The Cloud Forest and Ziplines of Monteverde

December 29, 2014 - 1:01 am 1 Comment

Our morning consisted of a boat ride across the artificial and somewhat scenic Lake Arenal, a natural lake that was greatly expanded by a 1979 hydroelectric project of the Costa Rican government.

On Lake Arenal

Then a drive through the mountains on unpaved, bumpy, steep roads. The left side of the bus offered magnificent views of the valley, but I couldn’t get any photos because I was sitting on the right side of the bus.

Wind Turbine

Happy Green Macaw

Then we stopped at La Trapiche, a coffee planation, where we learned about the production of coffee, sugar, chocolate, and guaro, or sugar cane liquor. Guaro is the same thing as Brazil’s cachaça. Rum is also distilled from sugar cane but contains additional flavorings from molasses and the wood it is aged in.

Erick, our hilarious guide for the tour, offered us raw coffee beans to suck on, some sugar cane to chew, a spoonful of bitter powder made from ground-up cacao beans, and a shot of Cacique, Costa Rica’s popular brand of guaro.

Coffee Beans

Erick Explains Grinding Coffee Beans

Roasted Coffee Beans

Hardened Sugar

View from El Trapiche

Finally, we arrived at the quaint mountain town of Monteverde. Up here, it’s refreshingly fresh and dry and cool and windy, but the sun warms everything up nicely. Sometimes, even with a clear sky, you feel spray of mist on your face. Something from the trees, maybe?

Kissing Things

After dropping our stuff in our rooms, we headed out for a night hike. Our guide looked a bit like Ray Gillette from the TV show “Archer”, perhaps at retirement age. His pants were tucked into his rubber rain boots.

We saw tarantulas, parades of leafcutter ants, green snakes in the trees, and a kinkajou (kink-ah-you) peering at us through the branches. It was on this night hike that my new photo gear really shined. I was only one to get any decent shots, much to the envy of the amateur photographers in our group.

Orange-Kneed Tarantula

Leafcutter Ants

Sleeping Social Flycatcher


Ghost Church

At night, the winds pick up. Constant gale force winds howl through the trees and make it a challenge to walk the streets.

Woke up this morning to cats having sex outside my window. Sounded painful. Over an early morning breakfast of eggs and pancakes, Vik, one of the American guys in our group, opened up about his recent messy divorce. Also sounded painful. Everyone’s got a story.

Headed off for a nature walk through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. A cloud forest, it seems, is mystical name a tropical rainforest that is high enough to be in the clouds. Indeed, it was foggy and humid and everything was wet. Reminded me a bit of the forest in Avatar. But aside from a few picturesque views through the misty trees, there wasn’t a whole lot going on here.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Holy Leaf

Planetree Maple Leaf

Blue Dung Beetle

Ziplines took up the rest of the afternoon. Long-ass lines carried us over valleys, and a giant Tarzan swing got me yelling pretty good.

View from Extremo

Long-Ass Extremo Zipline

On the way back to our hotel, a beefy, tattooed British guy with the fancy shirt and the perfect sunglasses was hitching a ride with us. He made some quick comments to Jorge about how he was seating people in the van. He tried to get a rise out of Jorge, but Jorge played it cool. A perfect opportunity to teach Jorge the meaning of the word “douchebag”.

My former tour leader kicked in, and I organized a sunset walk for the group. Jorge had suggested that we’d have a good view from one of the nearby restaurants, and he was right. Watching the sun set from the second story balcony of Sabor Tico should be on anyone’s list for Monteverde.


Sunset at Monteverde IV

Just got back from the bar, where a horse was parked out front, a chihuahua wandered around inside, and midgets in superhero costumes ran from bull on TV.

A lot of hills in Monteverde. If you want to go anywhere, it’s literally a hike. It seems like every place you want to go is uphill. A real workout for the heart and legs. The days are exhausting. I’m starting to get a bit worn out. I think we all are. Finishing off this trip on the beach sounds perfect.

Tomorrow, we’re headed south along the Pacific coast to our last stop on the tour, Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park. Need to figure out if it’s a good spot for me to stay for New Year’s.

    One Response to “The Cloud Forest and Ziplines of Monteverde”

  1. Pauline Says:

    Breath taking photos- especially the ones of the rainforest and the leaves.

    Side note, cat sex is actually painful because feline penises, have pointy tips at the end, which does hurt lady cats. Also, they can be very aggressive and often use force to ensure that the lady cat can’t escape until insemination is complete.
    So you basically woke up to kitty rape… isn’t nature wonderful?

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