So before leaving for the United States to work, I wanted to see the Cloud Forest. What is the cloud forest, exactly? It’s a beautiful forest located high above sea level in the mountains. Monteverde (literally meaning ‘Green Mountain,’ in Spanish) is different from the many lowlands of Costa Rica in that it’s elevation is high and that the park contains much virgin forest.
However, because I went to Manuel Antonio first (and I’m so glad that I did!) I needed to fit as much into 48 hours as I could. I have been under budget for the entire trip, so I allowed myself to book several tours. In 48 hours, I did a night walk to see the nocturnal animals of the forest, participated in a Canopy and Hanging bridges Tour, and learned how coffee, chocolate and sugar were made. I stayed at Sleepers Sleep Cheaper Hostel, which included an excellent continental breakfast, comfortable beds and hot showers (an underappreciated luxury!) This hostel is actually in the small town abutting Monteverde: Santa Elena , and I would highly recommend it.
This was literally the most expensive part of my entire trip, because I did not have time to figure out how to do most of these things on my own. Below, I’ve outlined the tours, and how much they cost. I arrived at about 430 pm, so I booked a Night Walk Tour my first night.
Day 1: Arrival and Night Walk Tour at 830 pm
Length: 2 hours
I arrived and signed up for the night walk tour quickly. I had about three hours to settle in and change, because the temperature back in Puntarenas was about 40 degrees celsius; the temperature in Monteverde was about 20 degrees celsius.
The van for the tour picked me up at 830 pm. I got into the van and was greeted by a tour guide with boundless energy. My tour would be in English, and there were about 9 other people joining. We rode the in the van up the twisted mountain roads of Monteverde, and arrived at the reception around 845.
From there, we walked into the forest. Our guide knew exactly where the animals would be, and we saw a green tree snake, a tarantula, small tree frogs, and so many more nocturnal animals. The guide even allowed us to take pictures! For me, this was a little spooky, because I’m very scared of snakes, spiders, and the dark. However, this tour was fun, and the guide on the tour was really helpful! It was worth the $25.00 I paid for it!
Selvatura Treetop Walkways with A Guide
Cost: $50 with a guide, $35.00 without a guide
Length: 2 Hours but we went over our length (I didn’t mind)
Monteverde has several parks, and I wanted to see one with astounding views, and less people. For this reason, I chose the Selvatura treetop tour. I went with a guide because I wanted to see the wildlife at this unique park. The tours start at 8 am, 1030 am, 1230 and 2pm. The van for this tour picked me up right outside my hostel at 8 am sharp, and our tour commenced at roughly 840 am.
There were a large mix of ages on the tour, and it was a lot of fun. The youngest person was about ten years old, and the oldest in their sixties. The tour guide did an excellent job showing us where all of the animals were, and pointed out the fauna unique to the area of Monteverde. We even saw the rare Quetzal Bird!
The bridges were absolutely gorgeous, and I had a great experience as a whole. The tour is pricey, but I learned a lot more with the guide than I would have on my own. I got back to my hostel around 1130 am and had time to get ready for my final tour
Trapiche Tour: All About Coffee, Chocolate and Sugarcane
Length: 2-2.5 hours
This was the tour of all tours. I didn’t expect to have as much fun as I did! The tour began with an old-fashioned ride on bulls. From there we saw the Coca fruit and learned about the drying and fermentation process of chocolate. For a Chocolate Connoisseur, such as myself, I was in heaven. We tried chocolate at every part of the chocolate-making process.
From there, we journeyed to the coffee plantations. Coffee is something I drink everyday. I literally am worse than a zombie without a hot black cup of joe in the morning. Our guide showed us exactly which kind of plants produced the coffee bean, and the step-by-step process used to make coffee!
After that, we went into the sugar cane fields. We actually had the opportunity to make our own natural brown sugar! Not only was it delicious, we also learned so much about the process! When we were finished, we went back and had the coffee made from the very same beans that we saw in the plantation! We also tried lemonade made with brown sugar, and they made us a small tortilla with some kind of filling to eat with our coffee.
This tour far exceeded my expectations, and of the three, it was my very favorite! I highly recommend this tour, even over the canopy tour!
My Final Day
My last day in San Jose was spent packing, writing and shopping for small souvenirs for my family. I made some great friends, and we spent time talking about our future plans, and where we were from. Monteverde was a beautiful place, but I’m glad I saved it for last. When you go, expect to spend money, but know that when you do, you will see some beautiful sites, and have memories that last a lifetime.