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  1. #191
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    Jul 2005
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    Well, we're back. We had a fabulous time. Originally we had thought we'd be "one and done" on Costa Rica but I told DH we have to go back and I think he actually agreed, although this was definitely "my" vacation and not his.

    We flew into San Jose and spent the night at the airport hotel (Courtyard Marriott) as we were flying to Drake Bay early the next morning. Had a private transfer to the local airline (Sansa) and flew on a 12 seater plane to Drake Bay, which isn't more than a dirt runway in the middle of the jungle. Picked up by the resort and transferred to a boat, then a 35 minute speed boat ride to the Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge, which was fun. The Casa Corcovado was lovely, we had two connected junior suites, which meant that we had 2 full bathrooms, 2 living rooms and 2 sleeping rooms connected, with enough beds for all. The decor is pretty, but it's what I'd call "luxuriously rustic". There is electricity, but they generate their own, so it was limited to lights and ceiling fans. No A/C and no hairdryers (knew that going in). Also the hot water was a little limited, but that was fine as we all enjoyed cold showers as it was hot and humid. Meals were all included (as you're literally in the middle of the jungle) and they were fabulous. We did nature walks into the jungle and around their gardens with their private guides, saw plenty of animals including sloths (in the distance), agoutis, coatimundi, spider and howler monkeys, a boa constrictor, green eyed tree frogs, a crocodile (50 feet from the waterfall pool we swam in!), toucans, macaques, vultures etc. We did not see any big cats, which I realized was unlikely but what I really wanted to see. We did see their footprints on the beach, so knew they were there, but did not get to see one. Same with the Tapir, they said they had seen one in the garden for several days prior to our arrival but it didn't appear the two days we were there.

    From Corcovado we drove to Manuel Antonio (private driver). It took about two hours and the roads were fine. Smooth and not twisty at all. I was surprised. Manuel Antonio was not "our scene" in that it was very, very crowded. Entering the national park there are people hawking wares, anything from water, coconuts, t-shirts, souvenirs etc and hundreds of tourists. DH was like "this is terrible" but once we were in the national park I was actually pleased we went there as the wildlife viewing there was better than anywhere else we went (despite the mass of tourists). We had a private guide from our hotel (The Parador) and he was fabulous. We got close up views of so much, including excellent videos he took for us. Sloths, White Face Capuchins, Howlers, Spider Monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys, all sorts of birds (too numerous to mention), lizards, iguanas. Basically everything you go to CR to see. The resort provided excellent service, once we got to the beach area of the National Park they had sat up a picnic table with cloth tablecloth and napkins, ice cold beverages, fresh fruit and sandwiches. It was a welcome sight after the hot walk. DH and kids swam in the ocean at the beach, I watched the monkey antics. We then walked out the same path we walked in. That evening we did a night walk and saw some Basilisk Lizards, plenty of odd and unusual insects and spiders, including a tarantula, lots of different varieties of frogs, birds and bats. I liked the Parador, DH thought it was too crowded. We had two interconnecting rooms. The rooms themselves weren't very fancy, but the bathrooms were obviously newly remodeled so that was nice. The gardens were beautiful, pool area nice, service good and I thought the restaurants were quite good. DH is pretty spoilt and he thought the resort was too big and too many people.

    From Manuel Antonio we took a charter flight on a 5 seater plane to Arenal. We stayed at the Springs Resort and Spa, which was fabulous. It's a huge hotel but it doesn't have many rooms so it didn't feel crowded at all. They certainly seem to have the capacity to add way more rooms and way more people, but we liked the quiet vibe. Beautiful hot springs speed throughout the resort that we didn't have as much time to enjoy as I would have liked. We had a 2 bedroom springs suite with 2 full bathrooms and 2 living rooms. Huge and lovely. Amazing view from our balcony of the volcano. We spent almost $1k in meals over three nights here (and we had breakfast included), so restaurants were expensive but food was really good. In Arenal we did a horse ride to a view of the volcano, hiked down (and back up) the La Fortuna waterfall, went for a hike around the 1968 lava flow of the volcano, went to the "Sky Park" where we did the big zip line (highest and longest in CR) and the Sky Walk (hike in the rainforest over hanging bridges). The Sky Walk was longer than I expected (almost 4 hours) but was through the most beautiful rainforest we saw in CR and we saw lots and lots of snakes, which I had wanted to see.

    For all hikes/tours we did we had private guides which was amazing. They were all very knowledgeable, provided and carried our water for us, provided transfers in nice air conditioned vans etc.

    From Arenal we took another charter plane to Tortuguero. Spent two nights at the Tortuga Lodge and Gardens, another jungle lodge with no AC. It was nice, but not as nice as the Casa Corcovado. We took a private tour of the canals and saw Caiman and crocodiles and what we considered "the usual" by then (monkeys, sloths, birds). We also visited the town which was the first town in CR we had gone into and was an interesting cultural experience for the kids. Rooms were nice (once again had 2 interconnecting junior suites) but had the jungle lodge rustic vibe. We were able to fish right in front of our room and we caught (and released) a puffer fish and a red snapper. Went for a long walk on the beach, but couldn't swim as the water is infested with bull sharks and crocodiles. The mosquitos were REALLY bad here. The only place they really bothered us. I got bitten a couple of times through my clothes that had been sprayed with extra strength bug spray! Visited the Sea Turtle Conservancy headquarters which was really interesting for my ODD who wants to be a marine biologist specializing in sea turtles. We were out of sea turtle season, but I would love to go back during nesting/hatching season. Not sure I'd recommend it out of season unless you really wanted to see Caiman (only place we saw them).

    I'd really like to go back and spend more time in Arenal and also go to Monteverde (decided on Corcovado for this trip instead) and maybe also Guanacaste although "beach resort full of tourists" isn't really our scene. I was nervous about the small plane flights but they weren't at all bad and I'm so glad we flew everywhere (except that one drive to Manuel Antonio) as it really made our transfer days quick and seamless.

  2. #192
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    20,270

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    Sounds like fun! Springs Resort is on my list if we ever return to CR. Hopefully they pave the road by then!
    isabella noelle :: 12.7.09

  3. #193
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    Jul 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by laura View Post
    Sounds like fun! Springs Resort is on my list if we ever return to CR. Hopefully they pave the road by then!
    Ah, but then you'd miss out on the free Costa Rican massage, as every single one of our tour guides mentioned to us each time we went up or down the road. It was actually not too bad, all except one time where our driver was so conservative he drove the whole thing at 3 miles per hour. That was a bit torturous. I want to go back to The Springs, we had so many activities planned for Arenal that we didn't really have a lot of time to just hang at the resort and enjoy the hot springs. We also didn't do anything at their onsite adventure playground, Club Rio. I think I could go back there and just spend three days at the resort without ever leaving, between enjoying the springs and doing Club Rio activities.

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