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Conquering Costa Rica by Car

THE FACTS

INNS
Casa Turire Hacienda Atirro; 011-506/531-1111, fax 011-506/531-1075; doubles from $120.
Hotel Capitán Suizo Tamarindo Beach, Tamarindo; 011-506/653-0075, fax 011-506/653-0292; bungalows from $125.
Villa Caletas Jacó; 011-506/637-0606, fax 011-506/637-0404; doubles from $160.
Xandari Plantation Hotel Alajuela; 800/686-7879 or 805/684-7879, fax 805/684-4295; doubles from $150.

THE ITINERARY

DAY 1 Take Route 2 from San José to Cartago, then follow signs to Turrialba. Overnight at Casa Turire.
DAY 2 Head toward Siquirres on Route 10 and take Route 32 west, then Route 4 north to Puerto Viejo. Continue on Route 4 to Laguna Arenal. Head around the lake on Route 4, then south on to Las Cañas, picking up Route 1 north to Liberia, then Route 21 south toward Belén. Follow signs to Tamarindo for an overnight stay at Hotel Capitán Suizo.
DAY 3 Laze by the pool or take a day trip to Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas.
DAY 4 Retrace the road back to Belén, and then go south on Route 21 across the Nicoya Peninsula; take Route 18 to Puerto Moreno and the RÌo Tempisque ferry. Take Route 18 to the Pan American Highway (Route 1), and at Esparza, take Route 23 south to Orotina. Go south on Route 34 until you reach Villa Caletas, just north of Jacó. Stay the night.
DAY 5 Take Route 34 north, stopping at the Tárcoles River bridge to see the crocodiles. Continue on 34 to Alajuela, to spend the night at Xandari.

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