Costa Rica - What NOT to miss?
Currently we're planning on flying from BOS-SJO to start our trip. From Costa Rica, we plan on traveling overland if possible down into South America then on to AUS/NZ/Bali/BKK, and so on.
Few questions for you CA Experts...
1. Will we run into weather issues going to Costa Rica in June?
2. What about weather issues regarding traveling in CA through June/July?
3. What are your favorite spots in Costa Rica or on the way down into SA?
4. How is the Couch Surfing crowd in Costa Rica? I couchsurfed a couple times while I traveled through Europe last year and I had the greatest time!
5. Some people say Costa Rica is "expensive", some disagree. What's your take? We plan on either CouchSurfing, or staying in Hostels for the most part of our trip.
Your knowledge and expertise is greatly appreciated!
Playas - in The North Pacafic - Tamarindo
Rain forests in Pacific South near the Panaman border
Two smaller volcanos in Central valley
Butterfly farm ?
1 & 2. Weather in CR for June and July will have some rainy days, but generally you'll be fine. I was there in this time frame and only remember a few wet days, and the rest were quite nice. Have a raincoat at hand and it should be no worries. In some higher elevation areas it rains for keeps when it rains though, so be careful of getting stranded outside on a cloudy day.
5. CR is fancier than other CA countries. It has nice roads, fast food chains, and in general is fairly americanized. Thus, it is pricier than other countries to the north (nica, honduras, guate, etc). It's cheaper than north america, but more expensive than the rest of CA. Panama is a close second in price. Another aspect of being more expensive is that CR tourism knows it has a good thing and charges accordingly for it. So expensive tours and activities push up the CR budget.
For things not to miss, the best time I had in CR was white water rafting in Turrialba. It's a world renowned river and was a ton of fun. Oh, and there is a really tasty taco place in Monteverde. It's just a take out window over by the internet cafe, but it's awesome. For most other aspects of CR I found that I had a better time in Nicaragua for a fraction of the price.
To add my experience to the recommendation for Arenal volcano; A full van load of folks from the hostel I was at decided to get up at 4am and take the arenal volcano tour, but I decided to skip it. They came back later that day pissed off because they only saw clouds. They got a free rain check to keep going on the tour until they saw the volcano. The one person I knew that went back had to go 3 days in a row and she was totally disappointed when she finally did see the volcano. It was a "little orangey bit off on the horizon" according to her. Apparently the tours go to a hill very far from the volcano and let you see it off in the distance. Arenal in general is a huge tourism pit. It's a highway town lined with billboards for adventure tours.
Costa Rica isn't my favorite spot in Central America. It's relatively expensive for the region, and heavily touristed. Panama is a much better deal for the price, and less overrun. That's not saying I dislike Costa Rica; I'd just rather be in Panama or especially Nicaragua.
Don't know about the Couch Surfing crew down there. Generally, I haven't had the best luck with CS in places as heavily visited as Costa Rica. The places where you'll probably have the best shot in CR, cities like San Jose or Liberia, generally aren't the spots you want to stick around for long. I'd imagine most people with lots of spare rooms in beach spots will already be trying to convert them into income, with paying guests.
I heard the bridge is an interesting experience.
1. Volcan Arenal. Spectacularly amazing. A real life live volcano, with rumblings and mini eruptions most days and nights. Stay in a hotel in the village of El Castillo for incredible night time views of flowing lava. Then in the daytime, take a swim in a hot river (incredible! natural jacuzzi! leaves your skin so soft for days!), or go to the more official hot spring resort; and make sure you take a road trip around Lake Arenal for more breathtaking scenery.
2. Rio Celeste. In one of Costa Rica's many lush national parks is a river that is blue because of the minerals in it. I would suggest walking (or, if you are American, hiking) to the waterfalls and then further up to where you can see the river draw its colour from the earth.
3. Barra Honda. Caves hundreds of feet deep full of stalagmitey stalactitey stuff. Again in a national park bursting with flora and fauna.
4. Monteverde. One of the lushest of all the national parks, a good spot to do the zipwire through the jungle canopy, take a guided tour through the park to spot weird and wonderful creatures and plants (seriously, some trees are really interesting), and pop in to see some of the world's largest collections of insects and reptiles.
5. Near the border but in Panama - Bocas del Torro, especially Playa de Las Estrellas. The most picture perfect beach, deserted, except for hundreds of big starfish. Take a snorkel mask. Then you could go to red frog beach and scour the plants for the tiny weeny poison dart frog.
6. Caño Negro. Swamplands in the north. Billions of caymans and birds and stuff, seen by boat. Also if you want to see proper huge crocs, stop off at the bridge between San Jose and Jacó over the Rio Tarcoles and peer over. Dozens of 'em just waiting for the neighbouring farmers' cows to get thirsty.
6. Montezuma, where we live and have our business! For a list of reasons why THAT's amazing please see this page on our website: http://casascolibri.homestead.com/About-Montezuma.html
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