Costa Rica 2014: Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Sunday morning I was in the mood for some peaceful activities after the stress (erm, excitement?) of zip lining. A hike in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve sounded perfect, so I booked a guide for a tour beginning at 7:15 am. The tour itself left a little to be desired, unfortunately – instead of simply telling us about the forest and the species of flora and fauna within it, our guide, Donald, constantly made us guess at what he was about to tell us. “How many species of plants do you think can grow on this tree right here?” he would ask. “Um, I don’t know, like 300?” someone would would venture. “What? That’s way too high! I mean how many SPECIES.” “Uh, 52?” someone else guessed. “No, are you serious? That’s WAY too low.” And on down the line he would go. After the first five or six questions, I refused to guess anymore. I mean, seriously, isn’t that why we were here with a guide?

When he finally switched his style up a bit and started asking if we had any questions, he seemed irritated by some of them, and eventually stopped talking to us much. Well, as a group, that was. He had lots of things to say (in Spanish) to the good-looking, young woman from Mexico. As he worked his game with her, I struck up a conversation with a couple from California that was in my group, and we had a nice time talking about the things we saw and the other things we had been doing in Costa Rica. Along the way, we did see some interesting sights, like a huge beetle, lots of gorgeous trees and vegetation, and a waterfall at the turnaround point:

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After we finished the hiking part of our tour, Donald took us to the hummingbird garden at the reserve, and that was amazing! Not only were there hummingbirds literally swarming around the area, they would actually sit on your hands while they fed! I’ve had some pretty amazing experiences during the course of this trip, but that was right at the top. I don’t remember the last time I felt such pure wonder.

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When the group got ready to go, I told them that I was going to stay and take the bus home a few hours later. Our hike through the forest had been just enough to leave me wanting more, and knowing that it was possible to hike to the continental divide from there, I didn’t want to leave before making that trek. So I talked to a ranger, got a map, and set out for the divide. It was about an hour’s hike from the entrance, mostly uphill, which was what prohibited most visitors from taking that path. Before I entered the forest again, I bought some fruit and water at the cafeteria and then left while I still had plenty of time.

The hike itself was wonderful, and I enjoyed being able to hike at my own pace and enjoy the beauty of the forest without chatter. It was a challenging hike, too, and it felt good to push myself a bit. I saw a little more wildlife than I had on the tour, including many more birds and a number of butterflies, some of which I was even able to identify! Above all, though, Sendero Nuboso (the path that led to the divide) provided stunning views of the cloud forest itself.

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About an hour after I set out, I had arrived at the continental divide.

Camera 1 (Carribean side):

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Camera 2 (Pacific side):

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And a Great Divide selfie, because who can resist?!?

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What a great day! I left tired, but very, very content.

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