Spontaneously, we decided to not go to Puntarenas, as it was our initial plan but to see a little bit more of the Mountains in Costa Rica and drove to Monteverde. The way there was, as most of the time when we drive somewhere very adventurous! 🙂 Not only did we have a 30km bumpy and stony road, we also went uphill as high as 1.400m – stunning views of bright green mountain hills awaited us.
Our hostel of choice was “Chillout Hostal”, a cozy and sweet place in Santa Elena (close to Monteverde), where we were welcomed friendly and got a first introduction to all the fun tours we could do around the area. For the next day we decided to go on a hike in the “Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, with an entrance fee of 14$ p.p.it was one of the cheapest options around here. 😉 You can choose between 4 different trails, the longest takes approx. 3,5hs. We decided to combine 2 trails to have 3hs in total. The forest was really amazing, as it was humid and mossy an additionally very green. On our trail we passed a viewpoint on which we went up and saw the volcano “El Arenal”, which we knew from La Fortuna. Again, as we got to know it, the volcano hid in the clouds. 🙂 While we hiked further, it started to rain…and then it poured! We got soaking wet and tried to leave the area as fast as we could to not get more wet. Well, too late – once we arrived at the hostel our clothes, shoes and backpacks were completely wet! On our way home we were additionally surrounded by a lot of fog, crazy weather conditions!
For the next day, our plan was to see a chocolate & coffee tour offered by “Don Juan” – it was great! Not only did we learn a lot about the long and extensive process of coffee making, we could also try the differently roasted beans and taste the difference between good and very good coffee. 🙂 From now on we will enjoy every cup of coffee even more! Moreover, we got to taste very delicious chocolate. Our guide Junior took some chocolate beans, rasped them and added some secret ingredients (one of them, he told us was monkey pee, but we assume it was vanilla flavor ;)) and let us taste it. So good! This tour we would really recommend to do, since it is not only interesting for the coffee junkies.
In the afternoon, we followed the advice of our hostel owner and went to see the hollow Fikus tree. Surprisingly, no one charged us for seeing it, which is a pretty rare thing in Costa Rica. 😉 We heard that the biggest of these trees is so hollow that we could even climb up on it! And the rumors didn’t lie – we were stunned. But how is that even possible and what happened to the tree!? The explanation is called “Strangler Fig Tree”:
“[…] Beginning life as a sticky seed left on a high tree branch by an animal such as a bird, bat, or monkey, the young strangler lives on the tree’s surface (see epiphyte). As it grows, long roots develop and descend along the trunk of the host tree, eventually reaching the ground and entering the soil. Several roots usually do this, and they become grafted together, enclosing their host’s trunk in a strangling latticework, ultimately creating a nearly complete sheath around the trunk. The host tree’s canopy becomes shaded by the thick fig foliage, its trunk constricted by the surrounding root sheath, and its own root system forced to compete with that of the strangling fig. This process can kill the host; if not, the host tree, being much older than the strangler, still dies eventually and rots away and a magnificent fig “tree” is left behind whose apparent “trunk” is actually a gigantic cylinder of roots. […]” (https://www.britannica.com/plant/strangler-fig-tree)
So much for the biology lesson today. 😉
Back on the road the next day we made our way to San Jose, where we needed to return our rental car (surprisingly, it was still in a good condition!) and got some sleep, since we were picked up the nex day at 6am to drive to Panamá!