Today was frigging awesome! Definitely the best day of the trip so far!
First of all, we are in Monteverde which is a cloud forest in Costa Rica. We are about 4500 feet above sea level. Our hotel, El Establo, is on 119 acres of land, including primary forest with lots of trails the views go all the way down to the gulf of nicoya.
This morning we got up early and headed into the Monteverde Biological Cloud Forest Reserve for a hike and then zip line adventure. I thought we would do the hike first and then the zip line but things changed quickly and the next thing I knew I was strapped into a harness. We did a trial run first at the bottom of the mountain and then took the sky tram up.
At the bottom it was overcast and a little misty from the clouds but as we climbed the mountain on the tram, we went into the clouds. It was so cool! Waiting on the platform for the first real run up there was cold, windy and damp in the clouds. I felt pretty good after the practice run, but I was pretty scared on the first run. There was nothing around you bur the trees and the birds. About midway thru I began to panic a bit, but managed to get thru it. I'd say that by the 3rd or 4th cable I was getting into the groove and started really looking around at the scenery around me. I am so proud of myself for doing this and not chickenpox out. Everyone in our group did it, which I did not think would happen. There were 9 cables all together averaging 1300 feet, with the longest being 2460 feet long.
After the zip line we took a 1+ hour hike thru the cloud forest and over a series of 5 cable suspension bridges. We had a guide with is who pointed out different wildlife and fauna. We saw howler monkeys, different birds, a tarantula (couldn't look at it) and the most elusive bird in the world, the quetzal. Apparently it is the most famous resident ofthe cloud forest. The quetzal is the size of a robin with green iridescent wings and a ruby red breast. The bird is a rare siting b/c of habitat destruction. Daniel, our guide for the week, was so excited that he saw the quetzal. He said that he's only seen the quetzal 5-6 times in the past 10 years and he is up in Monteverde a good 6-7 times a year with different groups. To see how excited he was emphasizes how rare the siting is and how amazing it is that we saw the bird. I got some amazing pictures of it with my new lens. The quetzal we saw had three long feathers extending down from the body. Daniel says that you can tell the bird was a male b/c only male get those long feathers during mating season. I'm not a birder, but it's pretty exciting to see a bird that most people don't get a chance to see.
It was pretty hard to top the morning we had, so after lunch I just went into town and walked around for a bit. For dinner, a group of us went to the Tree House restaurant for dinner. It's a restaurant in town that was built around a large fig tree. It's as if you are eating in a treehouse. Kind of cool.
It really is hard to top today. However, I've been told that Tabacon, the resort we are staying at, and canyoning could possibly top it. I love Monteverde. The weather here is great. Not too hot and not too cold. It's dry so you are not percolating sweat just standing outside as I did in Manuel Antonio. The weather, and of course the scenery, remind me of Aspen or Vail in the summertime. How could you not love it! I wish we had another day or two here, but it's time to go to our last major stop on our trip.