Costa Rica: N P & T F

Day 6 - Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - Monteverde Cloud Forest; Nature Walk; Optional Tree Top Canopy Tour

When we woke up this morning, we knew we were at a higher altitude. The temperature was 62° and the humidity was 85%. We caught the Samy Shuttle to breakfast at 6:50. Vic jumped off at the Reception Office to deliver our laundry and then we enjoyed a wide variety of choices for breakfast.

By 7:45 everyone was ready for our Learning and Discovery in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. On the way we passed a man driving an ox cart carrying large cans of milk to the creamery or the cheese factory.

We began our trek through the cloud forest with Eddie as our personal guide. Immediately out of the bus, Eddie spotted an orange breasted togon. He also took time to tell us about the initiative of the Quakers to conserve this area of their land in Costa Rica.

Originally the Quakers were sold what was thought to be the worst pieces of land as not many crops could be raised. When the new settlers raised dairy cattle, made cheese, butter, and other milk products they were able to buy up more and more land.

Of each parcel they bought, they dedicated a portion for land conservation. Before long the idea of a Biological Preserve was initiated and now they have a gold mine as they own the entire park, the concessions, and the tourist industry is very lucrative.

The 26,000-acre reserve was founded in 1972 and Eddie told us it is one of the top three biological reserves in the world for scientific research and education. The average rainfall is almost 100 inches per year, but most of the moisture comes in the form of mist.

This climate zone produces a large and diverse plant habitat, with orchids, bromeliads, ferns, moss, and lichens. Mammal, birds, amphibians, and reptiles all make Monteverde a biologist’s dream world.

We saw several varieties of hummingbirds, but the treat of the day was the Quetzal. We saw a male, a female, and a juvenile male. This is the national bird of Guatemala but unfortunately there are no Quetzals remaining in their country.

As Eddie used his scope to help us all try to see these red, blue, and green birds, Vic was able to take photos with his Cannon 60D. A young man from Amsterdam was using a 7D with a 500mm power lens. He offered to let Vic use it on his camera – and did it ever zoom! What thoughtful sharing between photo buffs!

After almost three hours that felt like thirty minutes we had to return to the park entrance for lunch at the restaurant and cafeteria that was part of the preserve. An excellent gift shop gave Gennie the opportunity to buy post cards.

As soon as we got back from the learning and discovery in the Cloud Forest, we dropped off our things and got back on the shuttle for our optional adventure – the Tree Top Canopy Tour.

Although Vic had “zipped” three times already, and Gennie had rounded up her courage twice before, the experience of gliding over the jungle canopy is always a thrill. The guys at the prep area were funny, reassuring, and very experienced in getting us geared up for our ride.

There were eleven zip lines, three rope-bridges, and a repel plunge that dropped each of us thirty feet to the ground. About midway on the 90 minute tour, Eddie had spotted another Quetzal so we climbed down to the floor of the cloud forest and got a perfect view of this magnificent bird.

We climbed back up to the next platform and continued with our Canopy Adventure. The next to the last line was a very long expanse way over the top of the forest and then on to a huge cell-phone like tower.

This was such an intimidating leap of faith; it took several people a few minutes to compose themselves. The last line brought us back to the point of origin and there was no braking at all, full speed ahead!

We got out of our harnesses and then the zip crew asked Vic to do the Tarzan Swing. After climbing several flights of steps, he was released out on an elastic rope and he swung like a pendulum into the forest. Not as thrilling as the zip lines, but still an extra attraction to try.

After thanking the guys for getting us all back in one piece and for such an exhilarating experience, we got back to the room about 4:30. The laundry was ready which was essential as we cannot to hand laundry in the wet climate.

We worked on videos, the photos, and the journal and then at 6:30 we joined Samy and Eddie for diner at a local tapas restaurant in town called Chimera. Almost the entire group went on the bus as dinner was not included this evening.

Sitting with Jan & Frank, each ordered a different tapas dish and we all shared. After another evening of good food, friends, and laughter, we returned to our room at 8:30 and finished posting the journal, vide, and photos of another spectacular day.

Accommodations: El Establo Mountain Resort --- Meal: B, L, & D

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Ahhh, the Quetzal - you are so lucky to have so many sightings!

Cheryl Vieira   December 19, 2012 - 5:06am
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Tree Top Canopy Tour, El Establo Mountain Resort. Monteverde, Costa Rica

Tree Top Canopy Tour, El Establo Mountain Resort. Monteverde, Costa Rica (1:28)

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Dairy Ox Cart

Dairy Ox Cart

Eddie and OAT Group

Eddie and OAT Group

Monteverde Cloud Forest Waterfall

Monteverde Cloud Forest Waterfall

Male Quetzal

Male Quetzal

Zip Line #10

Zip Line #10

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