Tues 4-Wed 5 December - Day 39 to 40 - Santa Elena (Monteverde) Costa Rica

Published: December 7th 2018
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Monteverde Cloud Forest National Park Costa Rica -Quetzal (56)Monteverde Cloud Forest National Park Costa Rica -Quetzal (56)Monteverde Cloud Forest National Park Costa Rica -Quetzal (56)

An endangered bird - national bird of Nicaragua
Tues 4-Wed 5 December - Day 39 to 40 - Santa Elena

Travelling back through the old town of Quepos, once a very important port for the exportation of bananas we then ascend a steep and bumpy mountain road that offered great views over lush green hills that flatten to meet the Pacific Ocean. On the way we stopped at the crocodile river and had a short coffee break. After 3 ½ hours we reached the small town of Santa Elena, nestled up in the clouds and established by American Quakers in the 1950's.

After dropping our bags off at the Don Taco Hotel which was at a top of a hill overlooking the town, we visit Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in search of the mysterious endangered Quetzal, a very rare and timid bird with incredibly beautiful and unique plumage. WE SAW 3!!!!!! Two males and a female. One of the males sat on the one branch for all 15 minutes we were watching it. Apparently, he was digesting his meal! This was the only park in the area that had quetzal as the berries of a particular tree were available at this time whereas in the other parks the fruits matured later in December.

We also saw many coatis and one sloth with a baby. A beautiful 5-tiered waterfall was also worth seeing as was from a long swing bridge.

There are several paths to explore in this privately owned reserve, one of which took us to the continental divide. As this was a clear day both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans could be seen! We also stop at the Hummingbird Gallery where we saw beautiful hummingbirds, so watched these energetic birds buzz around sipping on nectar.

The area around Santa Elena is famous for its ziplines and hosts the longest zip line in the world. We have done ziplines before and our priority in Costa Rica was to see its wildlife. We chose to walk between the giant trees along a series (7) of suspension bridges above the forest canopy. We took a very clever guide with us who spotted a number of birds, agouty and cotties. It was a little windy so we needed a fleece and rain jacket to keep me warm.

At the end of the walk we
TreeTop Bridges Walk  Monteverde Costa RicaTreeTop Bridges Walk  Monteverde Costa RicaTreeTop Bridges Walk Monteverde Costa Rica

Tom climbing up the inside of a strangler fig
had a swing from a rope which was a lot of fun. We also climbed up inside a strangler fig which was very different. This took us to the last swing bridge.

The Park had also set up some nectar feeders a which attracted some beautiful hummingbirds. We had great fund filming them. They move so fast but between the 5 of us who had gone on this nature walk at 8.00am, we all got great photos.

Santa Elena is a town which is very hilly. The walk up to our hotel was short but very steep. Our hotel was on 3 levels also. There were many restaurants to choose from. Our favourite became Amy’s Restaurant, particularly the pizzas. The first night Tom forgot his diabetes gear, so we organised a take away pizza and bought a bottle of red wine and took it back to the hotel.

After our swing-bridge skywalk in the morning we decided to take our map of the area and visit the bat caves (3.5kms) and the Coffee Centre. There was a lot of coffee tours in the many plantations in the area.

We viewed the bats behind a long glass window in a dark room. They gave us a flash light so that we could see and photograph them. It was a well set up facility and they were being fed with different types of fruit.

At the Coffee Centre we tried light, medium and dark roasted coffee as well as honey roasted coffee, followed by a full cup of coffee. We even had a carrot and coconut muffin PLUS a chocolate banana bread. Yum!

We then walked a few more kilometres to a private Ecological Sanctuary which was a beautiful property of mixed primary and secondary forests and a waterfall deep in one of the valleys. We really enjoyed the experience.

It was time to go back to the hotel as it was about 4.30pm and there were a few dark clouds coming over. On the way back, I visited a Butterfly Restaurant which was a beautiful spot to see the sunset towards the Pacific. It had a large balcony to sit and watch the sun, over a rink or two.

Tom had gone back into town to get a few cold beers and several of us sat around outside our rooms to share the stories of our day as there had been such a lot of activities available. A bit about the weather in this area: the days were beautiful, around 25 degrees, but as the sun went down, the jumpers came out and during the night the wind became very strong. The locals told us that the wind wasn’t very strong compare to late December and early January when many of the activities are cancelled because of the wind. We have been so lucky. We really enjoyed the area and it was fantastic to see that old farming properties were now being rehabilitated into ecotourism facilities as this was a more viable option for the town.

Additional photos below
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