Monteverde - The Cloud Forest
If there was one thing Rob and I had really wanted to do in Costa Rica, it was zip line. Last year in Alaska, we passed up the zip lining excursion in the rainforest for financial reasons. We were not going to pass up the opportunity again. Visiting Costa Rica, you'll quickly learn you can zip line just about anywhere. In researching the country, I'd read so much about this beautiful, majestic, must-visit place called Monteverde -- the cloud forest. So what is a cloud forest? Basically, clouds blow in from the ocean to the mountains, and get caught in the trees. The the water droplets (like the one pictured below) collect on the leaves of the trees in a process called lateral cloud filtering. Believe it or not, lateral cloud filtering accounts for more than half of the annual precipitation in the forest! Interesting huh?
In reading numerous Trip Advisor reviews about our hotel, I heard about this local tour guide, Herson. He offered private tours to Monteverde, and guaranteed he'd take us to an awesome zip lining tour. Excited and well rested, we were up and at 'em by 6 AM!
We met Herson in the lobby, and got in his car to start our 3+ hour drive to Monteverde. About a half hour into our drive, we stopped for Casado, traditional Costa Rican breakfast, at a Soda outside Liberia. This was probably my favorite breakfast Casado I tasted while in the country. The plaintains were so ripe, so delicious. And Rob said they had the best bacon he'd tasted in the country. Which is a big deal, Rob's a bacon connoisseur!
Following our tasty breakfast, we experienced Tico driving, firsthand. There are pretty much no rules when it comes to driving in Costa Rica. Even through construction zones! I'd never seen cars go around the orange barriers to pass a car in a construction zone. I'm pretty sure I saw a police car do it too. Herson was zipping past cars, we were practically in their back seat. What the heck did I get myself into now!! Why did I trust this stranger with my life?
The Costa Rican Massage kicked in once we got off the main highway, Route 1. The majority of their roads are un-paved, and make for a rocky ride. About a 2 hour bumpy ride. I should have taken my dramamine!
The drive was beautiful though. Not quite half way, we stopped at a local town, where many Macaw birds have been living for years. Evidently they are well-fed from tourists, though you're instructed not to feed the birds. It was difficult to photograph the birds, as the early morning light, and canopy shaded their magnificent color. Here's what we saw.
I somehow missed the Toucans, which was really disappointing. If you don't already know, I love cereal. Fruit Loops was one of my childhood favs, I wanted to see Toucan Sam!
The three of us got back in the car and drove. We rarely saw other vehicles on our drive through the small town roads. When we reached Monteverde, our first stop was for a hummingbird and butterfly exhibit.
The Owl Butterfly is the largest butterfly in Costa Rica. These two will mate for 24 hours, then the male will die.
Hummingbirds need to eat on average 7 times per hour for about 30-60 seconds.
A hummingbird's brilliant color is not caused by feather pigmentation, but by iridescence in the arrangement of the feathers and the influence of light level, moisture and other factors.
We stopped in Monteverde to walk around a bit, and have Casado again. We couldn't get enough of it!
Tummy's full, it was time to zip line! We arrived at Monteverde Extremo Canopy Tour. We were greeted by about a dozen tourists, stoked about zip lining or bungee jumping. http://monteverdeextremo.com/ We also met this fellow.
Strapped in and ready to go, we headed out with about 10 other participants. Luckily, we all spoke English. So instructions weren't too difficult to follow. We had 13 zip lines ahead of us, a Tarzan Swing, and The Superman! Oh yeah!!!
The most ridiculous-awesome-terrifying part of this adventure (besides the thunder and lightening on the last 3 zip lines) was the Tarzan Swing. I didn't realize we had signed up for this, but when in Costa Rica, I gotta do it. They basically push you off this platform and you freefall until the rope swing catches you and swings like a pendullum. Well, after doing this, I don't ever have the desire to bungee jump! I'll take the sky diving instead! Waiting for that rope to catch... even though it was for a few split seconds -- was one of the biggest adrenaline rushes I've ever experienced. Rob too I bet - you be the judge - watch this video!
The last zip line was a Superman, where you lay across your stomach. At this point, the rain was pouring down, thunder was booming and lighting in the distance. Every bit of common sense was telling me, not to climb this metal staircase, and fly around on these metal poles. But there was only 1 way back to the car. And we had quite a distance to cover on this last zip line. Not sure how the Go Pro footage looks with the rain and such, but here's what we didn't see because our eyes were closed!
This day was pretty rad. I wasn't sure how it could possibly get any better. When low and behold, a sloth was crossing the street! A SLOTH! Only in Costa Rica! We didn't get any great photos of the darn animal, even though they move so slow. But it was pretty darn cool to see if you ask me!
And after another 3 hour Costa Rican massage, in the freezing cold air conditioning of Herson's car, we made it back to Condovac safe and sound.