19 April 2013

Monteverde: I've Looked at Clouds from Both Sides Now

When you're staying in Monteverde, most of the activities are in or near one of the cloud forests. The two largest are the Monteverde reserve and the Santa Elena reserve, but I still haven't worked out which is which, especially given the two "towns" of Monteverde and Santa Elena are next-door neighbours, and neither consists of anything more than a few unpaved roads on the hilltop, with a handful of sodas, touristy shops and hotels.

This morning, we did the adventure portion of the cloud forest exploration: a zipline tour over and through the forest canopy, followed by a hike, partly on a series of bridges that hang over the canopy, in the forest. Several companies offer numerous variations on an adventurous theme, but we decided to go with Selvatura. Although they don't offer a "fly like Superman" zipline, online reviews seemed to suggest this was a bit gimmicky and that the better experience overall was with Selvatura. At $70 for both activities, it isn't exactly cheap, but it's one of those must-do experiences when in this area.

The zipline tour consisted of lines between 13 platforms, of various lengths and inclines. The most fun ones were those that allow you to soar over the canopy. The grand finale is 1 km long and takes you right through the middle of a thick white cloud. I couldn't take photos on the actual ziplines, but that's probably for the best because it's a breathtaking experience, and definitely one to be savoured.

Between the last two lines is an optional Tarzan swing, where you jump from a platform and swing between the trees clutching onto a rope (held in place via various harnesses, of course). The swing wasn't as high as at some of the other companies, but more than high enough to get a hell of an adrenaline rush.

After the ziplining, the walk through the forest and the hanging bridges was a bit of an anticlimax. It was still a beautiful, peaceful place to walk, though, and the views across the canopy were very impressive. We managed to spot a few critters, including some monkeys, assorted butterflies (including a see-through one) and various birds, including hummingbirds and the guan. We are hoping our night hike this evening will give us a better chance of spotting some more furry creatures.

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