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Cramming too much in?

Raleigh, North...
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Cramming too much in?

Hello,

Planning a trip to Costa Rica for early next April, flying into Liberia and out of San Jose (only option due to using FF miles). Is this itinerary too much:

Day 1 - Arrive Liberia 1:15pm. Drive to Monteverde

Day 2 - Monteverde

Day 3 - Drive to Arenal

Day 4 - Arenal

Day 5 - Drive to Manuel Antonio

Day 6 - Manuel Antonio

Day 7 - Drive to Osa peninsula, drop off rental car

Day 8 - OSA

Day 9 - OSA

Day 10 - OSA

Day 11 - Internal flight to San Jose

Day 12- Fly home from San Jose

We're mainly interested in nature and wildlife, so based on my research so far, I think I really want to hit the Osa peninsula and since it's a trek to get down there, spend a decent amount of time there. A little beach time would be nice, but not the main reason for the trip. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Tim

Northern California
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1. Re: Cramming too much in?

Yes, it is too much. You will have to drop one of your first three destinations.

Slovenia
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2. Re: Cramming too much in?

And also too much driving involved. Since Osa is your primary target (and an excellent one), then start with Manuel Antonio. It is easy to drive to using the new Caldera road 27, it has a nice small park that will give you a good introduction to wildlife scene, and you can stay one more day to accommodate yourself to Pura Vida vibe. Then drive further to Uvita. Another 2 days here, once you can go to Sierpe for a boat tour (as good if not better then the on on Cano Negro from Arenal, and volcano is not active anyway), and one day drive to San Gerardo de Dota for some cloud forest experience (similar to Monteverde). So your revised itinerary would look like this:

Day 1 - Arrive Liberia 1:15pm. Drive to Manuel Antonio

Day 2 - Manuel Antonio / visit the park (if not Monday)

Day 3 - Manuel Antonio / relax time

Day 4 - Drive to Uvita / stop at Hacienda Baru for a guided or non-guided hike

Day 5 - Uvita / half day boat tour from Sierpe

Day 6 - Uvita / full day tour to San Gerardo de Dota

Day 7 - Drive to Osa peninsula, drop off rental car

Day 8 - OSA

Day 9 - OSA

Day 10 - OSA

Day 11 - Internal flight to San Jose

Day 12- Fly home from San Jose

Edited: 13 July 2013, 09:45
Slovenia
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3. Re: Cramming too much in?

Sorry for not reading your arrival destination. Is it possible to switch it with San Jose / SJO? Anyway, Liberia to La Fortuna is 3 hours, Liberia to Tarcoles 3 hrs 30 min and Liberia to Manuel Antonio 4 hrs 30 min. In comparison, SJO to La Fortuna 3 hrs, to Tarcoles 2 hrs and to Manuel Antonio 3 hrs. With your arrival time at Liberia airport, driving to Manuel Antonio is too long, you would arrive after sunset and driving after sunset is not recommendable if first time driver in Costa Rica.

You could do Tarcoles instead of Manuel Antonio:

Day 1 - Arrive Liberia 1:15pm. Drive to Tarcoles (Cerro Lodge or similar)

Day 2 - Tarcoles / visit to Carara NP (check if closed on Monday)

Day 3 - Tarcoles / visit Manuel Antonio NP or relax (if Monday)

Costa Rica
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4. Re: Cramming too much in?

Definitely skip something.

If I were you, I would go Monteverde and the Osa Peninsula with maybe one other location. A good one to look at is La Ensenada Lodge which is more or less on the way from Monteverde to San Jose (it's a bit out of the way but not much). They have their own wildlife refuge and you can take several tours of the area, including a boat tour through the mangroves. Very different from both Monteverde and the Osa. Another possibility is somewhere around Punta Morales which will also give you a location on the Gulf of Nicoya which is very different.

There's no need to go to Manuel Antonio which will seem pale and over developed in comparison with the Osa Peninsula. If wildlife and "nature" are your focus, then the Osa should be your main target. These three areas will provide a variety of habitat and you can avoid the very touristy aspects of both Arenal and Manuel Antonio.

Raleigh, North...
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5. Re: Cramming too much in?

Thanks everyone for the quick replies. I do have to fly into Liberia as that was the only thing available using my frequent flyer miles (funny since it is normally more expensive with fewer flights than San Jose). I was wondering if Manuel Antonio would be similar to, but not as impressive as, the Osa Peninsula, and therefore would be the one to cut out. I'll definitely take a look at Tarcoles, La Ensenada Lodge, and the Punta Morales area to see if they might be a better choice. And it sounds like if the interest is more around nature, Monteverde would be the better choice than Arenal? Appreciate the help - it's tough to balance how much to squeeze in, but making sure there is some time to relax too. I don't mind being a little busy on the front end knowing that I'll have for days in Osa (thinking of Copa de Arbol lodge). BTW, both travelers are in our mid 30's and are up for a little bit of adventure.

Slovenia
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6. Re: Cramming too much in?

With nature on your mind, maybe try this one:

Day 1 - Arrive Liberia 1:15pm. Drive to Monteverde

Day 2 - Monteverde

Day 3 - Monteverde

Day 4 - Drive to Tarcoles

Day 5 - Tarcoles

Day 6 - Tarcoles

Day 7 - Drive to Osa peninsula, drop off rental car

Day 8 - OSA

Day 9 - OSA

Day 10 - OSA

Day 11 - Internal flight to San Jose

Day 12- Fly home from San Jose

Copa de Arbol is in Drake Bay. Where do you plan to drop off your car? Which company (as far as I know only Solid rental car has offices in that part, and that is in Puerto Jimenez)?

Raleigh, North...
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7. Re: Cramming too much in?

I actually haven't done too much research into the rental car specifics yet, but I thought I had read you could drop off cars at most locations for a drop-off fee. I think Solid was one of the companies I saw. While I know Arenal area is a little touristy, I think there are some things we might want to do there, so will likely make that a stop. Given that, I'm wondering if it just makes sense to do Monteverde and Arenal, and then fly to Osa Peninsula round-trip from San Jose. Maybe staying one night at the Peace Lodge before flying out to Osa since it sounds like it's only an hour from San Jose airport. Seem more reasonable?

Slovenia
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8. Re: Cramming too much in?

Yes, if going to Arenal, and Monteverde, then flying out of San Jose (you can chose either Nature Air either Sansa Air) is a good plan. You will save on rental car drop off fee since many companies does not charge a fee between the two airports. You will have wider choice of rental car companies as only Solid is having an office in Osa. For that itinerary start with Arenal first then Monteverde,

Raleigh, North...
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9. Re: Cramming too much in?

Thanks xelas. Just to double check, since I am flying into Liberia, isn't Monteverde closer for the first stop? And then Arenal would be closer to San Jose which might be better for the second stop since we'll need to head to SJO to fly to Osa?

Slovenia
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10. Re: Cramming too much in?

There are only minor time differences in driving time, so it boils down to your preferences. Both La Fortuna and Santa Elena are about 3 hrs away from Liberia. And La Fortuna is 15 min closer to Alajuela then Santa Elena. You can start at each location. Be aware that only Sansa airline has its terminal at SJO; Nature Air is using Tobias Bolanos (SYQ) airport nearer to San Jose (which does not change anything with driving times).