Costa Rica in January for 2 weeks

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Costa Rica in January for 2 weeks

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1. Posted by oddgrace (Budding Member 39 posts) 51w Star this if you like it!

Hey guys! So I’m about three weeks away from finally getting to Central America - flying into Costa Rica to start and having about nine weeks through Central (CR, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, and flying out of Cancun so a little time in the Yucatan) overland. This is my first trip where I’m on a bit of a time constraint and also my first trip traveling at a high density tourist area through the heart of the busy season (Costa Rica from 2nd Jan). Because of this I’m finding I have to plan more than I usually do so I’d like a little help with my two week Costa Rica plan if anyone has suggestions.
I fly into San Jose but have an airport pickup directly to Arenal Hostel Resort in La Fortuna where I’ve booked three nights. From there Taxi-Ferry-Taxi to Monteverde (2 nights booked in Santa Elena Hostel Resort). From there I head down to the Nicoya Peninsula where I have three nights booked at Luz en El Cielo to visit the beach, Tortuga Island, the waterfalls, Cabo Blanco.
This is where I get a bit stuck! My idea was to go to Santa Teresa/Mal Pais for a couple days and then to Samara for a couple days before heading to Liberia to then shuttle border cross over to Nicaragua. Is this a good plan? If so, how long should I stay in Santa Teresa as I’m already staying in Montezuma for three nights (and while I’d like to do a couple surf lessons, I am not a surfer nor am I an avid Yogi though I’m happy to do a class or two!). I love biking, hiking, horseback riding, the beach, SUP, kayaking, definitely want to learn to surf, reading, eating....I love everything! Any suggestions for places to stay and things to do in Santa Teresa/Mal Pais? And for how long? And Samara as well? Is there somewhere I”m missing?
I understand Costa Rica is a big amazing country but I don’t like to rush so in two weeks I”d rather enjoy a small region hence my itinerary but I’m open to suggestions. I will come back and do more of the amazing country another time!
Would be great to have suggestions and my apologies- I’ve never had to plan so much due to being constrained by time in the busy season! I’m used to freedom!
Thanks guys
Erin

2. Posted by ToddP (Moderator 225 posts) 51w Star this if you like it!

Erin,
I'll be following your thread as Costa Rica on my to list probably for the next year and any shall any tips I can from here...

Have a great trip.

Todd

3. Posted by oddgrace (Budding Member 39 posts) 51w Star this if you like it!

Awesome! Feel free to PM me in January - I’ll be able to give you the lowdown from the inside :)

4. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1203 posts) 51w Star this if you like it!

When you arrive in Costa Rica be sure to check the latest developments in Nicaragua. It could affect your travel plans.

I was in Central America this summer and we had to make several detours in Nicaragua because of civil unrest resulting in more than 300 deaths. You'll find few tourists in Nicaragua; and many businesses that cater to tourists are closed, some permanently. It helps if you can speak Spanish. That way, you can ask locals for the latest information about places to avoid; and how to get around them. When traveling in troubled lands, it's wise to be alert and informed.

5. Posted by sanaoria (Budding Member 8 posts) 51w Star this if you like it!

Nice to see this post. I have my flight to Costa Rica booked on January 15th and have three nights in hotel in San Jose. After that my plan is following: Puerto Vujeo de Talamanca-Tortugero-Sarapiqui Rainforest-La Fortuna/Arenal- Monteverde- Qiepos/Manuel Antonio. I didn't book any accommodation but I did book car rental in San Jose. So oddgrace, I hope you will inform this forum about your experience in CR...have a nice trip

6. Posted by oddgrace (Budding Member 39 posts) 51w Star this if you like it!

Quoting berner256

When you arrive in Costa Rica be sure to check the latest developments in Nicaragua. It could affect your travel plans.

I was in Central America this summer and we had to make several detours in Nicaragua because of civil unrest resulting in more than 300 deaths. You'll find few tourists in Nicaragua; and many businesses that cater to tourists are closed, some permanently. It helps if you can speak Spanish. That way, you can ask locals for the latest information about places to avoid; and how to get around them. When traveling in troubled lands, it's wise to be alert and informed.

Thank you for the information Berner256-
I’ve looked into it and read exactly as you said that there was civil unrest and protests from May 2018 and a bit over the summer this year. Has anyone been to Nicaragua in the last couple of months that could give us an update of the situation for travelers there?

7. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1203 posts) 51w Star this if you like it!

I called my guide in Nicaragua and he reports that things have quieted down; and some tourists are returning. If you decide to go you need to be alert as the situation can change quickly. Ask locals about places to avoid; and be extra careful when taking public transportation.

8. Posted by oddgrace (Budding Member 39 posts) 51w Star this if you like it!

Thanks again berner256. I contacted a hostel in San Juan del Sur and Ometepe that both confirmed there were no current road blocks and that all was well and safe (of course they’ll say that as they want tourists!)- also checked recent reviews from backpackers in November that said it was quiet but they felt totally safe, too. So I’m going to keep my fingers crossed all remains well and I will keep updated on the forum as I travel through! But of course, will be careful and keep well informed from the locals (I do speak decent enough Spanish-I think) as any traveler should at any time anyway! Thanks again- I’ll keep the updates coming as I travel through Costa Rica and Nicaragua in just a few weeks time!

9. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1203 posts) 51w Star this if you like it!

I traveled with a guide on this route: Managua, Crucero, Jinotepe, Masatepe, Rivas, Ometepe, San Juan del Sur, Granada, Isla el Muerto, Zapatera, Granada, Masaya, Mombacho, San Juan de Oriente, Tipitapa, Matagalpa, Selva Negra Eco Lodge, Jinotega, Esteli to the border with Honduras.

We then went to Danli, Tegucigalpa, Nacaome and crossed the border into El Salvador to San Miguel, Suchitoto, San Salvador, Puerto la Libertad and Joyas de Cerem before crossing into Guatemala.

We then went to La Antigua, Tecpan, Iximche, Tarrales, Chichicastenango, Panajachel, Santa Catarina Palopo, Progreso, El Rancho, Biotopo del Quetzal, Coban, Lanquin, Semuc Champey, San Pedro Charcha, Sayaxe, Flores and into Belize to Xunantunich.

We then went back to Guatemala to Tikal, Poptun, Rio Dulce and then back to Honduras to Copan, Gracias, Marcela, La Esperanza, Siguatepeque, Panacam, Yojoa Lake, El Cajon, Tela, Miami, Tornabe, Triunfo de la Cruz, Ceiba, Guanaja and San Pedro Sula before flying home.

We did a lot of bird watching on the trip; and if you're observant you will see lots of hummingbirds that spend the winter in Central America. If you're going to the beaches be aware that you could be bitten by sand flies. So bring some insect repellent and reapply after you leave the water.

[ Edit: Edited on 14-Dec-2018, at 00:52 by berner256 ]

10. Posted by oddgrace (Budding Member 39 posts) 51w Star this if you like it!

I live in New Zealand, sand flies are already the bane of my existence so I will come prepared. :). Sounds like an amazing trip! How long did you take and did you have any particular favourites? I was never much of a birdwatcher until I went on numerous Safaris in Africa and met quite a few so I’ve gotten pretty good and spotting them so I’ll be sure to do a good bit of bird watching!