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Tour vs on our own

N.J. USA
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314 posts
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Tour vs on our own

I am planning a Costa Rica trip. We are experienced travelers in our early sixties who usually travel on our own. In fact the only tour we've ever taken was ten days in Turkey which we did enjoy.

Caravan tours advertises a very reasonable trip which is very tempting as it seems to cover a lot of places: San Jose, TOrtuguero National Park, Arenal Volcano, Guanacaste forest , Manuel Antonio Park and several stops between -- 10 days.

My question is about people's experiences doing this on their own vs a bus tour. I do not relish the thought of spending hours driving a rental car in a foreign country but maybe all those stops are not necessary.

So, what advice do you experienced people have for me?

Texas
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for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
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1. Re: Tour vs on our own

We've always planned everything ourselves, except for Tortuguero which requires a little more coordination. It's pretty easy to plan and book most things yourself. If you don't want to drive, you can hire a private driver or look at taking Interbus. I kind of like the freedom of not being on a tour.

Costa Rica
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2. Re: Tour vs on our own

I am in my 60's, live in Costa Rica and travel all over by car or by bus on my own. If you have traveled a lot in other countries on your own, you can surely do it here. It's not hard. Just figure out the things you are interested in and that's where you will go. You also will need to decide whether you want to be at the popular tourist destinations or a little off the beaten path. All the tours that I know of take you to the popular tourist destinations and it will be an easy trip for you, but you will probably never feel like you have had a real Costa Rica experience. Some people take a tour on their first trip, planning to come back on their own.

If you are not interested in the more popular tourist destinations, you can fly into Liberia where you will have easy access to at least four National Parks, four volcanoes, beaches, waterfalls and river rafting in addition to the rainforest canopy "adventures." From Liberia, you will also be about 3-4 hours away from the live volcano, Arenal.

If you decide to go it on your own, put a plan together and then get back to us for further information. Good luck!

Pensacola, Florida
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3. Re: Tour vs on our own

Have done a lot of traveling in groups

but always prefer the freedom and flexibility of self-guiding

www.caravan.com great value the downside is the structure

travelling with people you do not know and lots of early AM bus calls

If you are up for that you will have a good time.

Prefer www.tricolorcarrental.com go anywhere I like anytime

Have fun either way...

Pensacola, Florida
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12,945 posts
55 reviews
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4. Re: Tour vs on our own

www.gotmyfare.com

has some cheap interesting air/car rental/hotel packages

some at better thanCaravan prices you might want to consider..

Antigua, Guatemala
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2,958 posts
22 reviews
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5. Re: Tour vs on our own

Hi,

I don't think Costa Rica is the type of country where you need an organized tour. You can easily find great hotels on your own, and simply take local tours that are usually very educational, in English and are tons of fun!

This way you pick your pace, do what you feel like and enjoy more specialized tours.

Tortuguero is the only tour that you should do, but there are tons of lodges that have excellent packages 3 days/2 nights with everytghing included.

Hope this helps,

Marina K. Villatoro

Castleton On...
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6. Re: Tour vs on our own

Curious to know what you decide, Am also looking into the caravan trip for this coming summer. Neiieither my hisband or I really enjoy dricing when we;d rathe be lookign iour the window, plus we have a bad sense of direction, so it may be a trade-of of sorts. Plus traveling with a teenager means having a schedule may give us some needed structure!

PUERTO RICO
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2 posts
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7. Re: Tour vs on our own

Hi,

We are between the decision of all inclusive hotels in Papaguayo or regular hotels in San Jose, we like to eat and drink quite a bit, so we are trying to avoid over spending in the area. Is good food and drink reasonable around fun places? We are more into real food and like wine very much, no need to be fancy, are prices good like Chile? Would appreicate some education!

Jersey City, New...
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8. Re: Tour vs on our own

Jersey Judi, I sent you a message via tripadvisor.. Check your messages.

I'm from NJ too and just wondering where you are and when you're going.

Kathy

San Jose
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9. Re: Tour vs on our own

If you'd prefer not to drive on your own, but arent that much convinced of doing a trip like what Caravan offers ( a guided group tour with some other 12 or more people) there are other options in Costa Rica without having to do it all on your own in a rental car. It all depends on your budget, interests and activities you want to do. You could use the services of a private driver, or you could use shuttle buses, maybe take some guided tours at the destinations you visit to get the most of it... I dont know if this clarifies your question, but I just wanted to mention that there are options "in between the two extremes" the Caravan style and the rental car option. Some people are just not fit to any of the above... but there are still some great options to combine do it yourself / not alone...

Santa Teresa, Costa...
Destination Expert
for Mal Pais, Santa Teresa
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10. Re: Tour vs on our own

Friends of ours came down to Costa Rica for a tour and stopped to visit us toward the end of it. They told us that they would have been happier with a rental car or a driver although they did see a lot of 'touristy' parts of the country and being on a buss full of tourists was like a party for the entire trip. They did not see the 'real' Costa Rica until we picked them up at their nearby hotel (which was a part of their scheduled tour stops) and toured them around on one of their free days. They saw more in the 8 hour tour we took them on than they did for the two weeks they were on a tour bus.

So, I guess there is the key to what you want out of your trip here.....are you interested in experiencing the 'real' or the touristy??? Do you want to be able to stop and take a photo without having to take a vote with a bus load of people? Do you want to share your vacation experience with your significant other or a bunch of people who have just become your best friends? Personally, I have always stayed away from the constructed 'tours' on every vacation I have taken. The choice is yours.