Saturday, February 20, 2010

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

This morning Vanessa and I got up early to catch the 6:15AM public bus to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. It was hard to get up at 5:30AM after a late night of dancing. Previous day we went to the market to get something for sandwich, and this morning we stop by the bakery next to the bus stop to grab quick stuff for breakfast.

The weather this morning was calmer than the day before, the wind was less strong and the mist-rain less intense.

We arrived at the reserve around 7 and while we were waiting for the office to open, some tour guide motioned us to to come to the parking lot and there were couple of the elusive and beautiful quetzal birds : a male and a female. It is difficult to see a quetzal, and we were happy to see it so close!

We decided to go with a guide from the park, while couple people from the hostal got a private tour guide. We should have gone with the private tour guide as our group is big with 9 people and the guide spend half the time chit chatting with the group. During the tour, we spot couple more quetzals but it was farther away and one needs a binocular to see it. The guide mentioned of all the tree in the reserve, 80% are some sort of avocado tree, and each tree to host up to 200 different plants on it. I was hoping to see some monkeys and sloths, but no luck with it this morning. Another interesting fact about the cloud foreast is that since it is wet all year around, the grow season is all year so no tree rings are formed, so they have to use carbon dating to calculate a tree´s age.

After getting back to the entrance, we decided to take a lunch break and make our sandwich. After lunch we went back on the trail by ourselves to hike to the La Ventena (the window) that in a clear day one can see both the Caribbean and the Pacific from this continental divide. Of course with whole reserve covered in the mist and cloud one could barely see beyond 30 feet. Also on the Caribbean side there was strong wind while one the Pacific side, it was calm.

After the view point, we made our way back the entrance and decided to check the near by Hummingbird garden. We were presented so many hummingbirds feed on the sugar water hanging near the building. I took many photos, but the birds are so fast, I only got few ok photos. There was one guy with huge telephoto lens and a big flash, and some of his photos looked great with birds hovering mid air - a really difficult capture. We saw may be 4 species of the birds there.

After the hummingbird viewing, we caught the 3PM bus to get back to Santa Elena. I decided I want to do a nighttime walk to see some insects and creatures, while Vanessa had enough information overload from today´s hike.

The van came around 5:30 to pick me and other tourists from Pension up. I had my macro lens and tripod with me. They offered each us a small flash light, I opted for my own headlamp as it gave me free hands to toy with my tripod and camera. On our group was Maria who also liked insects and night time walk. She and couple other girls (Stephine, and Iris) are volunteering in a organic farm in near by El Castillo and they are on their 3 day break (Stephine is done with her volunteering and will head to the beach with Vanessa on Sunday).

During the night walk, we spot sleeping Emerald Toucan and was told this Toucan will eat other birds eggs and young chicks, especially the quetzal's - a bad bird! We also spotted sleeping hummingbird, and green viper high up on the tree, very difficult to spot if you don´t know what to look for. We spot couple strange and well camouflaged insects. The highlight of the tour was the spotting of couple two clawed sloth and orange kneed tarantula! The sloths looked like giant fur ball and moving very slowly up on the tree. And the tarantula looked spectacular and big as human hand. I really enjoyed this very productive night hike.

Back at the hostal, Vanessa was getting ready for another night time party at the same place last night, this time jazz/blue music. I was tired from early start this morning, but decide to check it out with Stephine and Iris a little later. Maria was too tired to go, they are getting up to the reserve next morning like we did this morning. We got there around 10:15, the music was nice but a bit loud. after 30 or so minutes Stephine and Iris decided to call it a night, and I was soon to follow. As I got back to my room, I could hear the music from the restaurant!

A little word about the party/music restaurant, there are also some local guys hanging around hope to score with the women tourists. A guy was onto Iris both night :)

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