Our journey from la Fortuna to the Santa Elena/Monteverde areaincluded two very bumpy van rides and a wet boat ride across Lake Arenal. Believe it or not, that was the quickest way of getting across the various jungle and cloud forest areas. Many of the roads in the more remote areas of Costa Rica are rugged dirt roads and they can be incredibly steep. There were a few moments where it didn’t seem like our vehicle was going to make it up the hill and at least one hill that we couldn’t conquer. I can only say that I’m glad someone else was driving.
Monteverde is home to one of Costa Rica’s cloud forests and an incredible biological preserve. Cloud forests are different than rain forests in that they a characterized by persistent low-level clouds whereas a rain forest is characterized by consistent heavy rainfall in a tropical environment. Essentially, a cloud forest is a tropical or subtropical forest in the clouds. This kind of environment allows for lush forests and biodiversity.
We chose a more rustic hotel, La Colina Lodge, close to the Biological Preserve to have a fully immersed experience. It was a beautiful property with a lodge like feel and plenty of wildlife just outside.
The main attraction in Monteverde is the incredible zip lining and suspended walkways through the cloud forest. For me, this was why I traveled to Costa for and what I had dreamed of since I was a child. So, we dove right in with an adrenaline packed day zipping along 12 zip lines and 18 platforms for 2.5 hours at the Selvatura Adventure Park. We started with some basic instructions and practice on small zip lines. Pretty quickly, we were ready to shoot off into the clouds. In many sections, the clouds would swallow you up just a few feet off the platform.
After zip lining, we took the chilled out option of walking the suspended bridges through the cloud forest. The bridges were peaceful though they did sway with each step. They offered the opportunity to slowly take in the forest from above with only the occasional interruption of a zip liner zipping by above us.
We finished up our adventure packed time in Monteverde with a night hike tour. Along our way, many people had recommended the nigh hike as something not to be missed. However, I was slightly nervous about the proliferation of vipers and snakes in the forest. When our guide arrived, he was wearing heavy rubber boots and pants. He then showed us a tarantula in its hole not far from where we were standing.
This did not instill much faith in the protection of my capri running pants and light sneakers. I asked our guide if we were going to be okay as we were dressed. He answered after a long and disconcerting pause that we should just step only where he steps. Not long after heading into the forest, he pointed out a gigantic viper in the trees. After that, you bet your ass that I stepped only exactly where he stepped. That is… until we got word of a sloth in the area.
Now, I love sloths deeply. They are my spirit animal and I was desperate to see on in the wild while in CR. So, news of a sloth took away all my fear and I took off like a shot into the trees to see my slothy friends. Indeed it was glorious to see him in the trees. As our hike was ending, we got doubly lucky and immersed from the woods to see a sloth hanging out on the telephone wires by the tour office. It was just awesome to see one out in the open moving along the wires up close.
With that, I was ready to leave Monteverde feeling accomplished. From there were were to take our longest journey yet (5 hours on the road)and head to the coastal town of Samara for some rest and relaxation in the sun and surf.