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  • Day62

    Monteverde, Costa Rica

    March 18, 2017 in Costa Rica ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Monteverde translates to "green mountains", which accurately describes this area. Lush green forests cover the mountains and we welcomed the relief from the heat, even though we weren't particularly high to warrant a 10-15 degree drop from Nicaragua - only about 1500m.

    We stayed at Hammock House in Santa Elena, a small town similar to La Fortuna on the outskirts of the Monteverde Reserve. They cooked a mean pancake brekkie that got us going each morning and had a few hammocks to cement the name and pass the time. A wee balcony out the back

    Arriving mid-afternoon and again battling with a severe lack of free activities, we walked to see a huge old Ficus Tree/Florida strangler tree. These trees are neat. They have a strange growth habit due to an adaption of growing in dark forests where there's a fierce battle for light. They usually start as seeds dispersed by birds in the treetops then grow roots downward to envelope a host tree whilst also growing roots upwards for sunlight. In some instances the host tree dies, which leaves behind an empty column-like tree mould which is what we saw. This particular tree is amazingly tall and you can climb probably a good 20metres up inside of it. Nature is pretty cool huh.

    The Monteverde area is known for its lush green cloud forests, so we headed to one of the lesser known ones in the hope of escaping crowds and steeper prices. Santa Elena Reserve was only a 20 minute drive from our hostel but had a completely different climate. Microclimates they say. The sunshine we had in Santa Elena town was replaced with some heavy rain in the reserve. We got there early in the hope of having more of an opportunity of seeing wildlife and beating the crowds but I think the rain meant that people nor animals turned up! Unfortunately we didn't really see any wildlife here - mainly just a couple of insects. We heard lots of birds but rarely saw them and missed out on seeing the Resplendent Quetzal. This bird is supposedly one of the most beautiful in the world and this was the best chance we had of seeing one but obviously it was not to be. There a still a couple of other places we may see it, so there's still hope yet. To be fair, if I were an animal in that rain, I probably would have huddled up somewhere to hide too!

    We did a few different trails which ended up taking us around three hours, most of which was in the rain in an appropriately named rainforest. Even with the lack of wildlife, it was a beautiful area to walk. It reminded me a lot of New Zealand trails especially as there were so many ferns which looked very similar to the ones we have at home. It was epic to be amongst so much green again, especially considering it has been dry season everywhere we've been. And no litter in sight either. Hooray! Given only some of the paths were paved, we were all rather soggy and muddy by the end of it all.

    Back in the sunshine and warmth of Santa Elena town, we hit up one of the local coffee shops. Post cups of joe, we got talking to the guy working there and established that the cafe had only been open four days. It was part of a company that is well known for its coffee farm and tours in Monteverde, so he was impressed at the knowledge that Mike and I had learnt about coffee from our time in Central America. Before we knew it we were being sat down again whilst he made us all a Chemex style coffee for free using the specialty coffee from the farm. What a lovely guy.

    Mike's solo MERC the previous night had scouted us an awesome sunset spot, perched on the top of one of the hills, looking out over Lake Arenal. It was super windy but it was yet another amazing place to see the sun disappear. One of my favourite pastimes when travelling is the ability to find so many wicked places to watch the sunset and just having all the time in the world to do so. It's so calming and it's just something that always gets forgotten about when everyone is caught up in the daily grind.

    Monteverde was a stunning area, but unfortunately our backpacker budgets weren't up to the amount of tours and expensive activities such as zip-lining on offer here to warrant staying long. We're fine with it though, for Mike and I it's going to be tough to beat the zip-lining we did in Laos, and the others weren't down for the extortionate prices either! Next we're changing it up by heading out of the mountains and down to the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Manuel Antonio to be exact.
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