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Old 03-25-2012, 04:01 AM
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Default Costa Rica/Bocas del Toro trip planning advice!

Hi guys!

This is Matthew's wife, Lauren, hijacking his account to ask for some help! We've been dying to go to Costa Rica for a long time now and I've finally started to seriously plan it. Since so many of you have already been, I thought this might be the best place to look for advice!

I think we'll be going in Sept or Oct. for about 10 days. I think we've decided to keep our trip on the Caribbean side and maybe include a trip to Bocas del Toro to see some of Matthew's favorite frogs. I've marked the places we'd like to see on this google map:

COSTA RICA TRIP - Google Maps

basically, we were thinking we'd fly into San Jose, rent a car and then drive around. Maybe stopping at La Selva Biological Station, C.R.A.R.C, the Sloth Sanctuary and then (hopefully) getting to Panama somehow and doing some island hoping in Bocas Del Toro.

Does this seem possible for 10 days? Is the driving a good idea? I've heard mixed reviews of the roads down there. Also I'm a little hesitant about how to get to/get around Boca Del Toro. I have heard of some tour packages that leave from Puerto Viejo, but that can be a bit expensive. Is it cheaper/plausible to do it on your own?

Also, if anyone has any other recommendations for places to stay, and things to see and do along our route that would be great! The only thing is that I have arthritis so a lot of the adventure/rafting/hardcore hiking will probably be out of my range.

Thanks so much!!!

Lauren
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Old 03-30-2012, 02:12 AM
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Default Re: Costa Rica/Bocas del Toro trip planning advice!

Tortuguero is on the Caribbean side and is a must in my opinion. It's a national park filled with all the amazing wild life you'd expect to see in Costa Rica including blue jean pumilio, toucans, monkeys, sea turtles, bats, etc. We stayed here...
Mawamba Lodge - Tortuguero Costa Rica
It was incredible! We also saw La Selva and I would recommend it to anyone. We did not drive, we had our transportation pre arranged through our travel company so I have no info for you on that other than I'm glad I didn't have to drive the crazy roads with the crazy drivers and the crazy rain storms! Good luck and have fun! I can't wait to go back!
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Last edited by MELLOWROO421; 03-30-2012 at 02:15 AM.
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Old 03-30-2012, 05:09 AM
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Default Re: Costa Rica/Bocas del Toro trip planning advice!

I'd suggest arranging transportation. You really got to know the way they drive there to appreciate an expert behind the wheels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arielelf View Post
Hi guys!

This is Matthew's wife, Lauren, hijacking his account to ask for some help! We've been dying to go to Costa Rica for a long time now and I've finally started to seriously plan it. Since so many of you have already been, I thought this might be the best place to look for advice!

I think we'll be going in Sept or Oct. for about 10 days. I think we've decided to keep our trip on the Caribbean side and maybe include a trip to Bocas del Toro to see some of Matthew's favorite frogs. I've marked the places we'd like to see on this google map:

COSTA RICA TRIP - Google Maps

basically, we were thinking we'd fly into San Jose, rent a car and then drive around. Maybe stopping at La Selva Biological Station, C.R.A.R.C, the Sloth Sanctuary and then (hopefully) getting to Panama somehow and doing some island hoping in Bocas Del Toro.

Does this seem possible for 10 days? Is the driving a good idea? I've heard mixed reviews of the roads down there. Also I'm a little hesitant about how to get to/get around Boca Del Toro. I have heard of some tour packages that leave from Puerto Viejo, but that can be a bit expensive. Is it cheaper/plausible to do it on your own?

Also, if anyone has any other recommendations for places to stay, and things to see and do along our route that would be great! The only thing is that I have arthritis so a lot of the adventure/rafting/hardcore hiking will probably be out of my range.

Thanks so much!!!

Lauren
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Old 04-03-2012, 12:28 PM
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Default Re: Costa Rica/Bocas del Toro trip planning advice!

If I ever go to costa rica I would totally want to to spend the night in that plane hotel!

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Old 04-03-2012, 02:52 PM
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10 days is totally possible. I dont, however, think you'd be able to squeeze in Tortuguero and Bocas, unless you are flying around or taking costly private transportation, but I've never gone to Tortuguero, so I can't really comment.

I always recommend Cahuita as a base on the Costa Rican Caribbean coast. It is between Limon and Puerto Viejo and sits next to a small National Park with easy trails and even easier wildlife spotting. Super laid back town with bars that you can actually have a beer locals. There's also plenty of backpackers around. You can arrange a guide in town to close by locations with Bri Bri pumilio and auratus.

It's also easy to get to surrounding towns such as Manzanillo (highly recommend a hike there and lunch at the place that sits where the road ends at the beach...the name escapes me) and Puerto Viejo, which is definitely more of a party scene.

I recommend Alby Lodge, which is owned by a German frogger, Thomas, and his wife Yvonne. There is even a ranario right next door in case you don't want to do any actual hiking to see dart frogs. I've stayed there 5 times, and there was a never a time there weren't howlers, caphuchins and sloths right outside your door. It's also only a 5 minute walk to the beach, national Park and the "center of town".

Don't pay for a tour to Bocas. Spend your money with local guides when you get there. Take the bus to the border (I think less than $3), then cab or bus it to Almirante, take a speedboat to Bocas town, get off and then take a water taxi to your island (Bocas itself, i.e. Colon, is super touristy). I've only stayed on Bastimentos the couple of times I was there and I really wasn't so high on the places we stayed, so just look online and make your arrangements in advance.

You can also take a bus from Panama right to San Jose on the way back. Just do a search online for the times.

I've done this itinerary starting both in San Jose and Panama City in about 9-10 days.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Also, pick up a Lonely Planet!

Dave


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Old 04-10-2012, 08:28 PM
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Default Re: Costa Rica/Bocas del Toro trip planning advice!

Thanks so much for your advice guys! We are SO excited!!

Brian - GAH! That Lodge looks so nice! I wasn't sure if we should try to do Tortuguero or not, given the time we have, but everyone has such good stuff to say about it! Did you do all of your tours through the lodge?

Dave - Awesome!! We definitely put Alby Lodge on our list after Matthew spoke with you at the meet up, it sounds amazing! Did you drive when you went? I know Matthew REALLY wants to go to Bocas, so we will definitely be doing that, and take your advice and avoid paying for a tour package. I just need to figure out the logistics (i.e.. what to do with our car if we rent one, where to stay). How many days would you recommend spending in Bocas? We'd like to try to see places on the different islands, but I can't tell how much time to leave for it.

Thanks so much again guys!!
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Old 04-10-2012, 09:11 PM
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Default Re: Costa Rica/Bocas del Toro trip planning advice!

Driving in Costa Rica is not bad. I was down there a couple months ago with a rental vehicle, and I thought driving down there was a lot of fun. But not at night...it gets soooo dark. That being said...if you are spending a fair amount of time in Bocas, renting a car is pointless. Public transportation is good, and that'll be your best bet if you're heading down to bocas (or a regional flight direct from San Jose)

When I went to Bocas several years ago, we spent 9 days there and did about half of all the stuff we wanted to. It doesn't sound like you'll have enough time to stray too far from the path down to bocas if that's where you want to spend time. Cahuita is definitely a good option though....I've heard good things.

I also still have the contact info of a good local frog guide in Bocas town. He is the one who showed us Esperanza pumilio long before Esperanza was known to the hobby. He has also recently claimed to me that he found some new morphs/locales (not sure if they are in fact new to the hobby). If you want me to pass his info along, send me a PM.

Kevin
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