Friday, December 13, 2013

Costa Rica: Monteverde

Over Thanksgiving break, Casey and I headed down south to Costa Rica.  This is the first time we both had ever traveled to Central America and we had been looking forward to visiting Costa Rica for some time.  Everyone we had spoken to who had visited Costa Rica told us such amazing and, at times unbelievable,  things about this lush country.  And researching the country in planning our trip exposed us to even more great things this place had to offer.  We planned our trip based on three different climates: Cloud Forest, Rain Forest and the Beach.  We started in the cloud forest of Monteverde.

Monteverde is located in the northern part of the country near Costa Rica's active volcano.  To get there from San Jose, we drove about three hours, mainly on highways and then on a very long, unpaved uphill road.  We knew that Costa Rica was known for their bad roads and got introduced quickly.  

After the bumpy ride, we found our lodge, settled in and crashed after our long day of travel.  To finish out the day, we walked into town and tried out our Spanish at casual, typical restaurant which are called sodas.  That night, we went on a night walk with a biologist named Sergio.  He was awesome and showed us some amazing night creatures (most of which who's names I regrettably forgot.)

This was one for the first things we saw.  Well, the very first thing we saw was actually a two toed sloth, something that I have been drying to see for so many years now.  But it was high up in the tree and impossible to get a picture of in the low light.  Anyhow, this little guy was a great find.

Eventually, after being handled a bunch and with six flashlights on it, the frog realized that it was outnumbered and decided to play dead, giving us a great look at its cool, underside coloring.

Another cool creature we saw was this bug.  It makes some of the loudest sounds we heard during the night.

It made that loud noise until this Golden Back Spider ate it.  It was a pretty amazing site, especially with our guide narrating and predicating its behavior.  I believe this was the first bite before it quickly encapsulated it with its powerful silk.

Another spider we soon came across was this Banana Leaf Spider, appropriately named as we saw a few on banana trees.

The king of spiders was this Orange Kneed Tarantula.  Its body was probably 2 inches wide with hairy, gruesome legs.  Bummed I didn't get a clearer shot, but hey, it was pitch black without our lights.  Definitely one of many highlights of the night.  

The following day, we went to the actual cloud forest for some canopy touring.  This is probably the most well known activity in Costa Rica, as there were many zipline offers to choose from.   We were very happy with the one we chose, with 13 ziplines of various lengths to choose from.  If you know me well, I'm pretty afraid of heights, but this helped me overcome those fears.  There actually wasn't much time to be afraid since Casey and I were the first of the group to go and they just hook you up and push you along your way.

Here is a little view from the platform of one of the lines.  It was amazing up there!

Check out this video of Casey and I going tandem down the longest zipline.  It was 3300 feet long (about 3/4 of a mile!)  Tons of fun and I was so glad I had my Go Pro camera to catch this.

After the canopy tour, we headed into the butterfly sanctuary, where there were 20 different species of the beautifully painted creatures.  I didn't get most of the names, so here's just a run of the photos I got.

(Can't believe I got this shot!)

We then walked across eight bridges suspended above the treetops.  We didn't see too much wildlife as it was mid-afternoon, but we saw some amazing vistas and an array of plant life.

The cloud forest, and Costa Rica as a whole, is so lush that everything grows and prospers abundantly. Almost every tree supported a variety other vegetation with air plants, ferns, vines, moss and flowers growing on the every inch of the trees.

If I painted landscapes, this would have been an image bank paradise.

It's hard to capture just how high up we were, but if you think about this being the top of 20ft trees, you get a better idea.  Again, such diversity of plants growing and, for the most part, untouched.

I was excited to see this little bird and get a decent shot of it.  It's funny now looking back at the beginning of the trip at my excitement because we saw WAY more birds in the later half.

Last shot was this very geometrically pleasing fern.  I love the patterns you find in nature.

Alright, I need to go through the rest of the photos, but another post to come soon!


RMA said...

If I saw those spiders, I'd run away screaming.

Unknown said...

Where is the sloth!?

celia said...

Jon, I am so glad you did your homework. Wow! Too funny about the frog playing dead, Go Pro camera video - awesome! I am proud you got the butterflies especially the last one. Butterflies flit around, so hard to get but you got them. It is nice to see what types they have in Costa Rica. Looking forward to your next post(s)

Dennis said...

Fantastic!!!!! Have a very Merry Christmas in Colorado!!!

Dennis said...

Fantastic!!!!! Have a very Merry Christmas in Colorado!!!