Don Juan Coffee Plantation Tour, Monteverde, Costa Rica- Part 2-CHOCOLATE

Hola, before you dive into the post for today, make sure you check out Part 1 of our tour of the Don Juan Coffee Plantation Tour.

Chocolate TourSo after learning all about coffee, it was time for a little insight into the world of chocolate. It started with slicing open a cocoa pod. First off, lets just take a moment to appreciate how COOL these things look. I sort of assumed that chocolate game from little vanilla bean looking things (I’m not sure why). These are full on massive pods that are hard as rocks. I was impressed, and it wasn’t even opened yet.

not what I expected!

not what I expected!

So we cracked that baby open, and again, I was shocked. I thought there would be something that resembled a Hershey kiss inside (without the foil and paper though)

Instead we were met with these little guys. These white triangular seeds were slimy and had the slightest hint of cocoa flavour. Just like the coffee cherries, there were no biting these babies, as the inside would not taste good.

Shaun being such a fabulous hand model

Shaun being such a fabulous hand model

The process for the cocoa bean is similar to the coffee bean. They are dried to remove the liquid, then roasted. Once they are roasted, it’s time to make some chocolate.

Our guide took some roasted beans, popped it in a hand crank grinder, and started turning. It was crazy to see these little dried gross looking beans go in, and full on chocolate looking magic come out. All of a sudden the aroma in the room changed, and everyone stomachs started grumbling. Nothing follows a coffee tasting better then some fresh chocolate.

Chocolate?!?

Chocolate?!?

Despite the fact that this chocolate looked and smelled delicious, it is as pure as it gets.It’s like when you were a kid and went searching through your moms cupboards. Suddenly you come across chocolate and get so excited you pop it right in your mouth…only to discover it is bitter baking chocolate. Such a dirty trick.

or was that just me who did that?

mixing up the concoction!

mixing up the concoction!

Anyways, this wasn’t the chocolate we were going to sample. Our guide took the chocolate and started creating a special concotion. He started with sugar, and a lot of it. It certainly made me think about the supposed “health benefits” of chocolate. Something that needs that much sugar to make it taste good can’t be all that healthy for you.

After the sugar he added cinnamon, vanilla, and the secret ingredient, black pepper. We each had a tablespoon of this gritty sand like chocolate magic, and it was GLORIOUS! He then took the remaining mixture and added hot sauce to it. We tried that version and it was even better. I love the spicy chocolate mixture, it will be something I remember for when I get home!

After our authentic chocolate tasting experience, we had some samples of some more

My batch with hot sauce! Amahzing!

My batch with hot sauce! Amahzing!

western versions. Somehow white chocolate, dark chocolate, and chocolate covered coffee beans ended up in my belly. After all the coffee, chocolate (and a sample of pure sugar cane juice that I forgot to mention) we pretty much buzzed our way back to the reception.

Oh, and I forgot to mention one of the coolest things! At the start of our tour, our guide told us a little bit of history about Don Juan Cruz, of Don Juan’s Coffee Plantation. He was part of one of the first pioneering families to settle in Monteverde, and has an enormous number of children and grand children. I thought he had 9 kids, Shaun thought 11, but either way he has well over 20 grandchildren.

Note to self: start writing things down!

Paparazzi!!

Paparazzi!!

Anways, during the chocolate portion of our tour, we noticed our guides eyes light up. We all turned around to see a very small, very old man come into the room. Yes my friends, it was Don Juan himself. I suddenly felt like I was meeting someone famous, or at least a Disney character. He was certainly an amazing fellow, and walked around the room shaking everyone’s hand, and thanking them for coming on the tour.

In an attempt to not seem like paparazzi, I had Shaun snap this very unsneaky photo. Such tourists.

So that about sums it up! If you are in Monteverde, we highly suggest checking out the Don Juan Coffee Plantation Tour. But be prepared, you will be leave with a brain full of knowledge and body full of caffeine buzz!

Are you a coffee person or a chocolate person?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Don Juan Coffee Plantation Tour, Monteverde, Costa Rica PART 1-COFFEE

Another collaboration with My Costa Rica, and Desafio! Can you believe all these adventures. Can’t wait to share my articles with you guys. Until then..on with the show!

I’m not sure if you guys know this, but I write my posts a couple weeks behind. Shaun and I did this tour about two weeks ago, and I’m kicking myself for not coming home and writing this post immediately.

Why you might ask?

Because I learned SOOOO much about coffee and chocolate, and I know I’m bound to forget something during this post. All the beachy sun over the past few weeks has fried my brain. Hopefully I can rustle up the memories for you guys! I’m going to break this up into two posts, one about coffee, and one about chocolate…lets start with coffee shall we.

It’s evident as soon as you enter Monteverde that this is a town that is PROUD of their coffee. Coffee shops line the streets, many of which have the smell of freshly roasted beans wafting through their doors and onto the street.

One of the best ways to experience this passion for coffee first hand is to tour a coffee plantation and learn about the process from start to finish.

I realized afterwards why Shaun was snickering as he took the photo...this mural is totally checking out my butt.

I realized afterwards why Shaun was snickering as he took the photo…this mural is totally checking out my butt.

After our morning at the Cloud Forest, Shaun and I had a quick break for lunch, and then were whisked away to the Don Juan Coffee Plantation for a tour of their facility.

We arrived at the plantation and were quickly whisked into the world of coffee. We started at the very beginning with the life cycle of the coffee cherries. Our tour guide took us around to look at the plants, and explain the life cycle of these little guys.

My coffee cherry and the two seeds inside.

My coffee cherry and the two seeds inside.

He picked a few of these magnificent red berries, and let us try one. He advised us to crack open the red berry, find the coffee bean and then suck on it. No biting though. It didn’t taste like much. There was a slimy coating on the outside of the bean and it sorted tasted like some sort of plant you would absent mindedly put in your mouth as a kid.

Needless to say, I much prefer the taste of the beans once they are in my cup!

Freshly de-pulped coffee beans

Freshly de-pulped coffee beans the skins are in the background

The next stage in the process is the harvest which normally occurs November through February. This is why the berries were red during our visit, they were ripe and prime for the picking. Alot of thought goes into the harvesting of the berries. Our guide explained how farmers often rely on lunar cycles and tide charts to determine when the optimum time for picking is as this can effect the water content of the coffee cherry. Who knew?!

The drying patio

The drying patio

Once the berries are picked, they are put through a de-pulping machine. This cracks open the berry and allows the little beans to escape. Even though the outer shell is gone, they still have a small outer layer, as well as the slimy skin layer we had tasted earlier.

Then comes the drying process, the beans are left out on a “drying patio” to dry out in the sun. We entered a room full of beans all over the floor. We could feel them and see that once they were dried, the next layer of shell can easily be cracked off with your hand.

Once the beans are dry, that outer shell needs to come off. The really cool thing about the Don Juan tour is that they show you how each stage of the process used to be done, and then how the process is done with modern day equipment.

Our guide showing us how it is done

Our guide showing us how it is done

Back in the day, a giant mortar and pestle was used to remove the outer shells. They had one all set up and everyone could take a turn trying to lift these huge wooden sticks to try their hand at “de-shelling”. It certainly was quite the workout. The machine that completes this step now certainly seems like the easier route!

The machine also removes the final layer of the berry. Remember that slimy layer from earlier? Well after drying in the sun, this layer is like a skin, sort of like on a peanut. This de-shelling process is the final step in exposing the actual coffee bean before the roasting begins.

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The roaster and roasting chart…I should have taken notes!

 

At this point, I couldn’t even believe how much I had learned about coffee, and the beans weren’t even roasted yet. The roasting process is certainly the most interesting, and complex processes. The length of time beans are roasted determine what kind of blend it is. Light roast has the most caffeine, and the least amount of flavour. Medium and dark roasts burn off the levels of caffeine but in the process deepen the flavour.

As someone who flavours their coffee, learning about the roasting process, and how the flavours are created made me want to sit down and determine what blends I actually prefer, without masking the flavour with additives. Luckily for me, being in the land of coffee, I certainly will have the opportunity to do that.

Lots of information, and we haven’t even gotten to the chocolate portion of the tour yet!! Tomorrow I’ll go over all of that excitingness…as well as a run down of all the tasty treats we got to try!

What kind of coffee do you like?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Our Favourite Places in Monteverde, Costa Rica

I have to say, I really loved Monteverde. After getting out of the hustle and bustle of the tourist scene of La Fortuna, this quaint little town was way more my scene.

That being said, there certainly was no shortage of things to see and do there!

Although we were only in town for three days, they were very busy and full of all sorts of adventures. Despite the hectic schedule, I did manage to track down a couple of my “Favourite Places” for you to check out.

Our Favourite Places in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Be prepared, their menu is HUGE

Be prepared, their menu is HUGE

Sabor Tico: If you’ve been following the blog closely, you may recognize this name. Yes in fact, there is a Sabor Tico in La Fortuna as well, and it was also one of our favourite places…well it was actually Shaun’s favourite place, as I never actually ate at it.

This Sabor Tico is very different, and having experienced it first hand, I can attest that it a truly delicious place to dine. Sabor Tico is like a traditional soda gone mainstream. Their menu is chalk full traditional Costa Rican favourites, but their restaurant area is a little fancier then what you would find in a regular soda. Don’t worry though, cause it tastes like mama is still cooking up a storm in the kitchen, because everything we ate there was unreal.

On the night we visited we went all out. I was so excited to see they had tamale’s on the PicMonkey Collagemenu, because I hadn’t seen any during our trip yet and at only 900 Colones, how could I resist? Tamales are a dish famous for being served at Christmas here in Costa Rica. The base is masa, usually made from a corn flour dough, then there will be meats, cheese, veggies or sometimes even fruits inside. All of this deliciousness is wrapped up in a banana or plantain leaf and steamed or boiled.

Shaun's Fajitas

Shaun’s Fajitas

I can see why people would eat these at Christmas, it’s like opening a present when you eat them! Ours was full of chicken, and veggies. We combined it with a little Lizano and it was an awesome little appy to share.

Woosh, What a Tamale Tangent!

My Ceviche

My Ceviche

The rest of our meal was just as amazing. I got some ceviche, while Shaun got a Fajita. Both were fabulous!

Sabor Tico is an awesome place if you are looking for some delicious Costa Rican favourites. They are so popular, that they actually have two locations. The original location is in Santa Elena, while the new location, the one we went to, is in Monteverde. They are only 2km apart so you could hit one up for lunch, and one for dinner!

P1020568Orchid Coffee & Tea Shop: I took one for the team again here in Monteverde, and checked out several coffee places to see which ones were the best. The things I do for you guys. Orchid Coffee was my first stop, because it had such a high rating on trip advisor. It did not disappoint.

Despite being in Monteverde for such a short stint, I somehow managed to indulge in several Cappuccino’s at this establishment. I would suggest trying the Spiced Cappuccino with Cinnamon, Nutmeg…and maybe Ginger? Regardless, it was a really nice twist on my traditional coffee choice.

P1020647Desafio Monteverde: Although I am a little biased, because I absolutely love this company, Desafio Monteverde was still one of our favourite places. The staff are incredible, and will set you up with everything you need to make your stay in Monteverde beyond memorable.

Beyond the tours, the building itself is awesome as well. They offer the only truly “Free” activity in Monteverde. They have a hummingbird and monkey garden in the back of their property that is open to the public. Also, there is an amazing coffee shop upstairs that roasts its own beans (you know I’ll take any opportunity to pop into another coffee shop!)

So whether you are looking for a tour, wanting to see some hummingbirds/monkeys, or just wanting to meet some really awesome people, stop by Desafio Monteverde, and tell them I sent you!

That’s a wrap on another edition of our Favourite Places. Check out other posts in this series, and as always feel free to pop us any questions in the comments below or on Facebook.

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Selvatura Adventure Park, Monteverde, Costa Rica-Part 2- Hanging Bridges

After finishing our final kilometre long cable, it was time to take our wobbly adrenaline laden legs back down to the reception area to take our gear off.

Once we were relieved of our harnesses, we moved on to the next phase our of our adventurous morning at Selvatura, the hanging bridges.

Literally walking through the clouds

Literally walking through the clouds

These treetop walkways put you right where the action is. Not only do you have the entire canopy below you, but you have the zip-liners above you. We were so glad that they recommended we do zip-lining first, because the hanging bridges were a great way to see all the cables we had just been on from a different vantage point (and with our eyes open!)

Starting the trek

Starting the trek

Selvatura has 8 hanging bridges with distances ranging from 150 feet to 510 feet and altitudes ranging from 36 feet to 180 feet. There is a forest path to hike along between the bridges, so the entire course is about 3 kilometres.

Unlike a lot of the other hanging bridges in . Monteverde, Selvatura’s don’t move all that much. Although they certain have a little bit of sway to them, they are still pretty sturdy under your feet. So this is a great option if you are travelling with someone who isn’t the hugest fan of heights (like some people we know)

It’s self guided, so you can take as long, or as little as you like. Shaun and I finished in just over an hour. I think we spent half the time looking around, and the other half talking about our zip-lining adventure!

Once we arrived back at reception, we waited for their complimentary shuttle to take us back to our hotel. This is such a huge perk, and made our day much easier.

P1020642If you are heading to Selvatura Park for some Adventuring here are our tips:

  • Wear Layers: Zip-lining is cold, but hiking can make you hot! make sure you have a couple layers so you can disrobe as needed
  • Waterproof is a Must: Even if the sun is shining in town, the cloud forest is usually damp. We both had waterproof coats, but the gift shop does sell ponchos
  • Bring a Snack: There is a pretty fancy restaurant on site, but not much for snack food. If you are spending a day at the park bring a snack. A very small backpack can be taken on the ziplines but they also offer lockers for day use.
  • Long Pants and Close Toed Shoes: Like I said, it is cold so pants are essential, and obviously you don’t want to be losing your flippy floppy’s while your zipping!
  • Check Out the Rest of the Park: Although we only spent a morning at Selvatura, you could easily spend the entire day there. In addition to the zip-lining and hanging bridges, they have several other exhibits including an insect, frog, snake, and butterfly museum.

So there you have it! Another adventure down, many more to go. Thanks again Desafio and My Costa Rica for making it happen!

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Selvatura Adventure Park, Monteverde, Costa Rica- Part 1-Zip-Lining

Today’s post is another part of my collaboration with My Costa Rica. A big thanks to both them and Desafio Adventures for another amazing experience!  

I knew that at some point during our 5 months here in Costa Rica, I would want to go Zip-lining. I had been once before during a previous trip, but Shaun hadn’t. In fact, Shaun has a little bit of a fear of heights. I actually thought I was going to have to fly solo for this adventure, but Shaun decided he was in. What a brave lad.

geared up, and looking a little nervous!

geared up, and looking a little nervous!

Desafio hooked us up with a day at Selvatura Adventure Park. We would start the morning by zip-lining through the cloud forest, and then move on to the hanging bridges. It was going to be a busy morning, so we made sure we got a good nights sleep.

Our shuttle picked us up at 8, and we drove about 30 minute to the park. As soon as we pulled up, we were whisked away to get geared up. Their process is beyond efficient. You walk into a room full of guides and gear. One of them makes eye contact with you and calls you over. Before you know it, you’re in a harness, a helmet, gloves, and you are on your way. It all happens so fast that you really have no time to even think about what lies ahead.

Our orientation, and one of the few photo's I would take this whole time.

Our orientation, and one of the few photo’s I would take this whole time.

After being put into our gear, we got into a shuttle for a short drive to the starting point. The entire process from getting there to getting to the entrance took less then 10 minutes. All of a sudden we were in the middle of the jungle, and faced with a very big adventure ahead of us.

The orientation was great. We were given clear instructions about the course, and the techniques we needed to know to get it done safely. Selvatura works on a hand brake system, which essentially means you stop yourself by pressing your glove on the line. Your glove has a big leather pad on the palm but It’s still kind of a scary thought at first. This was the technique I used last time, so I was okay, Shaun on the other hand, was not digging the whole “braking” aspect of the adventure.

Totally stole this photo from the internet, but it gives you an idea of what we were working with! Click for the link!

Totally stole this photo from the internet, but it gives you an idea of what we were working with! Click for the link!

So essentially zip-lining goes like this: they strap you to the line, you sit down in the harness, lean back, put your head to the side, lift your legs, put your dominant hand on the line behind you, and your other hand holding the line attaching you to the cable. Got it? Totally a completely natural and relaxed position to be in as your zoom thousands of feet through the air!

As you zip, the fingers of your dominant hand should circle around the line, like you are making the “Okay” sign with your thumb and pointer finger. When see the guide at the next platform putting two hands in the air (like he’s saying STAHP STAHHHHP)  it means it is time to press your hand flat on top of the line to begin braking. It was raining the day we were there, which means the line go faster. They told us there may be a chance you would need to put both hands behind you to brake. Meep!

Shaun zooming in on one of the first lines

Shaun zooming in on one of the first lines

Lucky for us, we only had to do the two hand brake once. In fact, most lines we didn’t have to brake at all! Often we were stopped by an automatic stopper the guides put out on  the line.

Once we got the hang of the whole braking process it was smooth sailing…or zipping from there.

Selvatura has 15 cables to zip through of all different lengths. Trying to describe the experience of zip-lining is nearly impossible. You are flying above the trees, through the clouds, at incredible speeds.the wind is hitting your face so hard you can barely keep your eyes open. It’s truly breathtaking, and a feeling that is impossible to capture in words.

Taken from below, a couple doing the final Kilometre long zip together

Taken from below, a couple doing the final Kilometre long zip together

The last line is a kilometre long. Can you imagine! An entire kilometre soaring through the air. But you don’t have to experience it alone, the last cable you are with a partner.Shaun was behind me, with his legs wrapped under my armpits, and I was just dangling there for dear life. It was like some sort of crazy couple bonding experience! 

The final big obstacle at Selvatura is the King Swing. Essentially a small bungee jump set up, but instead of falling straight down, you swing out and then back and forth till you stop. It’s an optional experience, so Shaun vetoed it immediately. Having bungee jumped before, I figured I could handle it and jumped at the chance to take part

It wasn’t quite the same as bungee jumping, as you don’t really have a choice when you jump, they just sort of open the gate, and you fall forward. Either way, it was awesome and I’m so glad I did it.

After our zip-lining it was time for the hanging bridges…but I’ll put a pin in it for now. I can’t promise as much death defying excitement in the next post, but it was memorable nonetheless.

Have you ever zip-lined or bungee jumped? Lets hear about it!

Pura Vida

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Cabinas Eddy, Monteverde, Costa Rica

I love it when we find a place to stay that makes our time in a town extra special. I can’t recommend Cabinas Eddy enough, so bare with me as I gush.

tucked up on the hill, Cabinas Eddy

tucked up on the hill, Cabinas Eddy

Cabinas Eddy is located a short 5 minute walk from the “centre” of town. I use the word centre loosely, as it really is only a small strip of shops and restaurants. The hotel/hostel has a variety of room options including both shared and private. We opted for a private room with ensuite bathroom, but in retrospect we could have easily taken one with a shared bathroom. The bathrooms were so clean and nice, that it would have been totally fine. Along with their cleanliness, Cabinas Eddy also offers their guests WiFi, a shared kitchen, free coffee, tour information, and even a barbershop! I can’t even tell you how many travellers I saw in there getting a much needed haircut!

The lobby that would transform into a restaurant in the mornings

The lobby that would transform into a restaurant in the mornings

One of the most amazing aspects of Cabinas Eddy is their breakfasts. Often when places advertise that breakfast is included you either get a very limited buffet, or are actually faced with an extra charge for breakfast upon arrival.

Cabinas Eddy is VERY different.

Every morning we would go downstairs and the lobby would be set up like a full fledged restaurant. Eddy and his family ran a tight ship, quickly and efficiently taking everyones orders, and getting breakfast out fast so everyone could take on their day. Every person got a plate of freshly cut fruit to start, and then their choice of hot breakfasts. They offer the same menu everyday, Banana Pancakes with coconut syrup, Ham and Cheese Omlettes, Breakfast Sandwich, Eggs Ham and Toast, and a breakfast wrap. It certainly made for some big decisions every morning!

Breakfasts aside, Cabinas Eddy is really an amazing. It’s truly a family run establishment which makes the atmosphere warm and loving. The whole family pitches in and you can tell they really care about every guests well being.

We had a stow away the day we were leaving!

We had a stow away the day we were leaving!

Guests of Cabinas Eddy can book all their tours right at the front desk. This makes it a wonderful hub for anyone’s stay in Monteverde.

I nearly forgot to mention one of our favourite parts…LUNA! This little furball belongs to Eddy’s daughter. Although they have a couple cats as pets, Luna stole our hearts. She was all black, like our bearcat at home, but a big fluff ball. I’m sure it was against the rules, but we invited her to our room on more then one occasion. Her presence made us feel right at home and we had so much fun playing with her.

Sleepy sloth friend

Sleepy sloth friend

I have a last little insider tip on Cabinas Eddy. As you leave the property and start walking up the hill to town, make sure you look in the trees on the left hand side. There is a mama sloth and her baby that hang out in the trees.We passed by then every single day! It was a very memorable part of our stay!

If you are staying in Monteverde and are looking for a place that is central, affordable, has a great atmosphere, and delicious breakfasts, I would highly suggest Cabinas Eddy.

Don’t forget to say hi to Luna for us!

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Monteverde Cloud Forest Tour, Costa Rica

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.

Bundled up and ready to hike!

Bundled up and ready to hike!

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.

Our AMAZING guide.

Our AMAZING 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.

Ummm...ya, impressive eh!

Ummm…ya, impressive eh!

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.

Taken through the telescope!

Taken through the telescope!

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.

I couldn't even see until I looked in the telescope!

I couldn’t even see this lil guy until I looked in the telescope!

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.

Strangler Figs RULE

Strangler Figs RULE

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.

Cold Tourists

Cold Tourists

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!

Pura Vida

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

As Promised…Here are several hummingbirds!

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