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Old 05-31-2013, 02:40 PM   #136
Bobo912
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Originally Posted by Gonecruisin View Post
Nope. Still waiting.
Might be a good idea to call ABD. Your trip was the week before ours, so you should have gotten your photos by now.
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Old 06-01-2013, 09:46 PM   #137
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We booked Costa Rica for July 2014 while we were on the Fantasy this week. We received a 5% discount for booking onboard.
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Old 07-12-2013, 11:04 AM   #138
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Did anyone who went on this ABD bring local currency or is USD fine? Thanks.
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Old 07-12-2013, 11:12 AM   #139
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Did anyone who went on this ABD bring local currency or is USD fine? Thanks.
I got a small amount of local currency from an ATM in San Jose on the first day of the trip, but I didn't really need it. US currency worked just as well.
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Old 07-12-2013, 04:04 PM   #140
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I got a small amount of local currency from an ATM in San Jose on the first day of the trip, but I didn't really need it. US currency worked just as well.
Thanks!!
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Old 07-13-2013, 07:36 AM   #141
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Did anyone who went on this ABD bring local currency or is USD fine? Thanks.
Same here- usually we always get some local currency, but simply didn't need it in CR. Everything in most of the shops we were near was priced in USD.
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Old 07-16-2013, 03:41 PM   #142
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No need to exchange US dollars. They are accepted everywhere and prices are usually listed in US dollars. Rural places may be the exception. However if you want the full experience then by all means, exchange for colons. We did this both coming and going at the airport. It was convenient and not too pricey. I think the best deal is at an ATM. The local currency is very pretty. The kids might get a kick out them. It's also fun to pay thousands of colons for something.

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Old 08-17-2013, 06:41 PM   #143
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Just got back!!

We just arrived from our Costa Rica trip and it was AMAZING!!! It was exhilarating, fun, wet and itchy! I'll post a few add ons (tip wise) and maybe photos on Gonecruisin's post once I'm all settled. It's the rainy/wet season there and did not catch a glimpse of Arenal cloud-free.

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Old 08-17-2013, 09:48 PM   #144
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We just arrived from our Costa Rica trip and it was AMAZING!!! It was exhilarating, fun, wet and itchy! I'll post a few add ons (tip wise) and maybe photos on Gonecruisin's post once I'm all settled. It's the rainy/wet season there and did not catch a glimpse of Arenal cloud-free.

Yay! Thanks so much for sharing the picture. I can't wait to read any hints and tips that you have.
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Old 08-18-2013, 07:36 AM   #145
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We just arrived from our Costa Rica trip and it was AMAZING!!! It was exhilarating, fun, wet and itchy! I'll post a few add ons (tip wise) and maybe photos on Gonecruisin's post once I'm all settled. It's the rainy/wet season there and did not catch a glimpse of Arenal cloud-free.

Welcome back! Can't wait to see your pics and review! Based on this Arenal pic- It looked amazing! I think seeing the rain forest in rainy season was a highlight for me and the mood of this photo and the landscape in the foreground really shows that magical quality! Even if you missed the peak- that's still a lot of mountain, and it's beautiful

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 08-18-2013, 11:31 AM   #146
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tufbuf View Post
We just arrived from our Costa Rica trip and it was AMAZING!!! It was exhilarating, fun, wet and itchy! I'll post a few add ons (tip wise) and maybe photos on Gonecruisin's post once I'm all settled. It's the rainy/wet season there and did not catch a glimpse of Arenal cloud-free.

Wow! What a fabulous, moody, intriguing picture! I, too, am really looking forward to your report and pictures!

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Old 08-18-2013, 01:25 PM   #147
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Thank you all! Unfortunately, that's probably the best photo I took on this trip. The conditions won't allow it and we were always on the move, most of the things we saw and did were stamped into memory. I usually end up taking a thousand photos on these trips but I only took a few hundred. Plus I used my waterproof point and shoot most of the time because of the rain and water activities.

Our trip was during the wet season which made it different from Gonecruisin's experience. First of all, I didn't think it was terribly hot. It was hot and very humid but I thought it was tolerable. We did get rain every single day and it's funny how the kids were fascinated by the fact that it rained every day. We were lucky since when it did pour, we were already safe in our hotel rooms or on the coach.

The trip is hectic due to the numerous hotel change. We arrived on the trip's day one which is simply arrival day. We did not have the regular welcome dinner in other ABD trips and just had time on our own. Since we took a red eye flight, we took it easy and just stayed in the hotel grounds the rest of the afternoon and made sure we got enough rest and prepared well for the one day stay in Tortuguero.

It was a promising morning the day we left for Tortuguero. We had bright sunshine and blue skies. It was also a smooth uneventful 45 minute flight.

We could see the strip of land where Laguna Lodge is located before landing.


This is the beach where turtle nesting takes place. You can even see their tracks from the plane!


Once we arrived, we had our second breakfast. We had a light breakfast before leaving the Marriott earlier. And since we were going to have a long morning, it was great to have the extra meal. After breakfast, we checked our rooms and met again for a boat ride to town. Gonecruisin walked to town (I thought that is quite a long walk from the lodge). A local guide Luis showed us around and told us how things changed in Tortuguero since 40 years ago. They are big on turtle conservation and this is where the biggest rookery is in the western hemisphere.

It started raining while we were in town. We also saw the video on sea turtle conservancy as Gonecruisin and you have the option to adopt a turtle with a donation. We walked a few minutes in the beach area where the turtles nest. Here is a photo of a turtle track.

We saw several of the broken egg shells on the beach.


Afterwards, we got ready for our nature boat ride. By this time, the rain was pouring. I had my raincoat but opted to use the poncho they were handing out since I didn't want to get soaked. So out with my DSLR and got my P&S to work.

According to our amazing ABD guide, Fico, we should see more animals since they love the rain and choose to come out as opposed to sunny days to avoid dehydration. I thought he was being optimistic. Well, Gonecruisin saw more than we did. There was one boy who loves sloth and was on a mission to see one. We never did on this trip. I wanted to see one too! Anyway, it was still quite an experience. Most of us didn't mind the rain at all. Besides we were in a rain forest!

Here is Fico's group. We were divided into two boats since we were a maximum 35 all in all.


We saw a number of basilisk also referred to as a Jesus Christ lizard due to its ability to walk on water. It's almost like a game of where is Waldo...


An iguana


A cayman, this one was about 4 feet long.


Another basilisk. This one we saw it catch a grasshopper near by.


A snake bird drying its wings. These birds dive in the water to catch fish.



A northern jacana, a family of waders. It's a small bird about 8 inches in height. We got really close to this bird and did not spook it.


A toucan


A white almond tree with typical buttress roots seen in swampy areas.


The river was very lush and full of life. It's a place I have never seen before!


We also saw spider monkeys but they were too far up on the trees swinging from branch to branch, it was quite difficult to photograph with my limited equipment. The rain eventually stopped on the way back to the lodge. Fico thought this activity should be done in two days which will give more opportunities to spot animals.

The rest of the afternoon was on our own. A number of kids spent it on the pool and they bonded really well. From that time on, we only saw our DD at bedtime! We had a wonderful group and all the kids (which comprised half the group!) were all really good and funny.

There was a tree frog garden in the lodge. We found this one hanging out...
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Old 08-18-2013, 01:35 PM   #148
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I had to post the previous one already since I accidentally erased the first one I was working on. ;( Anyway, some additional tips.

Bug spray - I don't know if they work but I ended up with lots of bug bites. If you are prone to bug bites, be prepared. When we went through the frog garden, our DD came out with numerous mosquito bites. Since the mosquitoes were biting me the whole afternoon, DH had hydrocortisone cream handy wherever we go. It works! DD's bites didn't get any worse the next day and mine were almost all gone by the end of the trip.

That evening, we were scheduled to go on a hike to go see the turtles hatching their eggs. I love animals and watch a lot of animal documentary shows and I thought this experience is priceless. There were other people who were doing this activity and we were told earlier that we will know if we will be in the 8-10 pm group or 10-12 mn group. Everyone was hoping we could end up in the earlier walk and somehow, the guides manage to get us all on the earlier schedule!

For the walk - we like moving around in sandals. For this trip, we made sure we had closed toe sandals but did not bring sneakers or closed walking shoes. It would be nice if you had a pair with you with socks just to avoid being bit by leaf cutter ants during the walk to the beach to see the turtle. We had a reminder call from ABD a couple of days before we left to let us know to bring flashlights. That is a must since it's pitch dark plus it helped me see the ants. I didn't get bit, thank goodness, but DH did. I just jump over the ant trail and they are quite easy to spot since they carry bits of leaves around.

The turtle nesting is a very slow process. You see them laying the eggs, covering them with dirt and walk back to the sea. Our turtle dug a really deep nesting hole and took her a while to cover it up and had a difficult time getting out. You can't rush nature so just be aware. Our group (we were 9) were the last to finish and was all settled in our room before midnight. It was an amazing and priceless experience though!
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Old 08-18-2013, 02:08 PM   #149
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Dole pineapple plantation tour

The next day, we got ready for our transfer to the next hotel in Arenal. You don't need a wake up call as the planes flying overhead is enough to wake you up. Three planes flew over and still did not wake our DD up though!

The transfer involved a boat ride to get to the bus stop. Gonecruisin had a 2-hour boat ride and ours was just an hour (they said 45 minutes) since we had more rain. So the shortcut is dependent on the amount of rain the previous days, but we still encountered areas where the water was really shallow. The boat driver is very experienced and made it look easy going through the shallow canals and not getting us beached in the middle of nowhere. Again, the day started out sunny and nice!

Here is a sculpture on the river on the way to the bus stop.


This was where we met the same bus we took the first day and our toilet stop. When they said deluxe, they weren't kidding.



These were the women's restroom stalls and they were quite clean!


After a long coach ride, we stopped for lunch. The food here was delicious!


We arrived at the Dole plantation in the early afternoon and spent a couple of hours there. Here is a picture of an ornamental pineapple, no bigger than a golf ball.


This is Michael, the plantation tour guide who is hilarious!!! You have to be there to understand why. We all enjoyed his presentation on pineapple facts.


Pineapple harvesters


Pineapples everywhere!!!


Fico handing out fresh pineapple slices. I have eaten pineapples all my life but I never tasted them as sweet and juicy as these.They were just delicious!! Some of the kids ended up gnawing on what remained of the fruit Fico was holding.


The sorting area separating the good from bad...


And the stocking area, getting the pineapples ready for export




As a parting refreshment, we had fresh pineapple drinks before heading to our next hotel.


By the time we reached Hotel Arenal Manoa, the rain was pouring. We made a quick stop to our rooms and headed out for dinner. This day was pretty slow and it was great since I did not get to sleep the night before. The long bus ride was a good time to rest. It's a fun and exhilarating ziplining day the next day, so we got some decent shut eye and got ready for an exciting day!!!
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Old 08-18-2013, 02:43 PM   #150
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I am loving your report!

Here's my packing list so far:
- bug spray
- tennis shoes
- ponchos & rain jackets
- waterproof camera
- hydrocortisone cream
- flashlights

What type of clothing did you wear? It seems that tennis shoes would be best most days, but I don't know if they're going to be wet all the time. (Our trip is in July)
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