Cycling Costa Rica our experience
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Cycling Costa Rica, a beautiful experience. We rent out special prepared MTB bikes for this purpose. Let one of our clients tell about their experience.
25 days, Costa Rica cycling .
Cycling throughout Costa Rica, our new challenge. After a quick search on the internet, we found information at the site of Hotel Rincon de San Jose they offered even a package with overnight pickup and bike rental Airport. After the initial email contact, soon became clear that we could rent MTB 29″ bikes who were perfect for our needs. The people at the hotel where very helpful and gave us information and valuable travel tips.
Upon arrival we were picked up by the transfer shuttle from the hotel. The next morning after breakfast our bikes were handed out. A day earlier as planned but great so we could prepare the bikes. We swapped our pedals, seats at the right heights and the brand new bicycle bags also needed to be fitted. The bikes were excellent and after the test drive, we already became good friends. The next morning we went off on our cycling adventure, waked up early and started from the hotel Rincon de San Jose.
Day 2. San Jose – Siquirres: 98 km – 1793 meters altitude.
We were warned to leave early cycling out of town and that was a wise one, the early morning is the best time to ride thru the little traffic and temperatures are still fresh right out of town. Up to Cartago we cycled along the main road with traffic but after that it gets more rural and quieter quickly you get the feel of true Costa Rica, small villages, great views, and even steep hills and mountains. In short, Costa Rica, will learn you climb. When we arrived at a little adorable lodge just before Siquirres we were tired but happy.
Tip: You might choose to use 2 days to split this stage or to spend a little on a transfer bus to get you just outside of the city. This saves a lot of height gauges and you can instantly enjoy Costa Rica.
Day 3. Siquirres – La Virgen (Sarapiqui): 101 km – 743 vertical meters.
Compared to the first day it was a rather relaxed route, some nice “flat” roads. The first few kilometers from Siquirres were via the highway, mind the big trucks! But after the exit to the Sarapiqui Valley/Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui is quiet and comfortable cycling. Little traffic and beautiful scenery with vast pineapple plantations, and many beautiful birds. The real countryside.
Tip: Sodas were our best discovery, these little restaurants serve local casado (rice with fish, chicken or meat and vegetables) keeps you strong during your trip, they serve that what you need.
Day 4. La Virgen (Sarapiqui)
We had a resting day, because there were a lot of fun things to do, walking (eg Tirambina park), cocoa tour (Very successful!), visiting pineapple plantations or Sarapiqui river rafting. We had a very cheap but tidy cabin with an enthusiastic and friendly owner (La Virgen, Cabinas Claribel, Tel.27611190).
Day 5. La Virgen – La Fortuna (Arenal): 86 km – 1095 meters altitude.
On to Fortuna, from the plains into the mountains, we knew it would be a good day, as a warm up the first 30km waked us up with many short steep climbs. But then it flattens right to Fortuna, unfortunately we had rain, but that didn’t spoil the fun.
Day 6 & 7. Arenal.
Fortuna, adventure center of Costa Rica. In the two days that we were there we did a lot of great things. A beautiful walk around the Cerro Chato and Arenal volcano, swimming in the waterfalls, and of course we enjoyed the hot springs.
Day 8. Arenal – Cañas: 96 km – 1921 meters altitude.
Today we planned a long day with quit some kilometers. We wanted to go in directions of the pacific coast, but needed to round the Arenal lake first a 40 kilometer. A scenic route, winding roads through rolling green and the beautiful sight on the Arenal Volcano the whole day. After Tilleran, we drove right in to Quanacaste and we headed up to Cañas, it’s very special to see the changing of the landscape and beautiful green area as it becomes rapidly drier and flatter.
Day 9. Cañas – Playa del Coco: 120 km – 643 altimeters
We tried to avoid it as much as possible, but we still had to do the first part of the inter-americana. We decided to rely on GPS and chose the unpaved and beautiful route with many crops (eg. rice, corn, beans), but also livestock and the Costa Rican cowboys. A beautiful experience, but we had a set back, the bridge was gone, we could not cross the river. So we had to go back to he inter-americana, and then again head towards Liberia, we were still 35 kilometers from Playa del Coco. Still all the way back (Total mileage mentioned include detour, normally 100km).
Tip: The heat can be though around noon, especially at the lowlands on the coast, it is important to take this into account. Ride the bigger part of your route in the early morning, take it easy in the afternoon and enjoy the beach life as well. Do not forget to use sunscreen and drink enough water.
Day 10 & 11. Playa del Coco
What a delight, swimming, diving, snorkeling, relaxing. We stayed at M & M or Marymar a quiet hotel right on the beach.
Day 12. Playa del Coco – Samara: 105 km – 1071 meters altitude.
We went further down the Pacific Coast to Samara. The first piece from Playa del Coco, was a nice dirt road. 30 kilometers, towards Samara, nice flat paved road and we went well. But we found the hard part at the end of the last 30 kilometers, those are way tougher than you should expect from a coastal road. Still we hold on and faced the heat, once at our destination, the reward of a cool dive in the sea made it all worth it, we even had our first surf attempts.
Day 13. Samara – Playa San Miguel: 31 km – 820 vertical meters.
To get a little bit souther to Playa San Miguel was the idea. This short planned route proved to be more than sufficient. The dirt roads were slippery just after the rainy season and not at their best, the climbs were very steep. This route takes more time and also for the experienced mountain biker, it’s a fun challenge. It offers a unique view of the quiet and deserted beaches of Nicoya Peninsula. Arriving at Playa San Miguel, we were lucky that we could rent a cabin at the Flying Scorpion (http://theflyingscorpion.com/). In low season it is really quit on this beautiful deserted beach.
Tip: When you drive along the coast or along some sparsely populated areas, ensure yourself you that you have sufficient cash, only a few places have ATMs in this section (ox Samara/Santa Teresa).
Tip: It is possible to see turtles here, on evening excursions. Now we know what those flashlights were on the beach at night.
Day 14. Playa San Miguel – Montezuma: 65 km – 974 vertical meters.
We leave this beautiful place because we have to find an ATM. Part 2 of this coastal route is off road for cycling a lot better and really our favorite! The region has many different trees; plants, animals, and crossing a few small streams made it a real adventure. A stop in Santa Teresa for the ATM of course, the atmosphere is great, not to mention the delicious fresh coconut water. Tourism around Santa Teresa is noticeable and on the route to Montezuma we get many ATVs on the roads there are also wonderful for!
Day 15. Montezuma
Beautiful place Montezuma, beautiful beaches, fine waterfalls for swimming and a relaxing atmosphere with many good restaurants.
Day 16. Montezuma – Jaco (boat transfer)
There are boats that can take you every morning for $33-35 in 1.5 hours to Jaco. An efficient crossing and thereby resplendent with the hundreds of dolphins we saw.
Day 17. Jaco – Quepos: 66 km – 348 vertical meters.
We found Jaco itself not very special, especially very busy. We enjoyed the successful morning surfing attempts, Jaco is known for its convenient waves. In the afternoon we embark on the road to Quepos, this after the days we’ve had in Nicoya Peninsula pretty easy. The palm oil plantations on the way are a special experience, especially palm oil air and the authentic plantation cabins.
Day 18. Quepos – Sierpe: 121 km – 1233 meters altitude.
Due to the short time, we had to skip Manuel Antonio and went on to Sierpe. The longest stretch of our vacation. We stopped in Dominical and enjoyed the relax atmosphere. Time for a wonderful refresco natural (fruit drink) with Gallo Pinto. Also bought some souvenirs. The last kilometers to Sierpe are mysterious and untouched, let our jungle adventure begin.
Day 19. Sierpe – Drake Bay: 58 km – 1787 meters altitude.
With the advice of the hotel owner of Hotel Rincón de San José, we took the ferry on the Rio Sierpe and we tried to cycle to Drake Bay. We thougt it would be 2 hours. But we were mistaken with the bikes and luggage without proper supplies, it wasn’t a good plan. We were very lucky that after 15 miles we met some friendly Costa Ricans who gave us a ride. After a fairly intense car ride of two hours we arrived in Drake Bay.
Tip: Have your pick from the lodge in Drake bay with a boat or use a taxi boat!
Day 20-23. Drake Bay/Corcovado.
Opportunities all over, the tours in Corcovado National Park are a great experience, nice snorkeling, and plenty of opportunities to make walk on your own.
tips: Want to stay in the luxurious http://www.copadearbol.com/ is highly recommended. Something simple but neat cabins http://www.cabinasmanolo.com/home_en.htm Book a tour with a guide and you will see much more wildlife than when you walk on your own.
Day 24. Sierpe – San Jose (by shuttle bus).
This time we toke the taxi boat from Drake Bay back to Sierpe. In Sierpe the shuttle bus was waiting to go to San Jose. This was well organized and a good price, we were, with bike and all, within three hours back in Hotel Rincón de San José. There we met the hotel owner, we packed our stuff and evening dinner in the restaurant of the hotel.
Tip: For the transfer to San Jose go with shuttle service or Transportes y Álvarez Morales. Driver: Pedro Álvarez Herrera. firstname.lastname@example.org
Day 25. San Jose – Amsterdam.
Up and awake in the early morning we were brought with the transfer bus from the hotel strait to the airport. It was a great trip which we will treasure with a lot of great memories, photographs and a wonderful experience.
We enjoyed cycling through a country like Costa Rica, the pure experience is more intense than doing it by bus or car. The reactions of the Costa Ricans and the help we received along the way were very friendly. We had no lodges pre booked and went our own way. This worked out well. Sure it’s occasionally quite heavy but a lot of fun. All in all a special experience for us which we will treasure for a long time.
A few final tips: Key requirements: – Waterproof bags (available to rent with the bikes) – Sunglasses – Sunscreen SPF 50 (water resistant) – Detailed map of Costa Rica – Fast drying (bike) clothes – Rain Jacket