Costa Rica | Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve


monteverde, costa rica, monteverde cloud forest reserveI was not a “hiking person” before I met Kail — at least, I didn’t know I was. Turns out, I love a good hike. Trudging through the rain, up a rocky volcano, across a lava field — you name it. Hiking in Costa Rica‘s beautiful Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve was no exception. There is something very peaceful — almost eery — about walking in clouds in such a pristine place. monteverde, costa rica, monteverde cloud forest reserveDefinitely a cloud forest!You might recall that Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is not the first cloud forest I’ve visited. But it’s definitely the largest, with nearly 10,000 acres serving as a home to more than 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, 120 types of amphibians and reptiles, tens of thousands of insects and 3,000 plants.monteverde, costa rica, monteverde cloud forest reserveThis is actually a dead bug infected with a “zombie fungus,” which kills its host, then “takes over” and controls its movements. Creepy!The town of Monteverde was founded in 1951, when a group of about 40 Quakers — dissatisfied with the U.S. involvement in the Korean War — sought a new home. Since Costa Rica had abolished its military a couple years earlier after its civil war, it made the perfect new home for this group. Ironically, the Quakers were among the first threats to the natural ecosystem of Monteverde, including the building of a gourmet cheese factory. They quickly became the cloud forest’s most ardent protectors and in 1972 helped cofound the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.monteverde, costa rica, monteverde cloud forest reserveGood thing they did, too!Only 3 percent of the Reserve’s territory is actually open to visitors; the rest is under strict protection for preservation and research. Kail and I spent the morning of our first full day in Monteverde exploring as much of that 3 percent as we could. I had booked us in advance for a 7:30 a.m. “natural history walk,” a guided tour led by a member of one of the original Quaker families to settle in Monteverde, Ricardo Guindon.monteverde, costa rica, monteverde cloud forest reserveRicardo was an excellent guide and extremely knowledgeable, having grown up in the cloud forest. He identified lots of different plants, animals, insects and birds — including a quetzal, which has a beautiful long, green tail (and is incidentally the national bird of Guatemala). We also saw some spider monkeys and a long-tailed weasel. This tour lasted about two and a half hours, covering a small portion of the Reserve’s trails.monteverde, costa rica, monteverde cloud forest reserveThe GoPro makes selfies much more manageable.After the natural history walk, we struck out on our own to explore some of the park’s other trails. We hiked to the hanging bride (pictured above) and then over to the Continental Divide, where water flows to the Pacific on one side and the Caribbean on the other. There were a lot of lookout points on the trail leading up to (and at) the Continental Divide, but unfortunately — due to the fact that Monteverde is indeed a cloud forest — you couldn’t see a thing.You can see just how cloudy/foggy it is in this video: more photos from Monteverde.Do you like hiking?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

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