Where the Forest Reaches the Clouds

On Sunday we left the Caribbean Coast and ventured to Arenal. We booked 3 nights in La Fortuna. This was a good spot for us to chill out a bit, get on top of laundry and travel planning for later in the year. We hired a scooter to get out and about. It was cheaper than taxi fares but a bit riskier! Kadin managed to get us to all our destinations in one piece, but we decided it probably wasn’t the safest place to try for the first time…

Our first activity was a chocolate farm tour. We were shown all the stages of making chocolate. The cacao fruit around the seeds was deliciously sweet. Later in the process it was intense to taste -like eating cocoa from a tin. We made a really strong hot chocolate drink and our own chocolate block. By the time we left we were both zinging!

Our next activity was a evening at the hot springs (including dinner). Ecotermales hot springs is such a beautiful setting with five large pools linked together with cascading waterfalls and surrounded by jungle. As you went up each level the pools would get hotter. We soaked until dinner; dressed, dined …and then resumed the soaking until 9pm…

Our last activity in La Fortuna was the Bogarin Nature Trail. This was just on the edge of town but once through the gate you felt like you were in a remote jungle. We enjoyed wandering around the trail so much that we returned twice in the day (mid-morning and then on dusk) and were able to spot lots of the wildlife…

On Wednesday morning we travelled further north to Monteverde by shuttle-boat-shuttle. If you were to drive only by road from La Fortuna to Monteverde it could take over 6 hours but our route only took 3.5hours due to crossing Lake Arenal…

The roads on the other side of the lake and into Monteverde itself were very interesting… gravel, narrow, steep and windy! Our shuttle stopped at a small cafe overlooking the hills that we had climbed. The views literally took my breath away… at 1500m altitude it was noticeably harder to breathe, especially while walking up the steep paths around the town.  After checking in at our airbnb we had lunch in a cool cafe called “The Treehouse.”

We then took the public bus up to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. We only had 2 hours to explore before it closed. The paths inside the forest were really well maintained and there were several routes to choose from. We managed to cover quite a few of the tracks during our time there and we saw some cool animals too. The best part was when we turned the corner on the path and were confronted with five fluffy black tails. At the time we had no idea what these critters were – but using our friend google, we identified them as Coati.  One of the things we were looking out for was the Resplendent Quetzal, a very rare bird that can be found in the area. Unfortunately, the closest we got was a painting on a building in town after getting off the bus…

The following day we were picked up early for a full day adventure at Selvatura Park. We started with our main activity of the day, ziplining over the forest. This was an amazing experience. Over 2.5 hours we travelled along 13 ziplines – one was over 1km long. There was also a Tarzan swing near the end which Kadin got amongst…

We then went to the Hummingbird Garden. This was a small courtyard with half a dozen feeding stations and scores of hummingbirds. We were finally able to get some great shots of these beautiful birds…

Next, we went on the Butterfly tour. This took place inside a large greenhouse – it was quite a contrast walking from the crisp cool climate of the cloud forest to the 35degree and humid butterfly house, but we got to see some pretty awesome butterflies. A favourite was the Owl Butterfly…

We had a stop for lunch (included in our day package) and then headed out on our last activity for the day; the treetop walk. This walk included 8 hanging bridges and a 3.5km loop track through the forest…

After an amazing day out at Selvatura we decided to walk to a Ficus tree that our airbnb host had told us about. Off the beaten track and then along a hidden path into the jungle we trekked. We had only walked into the jungle for about 100 metres when we crossed paths with the most amazing creature yet… an armadillo. It wasn’t aware of our presence for a long while as it busily foraged around for ants in the leaves. We spent about 10 minutes observing it before it noticed us and scampered off. We then reached the tree – which didn’t seem as cool after our encounter.

On Saturday we were back on the road again, travelling south to Manuel Antonio on the west coast of Costa Rica. Leaving the clouds, we were treated to the same intense gravel roads…

monteverde roads

Have fun at work!

Gemma

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