Our first real adventure started in Monteverde National Park. Monteverde means “green mountain” in Spanish and hosts 2,500 plant species 420 of which are orchids alone. It is a paradise for bird watchers, too, with over 400 types, as well as over 100 species of mammals. CR as a whole has over 800 species of birds. Monteverde was founded by Quakers from the USA who evaded the draft for the Korean War in 1949-50, and who found a safe haven in this country without an army. It still retains a North American feel. It was chosen by its founding fathers for its cool climate in aid of dairy farming. The town is now moving towards eco-tourism as a more sustainable income source.
Due to its high altitude, 1,440 m above sea level, Monteverde receives a steady supply of clouds and moisture. It is also hard to get to, driving a winding dirt road for about 40 km up from the main road (Panamericana). That stretch took our bus around 2,5 hours to cover.
You can choose among many local attractions such as visiting cloud forest, butterfly garden, a serpentarium (little snake zoo) and a ranarium (little frogs zoo). One of the main attractions in Monteverde is a so-called canopy tour where you have a chance to see the forest from and above the tree canopies. Big and small Wojtus decided to do that in one of the local zip-line parks called Selvatura. The tour consited of 13 zip lines with the last one being 1 km long! See the map below.
Just imagine hanging alone (small kids got guide escort) on a steel rope and whizzing down at over 50km per hour. See a few movies of the rides we made. Since going down the zip line required the use of both hands (one at the back, for braking) and the other one for holding on the supporting rope, making a movie while riding required some acrobatic maneuvers. FYI, some other zip line parks have longer landing platforms, and where the guides slow you down and do not require the use of boths hands.
See some youtube links:
While the men enjoyed the high rides the two Anias admired the nature from the ground and hanging bridges. The nature of Monteverde is breathtaking. Here and there we could see wild animals like a white-throat Capuchin monkey, coati, a snake or two, numerous birds. Both Anias fell in love with the countless orchids, which can be as little as a little grain.
Monteverde is also famous for coffee plantations. Costa Rica has one of the best coffee in the world and the coffee beans are called here “grano de oro,” or golden grain. Speaking about coffee it is delicious, even one served in a plastic cup from a street vendor. We even read somewhere that that small babies are given coffee with milk here.
Overall we found Monteverde very enjoyable and pleasant and would highly recommend it. To add to this experience we made a couple of new friends, like a couple of artists from Chile with their son, Incaru, 8, with whom Wojtus and Aniusia spent endless hours around the Pension Santa Elena, where we were staying.
We experienced a lot of Pura Vida here!