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There are tons of things to do in Monteverde!
I spent three days here and loved it.
It’s easy to get to Monteverde from Fortuna by jeep-boat-jeep. This involves driving to Lake Arenal, then taking a boat across the lake, then taking a Jeep-like car on the bumpy, unpaved roads to Monteverde. It’s only 22 kilometers to Monteverde from Fortuna or something like that, but the transportation takes about 3 hours because the roads are so bad. I saw lots of cows on the way, and the scenic trip is absolutely beautiful.
Monteverde is so nice, but a little dusty because 99% of the roads aren’t paved. Monteverde was established by American expat Quakers in the 50’s so there’s a unique history there. They also have a cheese-making factory and the Monteverde cheese is pretty famous. I didn’t try any, needless to say. I did find an awesome ice cream shop featuring vegan sorbets, however. I had the guanabana flavor twice in three days.
I checked into my room at Arco Iris Lodge. We had a four-bed bunk bed budget room with private bathroom, only $35 total a night. Too bad we didn’t have two extra people, otherwise it would have been ridiculously cheap. Arco Iris was very nice, with beautiful flora and grounds, but I missed having a pool.
After that I headed over to the Orchid Garden. I had no idea but there are 1,500 species of wild orchids in Costa Rica. The garden there has 400 species, and 125 blooming when we went. Some of my favorite orchids I saw include the shooting star, and others: one, two, and three. There were also lots of interesting plants, including a wild cucumber plant, what looks like grapes, ground flora, and this intestine-looking plant.
After that, I went to CASEM craft co-operative. I bought some fair-trade, organic, shade-grown coffee there and some other things. It was a cute place.
The next day, I took a guided tour of the Monterverde Cloud Forest. Our guide was amazing and spoke perfect English, and the guide was informative and lasted about 4 hours. Unfortunately, there were hardly any clouds when we were there, but it was still amazing to see the rainforest flora and fauna. We saw quetzales, which everyone wants to see, and they had a hummingbird gallery. We also saw lots of flora, and these ancient trees: one and two. Here I am in front of the second tree.
After the cloud forest, I walked to the Lecheria, which is the Quaker cheese-making factory. They give tours, but we weren’t there at the right time, so I looked in at the process through the observation area. Nothing too interesting, really.
After that I had lunch at Flor de Vida, which was marked on our map as a vegetarian restaurant. However, it wasn’t vegetarian anymore. It was a little expensive, but I had some awesome polenta and a yummy coconut milk, ginger, cinnamon smoothie.
For dinner I went to an Italian restaurant called Tramonti. It was super fancy with wine glasses, paper napkins, white tablecloths, candles on the tables, and mood lighting. I had some vegan spaghetti, which was pretty good. The food was reasonably priced, as even the fancy restaurants in Costa Rica are mid-ranged in American prices.
I decided to stay an extra day in Monteverde instead of heading to Manuel Antonio. My sister whom I was traveling with took advantage of this and did the canopy zip-line and skywalk Selvatura tour at the Santa Elena Cloud Forest. I absolutely refused to do this because I’m scared of heights, but it worked out. She said it was really fun.
While she was zipping around in the rainforest, I went to the butterfly garden. It was amazing to walk into enclosures with butterflies flying all around you. My favorite butterfly is definitely the blue morpho, but I saw lots of other nice ones. This might be a Monarch, this one I call the panda butterfly and this one is a blue morpho’s outer wings. A butterfly called Halloween even landed on me, which means I have good luck.
Next I went to the Frog pond. I was expecting literal ponds and being able to touch frogs, but it was all enclosed glass exhibits. Which I suppose is good, because who wants to touch poisonous dart frogs anyway? It was nice seeing the bright-colored poisonous dart frogs and other species. My ticket was good for a second admission, meaning I could have gone at night to see the nocturnal frogs active, but I didn’t go back because I thought it was sort-of lame overall. The “blue jeans” or strawberry poison dart frog was my favorite.
I bought my lunch from the supermarket, which consisted of a ripe avocado, Bimbo brand tortillas, and plantain chips. Also, I had more guanabana sorbet because that stuff is addicting.
The next morning we took a coffee tour from Don Juan coffee. Our guide was a young art student Miami expat who (of course) spoke perfect English so it was nice. I didn’t have much idea of the process that it takes to make coffee, so it was interesting to see real coffee plants and see the whole process from planting to packaging. After the tour we even had a “coffee buffet” and I had an espresso and a cup of black coffee. There was also these really good fried bean empanadas and dark chocolate covered coffee beans to munch on. The Don Juan farm only grows Arabica coffee, so it’s really good. It’s also fair-trade, according to our guide. Also, Don Juan is a real man who started the coffee farm and grows his own corn moonshine and crops to live off of, and I met him. I even got to ride in an authentic oxcart.
And there is even more things to do, like a Quaker history museum and bat jungle and lots of shopping and restaurants!over 6 years ago
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