There are many places where travelers can go to get back to nature. They can choose from elephant treks in Thailand to snorkeling in the Galapagos. Topping the list of natural wonders, Costa Rica boasts some of the best locales to see wildlife especially in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Above the rainforest, atop thick clouds and green jungle canopy, Monteverde is a biosphere with not only diverse wildlife but an array of adventure hotspots. For me, an often skittish adventurer, Monteverde in Costa Rica offered two of the best nature tours that got me close to nature without that panicky jungle feeling
Bird Watching in Monteverde
A prime activity in the cloud forest, bird watching is taken to a new level in Costa Rica. On our honeymoon, Neil and I decided to book two days of adventure tours. On our first day we were escorted by a wonderful local naturalist who led us down mossy trails and past fallen tree trunks the size of my car. His finger pointed to howler monkeys as he instructed us about their social and mischievous nature. He plucked caterpillars off rocks and showed us how they smelled just like vanilla. One of the best parts of the hike was his knowledge of the birds, of course. Throughout the day, he carried a telephoto zoom lens and as he pointed out toucans and quetzals, we were able to use our regular point-and-shoot cameras with the telephoto lens for tight portrait shots of these national birds. By the end of the day, even for this ambivalent trekker, I was exploring my way through vine covered paths and picking up jewel bugs all on my own.
Ziplining the Canopy of Monteverde
While meandering along terra firma may be an ideal vacation for some, adrenaline junkies visiting the cloudforest often try ziplining. Strapped in tight and following the leaders through the trees, a canopy tour is probably the best way to see the cloud forest from literally a bird’s eye view. Some companies rig their courses boating upwards of 14 lines, stretching longer than American football fields. If you’re brave, take the lead and enjoy the landscape. If you’re like me, ask for a travel buddy and go tandem with a guide. I was lucky to have someone with me to control the breaks and spin me around as we crossed over lush ravines. I screamed my head off as he laughed with me, asking “Fun right?” And I had to admit, considering the long minutes slicing through the treelines and emphatically screaming “whoooo!”, that ziplining was the highlight of my trip to Costa Rica.
During your Costa Rica tour, invest in a good camera with high megapixels for still and video capability. After our day tours and spa treatments in Costa Rica, we slid into a candlelit booth for a romantic dinner with red wine and cheese-filled dumplings with artichokes, reviewing our day through our camera’s viewfinder. Over and over, we kept saying: I can’t believe we did that! I can’t believe that happened.
This post was sponsored by Pura Vida Ride.