The areas surrounding Monteverde in northern Costa Rica are some of the most visited in the country, and after spending a week there it wasn’t hard to see why. A welcome relief from the heat of the coast, coupled with an abundance of hikes and activities – though not all of them as appealing as others. The first town we stayed in was La Fortuna, a tourist hub due to the surrounding hikes and hot springs. We’d chosen a container hostel to stay in (although to look at it, you wouldn’t know). It was one of the cheapest options in town, but unfortunately the containers just meant that the air conditioning reverberating around the dorm all night! To save some money while Mike & Vicky stayed in the dorms, we opted to sleep in the van in the car park however that turned out to just be a public bit of land. Also because the only common space was right outside the bedrooms, we were told by an angry French family to keep it down at 10pm for playing jenga! Right… rant over.
While planning the trip we had grand grand plans to hike a volcano in La Fortuna, only to be told it had been closed for 2 years when we arrived. That, along with the fact that most of the tourist attractions ran you in the region of $30-$60, meant we had a little rethink. We knew about the hot springs but also that there was a free ones by a river. Our hostel had warned us that it’s not the safest place to leave our car, and we didn’t think we’d enjoy our time there while worrying about the car so we actually opted to go for one of the spa resorts. For $45 we’d have the run of the place for a day and an included lunch. We even found one with waterslides! Needless to say we got there early and had a run of the place. The included buffet, which had been sold to us as absolutely amazing by the hostel was actually reminiscent of a 2* Cuban hotel buffet.
On our second day, after a bit too much rum the previous night we found a local nature walk. We were dying to see a sloth but most places were asking for a $35 per person minimum for a guided tour. We actually found a small reserve which was $10 for unlimited entry all day. At around 11am we got there and saw 3 sloths! We also saw amazing birds, and lots and lots of marching ants. Vicky came back with us in the afternoon while Mike was having a nap and we saw a mother cradling her baby, which was a sight to remember. Unfortunately, being so high up with a bright sky background it was hard to picture them so you’ll have to take our word that we did in fact see many sloths in Costa Rica!
After 3 days in La Fortuna, we were moving on to Santa Elena, which is the tourist town by the famous cloud forest. On our way we stopped and hiked some old lava trails which was a unique experience, and a great hike. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side so we couldn’t see the tip of the volcano which had formed the paths we were hiking around. When we got to Santa Elena the first thing we wanted to organise was a night hike, however when we went to leave our room it didn’t lock! So our hostel said they would fix it for us and off we went.
The night walk was something we’d so been looking forward to, with everyone who has done it giving amazing feedback. It’s probably fair to say we had mixed opinions on it! On the downside, as a group of 4 we went through 4 failed torches, which would have been an easy fix and also as we all walked in single file those at the back of the group struggled to hear exactly what our guide was saying. Even with that said though it was an absolutely fantastic experience, and we got to see so much incredible wildlife from frogs, stick insects, tarantulas and crickets which looks just like leaves. Annie made the most of her new phone she bought in the USA to take some absolutely incredible pictures.
The next day was our last full day together. We all wanted to spend it hiking, so we hiked the Santa Elena cloud forest reserve. Whilst it was just the four of us we weren’t so good at spotting wildlife, however that’s not to say the day wasn’t absolutely stunning full of beautiful scenery and plants littering the pathway. We hiked every trail we could, and were also told to be quiet by another visitor which seemed quite ridiculous. For our last night we headed to a taco bar in town and then got to bed at a decent time as we had a 4 hour drive in the morning to the airport.
Unbelievably our time with our guests had passed and we couldn’t believe it has gone so fast! Mike & Vicky thank you so much for travelling all the way out here to see us, and we hope you had as much fun as we did 🙂