Most people imagine Costa Rica as a tropical country full of sun, heat, and palm trees. This is all true…for most of the country. Monteverde, however, provides one important exception to the rule. When I visited Monteverde last November, I found it to be deliciously cold. I found more pines than palm trees. This mountainside is a magical world wrapped up in mist.
I went to Monteverde with one plan: to escape the city, get some clean, fresh air, and unwind. What I found was peace and adventure, all wrapped up in one.
Arriving to Monteverde is an adventure in itself. I remember leaving the highway in sunny, coastal Puntarenas and beginning to wind up the hills of the forest, the air getting cooler as we got higher. Soon puffs of mist turned into clouds of fog and you couldn’t believe that just an hour ago you had been driving through the sun.
Entering Monteverde is like entering a completely different world. I remember looking out above the mist from the top of a hill and feeling like I was in an ocean of fog. It is easy to feel like it is just you and that hilltop and nothing else in the world.
Of course, you aren’t actually alone. There is the town, which is charmingly situated across several steep hills. You can find houses, ecolodges, hotels, and farms sprinkled across the countryside, though you won’t find many resorts or huge hotels out here. The theme here is natural and personal. Since everything is spaced so nicely, the town and popular sites don’t feel like they fill up so much. Although this is one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica, I felt like there was a lot of privacy, which was so refreshing.
The cloud forest is undoubtedly the main attraction of Monteverde. So naturally, I was thrilled to be able to explore its canopy by zip line. The day started out spectacularly, with sunny, blue skies that let us see all the way to the Gulf of Nicoya sparkling in the distance. It is a little daunting getting strapped into all the safety equipment. However, once you are flying across the cables, amazement takes over.
While soaring through the trees on the zip line, you feel like you can reach out your hands and touch the leaves. My favorite cables where those that took you out over the treetops. The quilt of grass, trees, and bushes in varying greens, yellows, and browns were beautiful as they flashed by underneath. It’s a lovely combination of peace and adrenaline that keeps your eyes open and your heart pumping. The morning ended with a heart dropping Tarzan swing that made sure I would remember the day for a long time.
We went to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve to walk the meandering trails in search of one of its waterfalls. The forest was a whole experience for the eyes, ears, and nose. Everywhere you look, you see layers upon layers of green, brown, and grey in the form of leaves, moss, lichen, and plants. Every once in a while, the trees opened up and you saw a bit of cloud caught under the canopy.
Water was dripping from a million leaves, the birds were chirping, and the frogs were croaking. The forest had a rich humid smell. To me it smelled green, like plants growing and dying. We followed the river to the waterfall, which added its own music to the symphony and provided a great backdrop for some photos with friends.
By the end of the day, I just about collapsed on my bed from a good kind of tiredness. It was the tiredness of a full day well spent. All that there was left to do was watch the sun go down with a cup of hot chocolate and a blanket around my shoulders. As the sky shifted from pink to purple to black, lights broke out across the countryside like twinkling Christmas lights. Then all there was left to do was snuggle into my warm bed and get ready for another fun day exploring the misty hills of Monteverde.