Monteverde is where most tourists know to take the bus. Here, anyone can choose from the many extreme activities including bungee jumping and zip-lining over the cloud forest canopy. After the “extreme” drive up here, we opted for the walk above the forest canopy on bridges spanning deep tree covered canyons.
Then, getting off the beaten (and I mean beaten) path to explore what many other visitors miss: butterflies, hummingbirds, and ice cream. Why not? These are fun family moments and we’re not about to risk our lives twice in one day.
For us, getting to Monteverde was the hard part. Roads around here are notoriously bad. I remember someone referring to potholes swallowing a VW bug whole. I could only imagine the lunar rover “off-roading” on the surface of the cratered moon. The last 25 miles were slow going but we did it in a standard two wheel drive sedan. In rainy season this would have been impossible. Pavement in these parts is rare. Once here though, we kept the car parked and with the exception of the tour bus up to the cloud forest park, walked everywhere.
The self-guided walking tour along the hanging bridges above the cloud forest was something I’ve never done AND not spectacular. Plenty of flora but almost no fauna. Where are all the sloths? The best we could get from the animal kingdom was the haunting howl of the howler monkey from a distant cloud.
A short walk from where we stayed in Santa Elena is the Butterfly Garden. For a minimal admission price you get an up close personal tour with biology interns who know all there is to know about the insects of Costa Rica. Yes, this is a “hands-on” tour and especially captivating. I never knew beetles sang love songs to each other. It’s true! (Verdad!)! The guide will demonstrate how to listen. If you hold two beetles up to your ears you might just hear them singing, P.S. I Love You. . .Woo a Woo a Woo.
What we did enjoy the most were the hummingbird gardens at the end of the “not so exciting” canopy tour. We sat here for about 30 minutes watching these little buzzers feeding. Several hanging nectar feeders attracted dozens of these colorful beauties. And with a tip from a local, you can assist with the feeding process.
Finally, the ice cream. Monteverde Cheese Factory was established back in the 1950’s by American Quakers. They started farming cows and producing cheese. Keeping with the Quaker belief in eco-friendly standards, they have stood the test of time and now are the second leading producer of cheese in all of Costa Rica. Their ice cream is pretty good too. The girls ordered a scoop of fig (higo), I chose strawberry cheesecake (fresas). Say Cheesecake!
A perfect day in the Costa Rican Cloud Forest saluting the phrase you hear often, Pura Vida!
Let’s hear it! Pura Vida!!!