun!

Sherie

\P.S. 48 hours and counting 'til Tico Time!

Toronto, Canada
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5. Re: driving in costa rica - and other questions

Hey Egrif,

Can't recommend too much on the pacific coast, we steered clear of Tamarindo, as we're not big fans of overy touristy places. The highlight of our trip was 3 nights in Drake Bay in the far southern pacific, but it's not really accessible by car, so that's probably out of the question for you. After Arenal we headed for the carribean and stayed out there for the remainder of our trip.

In terms of rental car companies, I did a lot of shopping around beforehand, and found Economy to have the best prices, that's who we ended up booking with.

Be sure to investigate insurance, the basic often dosn't cover things like 3rd parties. Meaning, if you're in an accident and you damage somone else's property, it's not covered.

San Francisco...
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6. Re: driving in costa rica - and other questions

In the last year, we've hit most of the places you're considering and have enjoyed them all. In terms of Pacific Beaches, you can't really go wrong in Tamarindo, Playas Cocos or Playa Flamingo though my favorite is Playa Grande on the north side of the estuary Tamarindo abuts.

The Bakery
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7. Re: driving in costa rica - and other questions

We did both Monteverde and Arenal and loved both. The drive to Monteverde is challenge and you MUST have 4WD. I wouldn't consider anything smaller than a Toyota Rav 4 or similar just for the mountain roads and the dirt roads in Guanacaste.

For Arenal, I'd skip Tabacon Resort and stay up at Lost Iguana. It's further from the volcano, but you get more for your money. Go into the park access road at night for the best views of the lava flow. Due use the alternate hot springs. Do Toad Hall - up the road from La Fortuna toward Tiliran - for lunch (really good and really cheap - and world calss brownies) and great lake views. Great little gift shop with local artwrok and wood carvings.

In Monteverde we stayed at El Sopa Dorado and my friends did the Selvatura ziplines and hanging bridges. That and the Cano Island trip out of Dominical were considered the two best of our nearly 3 week trip.

We too avoided Tamarindo, but all those little beach resorts in the area are fairly close, so you'll be fine.

We went to Ballena, just south of Dominical and loved it down there! Less developed than MA, and great beaches and mountains. Check out www.dominica.biz for info. We stayed at Cristal Ballena and we would have switched all our nights out on Guanacaste beaches for more night in this area. There's that much to do.

Other than the road to/from Monteverde, the roads weren't as bad as we thought. Actually, I found them pretty good Of course, heavy rain can change all that.