Costa Rica: N P & T F

Day 7 - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - Monteverde Cloud Forest; Optional Forest Canopy Ride; Lunch in Santa Elena; Optional World of Butterflies & Bats Tour

Our legs were fresh this morning and we wanted the exercise so we walked to the restaurant. Vic had more opportunities to take photos of this beautiful area with morning light.

After breakfast, we left at 8:00 for the Optional Hanging Bridges Tour at Sky Adventures. As Eddie gave us an overview of the morning’s adventure, Vic had distinct memories of being there before.

This was the same Zip Line tour he did back in 2002. Although the company is remodeling, the layout of the restaurant and landing platform were the same. The company runs the zip line tour, a gondola, and the hanging bridges that we were going to navigate.

Located on the Santa Elena Mountain, the paths through the cloud forest were in good shape as it had not rained heavily for days. Eddie drew a map in the dirt to help us find our position in relation to Monteverde where we were yesterday.

This 920 hectare preserve does not belong to the Quakers, but to nine farmers who formed a partnership to preserve portions of their land. The activities concessions and the condition of the cloud forest are closely monitored by the National Park System for any abuse of the land.

We moved from trail to trail and over the five suspension bridges that spanned the gallery forest that 50 years ago was pasture for grazing cattle. Then we traveled into the secondary forest and finally to the primary forest; the original that had never been cut.

The bridges were very sturdy and in excellent condition so there was no worry even though we were hundreds of feet above the forest floor. Gennie found it best not look down, but to gaze out on to the lush canopy top and far horizons.

As we passed trees and shrubs, Eddie gave us so much information about the cooperative efforts of the plants, mammals, insects, and the birds of this habitat. One particularly interesting one was about the symbiotic relationship between the Cecropia Tree, sloths, ants, and moths.

An unbelievable sighting was an Emerald Toucanet that was camouflaged so carefully in the trees. With Eddie’s eyes to see it and with Vic’s camera, we were able to capture the image of this beautiful bird.

When we came out of the forest at 11:00 we were offered a fruit drink and a sugar cookie. Samy picked us up to drive to Santa Elena for a light lunch. We ate at the Tree House and we were very happy with our sandwich and salad.

After lunch we drove out of town and stopped at the post office to buy stamps and mail post cards. A few minutes later we were on our way to the Monteverde Cheese Factory.

Through large windows we could see all of the equipment that was used this morning in the production of Quaker cheese. Where we stood was the original small barn once used to process the milk and make the cheese. By this means the Quakers became successful in 1951.

Now the factory produces cheese, ice cream, butter, and yogurt. There is a small concession area that allows visitors a chance to buy the products. Eddie treated all of us to a bowl or cone of ice cream. It was excellent!

Our next stop was the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens. We met Bryna, our guide and the new owner of the property. She gave us an explanation of the scorpions, tarantulas, beetles, and praying mantis in glass cages before we started into the four butterfly habitats.

The highlight was seeing the many Blue Morphos which are brown with seven eye-like circles on the bottom portion of the wings with brilliant iridescent blue scales on the top. Many of the butterflies like the Morphos were very skittersish and did not want to sit still for a photograph.

The last stop of the day was the Bat Jungle. Vino, our Belgian guide, talked about bats and the misconceptions that people have about the dangers bats are to humans. Instead, bats eat over thousands of insects each night and everyone should work to preserve these species.

Vino also warned us that there are many concerns with a white-nose fungus that is killing large populations of bats all over the United States. After learning about the bats we were taken into a darkened room where over 100 native Costa Rican bats are housed.

With special listening equipment that amplified the sound, we were able to hear the calls made by these flying mammals and watch them feed. We stood behind the glass of their environment as Vino used a flash light to point out the various species.

After we had seen the bats, we went upstairs to be treated to wine, juice, or iced tea along with empanadas. While we were going up the stairs, Eddie spotted a Blue Crowned Mot Mot, not as rare but a stunning species.

The owner, a gentleman from Boston, gave us samples of the specialty candies made in their Chocolate Factory. We left the Bat Jungle at 5:00 and by 5:30 we were back at the hotel.

Dinner was on our own but after all of the eating we had done today, we opted to come back to the room, relax, and begin the journal and the photos.

Tomorrow is a travel day so it will be an early morning with our bags out at 7:00am.

Accommodations: El Establo Mountain Resort --- Meal: B

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I could really identify with the statement above: "With special listening equipment to amplify the sound, I could hear the old bat." Sorry Carolyn!

David Barrett   December 20, 2012 - 1:27pm
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Title: Butterflies and Butterflies, The Monteverde Butterfly Gardens, Costa Rica

Title: Butterflies and Butterflies, The Monteverde Butterfly Gardens, Costa Rica (0:51)

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El Establo Mountain Resort

El Establo Mountain Resort

Hanging Bridges

Hanging Bridges

Emerald Toucanet

Emerald Toucanet

Bat Jungle

Bat Jungle

Blue Crowned Mot Mot

Blue Crowned Mot Mot

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