Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Our Honeymoon - Day 20 - Monteverde Cloud Forest and Frog Pond

Today after a wonderful guided tour of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve where we spotted our first sloth, Emily and I went on our own hike up to the Continental Divide and back.  We didn't see many more animals and it rained the whole time but I think it was part of the experience since we were in a cloud forest after all.  We stopped for a quick tour of the "Frog Pond" on the way back to our lodge to check out the various species in the region but it wasn't as cool because they were in enclosures instead of us seeing them in their natural habitat.  Once again we got a visit by our cute Coati friend as we relaxed for the afternoon at our our wonderful private lodge.  Click the title to read on...

Today awoke early without any scorpion stings and got a 7am free ride with Christian to Monteverde with a couple who were also staying at the Rainbow Lodge in two story smaller room about 40 feet from ours.  Christian had another family he was guiding so he couldn't take us but he set us up with a very enthusiastic friend of his named Roy who showed us a great time.  It was a similar tour to the ones we had before but this time it was much cooler in the cloud forest of Monteverde and was raining off and on.  I actually thought the weather was appropriate for where we were and made the tour more interesting and different than the Arenal tour we went on.  

On the tour we saw a sloth high up in a tree for the first time, more monkeys in the distance, and some birds and bugs.  Because of the wind and rain Roy thought that a lot of animals were laying low so we didn't see too much.  He taught us a lot about the local vegetation, showed us a nice waterfall and really tried to find the famous Monteverde Resplendant Quetzl bird but had no luck.  Later we heard that Christian guided and afternoon trip with a man who flew all the way back to Costa Rica specifically for that bird and luckily spotted one in full view but only for about 30 seconds before it took off.  

After the 3 hour guided tour of the nearby trails Roy brought us to the hummingbird garden where were able to get really close to the birds as they fed from hanging nectar pots.  There seemed to be about 20 to 30 birds of various species and none seemed to be scared of all the people closely watching.  Needless to say, I took a lot of photos.  I then convinced Emily to walk the whole circuit of the reserve as Christian had suggested we do before leaving.  

It was raining so we wore our jackets and trudged on through the muddy trail in our sneakers.  The trail took us deep into the reserve and I was hoping that we would spot more monkeys or another sloth but we had to walk at a decent pace to make it back for the 2pm bus which meant we didn't have a ton of time to stop and search for wildlife.  When we got to the Continental Divide I took a piss and laughed knowing that some might make make it to either ocean...  

On the way back to the park headquarters we traversed a very cool hanging bridge through the misty clouds and tree tops full of life.  Strangler Fica's reached into the clouds and were so enormous that they also held over 200 other species of plants in their upper branches which the bridge gave us a good view of.  All the trails we were on were also painstakingly constructed using a type of hollow cinder block to prevent erosion.  I have no idea how they were put into place but they were stacked two wide and continued mile after mile.  Seriously, it felt like the effort of the Egyptian pyramid builders were put into making the trails.  I looked for info on how it was all done but all we really learned was that the park was donated by the Quakers who had settled in the area.  

After the bus dropped us off in Santa Elena we grabbed some ceviche and lunch at a local restaurant callled Maravilla and picked up some more breakfast food and wine at the grocery.  The original plan was to head to the Frog Pond at 6:30pm when the nocturnal frogs would be most active but with such a beautiful lodge to go back to we wandered over to the place around 4pm for a quick 20 minute tour of the frogs in their enclosures.  Out of the 10-12 frog species we only couldn't spot one or two.  Our guide was very nice but when it comes down to it we are in Costa Rica to see WILDLIFE, not stuff in exhibits so we were happy we only stopped by briefly and didn't have to return later in the evening.

Back at the lodge we relaxed for the evening with wine and snacks and once again as I caught up on our journal on the porch our little coati friend made an appearance.  I called over the couple next door who seemed really excited to see him as well.  We teased the poor fella by crinkling a bag of nuts to get him close to us and stand up for photos and video.  Because of this I broke my usual stern rule against feeding wildlife and gave him a few nuts for his efforts.  He remained nearby for the next hour or so and the couple the next morning said he was still sniffin' around their place when they woke up.

Around 7:30pm I made an ass out of myself when I went to pay Christian as I asked him to drive me to the ATM to get money for our bus transfer to Manuel Antonio the next day but never thought to get enough cash in case we had to pay for the lodge in cash too...whoops!  Thankfully we had enough to pay for our two nights there and a little extra for Christian for all his help and kindness.  We will happily suggest that wonderful place to anyone we know visiting Monteverde and perhaps will return one day ourselves as Christian said he hopes to buy the property from Rolf at some point.

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