What to expect and things to do at Monteverde Cloud Forest

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Fonda Vela Hotel at Monteverde Cloud Forest

You can view more pictures related to this article on The Costa Rica Star Facebook page. If you would like the author of this article, Rey Waters, to come to your Hotel in Costa Rica to write a review and take HD pictures, contact us.

Yesterday we had the early breakfast buffet at the Best Western Jaco and then went for check out. A van picked us up at 8:45 for our trip to Monteverde. About 60 km north on highway 34 we stopped at a rest area where the passengers were to board vans for various locations throughout Costa Rica. While there, we took pictures of several colorful Macaws entertaining the tourists.
Our assigned van loaded us up and after about 30 km, the nice smooth paved road ended. For the next two hours our teeth rattled, bodies bounced from side to side up and down. Wow! What a ride. As we climbed the mountains, the scenery changed from tropical to cloud forest. On narrow pot holed filled roads, we held our breath each time the driver passed another vehicle, while just missing the oncoming traffic.
We finally came to the small town of Santa Elena, the driver began dropping off passengers at the various resorts. Ours was the last stop, Fonda Vela. Since this was the start of the off-season, they upgraded us to a very nice suite. Fonda Vela is located about 4 km from Santa Elena and was the least expensive lodging of our entire trip. The staff was very efficient and made our stay very memorable. The front desk clerk was a Quaker and had won a scholarship to a Quaker University in Indiana. He shared many interesting stories during our time at the resort.
It was 1:30 in the afternoon and we were very hungry. Being walkers, we decided to head back towards town. After a couple km’s we found Stella’s bakery for lunch. (See Stella’s article published July 3, 2012) Another 2 km’s and we reached Santa Elena for some shopping. This is where we discovered feather art with a rare bird or other symbol of Costa Rica painted onto feathers. The prices are reasonable and make a great gift to take back home.

 The normal late afternoon rain began, which required taking a taxi back to the hotel. The resort offered a complimentary rum fruit drink at the pool. Upon entering the pool area, we discovered a couple of Jacuzzi’s, which we sat in to revitalize our weary bodies. That evening we ate at the hotel restaurant, pasta and beer. The bar tender turned out to be the husband of one of the bakers at Stella’s. We had a nice conversation while enjoying our candle lit dinner.
It was dark in our room, so we left the bathroom light on, big mistake. Early in the morning, we entered the bathroom and discovered the entire floor covered with hundreds of bugs. They came through the window screen attracted by the light. It took twenty minutes to clean up the mess and it was a lesson learned for the rest of the trip.

Monday 8:45 A.M., a tour van picked us for our Sky Adventures at the Monteverde cloud forest. Upon arrival, we found out that our prepaid tour was not correct. In order to compensate for the mistake, they gave us our own private tour guide, free lunch and free entrance into the Serpentarium in Santa Elena.

Daniel our guide was from the area and again we had a “you are lucky” tour. On the tram to the top of the forest, Daniel pointed out the bromeliad flora growing in the high trees. The flower retains water so the Blue Jeans frog takes her eggs from the river high up into the trees and places them in the Bromeliad. When the frogs grow out of being tadpoles they climb back down the tree to the river.

As we started our Sky Walk tour through the cloud forest, we came upon a nest of collard redstart birds. They are a type of warbler with a little red patch on their heads. We photographed many of the over 1500 varieties of Costa Rican orchids. Some so small you need a magnifying glass to see them. The U.S. is one of the largest importers of Costa Rican orchids.

We passed a regular tour of about 10 people all making noise and not noticing any of the beautiful life right before their eyes. Lucky us, as we quietly advanced across our third sky bridge there was an unusual sound up in a distant tree, a beautiful resplendent Quetzal (pictured above). The tail feathers looked to be over 18 inches long. Daniel told us that he has given weeklong tours specifically tailored to find this elusive bird that have come up empty. Once across the bridge and around a corner we spotted two more Quetzals. They were spitting up avocado seeds. There are very small avocados, about the size of my little finger that the Quetzals eat and then regurgitate the seeds. Another bridge and we came upon the “Hot Lips” flower. Almost every step we took Daniel pointed out a bird, reptile, flower etc.

When we saw a spider hole, he told us about the tarantula hawk wasp that stings a tarantula while planting eggs into its back. As the baby wasp grow, they eat the spider from inside until there is nothing left but a dead carcass.

After the tour ended, we had our free lunch at the cloud forest restaurant and then took a hike through the hummingbird trail.
Our tour van took us to the Serpentarium in Santa Elena. There are 139 different snakes in Costa Rica of which 24 are poisonous. It was feeding time for the boas and I watched as they quickly attacked some very large white rats. Miwa would not participate and when I took pictures, she loaded them into a do not look file on her laptop.

For dinner, we walked a few km to Tramonti Italian restaurant, the most popular in Monteverde. We did not have reservations and the only table available was at the entrance to the restrooms. We had a pizza, beer and wine. It was okay, but not worth all the recommendations that we received for this restaurant. The locals assume that if you are a gringo, then you want to eat at the high priced places, which for us was not the case. We have found that the hotels and local Tico restaurants are where to find the best tasting, reasonably priced food and service.

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