Costa Rica trip - Liberia area - any suggestions?

Started Feb 27, 2011 | Discussions
Scanlon
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Costa Rica trip - Liberia area - any suggestions?
Feb 27, 2011

I'm off to Costa Rica in a week, staying in Papagaya area. There are quite a few trips available, but a limited time. Does anyone who's been there have any ideas about maximizing my time there, from a photogaphy view point? Things like, good tour companies, and which excursions would be the best in the week I'm there. I have the E-5, 50-200mm, 14-54 II, FL50R, 1.4 TC & 50mm 2.0, so I'm hoping to get some good photos there, as well as enjoy the whole experience. I don't speak any spanish, BTW.
Thanks,
Ron

Timskis6
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In reply to Scanlon, Feb 27, 2011

1) How long?
2) Will you have a car?
3) Is the intent photography or enjoying your stay?

Below I've attached my itinerary when I was there. Liberia is further north-west from where I traveled (by car), but much of the La Fortuna area is accessible from Liberia by car (or tour).

I spent about a week making a big circle around Costa Rica, saw a lot, but definitely significantly more to see than what I did. I'm more than happy to give more info bu it would be worth my time to know the above, first.

Scanlon wrote:

I'm off to Costa Rica in a week, staying in Papagaya area. There are quite a few trips available, but a limited time. Does anyone who's been there have any ideas about maximizing my time there, from a photogaphy view point? Things like, good tour companies, and which excursions would be the best in the week I'm there. I have the E-5, 50-200mm, 14-54 II, FL50R, 1.4 TC & 50mm 2.0, so I'm hoping to get some good photos there, as well as enjoy the whole experience. I don't speak any spanish, BTW.
Thanks,
Ron

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Plane Tom
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Re: Costa Rica trip - Liberia area - any suggestions?
In reply to Scanlon, Feb 27, 2011

A week is somewhat limited time. I can't help with tour companies, My time there was back in 1982 on a sailboat, holed up for hurricane/rainy season for almost 6 months at Playa de Cocos, near Liberia.

The coastline around there is rocky, many areas with rock cliffs into the sea. Can be a dramatic landscape shot. This should be a drier season, so I don't know about waterfalls, etc. Local wildlife includes howler monkeys, and small white faced monkeys. The howlers are somewhat reclusive, but it is possible to get a picture.

Arenal Volcano (active) is a interesting landscape, and tour companies do go up there.

Monteverde is a rain forest at about 5000ft in the mountains. Very green, interesting wildlife, wet and cooler than near the coast so dress for it.

There is a biological reserve on the coast south of Puntarenas, I forget the name. Crocodiles in the river, lots of birds, etc.

At least back when I was there, the local girls were definitely not camera shy. If I poiinted my camera anywhee near them they would start posing, wanting to get their picture taken.

If you have any underater gear, the snorkling/diving is good.

Have fun

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SirSeth
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Re: Costa Rica trip - Liberia area - any suggestions?
In reply to Scanlon, Feb 27, 2011

I lived in the central valley for a summer and will be backpacking down the Caribbean coast in March. It's a lovely country and I've been doing plenty of research. Here are a few tips I have gleaned.

If you are renting a car, then rent a GPS too. Costa Rica was the first country to have GPS, and it's handy to say the least.

If travelling by public transportation (because that is what most people do in Costa Rica) then watch your stuff very carefully in San Jose.

Always check your bed for scorpions depending on where you are going. I have two products that have been handy for me so far. The New Key to Costa Rica is a good guide for the ecotourist and the Toucan map nice.

Have a great time. Will look forward to seeing your pictures from the west.

Cheers,
Seth

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Scanlon
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Re: Costa Rica trip - Liberia area - any suggestions?
In reply to SirSeth, Feb 27, 2011

Wow! Great photos. I will not have a car. Just staying for a week, so rather short. I know there's a lot to see. I just have to decide if I want to do the long rides. 3-4 hours seems long to get a few hours of activity, so we'll see. I think we'll defintiel;y go to to Monteverde. Arenal and Marco Antonio seem a little far from where I will be, though. I do know that Palo Verde is very popular and affords some good photo ops. Not sure about some of the other excursions, from the photo aspect. I'm very serious about the photography side of it, for the short time we'll be there, but I will be with my wife, so it's not all devoted to that. She's good with that side of it, though, and had a camera (for snapshots, etc.) long before I did. Thanks for your replies.

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Timskis6
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In reply to Scanlon, Feb 28, 2011

Scanlon wrote:

Wow! Great photos. I will not have a car. Just staying for a week, so rather short. I know there's a lot to see. I just have to decide if I want to do the long rides. 3-4 hours seems long to get a few hours of activity, so we'll see. I think we'll defintiel;y go to to Monteverde. Arenal and Marco Antonio seem a little far from where I will be, though. I do know that Palo Verde is very popular and affords some good photo ops. Not sure about some of the other excursions, from the photo aspect. I'm very serious about the photography side of it, for the short time we'll be there, but I will be with my wife, so it's not all devoted to that. She's good with that side of it, though, and had a camera (for snapshots, etc.) long before I did. Thanks for your replies.

If you're ambitious you can get quite a lot done in a week. Consider renting a car (and absolutely a GPS), so you can be on your own time and schedule. A GPS is required for navigating Costa Rica, as most places do not have an address. The "address" system is composed of landmarks; so for example, instead of your hotel at 123 Main Street, the address is "200m past the city church, left for 50m, right at the tienda, 0.5k... etc.). If you ask a local, typical directions are given based on previous landmarks, such as "go down the road and turn right where the old church used to be that burned down last year." It's great fun.

If you don't speak any Spanish, don't expect much help from locals - Spanish goes a long way, even a few phrases.

Consider heading north into Nicaragua and take a ferry out to island(s) in the middle of the lake. Some nice hikes out there and beautiful vistas of all of the south of Nicaragua.

Look on Google Maps and simple set your destinations to any of the nearby national parks. All of them are protected and offer beautiful wildlife opportunities.

If you don't rent a car and go with a tour company, make sure they have a licensed guide. As silly as this might sound, licensed guides make all the difference in the world when looking for wildlife. They know when and where to spot things, and I guarantee you'll see at least 10x more with a licensed guide than with no guide at all.

Cheers,
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Tim
'I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list.'
E3/7-14/12-60/35-100/150/25/EC14/EC20
http://www.flickr.com/photos/timskis6/

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Scanlon
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Re: Costa Rica trip - Liberia area - any suggestions?
In reply to Scanlon, Apr 14, 2012

My wife and I went there in March of 2011. Like you, I don't speak Spanish and did not rent a car. We stayed at Sol Papagaya. We travelled with Sunwing, from Toronto. They were terrific. Sunwing had a tour company that they worked with, which was also great. There was a laminated copy of the tours that they offered in the hotel, but we met with the excursion rep the morning after we arrived. We decided to do Monteverde, Arenal and Palo Verde with a coffee plantation in the PM. All the tours were very good. Guides were local guys and knew their stuff. The long tours were very interesting, so we set it up so that we had a day off in between. There was lots of nature around the hotel - iguanas, oddles of birds and the howler monkeys over the pool. Our standards on the accommodation side were not too high. We preferred to spend our money on tours. Each of the ones I mentioned were great for photography, however, the Arenal tour was a bit rushed, at times, especially the Danaus Eco-center portion. Don't miss the Selvatura hummingbirds on the Monteverde trip - fabulous! We found a terrific place for sunsets, on the north/west end of Hermosa Beach, about a ten minute taxi drive from our hotel. Look for the rocks at the right end of the beach.
Have fun,
Ron

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Susan G
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Re: Costa Rica trip - Liberia area - any suggestions?
In reply to Scanlon, Apr 15, 2012

Glad that you had such a great trip! I used to live in CR back in the 60s and 70s and have wonderful memories. I lived in Guanacaste, about 30 km. south of Liberia on the Nicoya Peninsula -- a road you must have traveled a lot during your trip. I last visited in 2007 and had a digital camera by then so got some nice shots, too. I have tons of slides and snaps from all those early years (before tourism took off there -- I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the mid-60s) -- those old times are gone -- sure wish I'd had the sense and the proper equipment to have done it justice back then.

I'd love to take a look at your photos!

Susan
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Craig from Nevada
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Re: Costa Rica trip - Liberia area - any suggestions?
In reply to Scanlon, Apr 15, 2012

When I travel to this area, I usually stay at a small town named "Playa Hermosa" (Guanacaste). There are a few pretty nice options such as the Finestera and Villa del SueƱo that provide clean and affordable accommodations near the beach. The views at Finestera are stunning This town is about 20 minutes from the airport.

The people at the front desks are attentive and can fix you up with reputable guides who now their stuff. Places like Monteverde and Arenal Volcano can be done by day trips. You can alternate beach and visiting these areas I am a scuba diver so this approach appeals to me.

This does not provide the opportunity to photograph these areas during the course of 24 hours--morning noon and night.

English is widely spoken in the area and the natives are friendly. That said, use the same care and caution that you would use in the US--lock your vehicle and keep your valuables out of sight.

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