Nov 27, 08, 2:00 pm
We were looking to plan a trip to Costa Rica this December [late December during peak time.] I was looking for hotels and other things and it seems that there are several different 'parts' of the country one could visit. I think our priorities are as follows:
ii) Rainforest + associated activities(treks, tours, bird watching etc.)
iii) Adventure sports (I've heard white water rafting is particularly good?)
Most people have recommended moving around but since we only have 7 days, we would like to stay put in one hotel. I'm assuming that staying in a city would not be the best idea? Does anyone have recommendations on where to stay and (even better) what specific hotels we might consider? We are looking at 4-5* hotels.
Nov 27, 08, 2:48 pm
Where are you landing? I have two 1 week trip reports, one from Dec. 2005 landing in Liberia, and that one did allow for some beach time. The one I just came back from, a couple weeks ago, was a pure birding trip landing in San Jose and including a stop in Savagre (pacific slope) and Rancho Naturalista (caribbean slope). We do not put much priority on the hotels, as my husband is often a Comfort Inn business traveler, but Costa Rica has a great infrastructure and the hotels were terrific. Rancho Naturalista "Home of the Snowcap" is notable in having a chef who prepares terrific food, with local ingredients grown on the property, but there are stairs. Think more of a high end bed and breakfast, rather than a 4 star hotel. I do not know if the guides want their names published on the internet, but leave me a private message and I will tell you the names if you are looking for guides. They were both great highly motivated bird guides who had a lot of patience. I have a slower than average reaction time, and they worked with me to be sure I got a lot of species! Both Resplendent Quetzel (Savagre) and Snowcap (Rancho Naturalista) were easy -- we got them right away, no stress. The less dedicated birders can buy a bottle of wine or some beer and observe birds easily at the feeders with very little hiking.
Here are links to my diary if you think it will help you plan:
http://peachfront.diaryland.com/cr1quetz.html -- Nov. 2008 Savagre, Mountain of Death, and Quest for Quetzals
http://peachfront.diaryland.com/cr2rancho.html -- Nov. 2008 Rancho Naturalista, home of the Snowcap, plus assorted brilliants, woodnymphs, fairies, thorntails, and scale-crested pygmy-tyrants (Don't you love the names of tropical birds?)
Also, going back to December 2005:
http://peachfront.diaryland.com/crtrip1.html -- Playa Hermosa, Rincon de la Vieja
http://peachfront.diaryland.com/crtrip2.html -- Arenal and Fortuna
As far as adventure sports, the biggest adventure in Guanacaste area is renting a four wheel drive and driving on Hwy 1, unless it has had considerable repairs since 2005. Hwy 2 is not so bad at all, but we had already decided to splurge and hire a driver by the time we saw it. :-)
I do think with only 7 days if you want to do beach AND get a good bird list, it would be a good idea to change hotels once. There are good birds near the beach, for example we got White-Throated Magpie-Jay only a few blocks over (maybe one block over) from the beach. But you get more if you do some elevational changes.
Nov 27, 08, 3:32 pm
This is a trip report I did from exactly four years ago. Went to Manuel Antonio and rented a house for a week. Had a perfect mix of surfing/beach, canyoning, whitewater rafting (went on a bit of a drive for this), zipline stuff, and lots of natural beauty. The house we rented was great too, if you want to consider that over a hotel.
Dec 4, 08, 11:28 am
The problem with giving Costa Rica advice is that touring the country is very idiocyncratic. Like I very much enjoyed renting a car and driving around, but I KNOW that many people would hate doing this (driving can be, ahem, a bit "interesting" in Costa Rica). And some people like the "Gringo" resorts, and others hate them.
Not to be a downer or anything, but the "problem" with visiting Costa Rica is that you often have to pay American prices when you shouldn't have to. Like whitewater rafting costs 4 times more in Costa Rica than Argentina. Why? All the tourists availing themselves of such services in Costa Rica are Gringos. You'll run into the same issue at the "ecolodges" and similar higher end properties. If you don't mind paying First World prices in a Third World country, none of this will be a problem. If you do mind, trip planning in Costa Rica is far more difficult.