Lake Arenal – Nuevo Arenal

July 21, 2008 - Leave a Response

Most of our clients have gone to the Arenal Volcano and have enjoyed camping there.  But we didn’t know much about camping in Nuevo Areanel, by the lake.  In May I had the opportunity to spend the night there and it was really nice.  Some of the locals told me that it might be insecure, but others told me it was no problem.  It might be different around school holidays or over the weekend, so keep that in mind, but I was not disturbed at all.

You can see the images where I camped, which was next to the boat ramp.  You can see the volcano from there and the access is certain.  I arrived at night, so I couldn’t see the whole area, because there is actually a better spot for camping away from the boat ramp.  It would be more private and great for sunsets.

You can ask in Nuevo Arenal for the way to the lake.  If you come from La Fortuna you would normally turn uphill to go to the town center as you reach town.  To go to the boat ramp you just continue straight and take the next left.  If you come via Tilaran, then you would go downhill from the gas station, as if you were going to La Fortuna, but turn right at the bottom of the hill, then take the next left.

Madre Madre – Cerro de la Muerte

July 20, 2008 - Leave a Response

In April we made a little weekend break and took a trip up to the Cerro de la Muerte again. But this time we stopped before going over and stayed at a trout farm called Selva Madre. This is the original trout farm that was started 20 years ago and it is still a family business.

There is a 2000 colon entry fee for adults and 1000 for children. You are welcome to stay overnight. The fee includes the use of one of the BBQ ranches. We stayed at the first ranch next to the pavilion, which is also next to the river that borders the property. The trout farm is at 2400 meters altitude, although it wasn’t as cold as we expected the sweaters and blankets came in handy.

You get fishing poles and bait and you can catch as many trout as you want. When we were there the price was 3500 colones per kilo of trout. (A kilo is 2.2 pounds). They will clean the trout for you and you can cook it yourself, or you can ask them to cook it for an additional fee. The first night we cooked it and the second day we asked them to cook it. They cooked it better!

This was a great experience and it is a place you could get to on your first night in Costa Rica, if you arrive at the airport and get going early enough.

Cerro de La Muerte

February 16, 2008 - 3 Responses

Had enough of the heat? Be cool on the Cerro de La Muerte during your Costa Rica trip. The so called “Hill of Death” is no longer as intimidating as in the days of the ox carts. Local legend has it that parties traveling from the Southern Zone to the Central Valley used to freeze to death en route.

Maybe because of deforestation and global warming, that is no longer an issue, but it still gets foggy and cool, so if you want to beat the heat this is your area. In any case, if you find yourself caught in the middle of the journey and unable to continue for some reason, then you might want to make an overnight stop near San Gerardo de Dota. This turnoff looked like a nice spot to pull over and sleep in.

This was right at the turn off for San Gerardo de Dota. There was a nice little restaurant nearby, for a hot drink and something to eat. You can tell by the vegetation that it is high altitude.

Camper at Cerro de La Muerte

Uphill

Camp site

Camper at Cerro de La Muerte

Cerro de La Muerte

February 16, 2008 - Leave a Response

Had enough of the heat? Be cool on the Cerro de La Muerte during your Costa Rica trip. The so called “Hill of Death” is no longer as intimidating as in the days of the ox carts. Local legend has it that parties traveling from the Southern Zone to the Central Valley used to freeze to death en route.

Maybe because of deforestation and global warming, that is no longer an issue, but it still gets foggy and cool, so if you want to beat the heat this is your area. In any case, if you find yourself caught in the middle of the journey and unable to continue for some reason, then you might want to make an overnight stop near San Gerardo de Dota. This turnoff looked like a nice spot to pull over and sleep in.

This was right at the turn off for San Gerardo de Dota. There was a nice little restaurant nearby, for a hot drink and something to eat. You can tell by the vegetation that it is high altitude.

Camper at Cerro de La Muerte

Camp site

Uphill

Hermosa Beach (Dominical)

February 15, 2008 - One Response

In Costa Rica there must be 7 or 8 Playa Hermosas. Recently we went to the one that is south of Dominical beach. This was an incredible spot to camp. School was out, so the camping areas were a little crowded on the north end of the beach. We took the camper into the 3rd entrance and found a very nice spot. (see photos)

There were only a few people camping in this area on Saturday, and everyone left on Sunday, so we had the entire beach to ourselves!

Camp site 2

Camp site

South end of Hermosa Beach

North End of Beach

Safety

January 29, 2008 - One Response

We had a last minute cancellation recently.  The couple was concerned about the safety of camping in Costa Rica.  They had some friends or relatives who had been to Costa Rica and thought that camping would not be safe (although these folks were not campers!)

So I would like to say that traveling in Costa Rica is not more dangerous than traveling any where else.  Any tourist, or camper, must be aware of their surroundings.  I visited the Vatican in Rome, for example, and there were pickpockets everywhere.  Everyone on the cruise ship knew about it and that you had to watch your belongings and the people around you when you went to the Vatican.

It is the same in Costa Rica.  You can’t leave your bags on the car seat when you go in to a restaurant or shop.  They should be left in the trunk, or carried with you.  If you have expensive gear (laptops, cameras, etc) you should plan how you will keep it safe during the trip.  Normally the best is to keep it with you, or in a safe deposit box at the hotel.

In the case of our camper, my feeling is that it is very safe.  Our clients who have rented the van also felt very secure throughout the trip.  They tend to travel light, plus the camper has quite a few great hiding spots that we will show you.  When you go to sleep at night, it is totally enclosed, so you are safe from insects, animals and any people wandering about.

Another factor is that when you arrive to a camp area and begin to set up the camp site, you tend to draw a crowd.  These are park rangers, other tourists, or locals.  Campers are not common here, and the graphics on the side of the vehicle draw attention.  People want to see what it is and they will come up and talk to you.

The advantage is that this breaks the ice, so you get to know others who are camping in the area.  If you talk to locals, you will find that they are very nice people and you will also feel safe, especially in the more remote areas that the camper allows you to get to and enjoy up close.

Now if you compare the safety of renting the camper to renting a 4 x 4 and staying in a hotel, I would say that it is as safe, or safer than the hotel.  Here are some factors:

- Most rental 4 x 4 s don’t have a trunk, they have a cargo area.  So your gear is out in the open.

- Just as many thefts occur at hotels and restaurants as on the streets.  This is true anywhere in the world.  If you are staying at one hotel for a week, the chances of something getting stolen are in my opinion very low.  You can use facilities in your room or in the hotel for valuable items.  However, if you are planning on covering a lot of ground on your vacation, your chances increase dramatically.

Weighing these two factors, I would prefer the camper.  Only the front windows offer visibility from the outside, particularly if you draw the curtains.  In any case, you have multiple spots to stow valuables.  With the camper, you know you will be on the move and in the open, so you will also be aware of your surroundings much more.  Finally, you will be avoiding the urbanized beach spots like Tamarindo, Coco and Jaco, which are where the real thieves concentrate.

In a camper, you will be traveling to less developed areas and getting to know the real Costa Rican people. So in my opinion any extra precautions or awareness you will have to go through will be well worth the trade – off of getting to see the real Costa Rica, and getting to enjoy its most unspoiled spots in an up close and personal way.

Las Baulas National Park

January 29, 2008 - Leave a Response

If you want to enjoy the activities in Tamarindo, you will find that there aren’t many spots for camping comfortably there.  A great option is to camp at Las Baulas marine park in Playa Grande.

Our clients had a great time camping there and told us about it.  They said that it is a little intimidating as you drive in, with all the luxury homes and developments crowding you. But once you get to the beach the rangers were very friendly. And the camp area was fantastic.  You are right on the beach, depending on the time of year you can take a guided tour and see turtles nesting or hatching.

This area is slated for development, although the government is trying to expropriate lands within the park.  So enjoy it while you can!

Lake Arenal Camping

January 29, 2008 - One Response

If you want to enjoy activities on or near Lake Arenal, then you will find camping available at the lake.  Our clients said that they found an entrance to the water and were able to camp right on the lake!  As you drive between Nuevo Arenal and Tilaran, you will find many good spots with views of the lake too.

Lake Arenal  features wind surfing and other water sports,also tours of the lake.  The climate is warm, but not hot.

Arenal Observatory

January 29, 2008 - Leave a Response

Late last year our clients camped at the Arenal Observatory Lodge. This lodge is a nice hotel that is next to the back entrance to the Arenal Volcano National Park. You drive from Tilaran around the volcano. Most tourists (and tour operators) only go to first entrance. But at the back entrance you have a hiking trail that opens out to the lava fields.

What our clients did was pay the $4 entrance fee that the lodge charges (per person) That allows you to use their observation decks and other hotel facilities, they said the food was very good and not unreasonably priced. Since it was low season and after getting permission, they just camped in the hotel parking lot overnight. The volcano views were spectacular, you get to see the lava flow right up close.

The hike to the lava fields is also fun. It isn’t far, you cross over some streams and through the woods. You can often see exotic birds, plants and wildlife on the way. This part of the park is less visited. At a certain point you come out of the woods and get into the lava fields. In the daytime you can see the cooling rocks tumbling down into the lava fields. It’s perfectly safe, because these fields were created in the 199? eruption, so they cleared out the forest but normally the lava rocks don’t tumble or shoot out that far.

If you don’t want to camp at the observatory, or if in high season the “receptiveness” level isn’t as high, then you can still camp at the park entrance, which is very close to a wide stream you can enjoy.

April 2007

June 22, 2007 - Leave a Response

Hi Russ,

Thanks for the update. I’m glad everything worked out. Things are going well back here in Vancouver. We plan to go back to Central and maybe South America for 3 months next fall. Having the van gave us a great experience of Costa Rica. We could not have seen all that we did and have gone to all the places we did without it. When we needed the replacement battery cables you took care of things right away and after that the van preformed perfectly throughout the whole trip. The power and lower gear was fantastic for getting up some of the steep hills. I appreciate that you were always helpful and understanding when we had questions. You were definitely a big part of making our month long vacation an enjoyable one.

All the best,

David

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