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Confused CR First Timer!

Jersey
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Confused CR First Timer!

Whilst planning our next big holiday my partner and I have fallen in love with Costa Rica, but I'm getting myself very confused about what to see and where to stay in 10 days.

I am crazy about ChaChaGua Rainforest hotel, so would be 4 or 5 nights there for sure, and then I'd be looking for one or maybe 2 other locations to spend the rest of our time, but don't know where would be best!

We'd like to see the rainforest (obviously), experience some nature, see the volcano, walk the hanging bridges, relax and experience some Costa Rican culture. Beach life is not the very top of our list as we are on the beach all the time at home, although they are not tropical. Living as we do on a very small Island I struggle with envisaging distances. I'd like somewhere that allows us to arrive in San Jose, travel to one accommodation easily, travel easily to another, and then back to San Jose to depart. Hiring a car is a possibility, but as we both drive all the time then it's nice to have a break on holiday if we can.

I prefer decent, clean and unique accommodation rather than huge chain resorts.

Any suggestions for where to stay as a good contrast to chachagua would be gratefully received! :)

Bex

Slovenia
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1. Re: Confused CR First Timer!

Chachagua is fairly close to La Fortuna / Arenal volcano but for outdoor activities offered there you should stay in La Fortuna at least a couple of nights. Monteverde is very different, and it merit another 2-3 nights. For something more different, head to Sarapiqui and Tortuguero after Chachagua.

Jersey
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2. Re: Confused CR First Timer!

Thank you! That gives me a good place to start.

I usually dislike living out of a bag and moving around all the time when I'm away (bearing in mind that we plan to stop off in Toronto or Miami on the way, and usually have to overnight in London both outward and back, it's a lot of hotels!) but I might just make an exception for Costa Rica and split 10 or 11 days into 3 different bases.

Costa Rica
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3. Re: Confused CR First Timer!

Costa Rica is a small country but it takes time to get around. It's really impossible to stay in one place and travel around all over the place. Most "destinations" are at least 1/2 a day apart. So spending 3-4 days in one area and then moving on makes a lot of sense.

This might help you: www.yourtravelmap.com for distances and travel times.

And please - do yourself a favor and don't overpack! You won't need any dressy clothes for Costa Rica or anything heavy. Plan on bringing lightweight clothes that dry quickly. It's easy to find inexpensive laundry services wherever you go.

For two other locations, I would recommend Tortuguero as one of them and Sarapiqui as the other. I would not consider Monteverde this time - it's just too hard to get there and get anywhere else from there.

For Tortuguero, this is a great resource: www.tortuguerovillage.com

PS: Funny, I've been doing a "Bergeron" marathon the last few days.......

Edited: 14 August 2013, 13:59
Jersey
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4. Re: Confused CR First Timer!

Thank you Hattie! :)

I've spent some more time researching now and am thinking 3 nights Tortuguero, 2 nights Sarapiqui and maybe 4 nights at ChaChaGua which will allow us to relax a bit and visit the La Fortuna/Arenal area. Depending on flight times there may be one night in San Jose at the beginning or end too.

What is the best way to travel between these places? Is hire of a 4x4 essential? Which activities would you recommend as 'must-do' in each location?

Bex

Slovenia
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5. Re: Confused CR First Timer!

Bex, you should switch to 2 nights Tortuguero and 3 nights Sarapiqui. These are activities in two areas:

Tortuguero: turtle nesting, kayak/canoe or boat tour on canals, walk the land part of national park.

Sarapiqui: La Sela guided hike, Tirimbina chocolate tour, boat tour on river Sarapiqui, Selva Verde trail hiking (if staying at Selva Verde), visit to Heliconia Island (if still open for visitors), Nature Pavillion if a photographer.

Hiring a 4x4 is not essential. You cannot drive to Tortuguero, and in Sarapiqui taxi is less expensive then daily rental fee. Might be useful for Chachagua, depends on how activities are organised there.

Jersey
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6. Re: Confused CR First Timer!

Thanks Xelas!! Think my other half will be sold on the Chocolate tour :) Great advice.

Punta Uva, Costa...
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7. Re: Confused CR First Timer!

Excellent advise by xelas and Hattie. You don't need a 4x4, though is nice to have, if you decide on hiring a private driver http://www.tucanlimoservices.com/ is the way to go.

Jersey
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8. Re: Confused CR First Timer!

Thank you Cubanon. I'll go away and research everything in more detail now.

Bex

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9. Re: Confused CR First Timer!

If you need lodging not far from the airport on your first/last night, keep in mind that SJO airport is in Alajuela, not San Jose, which is about 30 minutes away. There is lodging of all sorts and all prices in Alajuela, 15 minutes or less from the airport. In addition, the whole area is much more pleasant than being in San Jose.

Jersey
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10. Re: Confused CR First Timer!

Thanks again :D