It’s one of the more touristic destinations of Costa Rica, although to be fair there are many, so I had little to no worries about finding things to do. Thankfully though, having ot figure that out was postponed by a few days after my Couchsurfing host invited me to join him and his friends on their trip to the city. After a low-key New Year's Even celebration we were up early and hangover free (I love realizing I feel fine when half the world is in a deep, drunken slumber or curled around the toilet). After a delicious breakfast and strong coffee we were out the door and on our way to the Monteverde Reserve. Thankfully the weather was good (enough) with equal patches of wind, rain and sun which left my only complaint for the whole day to be the price of the entrance fee, $20 for foreigners, I really should have tried to just blend in with my local friends, for less than half the price.
Helen asked me if the scenery reminded me of anywhere in Asia that I had been, and the first to pop to mind were Southern Thailand and Taiwan, specifically the 13 hour hike I did with my (first) Couchsurfing host Grant. The reserve is filled with different trails, some of which could keep you busy all day, but we were only looking to spend a few hours there. We started with the Sendero Camino trail which connected with Sendero Puente, leading us to the Puente Colgante (suspension bridge). Walking across this bridge reminded me of one small thing I hate about all my travels, having seen better, some things just don’t impress me any more. The bridge was neat, but there’s really only been one bridge that impressed/scared me, and that was once again in Taiwan. From there we moved on to the last chunk of Sendero Camino and finally Sendero La Ventana, ending at La Ventana, a supposed viewpoint of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, however all we got were clouds. Despite not being able to see the oceans, or much further than a few meters ahead of ourselves, the view was still impressive, showing reason to the ‘Cloud Forest’ name.
We returned to the entrance along Sendero Nuboso which was filled with the typical tall, mossy green trees and other cloud forest fauna. Our last walk was north along Sendero Cuecha which leads to the Casada, small waterfall. Along this path there was a couple stopped, waving for us to slow down and be quiet while they stood taking pictures. I hoped there was some exciting wildlife in the bushes, but it was just a bird. Maybe more exciting was discovering, upon walking by an oddly fungi covered stump that both Irene and Helen share my ‘fear of holes’ trypophobia , so we had a good chat about that. Monteverde reserve is beautiful, and there’s a lot you could see, but honestly I’m not sure I’d pay the $20 if I had the choice to do it over again, I’m just glad I had good company and didn’t have to wander alone.
Back in our truck we were in search for a Ficus tree, but not just any, this one you could climb. Irene has asked me the night before if I’m afraid of heights and then explained why, telling me about this tree you could apparently climb up. Having seen only a few pictures of ficus trees in the area, and one in the reserve that morning, I didn’t expect anything that special. Maybe going in with low expectations helped, but this tree was awesome. There were three different bases in total, but the main one was formed by so many spiraling, winding trunks that a hollow center was created, looking like more of a man made jungle gym than natural phenomenon. Joel was ready to start his climb when he realized there was still a father and daughter at the top, about ready to make their descent, so we patiently waited. After they came down Joel and Irene were first, and when they were done I decided to give it a try. On my way up I took a brief glance at the ground, which almost made me want to give up and turn around, but I shook the feeling off and continued on my way. From the top there’s a sweeping view of the forest, this time actually reaching to the ocean without cloud obstruction, coupled with an awesome feeling of sitting in a tree cage, probably 100 feet above the ground. I took the obligatory selfies and a quick video to try and capture where exactly I was before making my way back down, one careful foot placement at a time.
Our energy was winding down, while our appetites were growing, but the group had one more stop in mind. I think it was Helen who had researched another Ficus tree phenomenon, this one a bridge crossing a small river, but we were ultimately unable to locate it. We drove in a few circles, asked a local man for help, and descended into the forest in search of the bridge, but no luck. We were also unlucky in the pursuit for (vegan) treats as the store Helen had heard about was closed for the day, but they managed to find an alternative before heading back to the house for a late lunch/early dinner veggie burger feast. The rest of the group still had to drive back to the city, unfortunately for them the holiday was over, but they graciously dropped me at my hostel in the city where I’m planning to spend a few more days seeing what else is on offer, up here in the clouds.
Packed with Adventure and Adrenaline, a diverse landscape from mountains to cloudforests, oceans, beaches and waterfalls. It's known for being touristy, safe and expensive, but was for me, a great introduction to Central America.