costa rica 2007 - santa elena / monteverde | The Life of K: costa rica 2007 - santa elena / monteverde

Sunday, March 25, 2007

costa rica 2007 - santa elena / monteverde

day 5 - tamarindo to monteverde / santa elena, the monteverde / santa elena part of the day

the grayline bus picked us up at our hotel. the first bit of the drive was fine. it was pretty flat and the rest stop was nice enough. we switched buses for the last leg of the trip and turns out it was only the two of us and the two girls i had met on the beach two days previously on this bus. odd how these things work out.

what we hadn't considered was that this last 39 km was all in the mountains. mountains make for a very long trip. you have to go up and you have to go down. and back and forth and back and forth. those 39 km took us almost 4 hours. we saw an amazing sunset but we were cold and tired and jolted and we didn't know ahead of time how long the trip was so we weren't exactly prepared for the 5 hours it took. (we will now know to inquire about the length of a trip before heading out.)

we arrived in santa elena and were dropped off at our hotel, hotel don taco (apparently some mob reference that j knows that i don't) and turns out the two girls were staying there too. it was raining - the first time we'd seen rain since arriving - and it was cold. it's all relative because 20 C felt cold. but it was damp and not at all like the tropical paradise we'd left.

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santa elena and monteverde are basically the same place, but different mountains. we stayed in santa elena but did things in both places since they were so close.

day 6

we woke up early and found ourselves a shuttle to the santa elena reserve from downtown. the drive was pretty twisty and bumpy. the whole area has purposefully left its roads unpaved to deter tourists. it was only about a 20 minute drive but there was a super annoying american who would not shut up. this guy's wife was "sick" and staying at the hotel where they were staying. i think she was taking a breather from her annoying husband. we got to the park and ran off so we could get away from this guy. he was THAT annoying.

the santa elena reserve is a cloud forest and was very cool and damp and sounded like a million faucets were dripping. it was very peaceful and quiet. (apparently, the monteverde cloud forest reserve is the main tourist attraction in the area and is crowded and busy and loud and good luck seeing any wildlife, so we chose to skip that one.)

Santa Elena, Costa Rica  195_9589 (Medium)

we didn't see much wildlife but we had a good two hour hike and avoided our american friend. we caught a shuttle back into town where we had lunch and decided to go to the butterfly farm.

there are tons of butterflies in costa rica and the butterfly farm had lots of insects that j was able to hold (i didn't but i'm not regretting this at all). he got to hold a tarantula and adult and baby cockroaches and a whip-tailed scorpion.

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Monteverde, Costa Rica  196_9640 (Medium)

the babies were on the under side of his hand.

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if you have questions about how any of these creatures felt to hold, you will have to ask j next time you see him. the guided butterfly garden then took us through 4 enclosures that represented the 4 major habitats in the country. it was really neat.

Monteverde, Costa Rica  196_9675 (Medium)

on our way back to town we stopped at the monteverde serpentario. we saw lots of snakes but my favourite was the turtle cage:

Monteverde, Costa Rica  196_9697 (Medium)

we took it easy the rest of the day and even tried to do laundry in the sink. too bad santa elena was so damp our clothes hardly dried. but really, we wore the same thing every day because we didn't have a whole lot of warm clothing to choose from.

day 7

today is the day for hanging bridges and canopy zip lines! we were up early to catch the shuttle up the mountain. the hanging bridge tour was first. our guide was great and we were able to see lots of wildlife.

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and at one point we got to climb up the middle of a fig tree.

Day 057 February 22  Santa Elena, Costa Rica  197_9756 (Medium)

then it was down the mountain a bit to the zip line place. we had to wait for a bit, but then got all geared up and were zipping in the canopy after a quick safety lesson.

Santa Elena, Costa Rica  167_6759 (Medium)

we were with some very nice people thankfully because at one point i was so scared. there's a tarzan swing and apparently this scared the crap out of me and i was shaking really badly. you had to climb up a bunch of stairs to a platform with a gate. they hook you onto this super long rope and then shove you off the platform (i say shove, but the guides were all very nice and very good at putting people at ease). i almost turned back and went down the steps but i went and i screamed the whole time. there were probably 15 zip lines, the last one we had to go together and it lasted a couple of minutes. it was incredible.

we spent the rest of the day talking about how much fun the zip line tour was and thinking about where to go next.

day 8

we decided to visit the frog pond. our guide was very knowledgable and funny. he was able to point out all sorts of frogs that i'm sure we wouldn't have been able to find without him. we saw some big ones, some poisonous ones and some very bright ones (tricked you! poisonous ones and almost always bright.. to advertise their posion).

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we booked our transportation to our next destination, la fortuna, at the hotel and then headed out for our night hike. this was one of the creepier things we did because we got to see tarantulas in the wild.

Day 058 February 23  Monteverde, Costa Rica  197_9793 (Medium)

we also learned about banana plants (did you know they are a hybrid and were developed to fruit only once and then die? shoots come off the plant and that becomes a new plant. there are no seeds and no fertilization) and birds that sleep in the banana bunches and saw a sloth!

after the night hike, we stopped at the frog pond again. our tickets were good to another visit and they recommend coming back at night when the frogs are active. it was a game trying to spot the frogs without a guide. we did well.

day 9 - monteverde / santa elena to la fortuna, the santa elena part of the day

we learned from our trip from tamarindo to santa elena that it's nice to get to the new place when it's light out. it's less disorienting that way. so we hopped on a shuttle after scarfing down our continental breakfast and finding out that the hotel didn't take credit cards. we were down to less than $20 cash and unable to get money out of the bank machines. let's just say we were both a little worried about our cash situation, j more than me. i knew we'd figure it out somehow. "hi, mom and dad, please send money."

next post: la fortuna


  1. Geez BAtman, remember when you were saying how daunting it is to write a post after a trip because you hav eso much to say? It's like that for me trying to reply to your posting! Iyt looks EXCELLENT and the pictures are amazing. Super well done on that one for sure. I just got back some australia pics the other day (Henry's scratched my negatives and digitally fixed the pics finally) and it's so nice/sad to look at them.

    Man, holidays are so nice. Are you getting any of your pictures blown up to put on your wall? We're thinking of doing that, if we can find some free wall.

  2. I'm going to have three printed as 5x7s and put in a frame. I haven't decided about any bigger than that though. Some of them would work so I'm going to have to look at them again and see.