Our family, which is composed of 4 persons (2 parents and two teenagers of 14 and 17, all enjoying hiking, mountain biking or any water-sporty activity), is getting increasingly enthusiast about spending 3 weeks in Costa Rica this summer (from the 7th of July to the 29th of July). We come from France but we unfortunately can’t go any further than the basics of Spanish.
We are particularly concerned about finding a human dimension in this trip and want our project to correspond with the country’s environmental assets and culture. We therefore research contacts with host families or persons likely to guide us in order to discover the country's beauties.
Above all, we wish to visit the the country though public bus and therefore getting any advise or informations from you would be extremely useful.
As it is quite complicated a question, we have joined our program with some of the things we are most wondering about. (Indeed the number of questions in blue makes me feel quite embarassed ... )
What do you think about it, is it all realistic (we have one more night to be spent at any time of the trip, what is the best place for that according to you ?)
We sincerely thank you for your help
07-jul : arrival at 17 o’clock - rent the car (useful ? four wheel drived as we are going to La Fortuna, Paulo Verde and Rinjo dela Vinja ? ) – night at San Jose (any advise ?)
08-jul : trip to volcano La Fortuna (how long does it take ?) , canopy tour, observation of the volcano’s lava by night, overnight around
09-jul : around the volcano, bathing, overnight at the same place
10-jul : transfer to park Paulo Verde, night in an inn run by tropical research center in the heart of the park
11-jul : park Paulo Verde, hike, overnight at the same place
12-jul : Transfer to Rincon de la Vieja and horse riding, overnight at the same place
13-jul : Rincon dela Vieja, overnight at the same place
14-jul : transfer to San José, we bring the car back and leave most of our things somewhere so that we are light for Corcovado park (do you have an idea ?) , overnight there
15-jul : communautary bus to Puerto Jiminez or La plana (any idea of the schedule? ) , night there (any advise ?)
16-jul : communautary bus (any idea of the schedule? ) to Los Patos entrance of Corcovado park (we will also have to walk don't we ?)
There, around 5-6h hike with a guide (19 km) to Sirena (how much for a guide for the day ?). Night in Sirena's dormitories
17-jul : park corcovado, overnight at the same place
18-jul : morning walk and boat ride to Drake or Sierpa (do you think it should be done the other way round ? in order to go back to San Jose then, which is the best place to land?) night there
19-jul : bus transfer to San Jose to get our things back (any idea of the schedule? ) , night there
20-jul : bus from San Jose to Pierto Viejo de Limón (any idea of the schedule? ) , overnight in the rented apartment/house
21-jul : beach, overnight in the rented apartment/house
22-jul : beach, overnight in the rented apartment/house
23-jul : beach, overnight in the rented apartment/house
24-juil : beach, overnight in the rented apartment/house
25-jul : transfer from Pierto Viejo de Limón to Moin by bus (any idea of the schedule? ) , then boat to Tortuguerro, overnight there
26-jul : Tortuguerro, overnight there
27-jul : Tortuguerro, bus to San Jose though Cariari
28-jul : GAP DAY, at which moment and place of the trip should we spend one more night ?
29-jul : departure at 15:25 PM
I can only answer a few of these questions but I will say that almost everyone we met could speak English. Don't know about French, but we didn't have much Spanish either. You don't say what your English is like.
Pick a hotel for the first night that the rental car company will come and get you for the car rental, and also that will allow you to leave luggage there during excursions. We stayed at the Hampton Inn near the airport, and they had an airport shuttle and a place to leave excess luggage.
The trip to La Fortuna only takes about half a day, but we stopped off in Zarcero and Sarchi on the way. We actually stayed at Arenal.
As for your last day - I'm not sure that I wouldn't go back San Jose. There are interesting museums, a butterfly museum, the zoo. If you stayed at the Hampton Inn, you could go back there and collect your luggage and and you can go into town on the local bus.
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I'm confused because you say you want to travel using public buses, but you are going to rent a car?
The bus system is fine, although it can be a little slow getting from city to city due to the mountainous terrain of the country. Most buses only operate from the early morning until mid afternoon, since they don't like driving through the mountains at night.
The buses are also very cheap, it will only cost a few dollars to ride from any town to another. We went from San Jose to Ciudad Quesada and then Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna for a total of about5 per person (it was like3 to get to CQ and then2 to get to Fortuna).
Taxis are also pretty cheap to get around town. Just make sure they use the meter, which they are required to by law.
Also you said you like to do outdoor things; most places have bicycles available to rent. We rented them in La Fortuna and it was fun, although it was difficult cycling up some of the huge hills they have (we tried to cycle up to the waterfall and it took quite an effort!)
Finally, it depends on where you are. In Fortuna, yes a lot of people speak English there since it is very touristy area. In San Jose, not so much; we had to use a lot more Spanish there.
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