As many of you know I have been working with the fabulous people over at My Costa Rica. I’ve got a bunch of great articles in the works, and will be sure to link to them as they get published.
One of the best parts of working with them has been being introduced to the amazing team over at Desafio Adventures. They welcomed me with open arms and have created some amazing opportunities for me.
With offices in La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Samara, they are a one stop shop for all your tour needs. If you’re looking for tours in these areas, check them out, you will get all star service.
The tour in today’s post was made possible by the team at Desafio, Monteverde.
After leaving La Fortuna, we made our way higher into the moutains towards Monteverde. After checking in to our awesome hostel, we headed over to Desafio to see what was in store. Turned out we would be heading on a tour of the Cloud Forest first thing in the morning.
Monteverde has two forests, Santa Elena Rainforest and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. We were heading to the latter. Our driver picked us up bright and early, and took us on the 20 minute drive up into the mountains. We arrived at the entrance, and were introduced to Rodrigo, our guide.
Before he even spoke, I instantly liked him. He had these light blue eyes that sparkled as he looked into the treetops, searching for birds and other wildlife to show us. He explained that he has been doing tours since 1986, and practically grew up in the forest. In fact, many of the trails had been built by members of his family. We knew we were in good hands.
The excitement began immediately as Rodrigo spotted Quetzels milling about the parking lot. For those of you who don’t know (as I didn’t) seeing a Quetzel is like striking gold. Many avid bird watchers come to Costa Rica just to see this illusive, and breathtaking creature.
I was immediately caught up in the papparazzi like energy, as crowds of people pointed their cameras towards the trees in an attempt to capture the birds on film. Once I spotted them, I could see why. Their iridescent blue green feathers, deep crimson chests, and incredibly long tail feathers make them seem like something out of a fairy tale. It’s no wonder that both the Mayan and Aztec worshipped them as a god.
I snapped a couple photo’s, and Rodrigo set up his telescope so we could get an up close and personal look. He even taught me how to take photos through the telescope, a trick that I absolutely loved!
After the excitement died down, we continued on our walk, entering the gates of the park, and starting out trek through the cloud forest. We watched as many guides showed their tours various books, and pamphlets explaining about the various creatures in the jungle. Rodrigo didn’t have to do that, he had a story about everything.
He told us about being tracked by a Jaguar, encountering boars, and about doing the multiple day hikes to Arenal. His knowledge and experience was incredible, and Shaun and I just kept asking him questions to gain as much information from his as possible.
We stopped along the way, learning about various plants and birds. He knew where everything was, from the largest ficus tree, to the smallest hummingbird nests.
Speaking of Ficus Trees, let me tell you how cool they are. No seriously! Later that day Shaun even said the coolest part of the tour was learning about these trees!
The Ficus Tree, or Stranger Figs, can be seen all over the Cloud Forest. Essentially, it’s like an Ivy. It starts growing on the top of an existing tree, and slowly grows downward, until it roots in the soil. Over time, it over takes the original tree, and kills it. Once the tree is dead, it slowly rots away, leaving the interior of the Ficus hollow. Soooo cool.
Rodrigo showed us several of these trees at various stages in the process, until finally we reached a gigantic Ficus that had a completely hollow. It was amazing. He told us that when he was younger, he would often climb up into the tree, and even showed us a couple of lines he had strung across when he was younger.
The path ended at a cute little waterfall, where Shaun and I managed to snap a very touristy looking picture. As I type this at the beach, all I can think about is how bundled up we looked. The Cloud Forest is certainly not a warm place!
We headed back down the trail, and out of the park. On the way out, we took a moment to see the hummingbird garden, which was complimentary as part of our tour. I took way to many photos, and have included a bunch at the end of this post.
If you are going to the Cloud Forest of Monteverde, here are our tips
Get a Guide-Better yet, Get Rodrigo!: If you don’t get a guide, and hike the trail on your own, you are likely going to just see a lot of plants. You really need a guide who knows the trail to show you all the intricacies ,details and magic that the forest has to offer. Contact Desafio to book Rodrigo, you won’t be disappointed.
Wear warm clothes- It’s chilly in the cloud forest. Shaun and I had several layers on, and were still a little cold. The hike is really easy, so you aren’t likely to work up a sweat.
Leave the Bug Spray at Home- One bonus of the Cloud Forest? To cold for bugs! Wahoo! So don’t bother “Deeting” yourself, you won’t need it.
Stop at the Hummingbird Garden– It is sort of tucked away in the parking lot, but its totally worth checking out. I think there is a small entrance fee if you are not on a tour, but its worth it if you are wanting to get up close and personal with these little guys. There is also a little cafe if you are craving a coffee or treat after your adventure.
So there you have it, another adventure under our belt, and we loved every moment!
Have you ever had a really good tour guide? Tell us about it!
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As Promised…Here are several hummingbirds!