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The Beginnings of Costa Rica - Eco Adventure Family Travel

Volcano, rainforest, beach!  We are going to walk the hanging bridges, zip-line the canopy rainforest, and white-water raft the river.  Guess where the Chic Family is going next?
YESSSSSS - we are heading to Central America, specifically Costa Rica (our first time in the region).  Have you been?  If so, what should we know?  If not, can I convince you to come with us?

So, this trip is going to be a little different from our previous ones.  For starters, we are doing two things that I said I would NEVER do in my life *sigh*.  The kids (and Rob) are thrilled at the itinerary.  I just want to survive.  Intact.  Here are a few things planned...

Hanging Bridges in Arenal (this is my speed)

Rainforest Night Hike (piece of cake, just don't touch)

Arenal Volcano Hike (still my speed, it's been dormant for years)

Arenal Ziplining (exiting my comfort zone)

Savegre River Whitewater Rafting (being the weakest swimmer of the lot including the 6 year old, this is full-on not my thing)
Sweet! Stars! Above! Please let the river be more like the picture below and less like the picture above.  My heart will be thankful.

Planning Costa Rica:

Route:  We initially started out with the typical tourist itinerary:  Arenal, Monteverde, and Manual Antonio for our first visit.  After looking at distances, we decided that this would put us in more transit than desired for our number of days.  Looking at the domestic air routes, we decided to cut out Monteverde and utilized flights between Arenal and Manual Antonio/Quepos.

It appears that the roads are good for a self-drive tour and would be our choice given more time and familiarity.  I noticed that M.A. is 3 hours from SJO International airport and I was thinking we should be closer on day of departure.  Don't worry, I think I found a winner for our final two nights (both accommodations and sight-seeing)!

Flights/Shuttles:  Costa Rica first appeared on my radar when I saw direct flights from our home airport to SJO - YESSSS!  With round trip tickets booked, it was time to figure out our in-country travel.  I freak out at the idea of a tight connection.  I'm sure 2 1/2 hours is fine, but I would be too stressed worrying about clearing customs and getting to the domestic airline in a timely matter on top of possible flight arrival delays.  Man, it sure is hard to pass on a 20 minute flight and choose the 3 hour drive to Arenal, but my nerves thank me.  Plus, it will provide the answers regarding a future (longer) self-drive trip.

Accommodations:  This is actually our first time traveling during Spring Break.  Now that the kids are older, we go on their school breaks, which means PEAK time.  I was finding that in November (when I first started planning), places were completely booked for Spring Break.  And, guess what else?!  The PRICES - Wow, Oh My, Heart Palpitations, PRICES.  I've since learned that Easter week is a very popular, very busy, very peak time in Costa Rica.  Thank goodness, I was booking almost 6 months out, so I managed to find some special places to stay and ideas for a future longer stay. 

Packing:  Guess what?!  We are going to finally realize my DREAM.  We are (wait for it) going to (take a deep breathe) travel with NO checked luggage!!!!!!  With kids!!!!!!  For the first time, we will not be able to overpack.  I am giddy with glee.  I'll let you know how it goes.  The quick summary though is we are utilizing packing cubes and carry-on spinners.  Each person responsible for their own stuff.

Tours: Here is where I begin to tremble. You will have to wait for our trip report to find out what we survive.

Our planned 9 day itinerary:

Arrive SJO (private shuttle to Arenal)

3 nights Arenal (fly NatureAir to M.A.)
- Canopy Ziplining
- Volcano, Waterfall, Hanging Bridges Hike

3 nights Manual Antonio (fly NatureAir to SJO)
- White-water Rafting
- Horseback Riding
- Beach

2 nights Alajuela (private shuttle to SJO)
- Night Nature Hike, Volcano

Depart SJO

Be back real soon with our Costa Rica Trip Report!

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