I'm going to start this post with a question….
If any of you reading this have visited South America, can you advise on ways of transportation? By this I mean long distance bus companies mainly to take us country to country. Yes more time consuming but we're hoping lots cheaper? Also any great hostels too in Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina would be greatly received 😊!!! Please comment below…Now back to business as usual….
The alarm went off at 5am Friday morning. We packed up our stuff and left our luggage in the store room of our hostel again, whilst we embarked on a few days in the Santa Elena/Monteverde region of Costa Rica. The host called us a taxi and ten minutes later we had arrived at Terminal 7-10. The city of San José rises early. As we were en route to the bus terminal the streets, especially downtown, were already busy with people setting up their stalls, opening shops and even trying to sell fresh fruit. It was 530am. As we arrived at the terminal we went to locate the ticket office. It was on the second floor. We went up and queued to buy our tickets for 2810 colón each, then went back down to the first floor to wait for the bus at 630am. The terminal was huge. It had many places to eat and some mini-markets too. We went through the gates to the bus only to find it was the one headed to La Fortuna. Whoops. Back we went to wait. Ten minutes later we went back through the gates and boarded the correct bus. The best part was that we actually had a window seat this time so I was in full control of the air coming in. No air conditioning again meant this was necessary. The journey to Monteverde was the take about 5 hours, most of which we slept for. A few hours into the journey we stopped at a small roadside restaurant/shop so people could purchase refreshments and then continued on. The bus stopped at the end of the road our hostel was on as we entered Santa Elena. Our hostel, Hostel La Suerte, was situated at the end of a dirt track and appeared to be a revamped warehouse with the most formidable artwork decorating the outside. We had checked in an hour early, so I left some laundry for them to do for us and we headed out in search of some food. Nothing was open yet. Back to the hostel, we started flicking through some of the tour brochures and found one for the suspension bridges through Monteverde Cloud Forest.
We booked it. We were picked up at the hostel at 1230 and were taken to Selvatura Park. Here, we paid, received our tickets and headed on into the forest. Oh and it was also raining. Not heavy, but enough to warrant us actually getting our coats out to make an appearance! The cloud forest is home to 2500 species of plant, 400 species of birds, 100 species of mammal and 120 snakes and spiders assorted. We were so incredibly lucky on our trip. A big fat zero. That's what we saw. Ok, we probably saw 2499 species of plant but that's about it. Nothing wanted to make an appearance. I didn't blame them, it was raining after all! Anyways, we began our trek. There were 8 hanging bridges in total in this part of the forest. The forest itself was thick with plants and trees as the path wound through it.
Bridge one was 65 metres long and 16 metres high. You could see the tree tops towering above.
Bridge 2 was 65 metres long and 17 metres high. The view isn't done justice to by these photographs, it probably just looks like a normal forest, but when you're actually in it, it just feels different. It smells different. It's wonderful. Some of the leaves were absolutely huge too. The path just kept on going until we hit bridge 3. 115 metres long and 34 metres high.
We were high up in the clouds. The cool temperature here made a huge change to the hot humid air we have become used to. Used to. Not acclimatised to. Still. Standing at 31 metres high and 115 metres long, bridge 4 was probably my favourite. It was so peaceful. Nothing except birds singing, the river rushing below and the occasional 'whoosh' of the zip line in the distance. That doesn't sound peaceful I know, but it was. The clouds were so low the canopy was engulfed.The forest was honestly beautiful, even though it's very green. We came to bridges 5 and 6 in relatively close proximity to each other. They were 120 metres long, 28 metres high and 57 metres long and 18 metres high respectively.We reached the last two bridges after a bit of a longer trek. We even spotted some crazy zip liners above the canopy, literally in the clouds. The walk took us about just over an hour in total, I'm sure if we had encountered some animals or God forbid creepy crawlies, it would have taken longer. Things to remember: poncho/rain coat, sturdy waking shoes/boots, water. Transport with the company is free, so they drop you back anywhere you want down in Santa Elena.
We opted for a really quirky, awesome restaurant called The Treehouse Restaurant and Cafe. It is literally built as a treehouse, in a massive tree, on a small street in Santa Elena. There are two floors to it, as well as some seating under cover and some out in the elements. We went for a seat by the window. They have quite a big menu, not huge, but enough I'd assume to cover something for everyone. I mean if Nathan can find something to eat, then anyone can. He had a delicious sandwich whilst I had an ok burrito. I should have chosen chicken as opposed to fatty beef. Ah well. It was still yummy. The tree even lights up different colours and they have heaters for when it gets cold. And it did. It's safe to say that as soon as the cloud began to get lower and lower, the temperature also dropped. It did just that as we were sitting. All of a sudden we gazed outside and couldn't see anything. We left the quirky tree and headed to a shop for supplies then back to the hostel. Surprise surprise, at just before 4pm, the downpour started. The streets were full of cloud so thick you couldn't see fifty metres in front of you. The rain was so heavy that after about thirty seconds we were soaked. Thankfully it didn't take long for us to reach the hostel. As we did, the storm raged. You can actually set your clock to it that around 4pm, the rain and storms begin ferociously. It happened every day we were in Costa Rica.
We decided to book another trip for Saturday which was an ATV buggy-style thing which we'd go off-roading for a few hours on, through parts of the forest and around. Giving ourselves a well deserved lie in, which is now no later that 630-730am, we opted for the 11am time, getting picked up at 1030am. The driver, was ten minutes late and that resulted in us arriving at Extremo Monteverde about ten minutes late, where our guide was already waiting for us. The organisation was not the best at the reception so it took a bit of time and in the end they ran out of the paper to take a copy of your credit card for insurance whilst we were in control of the buggy, so they just waved us off and their words of advice were merely, 'be careful.' With Nathan's driving scaring me enough in America, how was this was going to be any better?
We had a two seater and there was a family who had another couple of buggies joining us and Jorge, our guide. Helmets on, shown where the brake and gas was, we were off. To begin with it was over bumpy, rocky stone tracks until we reached the actual off-roading bit. Which. Was insane!!!! It was absolutely awesome. We had a beautiful view of Lake Arenal in the distance as we got to the top of one of the hills. We also passed coffee plantations and our excellent guide pointed out the stunning blue butterfly, that was sadly too quick to capture on camera. It was such a fun few hours tearing through the countryside. As we returned to base, two colourful parrots were waiting to greet us.
The transport again was to drop us wherever we wanted. It had begun to rain again so we asked to be dropped at the Treehouse Restaurant again, and this time we were seated inside as the outside area was a bit wet. The food was delicious, we both had sandwiches this time and we made as much use of the wifi as we could before leaving. There was no good time leave, so we just got up and braved the monsoon outside. Popping into a supermarket that transformed into a souvenir shop provided a little respite, however, the rain was not receding. So, what else could we do except walk back to the hostel, in the pouring rain. Needless to say, we were beyond soaked. That appears to be the running theme in Costa Rica as it has happened pretty much daily!
We attempted to dry off and made a make shift clothes line in the room between the bunk beds. Sunday morning was to see us getting a bus, then a boat, then another bus over to La Fortuna so we desperately needed our stuff to dry to save us carting around our wet clothes, because let's face it, they'd only end up even wetter.
Until next time….