Sunday, September 23, 2012

April 17--Monteverde and drive to Arenal

 Monteverde began our "every available space is now some sort of makeshift drying apparatus" part of the trip. Who knew though, that rain water could be so smelly as our wet clothes took on a distinctive unpleasant odor--especially the shoes (I may have soaked them in bleach when we got home).

Trying to get everything dried before we packed it all up.
We wanted to pack in a much as we could before we had to leave Monteverde and so while we didn't have any planned tours, we still ended up with a pretty full day of hiking in the morning, lunchm shopping at the wonderful homemade craft stores,  and getting ice cream before we began the long drive to Arenal.
Some fun facts about Monteverde:
  • Monteverde has been called "the jewel in the crown of cloud forrest reserves" by National Geographic.
  • Newsweek listed it as one of the 100 places to visit before it disappears.
  • It's been deemed one of the seven wonders of Costa Rica.
  • Monteverde is 4600 feet above sea level and sits atop the continental divide.
  • Monteverde's average temperature is 64 degrees, it gets 118 inches of rain a year (guess we shouldn't have been surprised by yesterday storm), and has between 74 and 97% percent humidity.
  • Monteverde Cloud Forrest Reserve encompasses 35,000 acres, 8 life zones, 100 mammals (all six species of the cat family-jaguars, ocelots, pumas, oncillas, margays, and jaguarundis), 400 species of birds (including the quetzal), and 1200 species of amphibians and reptiles.
  • Monteverde area was resettled and preserved by American Quakers in the 1950's who fled the draft and began a cheese and dairy farm.
  • Monteverde was named by the Quakers and means "green mountain"
  • Cloud forrest are often called fog forrests 
On our guided hike yesterday, we left late enough in the morning (7:30 AM when is that late?) that much of the fog had already lifted at the lower elevations that we were up at the crack of dawn to experience the fog in all it's glory.

At the summit. Too bad I couldn't see the Pacific, Gulf of Nicoya or the Arenal volcano.

Don't you love my socks and shorts combo?

The only bad part about not speaking the language, is that I didn't realize how extensive the reserve's trails where. The  Sendero Bosque Nuboso and the Sendero El Rio we hit were beautiful, but I had no idea about the  Sendero Pananosa (Swamp trail), the suspended Bridge, and the Sendero Chomogo trails with it's bamboo and orchids. Guess I need to go back!
We really did love staying right in the park, though if we'd had a ton of young kids running around we may not have felt the same.
Outside the lodge.

I really wanted to see a quetzal and our hikes through the forest had proved unfruitful (then again they're kind of hard to spot so we may have passed loads of them). But as luck would have it, right before we left we saw one. And they really are a beautiful bird.

Isn't the quetzal beautiful?
I had trouble parking the car within in the lines and my attempts provided much entertainment to the workers at the lodge. Though in my defense the lines we made with stones and it was kind of hard to distinguish between the stones for the lines and the stones on the ground.

Looking back at the lodge as we left.

Remember that yummy ice cream we had the day before? We of course had to stop at the plant and get some more.

The distance from Monteverde to Arenala is only a measly 85 miles--unfortunately because of the roads (or lack there of) those 85 miles can take up to five hours to drive. Luckily, the scenery is stunning. While the scenery was fabulous, the  3+ hours of the Tico Massage (what the local call the massage you get from all the potholes in the roads) wasn't.

Pretty typical Costa Rican road

The drive to Arenal takes you down the mountain range and along side the Arenal Lake. Like the other drives, it was windy, steep and definitely unpaved.

The views of the lake and the mountain range we're just breathtaking.

Our first view of Arenal Volcano.

The view from our window at Volcano Lodge & Gardens. Can you believe i??  All I needed for this moment to be complete was for some lava running down the side of the volcano like this. Unfortunately, seeing lava flow is still on my bucket list.

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