Monteverde, Costa Rica

3 nights in the cloud forests

La Fortuna to Monteverde

Because of my recent sickness, and so we could spend more time in our plush hotel, we opted out of our Interbus transfer. The transfer would have been a 5 hour bus trip around Lake Arenal, followed by a winding up-n-down drive along some of Costa Rica’s worst roads; unpaved and pot-holed, through mountains. To minimise travel Samantha switched us to a bus-boat-bus transfer, paying a bit more, but shortening the journey and taking a boat across Lake Arenal; I could at least see the volcano from a different angle. This also gave Samantha time to use Casa Luna’s spa.

We left at 2pm, and the 60km journey took 3 hours. From Casa Luna we drove through town, where a group of tourists were gathered around a flag pole taking pictures; a 3 toed sloth had got very confused. The bus dropped us off at the north-eastern edge of Lake Arenal, and we boarded our boat, bags piled up at the front. A black Anhinga (American Darter) stretched its wings on the bank, and the grey overcast skies descended on the peak of the volcano.

Anhinga drying off after a swim. Note its large webbed feet.
Anhinga drying off after a swim. Note its large webbed feet.

The boat dropped us near Rio Chiquito, and after carrying bags up a muddy hillside, we were on our way again. This was the difficult bit, a journey that could be described as a back massage; horrible unpaved pot-holed roads that can swallow a car. In the brief moments that the minibus stopped rumbling, we could look out on the gorgeous late afternoon views – the hills and the valleys are spectacular. My mind was focused on getting to the hotel and taking a nap.

Los Cipreses

We were staying in the relatively simple Los Cipreses, situated just outside of Santa Elena town, a 5 minute downhill walk. The hotel backed onto the road, there are some small gardens and a room for breakfast; it’s not open in the day and doesn’t serve food in the evening. Breakfast was ok – but for a delicate tummy there wasn’t much choice, we bought cereal from town and that did the job; I couldn’t face gallo pinto.

Our room was wood-panelled with a comfortable double bed and large windows on either side; you could see straight through. It’s cooler here in Monteverde, so we didn’t need aircon or a ceiling fan. Hot water takes a little time to arrive for the shower, but it’s all solar powered.

Our room at Los Cipreses
Our room at Los Cipreses

High above the bed was a TV, and breaking our holiday rules one more time, we relaxed that night with pizza from Bon Appetit and watched Disney’s Frozen, before falling asleep.

The rain in Monteverde

We opened our curtains the next morning to see a dazzling low rainbow filling the sky. But there were no clouds and no rain. Monteverde doesn’t need rain to have rainbows. The weather here in Santa Elena is peculiar. The only place where we’ve ever encountered rain and clear blue skies – not a cloud in sight – the same was true at night, we’d be staring up, stargazing, admiring the constellations, and it’d be raining on us.

Rainbows in Monteverde don’t need clouds
Rainbows in Monteverde don’t need clouds

Higher up the hill, not ten minutes drive, the forests are covered in dense cloud and it’s cooler. Here it’s hot and the moisture drifts down, hugging the ground, creating stealthy rain, rain you don’t see coming, rain that lasts a few moments and then disappears again. It’s sort of magical.

Quetzals, bellbirds and zip-lining →