Into The Cloud Forest


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Published: July 13th 2010
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Crossing The LakeCrossing The LakeCrossing The Lake

The boat that we used to cross Lake Arenal on our way to Monteverde
Throughout most of the night, heavy rain had been falling but by morning it had given way to dreary yet very drizzly skies. After a final awesome breakfast at the resort dining room, we were picked up for our transportation to Monteverde. Our transportation consisted of a boat ride across Lake Arenal and then in vans through the unpaved dirt roads up to Monteverde. We were picked up in front of the resort lobby and along with 4 other people, we drove about 15 minutes to the dock. Immediately, the whole thing looked very sketchy. Along the water's edge was this very rickety looking boat that was already almost filled to capacity. We were all wondering if this thing was safe and were all having second thoughts. We had to carry our luggage down this steep dirt trail and then cross a boulder covered beach just to get on board this boat. To make us even more nervous, there was a sign warning us of crocodiles being present within the lake's waters. The boat was filled to capacity with mostly young budget travellers. The crossing of the lake was very uneventful and not very scenic as the clouds were shrouding everything. After about 30 minutes, the boat finally docked and everybody hopped into 4 awaiting vans for the drive up to Monteverde. Monteverde was far different than the Arenal region. While the weather in Arenal was typically sub-tropical, in Monteverde it was downright cool due to area's high elevation. Despite the difficult access, Monteverde is one of Costa Rica's top tourist draws and is known mainly for it's nature preserves and cloud forests.

The drive through the unpaved back roads to Monteverde lasted about 2 hours with a quick stop at a cerveceria for snacks and a bathroom break. When we finally arrived in the town of Santa Elena, we were dropped off at Hotel Poco a Poco. We chose this hotel as it was the only one in town that had a swimming pool. It also appeared to be one of the nicer accomodations in a town that appeared to be filled with budget hotels and hostels. The first thing we noticed after getting dropped off was just how windy it was. After checking in and dropping off our bags, the first thing we did was to check out the restaurant and bar. We were immediately greeted by the
On The Way to MonteverdeOn The Way to MonteverdeOn The Way to Monteverde

Stopping for a quick break on the dusty roads up to Monteverde
friendly staff and were offered a welcome drink. It was a very nice restaurant and definitely seemed like a great place to have dinner while we are here. We decided to explore a bit of the nearby town of Santa Elena. The town basically consisted of one main road that contained a bunch of souvenir shops, restaurants, and adventure outfitters. We explored this main road as well as some of the back roads before we decided to have lunch at the Tree House Restaurant. This is a restaurant that is basically built around a huge Higueron tree. We sat on the second level overlooking the street and it definitely had a tree house feel to it as we were seated amongst the tree's branches. After lunch, Brent returned to the hotel while Shea and I explored the shops along the town's main road. We booked tickets for a zip-lining tour for the next day, explored a few souvenir shops, and purchased a few things at a grocery store before returning to the hotel. There wasn't really much else to do so we lounged around the room and checked out the swimming pool. It was windy and cool and was definitely not swimming weather so I simply relaxed on one of the deck chairs. That evening, we made our way back into town in order to hopefully watch Game 4 of the Lakers vs Utah Jazz playoff series. We checked out a bar called Amigos that was recommended by one of the restaurant bar staff. Eventually after a lot of channel surfing, we were able to figure out that the game was going to be brodcasted but we still had 2 hours to kill before game time. We ordered a bunch of snacks, beers, and margaritas and enjoyed watching the Lakers complete a 4 game sweep of the Utah Jazz. It was after 11pm when the game finally ended and we walked through a drizzly night back to the hotel.

The next morning after a delicious breakfast at the hotel's restaurant, we were picked up by the Selvatura Lodge's complimentary shuttle service. The day before we had signed up for a zip-lining tour as well as paid for a visit to a butterfly farm and entrance to the hanging bridges. However, it was the zip-lining the we were most looking forward to. Both Shea and I were well prepared for the morning's cool and drizzly weather. We had both brought hooded windbreakers but Brent was without. Thankfully for him, I had brought along an emergency poncho. It was quite hilarious to see him with it on as it just looked like he wrapped himself up in a trash bag. After a quick drive into the surrounding hills, we finally were dropped off at Selvatura Lodge. Immediately, we were fitted into our zip-lining gear. They provided us with helmets as well as some belt with all sorts of ropes and hooks attached to it. As soon as we were all fitted, our group of about 20 people were brought over to a sitting area and were given a really quick crash course on the basics of zip-lining. After our brief introduction, it all seemed so very easy. However, I just had some deep feeling that I would be the one who would get stuck out in the middle of the zip-line and have to be rescued. With our quick crash course under our belts, we all set out on a quick hike to the first zip-lining platform. We hiked through the very thick and dripping wet forest and were so thankful
Sunset Over Santa ElenaSunset Over Santa ElenaSunset Over Santa Elena

The view from our room at Hotel Poco a Poco over the town of Santa Elena
that we brought these jackets. After carefully observing a few people take off on their first zip-line, I was confident of what to do when it finally came to my turn. Once I was attached to the line and was given the green light to go, I was very nervous and didn't enjoy it as much as I had thought. When I made it to the next platform, I was rather relieved that I didn't get stuck. However, braking appeared to be a bit problematic for me. You are supposed to pull on the line, once you neared the next platform. However, with all the clouds and fog, it was difficult to see where you were in relation to the next platform. Also, I was so focused on trying to see where the next platform was, that I didn't really get to enjoy much of the scenery below and around me. Eventually after a few more lines were completed, I started to enjoy myself much more as I was finally confident in what I was doing. In total, there were about 13 zip-lines. The final one, was by far the longest at approximately one kilometer in length. Because of it's
Selvatura LodgeSelvatura LodgeSelvatura Lodge

Where we did our zip-lining
length, we had to go tandem with somebody else. Not only was I practically sitting in Brent's lap but due to the speed of the zip-line the drizzle felt like needles hitting my face. With our zip-lining completed, the guides brought us over to one final thrill, a Tarzan swing. After our zip-lining was completed, we checked out a few of the hanging bridges before grabbing a bite to eat and attempting to dry off. We still had tickets to the butterfly exhibit as well as entrance to the other hanging bridges but after the morning's thrill, none of us were in any mood to do anything else. Eventually, we caught the shuttle back to our hotel. The rest of the day was spent relaxing back in the room and going into town to souvenir shop. The rest of the evening was very quiet. Shea and I had dinner at the hotel's restaurant while Brent hung out at the bar with a few guys he had met that were from the San Fernando Valley


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High Up In The Cloud ForestHigh Up In The Cloud Forest
High Up In The Cloud Forest

The dense foliage blocks much of the sun
Zip LiningZip Lining
Zip Lining

Brent and I waiting for the next zip-line
Zip-LiningZip-Lining
Zip-Lining

Me on one of the 13 zip-lines
Zip-LiningZip-Lining
Zip-Lining

Shea patiently awaiting for the go ahead to take off...
Zip-LiningZip-Lining
Zip-Lining

Shea and her tandem partner for the final 1 mile long zip-line
Hotel Poco a PocoHotel Poco a Poco
Hotel Poco a Poco

The ground of our hotel
Hotel Poco a PocoHotel Poco a Poco
Hotel Poco a Poco

The hotel swimming pool
Santa ElenaSanta Elena
Santa Elena

The main street in the town of Santa Elena


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