Published: February 22nd 2019
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Monteverde - the cloud forest. Well... we didn’t see any clouds. I guess that’s what you get coming in the ‘dry’ season. On the bright side, we had beautiful vistas looking down into the valleys below. The guidebooks lead you to believe there’s wildlife everywhere and you can walk the trails and see all kinds of things in the forest. That’s my bad... because obviously I would laugh if people thought they could come to Canada and walk in a national park and see bear, moose and caribou casually strolling along.

We took the advice of our host Jonathan at the B&B - he hadn’t led us astray yet! He recommended we not go to the cloud forest national park reserve. He said it’s busy there because everyone wants to go to the cloud forest. He pointed out that every reserve in Monteverde (there are 4) is a cloud forest. Just the others are less touristy and less expensive with less people on the trails scaring the animals away. The lonely planet basically said the same thing. So we took his advice and went to the Curi-Cancha reserve. It had 10km of well maintained trails snaking through the reserve for wildlife viewing. With viewpoints and hummingbird gardens etc.

For the most part all we saw were these black birds that remind us of crows. A couple squirrels. A form of grouse or two. And one monkey with very large white balls. Dave would be upset if I didn’t point that out! Oh and lots of hummingbirds. A couple birds we couldn’t identify but nothing exciting like a toucan, macaw or quetzal.

We hiked for 3 hours. Our necks hurt from constantly trying to look into the trees above where all the wildlife lives. The trees are very tall!! Actually the trees are beautiful. Amazing large trees with vines climbing in both directions. Our favourite were the strangler ficus - where the ficus grows down from the top of another tree and winds its different ‘vines’ around it until it strangles it out. The inner tree dies and the lattice type design of the ficus is left standing.

We were looking for the 2 toed sloth. Costs Rica is home to the 2 toed and 3 toed sloths. They are quite different apparently. The 2 toed sloth is extremely lazy. It typically only moves around at night and only comes down from the tops of the trees to pee and poop once a week. The 3 toed sloths are a bit more active during both day and night and come to the ground more often although I don’t know how often they pee or poop. The 2 toed sloths are quite a bit more rare and they are the only sloths that live in the cloud forest in Monteverde. Needless to say, we didn’t know these facts as we were straining our necks looking into the trees above trying to spot a sloth.

Dave got tired and more importantly bored after about an hour and a half hiking through the cloud forest. I was okay for about 2 hours - and much more determined. But we still got tired of hiking around. And I got hungry. We had lunch at a restaurant called Sabor Tico which came recommended by Jonathan and the lonely planet. Then grabbed a Don Juan coffee to go and went back to our B&B to catch the shuttle to our first excursion to the Selvatura hanging bridges. We opted to do this (and a night tour) instead of a zip line canopy tour. This was a 3km hike with 8 hanging bridges that take you up into the top of the cloud forest so you can get a better glimpse of the animals in the cloud forest.

This wasn’t necessarily the case for us - although this IS where we saw the monkey with the large white balls. The forest here was different. It was denser and greener and I wondered if we’d made a mistake not going to the cloud forest national reserve. But in the end there was really no wildlife to see, just a really beautiful forest walk.

We got back from our hanging bridges tour with not much time to grab a shower and dinner before being picked up for our night tour. We were talking to Jonathan and his brother at the B&B and they were insisting we walk the 200meters uphill to the viewpoint that overlooks the valley below and on a clear day you can see out to the ocean. Apparently there are really beautiful sunsets. We decided it was worth the time to do so but we wouldn’t stay for the full sunset since we needed to eat before our tour (aka Sarah needs to eat before the night tour). It was a nice vista with a beautiful view but we couldn’t see the ocean.

We were then rushed to get food before our tour pick up time. We decided to get a pizza to go thinking we could at least eat it at the B&B or take it with us if we had to. It was the right choice. We sat at the bar and had a beer while it cooked. Dave was trying to learn Spanish speaking to the bar tender and a couple servers. They were so nice and sweet. The pizza was good too. The place was called Don Luis and was within walking distance to our Forest Dreams Lodge B&B. We ate the pizza on our private deck overlooking the forest and were treated to all these fireflies/lightning bugs (I honestly don’t know the difference) glowing and flying around in the forest below us. The only wildlife we saw there was Jonathan’s cat Coco - a cute orange tabby.

We booked the night tour company that Jonathan recommended: Kinkajou. Kinkajou is apparently the name for this red coloured monkey type creature. We didn’t see one. We did however see some interesting cloud forest wildlife! We saw a porcupine (in a tree), an opossum, an armadillo (actually our 3rd armadillo spotting- weird), a couple river frogs, a female tarantula spider (they’re bigger than the males), AND..... a two toed sloth coming down from the trees for his once weekly pee and poop! Yep - we witnessed a sloth defecating and everyone got really excited. It’s amazing how fast they move back up the tree when they’re done! This tour was really quite fun - at times racing around the trails, shining our flashlights to see what’s moving or hiding in the trees. We also saw a couple sleeping birds. The traditional (cereal box) toucan and the green macaw (which are quite rare). Although it was hard to appreciate them asleep since they just look like little colourful balls.

We had a lazy last morning in Monteverde before leaving for the pacific coast. We were having breakfast when a white faced capuchin monkey came looking for food. First he was trying to drink the hummingbird feeder juice and then the kitchen staff gave him a piece of watermelon (he picked the seeds out). He came back around front for some more treats (bread and banana). While we were packing up the car I could see him on the trees below. I called to him and he climbed up to our balcony! We gave him the bakery bun we had left over from a day or so before. Well, Dave gave him a small piece of it which he took and then snuck the rest and ran off thinking we’d be upset. We weren’t.

So, Monteverde wasn’t exactly what we expected. But thanks to a great B&B (Forest Dreams Manakin lodge), a great host (Jonathan) and a handful of wonderfully recommended tours and some exciting animal sightings - Monteverde was a great experience. Highlight: watching a two-toed sloth come down to poop while the hoard of humans watched in excitement. They’re even cute when they poop.

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