After breakfast our destination for the day was the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, one of the most famous conservation areas in Central America. It is a tropical rain forest but because of its altitude (1400 meters or 4.600 feet), it's called a Cloud Forest. A cloud forest is a highland forest characterized by nearly 100% humidity throughout the year.
In Monteverde, the cloud forest receives an incredible four meters of rain every year- over twelve feet! Luckily for us the forecast for our day was primarily dry, much better for cameras!
The reserve is home to rare and unusual wildlife, and over 450 species of birds including the world's largest population of the beautiful and unique Quetzal birds. The Quetzal is legendary in Central America. The males’ incredible green tail feathers can trail up to three feet behind the bird and earned them the name of quetzille meaning ‘precious beauty’ in the Aztec language. To see a close-up Quetzal is a rare occurrence.
Our hike was barely 30 minutes old when our guide Minor heard the unique call of the Quetzal, and after some quick visual searching we spotted the male with it’s long ornate tail features just about 30 metres from the trail. A female mate was found not too far away. It was an exciting find for the birders in the bunch. Amazingly the usually very skittish male was very busy digging away at a tree with its beak, creating a nest in clear view for us all to see and capture.
The rest of the hike was just a bonus with unbelievable giant trees and plants and plenty of other bird species to see and photography.
We had a giant Italian food / pizza feast for lunch and recharged for a wild afternoon.
The afternoon was considered “free time” so the clear, warm day activities included some “chilling” in the sun, site seeing in the town of Monteverde, hikes on trails near the hotel and half the group bravely heading to the Costa Rica Sky Adventure Park and nature preserve.
The facilities at the park were first class, with new buildings, tram lift and of course the 7 long Zip Lines. For most this was their first experience with zip lining. The staff was patient and confidence building. A short “test line” provided everyone a small taste of what was to come. All 9 decided they would take the plunge (sort of speak) and head up the tramway lift to the top of the mountain. The view from the top was spectacular, and they even had washrooms, and snack bar in the sky as we prepared for the “real” zip lines.
To say it was an exhilarating experience is an understatement! It was two full hours of flying about the cloud forest before we eventually jumped or repelled down to earth. The crew that guided us down the mountain were great fun, we all had a great time.
From the Quetzal Birds to flying like a bird it was a truly memorable adventure.
Links below for today's photo gallery.