We’ve all heard about the rain forest, but what about the cloud forest? This is the THE place to see it!
After spending several days drenched in sticky humidity at sea level, I took a taxi, then a boat, and then another taxi to reach the “green hill,” Monteverde. It was significantly drier and cooler, but no matter how you get there, it is an adventure. The roads are terrible. You will drive over potholes for miles on the unpaved surface. Someone told me it is to keep out tourists, but I don’t think it’s really working because this is a “must-stop” for tour groups.
The town is charming. The main drag of Santa Elena is a triangle that takes eight minutes max to walk where there are plenty of eateries and places to stay. For breakfast, I frequented a local bakery with cheap and delicious pastries. I don’t know the name, but it’s the only one. My breakfast (with coffee) was less than $2. Good deal!
For dinner I got suckered into a tourist spot, but it was just SO cool! The Tree House Restaurante & Café was exactly that: a restaurant built into a giant tree! The food was a bit expensive for my budget and good, not great, but the atmosphere was unbeatable. Plus how many times will you get the chance to eat in a Tree House?
After dinner locals recommended a karaoke bar (or maybe it was just one the night I was there) called Amigos where I heard one of the most epic renditions of “Born To Be Wild.” Catch a clip in my video. I also danced with some of the locals, flipping and spinning across the floor. Fun night with cheap beer!
I chose budget friendly accommodations and honestly it is one of the coolest hostels in which I’ve stayed! The Monteverde Hostel Lodge is at the base of the cloud forest. There is a large common room with a bar (although nobody was frequenting it when I was there). It is a great area to meet people if you are traveling solo or check your email because it is also the only place that has Wi-Fi.
The cool part is the walk to the rooms. You have to take a suspension bridge from one building to another! There is a wonderful porch swing outside, which I sat in and enjoyed reading my book one night. You feel like you are in a cabin in the cloud forest, but have lights and a bathroom! My room ran about $13 a night. I was in a six person dorm, but there were only two of us, which was an unexpected treat.
Walking around Santa Elena was easy. There are signs for butterfly and frog exhibits, chocolate and coffee tours, and I stumbled upon the Ecological Sanctuary. It was a very moderate-easy hike in the woods with breathtaking overlooks. I didn’t see any wonderful birds or sloths hiking without a guide, but did get pretty close to a white-nosed coati, which looks like a combo of a raccoon and anteater. You can see just how close in the video!
I also took the time to do some adventure tours. I went on a night walk with SkyTrek to learn more about the cloud forest and its inhabitants. We boarded a Sky Tram to go up to the mountain’s highest point at dusk. Keep in mind it is windy and very wet, which is understandable because we literally ascended into the clouds! I recommend packing a poncho. Other travelers spent $100 easy on a fancy rain jacket when my $2 poncho from CVS worked better!
We dried off with some hot chocolate before starting our night walk. Unfortunately we didn’t see any exotic cats or other big animals, but did learn a lot about the vegetation and insects. We also walked across very long and high suspension bridges. If you are afraid of heights, you may prefer to do this at night where you can’t see how high up you are.
I also went ziplining with Adventura! What a rush!
The tour begins with a few easy ones, but you eventually make it to the longest zipline in Latin America at 1590 meters. It is called the Superman because you stretch out your arms and legs out like you are flying. I was so nervous; you can hear me talking to myself on the GoPro so I didn’t freak out. You also hear a lot of screaming and some swear words. Sorry about that!
The final ride is the Tarzan Swing. Watching the video of my jump first hand still freaks me out. I can’t believe I did that! You walk the plank and then step out onto nothing. It is such a sharp fall that it literally knocked my scream out of me!
Overall Monteverde is a bit touristy, but I still loved it. You can get in touch with nature, relax, or do some crazy tours.
Monteverde Hostel Lodge
75 mts oeste del Banco Popular,
Monte Verde, Costa Rica
+506 2645 5989
Monteverde, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
+506 2645 5869