monteverde cloud forest

Monteverde Costa Rica – A Special Place

We decided to take the jeep-ferry-jeep from La Fortuna to Monteverde. It is quite a short distance but over mountainous terrain.

We were collected in a full bus … again becoming aware of the number of tourists around.

This is the peak of the visitor season when temperatures are mild and there is no rain.

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The jeep turned into a minibus and the ride to the lake was on tarred roads and although quite windy an easy 30 or so minutes. Arriving at the lake we carted our cases to the ferry for the 45 minute ride across the Aranel lake.

Arriving at the other side there was no jetty and a steep bank with rough steps carved into the gravelly face. Lugging my 23 odd kg case up the slippery slope I slipped and was grateful for the help from a younger much stronger man.

Another epiphany there were about 5 buses ready to take passengers to Monteverde. They had just delivered passengers who were doing the opposite trip from Monteverde to La Fortuna. The tourist industry here is massive.

The ride from the ferry to Monteverde took about an hour and a half including a 15-minute break at a restaurant where the drivers had their lunch and a picture taking break at a view site. The journey was over very steep up and down dirt roads and along some high cliffs and over some very narrow bridges. The views were magnificent.

As we went for a walk around the little town I felt at home. The mountains around make Monteverde the kind of place I want to have as my final stop in life.

It's a cloud forest area and the weather is extremely unpredictable and changeable. The strong, gusty wind is the constant.

Sights, attractions and things to do

The cloud forest at Monteverde is considered “a jewel in the crown of Cloud Forest Reserves”. It has its own unique eco-system attracting visitors year round and from all over the world.

Intrigued and fascinated by its plants, birds, insects and orchids. The climate is very different changing in minutes from clear blue skies to misty rain with the sun shining. The one constant while we were there was the wind – strong and gusty!

Selvatura Bridge walk

This is a gentle walk through the forest over 8 swing bridges. If you suffer from vertigo you may find one or two slightly challenging but with some encouragement and keeping eyes peeled on the other side they can be traversed.

We saw no birds other than one trogon but that sighting made up for everything we didn’t see.

Selvatura Zip Line and Tarzan Swing

The zip line tour consists of 13 sections ranging in length from 57 metres to the final one at 1 000 metres. In total over 4 345 metres of zip line.

Included just before the final zip line section is an optional Tarzan swing. Simply jump off a platform drop about 5 metres and swing like Tarzan. There is some slight apprehension before the jump but the swinging is exhilarating.

We had a very large group (it was overbooked) and with the way it works it took far longer than the planned 2 to 3 hours. By the time we finished there was a chilling wind blowing and a misty rain falling. We had to go in in tandem – the back person’s feet tucked under the front person’s armpits - in a number of sections as the wind was acting as a brake and people weren’t reaching the platforms.

But whatever the slight inconveniences it was a superb experience. Soaring high above the forest … awesome.

Hiking in Monteverde

We enjoyed a few hikes which varied in length and difficulty. The whole area is mountainous and beautiful.

The hike up to the “big tree” - a strangler fig which is hollow in the middle – was steep but the road was good. The tree has formed a natural ladder and there were a number of youngsters climbing up and down.

The hike up to Cerra Amigos was a far tougher challenge. The road was muddy and skating slippery in places. The day was clear as we started but by the time we reached the top clouds had blown in. We couldn’t get a clear view of the Aranel volcano. To the west it was clear and in the distance the Pacific Ocean was a feint blue line on the horizon.

In sections coming down was a challenge. We picked our way wobbling and slithering down these muddy, steep and slippery sections.

Night walk

This was an entertaining and informative 2 hours … well worth it.

Excellent guide who was as entertaining as informative great passion and obviously loved the Monteverde cloud forest and all the unique nature it offered.

We saw two sleeping toucans. One the mulicoloured keel bill toucan with just the tip of its beak poking out from under its wing and the other an emerald toucan ... looked like a big green tennis ball. A red eyed tree frog, a side striped pit viper lurking in a tree waiting for dinner, a large female tarantula in her hole and finally a luminescent blue frog.

It walk delivered more than expected and is highly recommended. 

About the Author Patrick Millerd

On a mission to help others expand their horizons. Who knows where they can end? Passionate about learning and embracing the changing world. Adventurous and skeptical but optimistic!

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