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flight vs bus

Seattle, Washington
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flight vs bus

Ok so now I am wondering if I should take flight to arenal/monteverde area. After reading this forum I wish I had booked more than 15 days.

So here is the rough plan.

Fly into mangua nicaragua arrive late transport to sjds. Stay 2 nights

Head to ometepe for 3 nights

Take bus to monteverde? How long would it take to go from revas to monteverde?

Spend 2 nights

Go to arenal spend. 1night maybe 2

Fly out too sanjose?

Thinking of trying to save time flying instead of taking bus

Is there a flight from nicaragua to la fortuna/arenal area?

Liberia to arenal?

What airlines?

Thanks

guanacaste
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1. Re: flight vs bus

nature air flyes from managua to liberia and conects to arenal

http://www.natureair.com/

Seattle, Washington
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2. Re: flight vs bus

Thanks. I think 2 hr flight time is better than all day on a bus. Plus maybe easier for border crossing

San Jose, Costa Rica
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3. Re: flight vs bus

Of course it is better check costums at a International airport than a border...but also more money...but vacation time is important...

roadadvisor

Seattle, Washington
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4. Re: flight vs bus

I was just thinking about that and wondering how long for customs at airport?

Flight from managua stops in liberia than sanjose then off to arenal.

I wonder where customs are done?

I figured 2 hours in the air compared to 8 or so hours on a bus would give me extra day to spend at arenal

Thanks again for all you advice

Punta Uva, Costa...
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5. Re: flight vs bus

You will clear customs in Liberia, usually pretty fast there, you should be out in 1/2 hour.

Tampa, FL
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for San Jose, Costa Rica
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6. Re: flight vs bus

I have to disagree with everyone here!!!

You have to take a bus from Liberia to Monteverde regardless of whether you take a bus or fly for the rest of your trip, so what we're really talking about here is which way is faster: just taking a bus from Rivas to Liberia or taking a bus BACK to Managua and flying from THERE to Liberia.

According to the website www.thebusschedule.com TicaBus has 4 departures per day that pick up in Rivas and drop off in Liberia, Transnica has 3 and King Quality has 1. All but the King Quality one are scheduled for only 2.5 hours transit time INCLUDING time at the border (King Quality lists their transit time as 3 hours). That's a far cry from "8 or so hours on a bus". Granted that 2.5 hour estimate only allows for 30 minutes for border formalities which may be a bit optimistic (plus 40 minutes to get to the border and an hour 20 from Penas Blancas to Liberia). I have done it in less than 30 but an hour 30 would be a safer estimate. But even then we're still only talking about 3.5 hours for that part of the trip.

What are we talking about if you choose to fly instead? The EXPRESS bus BACK to Managua leaves every half hour but takes an hour 45 just by itself. I don't believe that goes by the airport which is on the EAST side of the city because that let's off at the Mercado Huembes terminal which is on the way into town from the SOUTH, so you'll probably need to find another bus or more likely taxi to actually get to the airport (time estimate? your guess is as good as mine). Flying is starting to not look so good now, isn't it?

But wait it gets worse. All of you were so worried about customs after you ARRIVE in CR, you forgot all about how long it takes to LEAVE a country by air. Normally airlines require you check-in for international flights TWO HOURS before departure, so now we're already up to more time than simply taking the bus direct EVEN assuming instantaneous transport between the bus terminal and the airport, flight time and customs on the other end.

But wait I'm not done. I don't know about any other carriers but a quick check of the Nature Air website reveals that they don't even run the Managua to Liberia flight every day. When they run it at this time of year it doesn't leave until 4PM (arriving Liberia ~4:30PM plus 30 for customs plus some time more to get from the airport to the bus station in town and secure your seat for the next part of your trip). Unfortunately, the last connection you can make that would get you to Santa Elena (Monteverde) leaves at 2:30PM thereby sticking you in Liberia until the next day). During the summer months, Nature Air's Managua-Liberia flight leaves at 9AM which isn't any better because the earliest you could get to the BUS STATION in Managua from Moyogalpa is 8:25AM (leaving on the 5:30AM ferry), which hardly allows you enough time to get out to the airport before the flight takes off let alone 2 hours for pre-flight check-in. Even switching the order of your destinations (doing Ometeppe first followed by SJdS) you couldn't make it back to Managua until 8AM.

So, while the flight time might actually be only 30 minutes (not 2 hours as you stated), when you add in 1:45 on a bus back to Managua, 15 minutes minimum from the bus station to the airport, 2 hours for pre-flight check-in (ASSUMING there is even a flight to Liberia that day and you don't have to wait much longer for the one flight that might be taking off that day), 30 minutes for the flight itself, 30 minutes for customs at the Liberia airport and some time to get to the bus station in Liberia, we're actually talking about a BARE MINIMUM of 5 hours to cover the same distance that you could on a single bus in 2.5-3 hours AND, because of the limited direct flight departures from Managua to Liberia, we're most likely REALLY talking about something that would require an OVERNIGHT stay in either Managua or Liberia if you chose to fly.

Granted going by bus is no great shakes. If you left Moyogalpa on the 7AM ferry, you could be in Liberia by 11AM and easily make the connection for the Pulmitan bus that leaves at noon (changing buses for Santa Elena in someplace called Irma) arriving at your final destination at 3:45PM or nearly 9 hours after departure from Ometeppe. In contrast, about the BEST you could do by air is leave Moyogalpa on the last ferry that leaves at 4:30PM, overnight in Managua, catch the 9AM flight to Liberia (assuming you leave after May 1st), wait for the noon bus in Liberia and arrive in Monteverde around 3:45PM or nearly 24 hours after you left Ometeppe (and for far greater cost and hassle). Personally, I'd opt for the bus.

Costa Rica
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7. Re: flight vs bus

Prolijo has some very valid points. Consider this:

The Nature Air flight from Managua to Liberia goes on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 4:00 pm which is pretty late to be arriving half-way into your journey.

The Nature Air flight from Liberia to Arenal flies every day but leaves Liberia at 7:00 am and arrives Arenal at 12:25 pm after making 2 stops.

With TicaBus, or King Quality or NicaBus or one of the others, it is about 3 hours to Liberia, maybe less. Get off the bus, have something to eat and walk around a little. Take the Pulmitan bus (or any bus going to San Jose). The Pulmitan bus leaves about every hour.

There are really three "entrances" from the InterAmerican Highway to Monteverde/Santa Elena. You can get off at La Irma and get a bus there but the most "popular" place with the most buses to Monteverde will be at Cuatro Cruces.

Tell the driver you want to get off at Cuatro Cruces and then wait there for the bus to Monteverde that comes either from San Jose or Puntarenas. There are some shops and small restaurants there so good place to take a break.

If you want to get to Arenal by bus from Liberia, let me know and I can tell you how to do that.

You can also get a shared van shuttle from Liberia to either Arenal or Monteverde. Direct, air conditioned - $30 to $40.

If you have the money - a good option is to hire a private driver. You could even have someone meet you at the border. Otherwise, have a driver meet you in Liberia and take you straight to either Arenal or Monteverde.

So really, you need to compare the bus ride from Rivas to Managua, the need to arrive very early for your flight, the flight schedule -- with just catching the bus in Rivas (TicaBus or others) and heading for Liberia.

Seattle, Washington
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8. Re: flight vs bus

Wow thanks for taking the time to research this for me.

I just guessed at about how much time for the bus. I have never been able to find a time that the bus leaves revas. I will check out website you referenced. I looked at airline website but didn't notice they did not fly daily. Also I had kindof ruled out monteverde because I didn't see flight there.

I am concerned I am rushing it with only 2 nights so I thought maybe just see arenal. I would love to spend 1 night monteverde take ferry or horseaback to arenal and spend 1 night there. Then bus to san jose.

Is that too rushed?

According to your research it seems the bus is more frequent. I just want as much explore/relax time as possible and don't want to feel rushed.

Another option would be go from nicaragua to cidad colon by bus and pick up car at home we are staying at. And drive ourselves to that area and stay 2 nights. It just looked like on the map that it would be better to visit before we got to ciudad colon.

I am open for any and all ideas. We are not traveling till jan 2012

Thanks again. This forum has great input and new suggestions

I LOVE IT!

Costa Rica
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9. Re: flight vs bus

The TicaBus and other international buses make a stop in Rivas. I think the TicaBus has an agency there. If you go to the website,, you probably won't see a bus FROM Rivas to anywhere. It will be the bus from Managua/Granada that stops in Rivas on the way to the border.

I wouldn't bother with 1 night in Arenal and 1 night in Monteverde. I would stay 2 nights in Arenal. The time it takes to get to either of these locations makes it not worthwhile to be there for a short time.

There is a flight to Monteverde but it is as inconvenient as the one to Arenal. Two stops, takes all day.

To get to Ciudad Colon by bus, you would have to take the bus to San Jose and then transfer. San Jose is about 4 hours from Liberia. Then you would be more or less backtracking to go to either Arenal or Monteverde.

Probably better to just ride the bus from Rivas to Liberia, get a shuttle to Arenal, get another shuttle as close as possible to Ciudad Colon.

Tampa, FL
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10. Re: flight vs bus

Re: the "multiple ways" to get from Liberia to Monteverde - it is true that there are buses heading down the PAH leaving Liberia at least every hour throughout the day if not even more frequently. It is also true that there are "3 entrances" leaving the PAH heading up to Monteverde. The problem is in how regularly those latter buses run. There are only 2 buses to Monteverde from SJ per day and 1 of those leaves much too early for you to be able to catch it coming from Liberia. Puntarenas is a little better with 3 afternoon buses to Monteverde. However, because of the way those buses match up with the one you'd be taking from Liberia to meet it, your options are really more limited than that. As for why the "Irma route", that was the connection point that came up when I ran it through thebusschedule, presumably because that was the point at which the buses you would catch to Monteverde leave the PAH. Of course, you could get off the Liberia bus anywhere along the PAH that overlaps with bus you'd need to catch to Monteverde and perhaps Cuatro Cruces may be an easier place to do that but Irma is just where that website kicked out the place to change.

Re: busing to Arenal from Liberia - that is certainly possible by bus but you'd need to make to connections (at Canas and Tilaran) vs. the 1 you'd need to get to Monteverde. And, according to thebusschedule, those only work out twice per day - one taking only 4.5 hours but leaving Liberia at 10:30 or much earlier than you'd be able to make it there from Ometeppe and the other not leaving Liberia until 8PM and overnighting in Tilaran. Scratch that!!! If you're gonna go with this itinerary much better to pay the extra and go with the tourist shuttle as Hattie has suggested. Interbus has 2 shuttles per day from Liberia to Arenal. The first is way too early for you but the one leaving Liberia at 3:15PM could get you to Arenal by 6:45PM, still about 3hrs later than you could make it to Monteverde but allowing you more time there if you cut out Monteverde (you also might be able to leave Moyogalpa as late as the 11AM ferry but that would not allow much safety margin catching the shuttle in Liberia).

Re: the bus to Ciudad Colon - as Hattie already stated this would require you taking the bus all the way back to SJ. Again according to that website, the bus from Liberia to SJ actually takes 4.5hours HOWEVER with the connection time and bus ride to Ciudad Colon you're actually looking at close to SIX hours before you get there or 5:20PM at the earliest if you're coming from Ometeppe (vs. 3:45PM for Monteverde)

So far it looks like going directly to Arenal (using the shuttle from Liberia) and skipping Monteverde rather than rushing it through both places may be your best option just as Hattie stated. But I might suggest yet one more approach if you're really set on seeing both Monteverde and Arenal, which while still a little rushed you might find more doable, and that is to shave off a day somewhere else. I've been to both SJdS and Ometeppe. Your 1st option is to cut a night from SJdS. Two nights in SJdS is adequate but you could stay there in as little as 1 night and still have time to enjoy the beaches if you leave late from there for Ometeppe (the last ferry that you could catch requires that you leave SJdS by 4PM). Personally, if you're gonna cut some time from somewhere, I'd go with option 2 and cut it from Ometeppe. Even with getting there late from SJdS, 3 nights at Ometeppe, allows you 2 full days there. Figure 1 day to climb the volcano and the other day for what? The beaches near SJdS are nicer than any I saw on Ometeppe (granted they are lake shore rather than sea waves). However, if you really want some extra time for just looking around you could also get there earlier in the day from SJdS, shave off 1 night from your stay and still have a day and a half for activities on the island.

One the other end, I agree with Hattie that just 1 night in Monteverde is kinda short for the time it takes to get there. However, you only need a morning to see the park itself and while it certainly would be better to spend the afternoon and a 2nd night to get the bare minimum of what the area has to offer, what else are you most likely to do? Some sort of canopy thing in the afternoon? You can do that at Arenal. If you take the afternoon "jeep"-boat tour to Arenal AND look at that as a fun activity in of itself then a simple overnight visit to Monteverde is not THAT rushed (even though it is much briefer than most people would recommend). It is at least doable and somewhat reasonable if still a bit rushed. And, with the night you shaved off of Ometeppe, you'd still have 2 nights left over to enjoy Arenal. I'm not saying this is necessarily the way to go. I'm just saying it is another alternative to consider. Of course, you could also take that 1 night from Ometeppe, skip Monteverde and spend 3 nights at Arenal. It all depends on your priorities and what you most want to do and see.