Tag Archives: Rainforest

Hiking in Monteverde Cloudforest

This morning we woke up at 5:45 AM to get the 6:15 bus to Monteverde Cloud Forest.

Our first spotting was the Splendid Quetzal even before we entered the park. We had 2 couples sitting on a branch just above the souvenir shop!

However from thereon we didn’t really see much else than bugs, birds and naked monkeys, lots of different snails, A Centiped, wierd spiders and gorgeous nature.

During our 6 hours hike we only met 10 other people and…. 2 of them we met at the continental divide lookout post. Kasper and Claudia from Switzerland that we went on the Arenal Volcano Hike with.

We walked and we walked, but no freaking animals. We searched for frogs under leafs and over leafs, but found none. Untrained eyes didn’t know where to look. However, the hike and the jungle was beautiful. Drip Drip. Raindrops from the trees.

And we found a huge variety of gorgeous flowers and orchids

Once we arrived the ranger station again we had lunch at the cafeteria. That was most welcome! We were both starving from the physical activity and it was about time to eat. We had only had a little breakfast before 6 am.

Just outside the Park entrance there is another cafeteria and outside the cafeteria there is a Hummingbird feeding station. Lots and lots and lots of hummingbirds circle around the stations and they sound like small engines buzzing past your ears.

But they are sooo beautiful. Really gorgeous.

At 2pm we left the park – we were both exhausted and it was about time to go back to St Elena and relax a bit before dinner and visiting the frog Pond.

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Tortuguero National Park – Valentines Day

sunny.gifBeautiful nice weather, +25C and not one single cloud to spot.
About 90% humidity.
No wind

24125_discovery_f.jpgI woke up at 6 am and and immediately went on a frog hunt for the Strawberry poison-dart frog. Incredible creatures of the size of a finger nail painted with a red back and blue legs. Highly venomous of course but it looks GREAT on pictures. They are also called blue-jeans frogs. Inmensly proud of spotting small red things (on the size of a human finger nail) hopping around on the ground between the cut grass I took a couple of pictures before I had to head for breakfast. I showed the other ladies my pictures and after breakfast I took them to where I found the frogs and showed them too. They were also impressed by the size and wondered how I had seen them at all in the grass. Well. One fantastic thing about red things hopping around in the grass… The grass is green. and you do see red things moving in the green grass. They are extremely difficult to spot when sitting still though.

The trip on the Tortuguero River
We were picked up by our team at 8am to enter the Tortuguero National park and our first stop was at the town of Tortuguero to get our tickets. Thomas and I had already bought ours yesterday, valid for 3 days, as we tried hiking to the beach through the national park as we were exploring the town of Tortuguero, so we did not need to buy new ones now. (I also learned something then. It is not legal to enter the trails unless you have high rubber boots (both because of the possibility of meeting poisonous snakes and the wet mud in the trails. Luckily our hotel borrowed me some so I could bring them with me.
Weeee. Let the adventures begin.

It was a fantastic trip. We were taken up the Tortuguero River and entered Ca├▒o Jarol. A nice river that was amazing to tour. We got to be the lucky tourists that got in close contact with the trees hanging over the river as our tour guide, Gilber – popularly called Chito, decided to start cutting down the branches with a huge machete. Justo the driver, is nicaraguan and both of them are really nice, good tourguides.

Animals I have spotted during the day
Howler Monkeys, Caimans, Three toed sloths, Norhern racoon, lizards including the Jesus Christ Lizard, iguanas, Herons, turtles, basilisks, toucans and macaws.

250px-TortugueroBeach.jpgWhen the official program was over around 10:30am we could choose to be taken to the hotel of the village.
Thomas and I went to the village and we had our second breakfast at a bakery. Banana bread and Tres Leches. YUMMY.

After the small food stop we went to the end of the village and showed them the boots and the tickets to enter the park. We hiked up and down the paths looking for strange animals but had no greater luck on that today. We saw lots of lizards and spiders and heard a great orchestra of birds, but no really amazing strange animals.
So we decided heading out towards the Tortuguero beach and it was beautiful. We walked up the beach for about 15 minutes before entering the forest again and went back to the ranger station.

After the walk in the forest it was GREAT to take the rubber boots off and sit down and have some lunch. We both had a great heart-of-palm lasagna with fresh vegetables and lemonade. It was great. A wonderful choise. Thomas even mentioned that that particular dish is even mentioned in the Lonley planets guide to what is worth trying to eat when in Tortuguero.
At the same restaurant that we had lunch they had internet and I sat down for an hour trying to
update blog and respond to some e-mails i had recieved. Jungle called and I left internet pretty quick heading down towards the shore to find a taxi home.
Taxis in Tortuguero is a chapter of its own. They are cool !!!. They are not cars but boats !!! hehe. Taxi Jairo took me to Monkeys lodge and by this point of the trip I was pretty tired and I felt dirty being sweat, full of insect repellant and dragging around on those ugly rubber boots.

tortuguero5.jpgI was met by Mona and the 2 remaining french ladies (Paula and Jeanne) – (the other two just came for one sleep over) and they were having lunch late.

It seemed like they had been to the Nicaraguan border on a private tour that the petrol station man had given them being a friend of Mona. They had a wonderful time.

I went in and showered and Mona called Taxi Jairo so he could take me around. He showed up about 15 minutes later and took me for a private tour into one of the canals where we watched the sunset and listened to the orchestra of birds and monkeys going to bed before the nocturnal birds started their orchestra.

We saw heaps of glow-worms in the grass around the canals and although it was no date – Jairo was nice company for┬áValentines day.

Though, the dude had to continue working and he left me at the hotel at 7pm so I could have dinner with the other ladies. We had a great dinner with chicken. We stopped in the bar for a little while and I must admit I went early to bed tonight as well. Exhausted but content !

Tortuguero National Park – Day 1

sunny.gifBeautiful weather. No complaints. Almost the same temperatures as in Liberia (+28C) but with 94% humidity it feels a lot hotter.

I got up at 5:20am to get ready for the BIG day. I had ordered a trip with Jungle Tom Safaris to go to the Jungle for 3 days. I went down to pick up place and was there at 6am and waited for the bus.

Outside the hotel I started speaking to Thomas from Germany. It shows he was going for the same trip and we talked a lot before we were picked up at Hotel Aurola Holiday Inn in San Jose. The bus was supposed to be there at 6:20 but did not get there until 7am. On the bus there were about 9 other travellers. Amongst them norwegian Hanne that I spent the whole morning talking to.

There was also 4 french ladies and some gringos. We headed out from San Jose towards the caribbean and first amazing view we got was driving through the Braulio Carrillo National park. I need to go back there. The view was great and the national park is also where the first Jurassic Park movie was filmed. We drove past the river that shows in the movie where there is one river arm, coming down from the Irazu volcano, that is all yellow, while the other river arm is green.

The yellow river that comes down from Irazu is dirty and full of sulfur and volcanic dirt. The other river that is green is fresh and alive.

We had breakfast in Guapiles, a nice traditional rice and beans breakfast with egg. I was lucky and sat next to Hanne, the norwegian girl and we started speaking. It was so relieving (but also difficult in the beginning) to speak my language after having spoken almost only spanish for 2,5 months.

After breakfast we headed towards Sarapiqui where we stopped to check out the “Del Monte” Banana plantation, where we got to see how they sort and pack bananas that go to the local market and for exportation.We also got to see a strange beetle with horns. It has a kind of a furry, brown coloured shell. From there we drove past the Earth University that is the most expensive University in Costa Rica.

We arrived Cano Blanco around 10:30 to abandon our bus and embark on the most exciting part of this tour: The boat trip into the jungle on the CARIBBEAN CANALS to the world famous TORTUGUERO NATIONAL PARK.

Covering 1.800 hectares, TORTUGUERO is a coastal park situated on a flood plain and it is one of the most important nesting sites for Chelonia midas, the green sea turtle, whereas its forests and waterways are home for such endangered mammals as sloths, monkeys, agoutis, coati mundis and manatees. There are also abundant birds, such as toucans, trogons, egrets, herons and anbingas, as well as crocodiles, turtles and countless colorfull butterflies, including the beautiful blue morpho and the boat trip offers a chance to see many of these rare animals up close.

We were taken up the Reventazon river and after a boat trip for about 40 minutes we changed boat and left the day-trippers behind before the stay overs was taken over an hour further into the jungle to our hotel close to Tortuguero village. We left Thomas at his hotel and the 2 gringos at theirs. The 4 french ladies and I were left at Monkeys Lodge that is located just 50 meters away from Evergreen Hotel where we are going to have all our meals. We were welcomed by a very nice and hearty lady Rosemary, also known as “MONA”. She took us around to show us the property and our rooms before she took us over to Evergreen to use the swimmingpool and have some lunch. Delicious food in tropical surroundings. Weee. I like it here.

torguguerotown.jpgI had a shower before I sprayed myself with the perfume of the caribbean (Insect repellant) to avoid being the popular girl with the sweet blood. Then I went down to the shore where the other ladies were waiting. Mona introduced us to Tosty – the domesticated Caiman – and at 3pm we were picked up by our tour guide and the other tourists to go to the town of Tortuguero. We were taken to the visitors center to watch a movie from 1996 witch in the end noone wanted to see before we were taken straight to the beach to see turtle nests (even turtle season is between july and october). Then we walked around in the tiny town that is no longer than 700 meters with houses on both sides of a walk-way before heading to the beach again.
We had a meeting hour at 5pm to be picked up and I got some souvenirs in the only souvenir shop in town.

At the hotel we got ready for dinner by waiting in the bar. Drinking umbrella drinks and beer and chatting to the bartender watching the american tourists dance merengue with their guides. hehe. Some sight. Fantastic. Dinner was at 7pm and we had delicious Fish with mashed potatoes and lots of fresh vegetables. We had one more drink after dinner and then walked through the pitch dark path back to our hotel with no torches. EEEK.
The frenchies stayed outside of their rooms on the veranda for a while but I was far to popular even due to the insect repellant to wanna stay out. I got to bed instead. Exhausted from all the interesting experiences of the day !

Amazing Monteverde Cloudforest

cloudy.gifI have been up in the clouds so it has been cloudy and misty rain all day. Temperatures has been down to +16C and we have had wind.

I have spent my first night at a hostel at Pension Santa Elena in Santa Elena close to Monteverde. It was actually a pretty great experience and I might continue doing this a while.

Entering the Cloud forest
I got up at 5:30 and got ready to go to Monteverde Cloud forest reserve with the bus at 6am. I am SOOOO happy I made the sandwitches yesterday and that all I had to do today was taking them out of the fridge. Tired? yes ! But.. the whole idea about going at this hour is to possibly see the animals that most probably will be seen in the morning due to high visits that kinda scare them away.
Barbara could not go today so I went up and got the bus by myself. Well, not entirely by myself. There was always the busdriver and a lady with a kid and Simon and Kate from England that I got to know.

The park did not open until 7am though and we had to wait on a bench up there. It was really misty and everything was wet. Wonderful sounds of the wildlife already at this point at the ranger station. Lots of strange birds to be spotted and as we got closer to 7am a lot of tourists as well. We went to hire a guide and pay the entrances to the park and the tour did not start until 7:30. We were a small group of 8 and we were shown a small video of the forest before we started our tour. Our first visit was at the Hummingbird garden close by. The hummingbirds are amazing creatures and they sound like small jet planes sirkeling around your head. Or small motorbikes. Also, the smallest hummingbird is the one that makes most sound.

mv308.jpgEntering the forest trails we noticed the sensation of the sounds of the forest. GOD that is amazing. Birds singing and Howler monkeys doing their howling and the dripping of the constant rain. The guide told us that it is normal to have 10 METERS of rain a year in Monteverde area.

Monteverde also has 4000 plant/tree species within its tiny areas while in comparison ALL of Europe has 12 000 species. The first 10 minutes of the path we walked in secondary forest before entering the primary forest also known as virgin forest.
We managed to spot the famous Quetzal (Guatemalas national bird) and the Orange-bellied Trogon that is a very close relative. We also spotted a lot of other birds and even a sloth.

The misty sensation of the constant dripping was amazing, but the guided tour ended around 10 am. Kate, Simon, an english lady living in spain and I had lunch and then we headed into another trail in the forest, El Camino.
It is, apparently, the oldest trail they have and also the most open one.
During our walk we headed into another trail, the Wilford Guindon Trail, to enter a hanging bridge in the forest. Amazing.

At this point the english lady went back to the ranger station and Simon, Kate and I continued by ourself. We did not exactly walk fast because there was too much to see and explore. The Wilford Guindon Trail meets up with El Camino Path after about 1 km and we continued on our orignial path leading us to the Penas Blancas Valley that is also the continental divide point.
IF it would have been a clear day we could have seen both the caribbean and the pacific coast from there. The vegetation at this point was called “bosque enano” – dwarf forest – because of all the wind the trees dont grow tall like in more protected areas. There was a sign explaining that the velocity of the winds often reaches between 80-150 kms/hour. THAT is fast.

Heading back we chose the “bosque nuboso” (the cloudforest) trail. It was about 2,5 km long and amazing. We were all just SOOO impressed by the dripping sensation from the forest and beeing in the clouds that we walked around taking pictures of everything and trying to capture our every little memory.
See the trail map here

When we got back to the ranger station we had something more to eat and then suddenly a Coati shows up and starts begging food. He even seemed to like to being taken pictures of. He went up on to legs and even jumped up on the lunch table at a point. The guards told us he had stolen a purse last week and taken it high up in a tree and one of the rangers had to climb up in the tree to get it back for the lady. hehe. I would have liked to see that !!

The bus back to the hostel left at 3:50pm and we had time to visit the hummingbird garden before we left. At the hostel I met up with Barbara and we ordered a guided nightwalk tour for the night.

The Twilight walk at The Childrens eternal rainforest
At 5p, we were picked up by a minibus to go to The Childrens Eternal Rainforest to do a Twilight Night walk.
Man that was amazing. The bus left us at the entrance and the group had to hike about 5 minutes before getting to the ranger station where we were divided in smaller groups and given a tour guide and the proper equipment for a night walk. Flash lights !

We stayed at the ranger station to watch the sunset and then entered the “Bajo del Tigre trails” trying to be very quiet. The forest was coming alive. Man, what a beautiful choir !
The light disappeared very quick and the flashlights were very necessary. It was almost impossible to see anything. Good thing our guide knew what to look for. We saw tiny frogs not even the size of the thumbnail on a 10 year old, Tarantulas, sleeping toucans, funnelweb spiders, bats and lots of other big and small insects. Though we did not see the snakes (luckily) nor monkeys, sloths or cats. One of the other groups spotted sloths.

It was an amazing experience to walk through the forest at night. But I must admit I would have been scared to do it by myself… hehe.

We were taken back to the hostel at 7:45pm and barely managed to get into the foodstore that closed at 8pm to get more food to make the sandwitches for tomorrows lunch. I was so tired I had 2 cans of Tuna for dinner and then headed for the room and went to bed before 10pm.

Listen to sounds from the Cloud Forest in this link