Monteverde - A Green Costa Rica
Few minutes after my journey to my next destination begun my driver stopped and pointed out to a Toucan, wonderful! This was a photo opportunity for this impressive tropical bird.
My destination was the village of Santa Elena, where I would base myself for my visit of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Going there first took me to the shores of Lake Arenal before I would make a boat crossing to the other side of the lake where I would take another shuttle bus which would get me to Santa Elena. This journey on the second shuttle bus steadily took me across numerous green hills on gravel roads. But then, the shuttle bus got a flat tyre which held us up for a while and it didn't help matters that the spare tyre was also flat too, the driver decided to carry on anyhow. Fortunately, we were not far off from a tyre place and not far off from Santa Elena too.
Having arrived in Santa Elena, the weather was nice and cool compared to the humidity of the Arenal area. It was a very small town and more like a village, but facilities for tourism was plentiful especially hotels and restaurants.
The Monteverde area, (although I don't recall seeing any) is known to have a community of Quakers who came to Costa Rica in the 1950s from the United States as they disagreed with being drafted into the army for the Korean War. They also liked the fact that Costa Rica had abolished their army and was a neutral country.
Next morning feeling afreshed, I decided to hike to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve from Santa Elena thinking that it wasn't too far. Turns out it was further than I thought on foot, taking some turnings and going up into the forested hills. I knew I should've taken the bus.
I finally made it to the reserve which covers 10,500 hectacres, 90% of which it consists of virgin forest. It also holds a high proportion of biodiversity containing over 2500 plant species, and hundreds of wildlife species including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. I was expecting Monteverde to be active with wildlife but during my visit it was very quiet except for maybe the odd bird here and there, much to my disappointment.
Anyhow, in the reserve I made the La Ventana mirador and the waterfall trail my priority. First up was the trail towards La Ventana as it was the furthest away and the first part consisted of walking through the dense forest passing by some impressively huge ferns on the way. Apart from maybe one couple it was almost as if I had the place to myself, it was very quiet. Later, I heard a rumble of thunder and although a thunderstorm didn't follow up it later started raining. Later on, the trail came to more open ground so I was therefore exposed and getting wet but given that I was getting close to the La Ventana mirador, there was no point in turning back so I might as well carry on to complete my task.
At the La Ventana mirador I had sweeping views of the green valley below partially covered in swirling clouds and while it was raining I was still determined to get my pics, but I tried to be careful with my camera. In fact, I was more concerned for my camera than getting wet. Although there were clouds about, the forested hills in the distance still looked spectacular. Talk about a green Costa Rica.
Task done, the only thing on my mind for the moment was to get back to the entrance area to dry off for a bit. During the lengthy walk back in the rain I must confess, but I did something naughty. I broke off a giant leaf from a plant to use for protecting my backpack (with my camera in it) from further getting wet. Now it is not allowed to take any plants from the reserve but I felt desperate at the time, and not surprisingly the young lady at the entrance booth looked bemused at the sight of me carrying a giant leaf.
Having partially dried off I checked out the times for the last buses and I sussed out that I could just make the next bus if I immediately make my way for the waterfall trail.
And so, once again I find myself making my way through the dense forest only this time on a different trail but it didn't take as long to get to the waterfall. That was my other task completed, was it a pretty sight? sure, but let's be honest here it wasn't that spectacular. Having been satisfied with the day's events despite the rain coming down I decided it was time to go back.
I would've liked to have stayed a couple of hours longer especially as I wanted to check out the suspension bridge in the forest, but a change in the weather conditions while in the Monteverde cloud forest changed all that prompting me to make do with what I had.