Charming Monteverde and La Fortuna
01.11.2012 - 05.11.2012 20 °C
Costa Rica is almost a synonym for paradise. World famous for its beauty and wildlife, it is the greenest, lushest place I’ve ever seen. While only tiny in size, Costa Rica is bursting at the seams with natural wonders. Birds, mammals, snakes and insects are in abundance in this pristine land and the soil seems so fertile it’s as if you could plant a seed and come back the next day to find a tree.
We started our Costa Rican adventure in the misty little town of Monteverde. Costa Rica is made of many microclimates and this place sent us fishing for our thermals buried deep in our backpacks. It’s a picturesque little town, interestingly founded by Quakers from the US in the 1950s. Members of the Christian movement set up dairy farms here, wanting nothing to do with the Korean War. More than half a century later, there’s a lot more to this place than diary farms. Monteverde is tourist heaven, offering cloud forest walks, suspension bridges, waterfalls and arguably the best zip lining in the world.
— Zip lining was invented in Costa Rica in the 90s by biologists who used it for research.
Zip lining in Monteverde is easily one of my favourite activities since leaving home almost 6 months ago. It’s basically a set of flying foxes slung from tree to tree above the rainforest canopy. As you zoom along the cables, you get a pretty good idea what it’d be like to be a monkey traveling through the treetops. It’s the most exhilarating feeling. Well exhilarating for the first 80%. The last bit is spent breaking like a madwoman, hoping you’ve slowed down enough to avoid smashing into a tree.
After about 12 zip lines comes the grand finale: the ‘Superman’ and the ‘Tarzan’. The first sees you strapped into a superman position and sent along a 700 metre cable more than 80 metres above the ground. I’m not sure how long you glide for, but it’s plenty long for you to realise all that stands between you and death is a cable about as thick as your thumb. Despite this, it’s a special experience, about as close as you can get to flying like a bird. I even shed a few tears. Although, this may have been a result of being flung through the air at speed without goggles.
Last came the notorious ‘Mega Tarzan swing’. This required you to step off a 13 storey high suspension bridge, freefalling for a couple seconds before a massive pendulum swing. I screamed so hysterically; I’m too embarrassed to post my video. Instead you can watch Brayden…who didn’t make a peep.
Just a couple hours after zip lining and with adrenalin still pulsing through our veins, we signed up for a couple hours quad biking through the forest. Due to the rain the track was mud of the gooiest variety. We had the best fun zigzagging through trees and zooming down hills, but best of all was our quad bike mud fight. If you time it right, you can drive through a puddle and shower fellow drivers from head to toe in mud. We had a few wins…but also many losses. By the end of it I was picking mud out of teeth (literally!).
The other grand activity we did in Monteverde was a night walk through the rainforest. We assembled at 5:30pm, just as the creatures were waking up and handed a flashlight. For the next two hours we wondered through the national park admiring tarantulas, frogs, insects, porcupines, armadillos and racoons. I made the mistake of being too eager to see a sloth, so of course we missed out. Curse you Murphy!
WARNING! The following scenes are rated R18+. They contain strong sex scenes and are not recommended for a younger audience.
— Insect passion.
— A sticky situation....
It was a case of one charming town to another when we arrived in La Fortuna. Like Monteverde, the town is full of things to do but with the added attraction of a volcano. Volcan Arenal is said to be “sleeping” but for safety reasons you are only allowed to hike around the base. We weren’t in a hiking mood so instead opted for a soak in some geothermal hot springs.
— Volcan Arenal is notoriously shy, you need a really clear day to see it. This is the best we got.
— There are many hot spring in the area. We went to Los Lagos because it was the cheapest and had a butterfly garden.
— Butterflies at the Los Lagos hot springs.
— Brayden the butterfly whisperer! He managed to hold an iridescent Blue Morpho.
Walking distance from the town is the majestic La Fortuna Waterfall. Unlike the hot springs we visited a day earlier, the water here is arctic. But when the setting is this beautiful, how can you resist? It was like swimming in the Garden of Eden.
On the way back from the waterfall we witnessed a battle unlike anything we've seen. Taking place inside what looked like a bullfighting ring was the battle of the marching bands. We grooved along in the grandstands as a stampede of rhythmic young people burst through the gate, giving it their all. Wow!
— Teams had about five minutes to impress the judges.
Next stop, the capital San Jose then on to the Pacific coast for some beach bumming.