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New Cruiser: Expeditions

The travels of an all aluminum Land Cruiser and its owners…

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Monteverde, Costa Rica

Written by Raenelle on Monday, December 29, 2003
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Monteverde is a beautiful little settlement at a high elevation in inland Costa Rica. It’s surrounded by picturesque pasturelands where cattle graze and fresh dairy products are produced. The main attractions in the Monteverde area are two cloud forests and a bunch of interesting species that live within them. It’s possible to do tours of the canopy on ziplines – more of an adrenalin rush and a thrill-seeking experience than a naturalist experience …… so we chose to do a canopy walk instead. Those of you who have been following our travels know that we’re not really into doing touristy things and we really don’t like going to tourist areas, and Monteverde was the epitomy of tourism!

Rainbow It was partly the time of year that we came here – just after Christmas and before New Year’s is probably the busiest time of year at Monteverde! Needless to say, there were people everywhere and the driving was frustrating …. along dirt roads where people were walking in the middle of the road etc. Nonetheless, we managed to enjoy the area and spent two nights at Monteverde. We bought our tickets for the canopy walk – a short hike above the canopy along about 8 or so suspension bridges. We arrived at the cloud forest early the next morning – 7am when the gates opened and were one of the only people on the trail. The canopy walk was a bit of a disappointment for us – we had heard so much about it from other travellers, but we found that most of the walk was within the forest, and not above the canopy as expected. There are so many people that go through the trail each day that there doesn’t appear to be very much wildlife in the vicinity at all. The whole 2 hours that we were on the trail, we saw no wildlife except for a few birds.

The only saving grace about the whole walk was that we got to see our third toucan species, a beautifulRobin on bridge Emerald Toucanet, as well as a large blue bird and a male Resplendant Quetzal who flew above the canopy when we were on one of the suspension bridges and we got a close look at him in flight with our binoculars. The Quetzal is a really reclusive bird – it lives high in the cloud forests and is very difficult to spot, especially when it’s not breeding season. The male is green with an orange chest and has extremely long tail feathers. His long feathers make it difficult to fly, as we observed! Birdwatchers spend many hours trying to see the Quetzal in Central America – it is a very famous bird, and the Guatemalan currency is named after it (ironically, the Quetzal is now almost extinct in Guatemala due to habitat loss).

We camped overnight in a small field next to a paddock where there was a single horse. Monteverde is not a Mr. Edfriendly place for campers, so don’t expect to find a campground anywhere! After about 3 hours of running around trying to find a place to camp, we spoke to Steven who owned a fancy resort hotel and he allowed us to camp at their paddock down the road. Robin spent a few hours with the horse who we named “Mr. Ed”, who was treated to handfuls of fresh juicy green grass and a brush. He thought it was a really fun game to try and eat Robin’s sleeves, and Robin thought it was a really fun game to look right into Mr. Ed’s big eyeballs and hold his big lips so that Robin could see his teeth! Needless to say, we all had a good time, and before we knew it, it was dark and time to go to sleep.

The next morning, we met up with Don and Melanie in a nearby town. They are also from Canada (Saskatchewan) and are spending the winter down in Costa Rica. We had a great traditional Costa Rican breakfast (scrambled eggs with rice and beans and bread) and exchanged travel stories. Soon we were heading down the road for the Costa Rica border. We’ve decided that we’ve spent enough time in Costa Rica and we’re ready to head home. Before hitting the border, we stopped to get our tyres balanced and rotated, and before we knew it, we were saying goodbye to Costa Rica.

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