The secluded little tourist town of Monteverde lies in a dip of the “Green Mountain,” with battered dirt roads leading to and away from its busy center in all directions. Getting there was an experience in itself.
My daughter, Vanessa, and I took a shuttle bus from Brasilito – stopping along the way at a beautiful bus stop, where we saw brilliantly colored parrots – eventually transferring to another shuttle bus – and finally being dropped at Nina’s Place – our home away from home while in Monteverde.
We were fortunate to meet Leeane (an Australian transplant to the US for many years) and her daughter, Olivia – who had just completed two weeks at a sloth preserve in Costa Rica. Mother and daughter were very sweet and interesting, and a taste of home.
The first word that came into my mind when I saw the surroundings that Monteverde was nestled in between was “primal.” Of course, man has intruded into this wonderland of nature, but far less than in other spots around the world known for their fabulous flora and fauna. Monkeys, sloths, lizards, frogs and all kinds of creatures are literally just a step away as you wander down any of the paths, or even roads, while exploring. Sloths are in high in the trees and only descend about once a week to eliminate waste, so they are a little more difficult to spot but they are there.
However, you can be surprised – as we were – by other animals and insects at any moment. We hiked through one of the canopy parks with swinging bridges – not to be missed – when a coati (an animal resembling a large raccoon with a long snout) started down the bridge towards us. We must have been standing still for a few moments because as soon as we excitedly noticed him we started moving slowly towards him and he hastened a retreat.
There is so much to do here, you could easily spend a week trying out different things – zip-lining, canopy tours, night tours, coffee plantation tours, hiking to local sites like a hollow fichus tree, eating at some of the interesting little coffee shops and restaurants around town or just traipsing from shop to shop in search of the perfect souvenir.
They have definitely created a cute little town to house the thousands of tourists that descend on it in every season. It is literally packed with hostels and the occasional hotel, which scale the hills surrounding it. It’s a wonderful place for the young and healthy, but I honestly had a bit of trouble with all the hills and heavy exercise. It’s not a town for a wimp or the physically challenged and a word of warning to all tourists, make sure your accommodations are close to the city center. We saw some that were way off the beaten track, so that hiking into town wasn’t practical no matter how much in shape you are.
Finding a good restaurant in Costa Rica is often challenging, so here are two recommendations: Sabor Tico in their little mall was excellent, reasonably priced and the portions of arroz con pollo were so large that we ate a full second meal on the leftovers; and we highly recommend stopping by The Treehouse for decent food but great atmosphere as it is literally built around a huge tree.
If you’re coming to Costa Rica, make a trip to the wilds of Monteverde. You won’t regret it!