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Trip report Costa Rica (Christmas 2017)

Trip report Costa Rica (Christmas 2017)

Old May 8, 18, 11:16 am
  #1  
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Trip report Costa Rica (Christmas 2017)

We arrived in San Jose around 1pm on Saturday, December 23rd and clearing customs/immigration at SJO took almost 3 hours! That was with every booth/kiosk open. I am assuming this is not normal, and was due to it being the holiday season (meaning high season for tourists). We were expecting it to be crowded – but definitely not 3hrs-waiting-in-line crowded. It really made us scared that all of our stops/activities would be this busy. Thankfully, they weren’t…

Once we finally cleared customs, we got our rental car and started heading out of San Jose and into our first stop, Catarata del Toro (a 270ft waterfall in the middle of the rainforest just north of Bajos del Toro). The drive there was quite an adventure though; pitch-black, raining cats and dogs, and on a winding mountain dirt road. But we survived it and it was worth it! This park is usually closed on Sundays, but because we had reserved a room in the lodge inside of the park, we were still allowed to be there and had the entire place to ourselves the following morning.

After our hike to the waterfall (relatively easy and beautiful), we checked out of the lodge and started our drive to Arenal Volcano National Park. The drive was easy/straightforward and only took a couple of hours. We hiked a few trails while in Arenal but didn’t find the park all that exciting, so spent a lot less time there than expected. Instead, we drove to the Pensinsula section of the park (the park guard recommended it) and it was sooo much better. You can ‘hike’ all the way down to the lagoon and still get to see the volcano in the background.

From there we drove to the Tenorio Volcano National Park area. It was Christmas Eve and we were spending the night at the Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel. This is a relatively expensive eco-resort-style hotel, but you get your own little bungalow overlooking the rainforest, so there is a lot of privacy with just enough luxury/amenities. Not to mention that it was less than 5min away from the Rio Celeste Trail Trailhead – so couldn’t beat the location!

It poured ALL night, so we didn’t start our main hike the following morning until later, giving the river some time to settle (we were here to see the turquoise colored water and the hard rain had muddled it). Once the sun came out, we started our hike. The river/waterfall wasn’t as blue as we would have hoped, but it was still very nice. It was a moderate in-and-out hike that takes you through a waterfall, a blue lagoon, a wooden overlook, a hot spring (awful smell of sulfur!) and dead ends at the Tenideros (the point where two different rivers meet to create one blue river).

After Rio Celeste, we started heading towards Manuel Antonio NP. It was a 4.5hr drive, but through well maintained roads (mostly the Inter American highway), with lots of things to see on the way, so we didn’t mind it. That night we stayed at La Posada Hotel (Jungle Suite). The hotel wasn’t anything special, but it was clean, comfortable, and literally steps away from the park entrance. That following morning, we got early and walked to the park as soon as they opened. We did pretty much all of the trails in the park (there aren’t very many) and relaxed at the beach some. Saw lots of animals, including sloths. A raccoon even tried to take one of our backpacks while we were at the main beach! It was hilarious. It's a beautiful park, and since we got there so early, we were able to avoid a lot of the crowds for a while. It started to get very busy in the early afternoon though.

Our last stop before heading back to San Jose was Herradura/Jaco; where we spent some time recovery from all the driving and hiking at Los Suenos Marriott Resort. The hotel was pretty nice – good customer service, pleasant rooms, okay food, and large pool area with swim up bar. The beach wasn’t the nicest (especially after coming from Manuel Antonio), but we got to see some amazing sunsets from there.

Overall, our trip was very enjoyable and we got to see a lot of interesting things and hike through beautiful places. It was amazing to see all the different ecosystems within the same general area (just miles from each other). We would definitely go back and check a few other areas out in the future.
honores41 is offline  
Old May 8, 18, 1:35 pm
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Join Date: Feb 2018
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Nice report!
I am looking into traveling into CR for retirement scouting purposes...
4sallypat is offline  
Old May 10, 18, 6:57 pm
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When I saw the Trip Report Costa Rica title, I thought "oh no, what tragedy happened this time?"... But looks you had a great time, I'm worried about tourism because infrastructure, security, and cost of living are not improving here, and that can develop into a decrease on the quantity of visitors.
Thanks for choosing my country as your vacations destination.
ariel_sjo is offline  
Old May 26, 18, 12:42 pm
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Join Date: May 2018
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Great report!! You had a wonderful time in CR!! Thanks for Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel recommendation, it sounds great; expensive, but great. Btw, So hilarious your story with the raccoon XD
vfland63 is offline  

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