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O2B@Cagain

Booked Panama Canal last minute!

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After watching the price drop, then stabilize, I got on the phone yesterday and booked a December trip! The airfare through Windstar was cheaper than what I could find, so I'm happy. Since my main object was to transit the canal, I really haven't a clue about what to do in Costa Rica. Not one for getting on a bus for an hour or more for a short sightseeing trip. Does anyone have a recommendation for either of of the stops? Would rather see birds and things than sit on a beach, LOL. I believe the picnic is at Isla Parida, so that's good.

 

Yes, I've read "The Path Between the Seas" 😊

 

Thanks everyone.

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We are taking the Panama/Costa rica trip on the Star Pride  last part of November. We are only booking 1 Windstar tour. The rest we are doing with independent  folks . Not sure when your trip is but We will write a review when we get back. Have Fun   🙂

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You may want to look at the "Jaguar Rescue Center".  Per its website, "The Jaguar Rescue Centre is an animal rescue centre located near Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in the Limón Province of Costa Rica. The centre is dedicated to the rehabilitation of mistreated, injured, orphaned, and/or confiscated animals."  We have not been there since February, 2017, but it was a very interesting morning tour.

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32 minutes ago, Hanoverian said:

You may want to look at the "Jaguar Rescue Center".  P er its website, "The Jaguar Rescue Centre is an animal rescue centre located near Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in the Limón Province of Costa Rica. The centre is dedicated to the rehabilitation of mistreated, injured, orphaned, and/or confiscated animals."  We have not been there since February, 2017, but it was a very interesting morning tour.

I believe his stops will be on the Pacific side.  The Jaguar Rescue Center is on the Caribbean coast.  In December you can expect to see whales in the Golfo Dulce if he's stopping in Puerto Jiminez or Golfito.  Whale tours again if he stops at Drake Bay, Manuel Antonio Park if he stops in Quepos is great to see wildlife (15-20 minutes from Quepos).

 

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Agree with Manuel Antonio Park...easy transfer from Quepos.  We arranged a private guide (two of us, one guide, about 3.5-4 hours).  The hike is doable on your own (easy path to follow), but a guide helped us see things we never would have seen on our own.  And we saw several groups (including the likely WS group) with 20 people crowding around a scope trying to see a bird high up in the trees.  Well worth the trip.  (From Star Breeze, December 2018)

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The two stops are: Quepos (Manuel Antonio National Park) and Golfo Dulce (Puerto Jimenez). I would not worry about private tours in the Caribbean, mostly because I understand the language and culture, but I don't have the same confidence in Central America. Where do you find your independent tours?

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The best stop for spotting wildlife was Manuel Antonio Park. I did the Windstar tour. We split into two groups of around a dozen each with a guide. The guides were great at spotting wildlife.

 

From Peurto Jimenez, you can go to Matapalo for a hike with a lot of bird spotting. We even saw a pair of Macaws mating.

 

Isla Parida is the beach BBQ day. There is a short hike available there where you may spot some birds, but it's mostly a beach day. 

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They do have some really tempting last minute deals right now. We did Panama and Costa Rica last year and are already booked for 14 days in January, but I'm tempted by one of the November San Juan itineraries. 

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4 hours ago, O2B@Cagain said:

The two stops are: Quepos (Manuel Antonio National Park) and Golfo Dulce (Puerto Jimenez). I would not worry about private tours in the Caribbean, mostly because I understand the language and culture, but I don't have the same confidence in Central America. Where do you find your independent tours?

 

In Quepos, we did a private tour with Iguana Tours [www.iguanatours.com] for $95 per person.  They were very accommodating:  picked us up at the ship, took us to the Catholic church for Sunday Mass, then took us to the park for a nature hike.  The guide at the park thought we wanted a tourist stroll, but we were adamant that we wanted to do the strenuous Cathedral Point trail.  [We are in our 70s, so he probably thought we couldn't make it.  Hah!]  The next stop was the Marlin Restaurant for a snack of fresh fruit and a Sour Sap smoothie [apparently mandatory, since all tours seem to stop there... but it was included] then back to the ship in plenty of time.  Highly recommended.

 

For Golfo Dulce our ship docked at Golfito, but I think your situation should be similar as Puerto Jimenez is right across the bay and most excursions are by boat.  We had put together a roll call group tour with Changing Tide Tours [www.changingtidetours.com] with a custom itinerary ($70 pp plus $10 admission to the botanical garden).   First, the captain deviated to sail out of the gulf into the midst of hundreds of Spotted Dolphin [what a treat, especially to see some of the young ones leap into the air!]  He then took us along Piedras Blancas National Park to see Pelicans roosting in trees, Osprey and a couple of Scarlet Macaws flying overhead on our way to Casa Orchidéas botanical garden [wet landing - surprise! but not a problem].  On the way back there was an opportunity for snorkeling.  Also highly recommended.

 

This was on Azamara in January 2018.  For more information and lots of pictures, see my blog:

https://jazzbeauxcostaricacruise2018.wordpress.com

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In Quepos, we used Manuel’s Tours http://www.manuelstours.com/. The cost was $79/pp and Manuel himself was our guide (he has a crew). He met us at the pier and we were off. The tour lasted about 4.5 hours, included the ride to/from the park, admission in and a stop for the obligatory smoothie at a local restaurant near the park at the end. 
 

I found him via TripAdvisor and he had great reviews.   
 

Enjoy the trip!

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In Quepos we went on quite the adventure with Quepo Canyoning. http://quepocanyoning.net/ Our two teenage sons were with us on the Panama Canal cruise so this was their pick. We all had a blast!

 

 

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Thanks for the help everyone!

 

Another question...Do you dock anywhere or anchor at all stops? I'm wondering if you can get off the ship and wander a town at all. I guess it would be between the Quepos and Golfo Dulce stops.

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Never mind. It helps to read your travel documents. LOL. All anchoring, wet landing at Golfo Dulce and Isla Parida...

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One more question from the PITA...😂

 

What about Fuerte Amador? I'd be more interested in Panama Canal history than birds at this point. LOL

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We're going on Jan 4th.  Here's where I'm at in the planning:

 

Panama City/Colon:  No ideas.  We arrive at 2pm the day before and sail the following day at 5pm.  Any ideas on what to do in Panama City?  Is there a guide or tour that can pick us up and show us stuff along the way to Colon?  Or do we just explore Panama City and take a taxi to Colon?

 

Balboa/Fuerte Amador: No ideas yet.  Looks like most of the cruises' excursions are related to foodie stuff.... could be cool, any private tours here worth noting?  We're in port for a day and a half

 

Isla Parida: This is the beach BBQ day.  Having never done this before, should we book something else or is there enough stuff to do with the BBQ?  Or is it just lunch on the beach and we need to plan something?

 

Puerto Jimenez (Golfo Dulce): From what I read Corcovado Park is supposed to be amazing for wildlife.  I've reached out to Jaguar Tours http://www.jaguarcorcovadotourscr.com/ to see if there's anything we can do as a day trip.  I also read about Dolphin Devine and Changing Tide Tours which could be cool.  Any input here would be great.

 

Quepos: I think we are going with Iguana Tours and doing Manuel Antonio, horseback riding to the waterfall, and maybe the mangroves if there's enough time.

 

Puerto Caldera: We would like to see the coffee plantation on the way back to the airport.  They suggest your flight leave no earlier than 3pm.... ours it at 2:35pm.  They recommend 3 hours at the airport..... anyone know if this is necessary?

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