Favorite thing: As we were traveling along, close to Monteverdi we noticed a boy by the side of the road with a strange looking animal in his arms. We stopped and chatted with him. It turns out that it was a baby sloth, which you are of course not allowed to keep as pets, however, this one was blind and had been abandoned by it's mother. Or so the story goes.. Anyway, we were happy to give the kid some change for milk to feed the sloth. After we pulled out, we noticed the next car on the road saw it and pulled over to stop..:-)
Sta Elena is the place to go, when you want to visit the famous Monteverde cloud forests. It is a very touristic place like you can imagine. Souvernir shops, hotels and restaurants all over the place. Try the bakery close to the buss station, they have very nice things there!
It is a hard way getting there, but you'll survive, I'm sure! There are busses to Puntarenas and to Tilaran. There are also other touristic services. The ways to get there are from the most terrible (unpaved and like a like gryére cheese) and when that doesn't make you feel sick, you get it from all the turns in the way or from the fast driving driver...
In 1947, the biologist L.H. Holdridge introduced a system of classifying vegetation types or "zones" by analyzing combinations of temperature, rainfall, and seasonality. Each zone has a distinctive natural vegetation and ecosystem. Costa Rica has 12 such zones, ranging from tidal mangrove swamps to subalpine paramó, with its stunted dwarf plants above the timberline atop the high mountains
You can obtain a life zone map from the Tropical Science Center (Calle 1, Avenidas 4/6), a private nonprofit organization which operates the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
Within the rainforest area, botanists have made distinctions between 30 or so different types of rainforest. The species that live and grow in each type is determined by temperature and rainfall. Tropical evergreen rainforest exists in areas of high rainfall (at least 200 cm) and regular high temperatures averaging no less than 77deg. F. In Costa Rica, the lush tropical evergreen rainforest of the Caribbean lowlands gives way on the Pacific side to a seasonally dry evergreen forest in the well-watered south, and tropical deciduous forest--dry forest--in the northwest..
Fondest memory: The Children's Eternal Rain Forest has three forest types: seasonal evergreen forest, cloud forest and a seasonal rain forest.
Each of the areas has plants and animals in common, but slightly different amounts of rain and temperature (partly due to differences in elevation) means that the animals and plants are different in distribution. Each different trail and area has it's own plants and animals to look at.
I think I saw at least one rainbow each day in Costa Rica and many days we were treated to multiple rainbows. Not surprising, since water and light will usually produce a rainbow and it seems to always be wet somewhere in Costa Rica.
Fondest memory: The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was the next adventure that inevitably led to the discovery of new and fascinating wildlife.
From the macro to the micro, the cloudforest is a playground for the curious photographer. To be sure, lighting conditions can be very difficult under the canopy. The skies are often gray and often times drizzle will be a constant companion. But there is so much life and it is one of the most diverse biospheres on the planet. The possibilities are virtually limitless. For me it was nothing short of pure joy.
Fondest memory: Life--in all of its incredible forms.
Favorite thing: Walking in a cloud. Walking in a forest. I always think about quiet and solitude when I envision a forest. Imagine a cloud descending upon a favorite patch of forest and shrouding it with wisps of soft mist. Now add a constant drip, drip, drip of water descending from leaf to leaf until gentling finding its way to the forest floor. The cloudforest is a little bit of serenity and it should be treated with gentle footsteps.
Favorite thing: Cloud forests are found at an altitude of at least 1500 m. The forest is shrouded in mist for 9 months of the year. The mist and clouds come with the trade winds of the Pacific Ocean. The vegetation is somewhat different from the rest of the rain forest. Here you will find plants that grow well in this colder and more humid environment like moss and fern.
Favorite thing: To be honnest, we've not seen much more than just trees. Beautifull trees, but the promised quetzals, monkeys, ... all on holiday. Well, the jungle itself is also quiete impessive. After the sky-walk (walking on the so famous bridges true the jungle) we did the sky-trek. There you had to "fly" from one side to the other on a stale cable. Never known that I was so scared by hights, but it was very high, up to 160m above the ground! On that highest point I had to close my eyes, but it was fun.
Favorite thing: I know that the sloth is almost imperceptible in my pic but also for this I was so thrilled to have spotted it in spite so high and immobile and then I was still ecstatic of the animation movie Ice Age and of its charcter Sid that to have seen my first real sloth made my day... well... who knows me, also knows I'm very emotional ;-)...!!!
Favorite thing: In Arenal and Monteverde it can be cloudy most days that time of year, especially at Arenal and La Fortuna. At the coast, the weather is very good. It is considered the dry season (as well as the high season) but that is mostly at the coast. The later you go in March the better chance you will have in seeing Arenal Volcano. I have been there 6 different years in January and once in March and never saw the top of Arenal. Went once in July, picture perfect view of Arenal errupting. Still, it should be a great trip!