Monteverde is tucked into the wilderness of Costa Rica with rolling green-covered hills in every direction.
The weather here dances between warm with cool breezes and cool with warm rains, a nice change from the hot coastal weather.
So far I’m really enjoying the vibe of this area much more than La Fortuna and Puerto Viejo. There are plenty of freely available hikes within walking distance of our bed and breakfast, and the forests we’re embedded in make it feel like we’re in a tree village.
Grabbing breakfast at one of the sodas.
Arrived at the lake.
Crossed the lake.
Boarded the shuttle to Monteverde.
Arrived in Monteverde.
|Total bus time||2:23|
A soda with the standard casado plate. Had a really tasty shake called resbaladera, made with rice milk, sugar and ground nuts. Cost about $8 for lunch.
This was a ton of fun! Ficus trees are completely hollow inside because of the way they grow (see the wikipedia snippet below). Because of this, you can climb all the way to the top through the center like a ladder. It was too dark to climb by the time we found one so we’ll be coming back on a clear day.
These trees are intense. As per Wikipedia:
Ficus aurea is a strangler fig. In figs of this type, seed germination usually takes place in the canopy of a host tree with the seedling living as an epiphyte until its roots establish contact with the ground, after which it enlarges and strangles its host, eventually becoming a freestanding tree in its own right. Individuals may reach 30 m (100 ft) in height.
Incredibly slow service. We ordered two burgers (I ordered a super burger for $6) and the wait was more than twenty minutes. The burgers weren’t very good either and the fries tasted like they were from a bag.
This place does have a huge dance floor though so it’s probably a much better bar than restaurant :)
As we move from town to town in Costa Rica I can’t help but notice aspects of the culture in each place we visit.
Puerto Viejo, mostly occupied by Americans and yogies, doesn’t feel like you’ve gone too far from California hippy culture.
La Fortuna, with its main drag, expensive tours and boisterous salespeople, feels like an expensive resort where everyone’s getting their cut.
Monteverde is the first (and hopefully not the last in Costa Rica) place we’ve been to that feels like an actual town. Many of the hikes are accessible and free, there’s a bar downtown with a massive dance floor, and there’s a huge variety of food choices and friendly people around.
We’ve been geeking out on all of the ants and spiders we’ve seen in Costa Rica and this place was exactly what we needed to satisfy our curiosities.
We were really lucky to get a nearly-private tour of the gardens the day we visited (there was only one other girl). Our guide started the tour by showing us the various beetles and spiders they had collected. We got to see a tarantula and its newly-shed exoskeleton, rhino and elephant beetles, a praying mantis, and I had a stick bug walk along my hands! It was a super fun way to start the tour because we were only expecting to see butterflies.
The tour of the butterfly gardens was a really pleasant walk through various structures with different groups of butterfly species in each structure. The guide was knowledgeable and had a quiet but clear passion for the insects that kept us wide-eyed and amazed throughout.
At the end of the tour we had a big surprise: he had his own leaf-cutter ant colony! We got to see the inside of a hive and learned how their colonies were divided into different castes. Our curiosity that had been accumulating was immensely satisfied by this last stretch of the tour.
These ants are all over La Fortuna and Monteverde. At the Monteverde butterfly garden our guide showed us his colony! He had built a glass covered case to be able to house the fungus and leaves that the ants collected.
The picture attached to this post shows one of the ants carrying a leaf back to the colony. There is also a bigger ant on the right-hand side. These are the soldier ants and they protect the gatherers by patrolling the path to the leaves.
This was quite the hike! The trail has a steep incline the entire way up so that what took us half an hour to descend took over an hour to ascend.
Along the way we saw what looked like an entire colony of ants moving down the hill. The entire road was covered and after having just learned about army ants at the Butterfly Gardens we made a careful point to step over and around them quickly!
Once we got to the top I opened the geocaching app out of curiosity and there happened to be a cache (GC1MKFC) only 15m from where we were standing! When we found it we realized that it had sadly been vandalized, so we cleaned out the bottle and put new papers inside, replacing the bottle with leaves covering it to protect it.
Taco Taco makes a solid burrito comparable in size to El Faralito’s in San Francisco, but not completely in taste. For roughly the same price ($7) they’re a bit on the expensive side but they’re a solid meal after a day of hiking.
Had a delicious nutella and banana crepe with ice cream here after dinner!
We took a $10 cab to get here from town. The hummingbird gardens have a dozen feeders where the hummingbirds gather and eat. While you watch them they’ll fly by like fighter jets, sometimes within inches of your head.
We found a hummingbird on the sidewalk by the cafe, flopped on its side and seemingly dead. Laurence noticed that it was still breathing, so we nudged it onto its feet. It was breathing heavily.
We found someone working at the gardens and she picked up the hummingbird and took it to the feeders. She then let the hummingbird sit in the sun for a bit and it slowly appeared to be regaining strength. We think it may have flown into a window and now its head is a bit foggy.
When we got back from the cloud forest we found the hummingbird again in a bush and it was much more active. Hopefully it’ll recover well!
The hummingbird gardens are right next to the cloud forest so we paid the entrance ($17/person) and walked along the park trails.
On the way back to the entrance we saw a colony of army ants migrating along the trail. We stopped to watch them and heard what sounded like rain but we couldn’t feel any raindrops. We looked a bit closer and realized that the sound was being made by hundreds of grasshoppers, beetles, and other insects running for their lives away from the ants!
Really tasty casados for $6 just around the corner from our BnB. The lady here makes the food fresh in a visible kitchen in the back.
Looking into taking a bus.
Judging by thebusschedule.com, we’re going to be traveling the following route:
We should arrive at around 11am after 5 hours on the bus. The first bus should cost about $5 and the total cost should be $10-$15. We’ll be traveling over 146km.
These plans ended up being wildly off as we took busses all around the western side of Costa Rica, up through Liberia and back down to Nicoya. It’s possible that the shortcut across the lake was shut down for some reason, but it ended up taking us about 9 hours to get to Sámara. The price was as expected, however, at roughly $13/person.
Had delicious double patty burgers at a whopping $11/burger! Really nice restaurant and super friendly staff.
The bus from Monteverde was quite a bit longer than we expected.
We caught the bus out front of Cabanas Eddys and rode it through some absolutely stunning scenery before we got dropped off on the side of a highway with a large group of other backpackers. Here, we waited for about a half hour, thinking that we were going to catch a bus to Sámara from here.
When a bus finally pulled over the sign on the front said Liberia, but the driver assured us we could get to Sámara on this bus. So we hopped on.
After about an hour or so I realized that we had passed what I thought was the turnoff to Sámara but after asking the bus driver he, again, assured us that we had to stay on this bus to get to Sámara.
So it was that we went to Liberia, then Nicoya, until finally arriving in Sámara after touring the entire northwestern area of Costa Rica. The total trip time was 9 hours, four more than what we’d originally expected.
The pic attached to this entry is what you see as you leave Monteverde. It legit felt like were on a cloud city.
|6:02AM||Waiting for the bus in Monteverde.|
|6:10AM||Boarded for $3.|
|7:50AM||Bus dropped us off on the highway. I think we’re in Guanacaste.|
|8:23AM||Boarded a bus to Liberia for $4.60.|
|10:35AM||Arrived in Liberia for some reason. $2.60 to Nicoya from here. $5.20 for lunch to go at a nearby soda.|
|11:00AM||On our way to Nicoya. Drinking jugo from a bag.|
|11:15AM||A truck hit the side of our bus!|
|11:19AM||Aaand moving again.|
|1:14PM||Arrived in Nicoya.|
|2:02PM||Boarded the bus to Samara for $2.60.|
|2:06PM||On our way to Samara! Holy cow air conditioning!|
|3:08PM||Arrived in Samara!|
|Total travel time||9:02|
|Total bus time||6:08|