Our final stop in Costa Rica was in the cool mountainous area of Monteverde. In 1951, Quakers from Alabama purchased land in Monteverde to avoid being drafted in the Korean War, an obligation which contradicted their pacifist ideology. They chose Costa Rica because it had abolished its army three years earlier and for the cool lush climate. They named the area Monteverde (“Green Mountain”), for the year-round greenery.
The area is home to several protected biodiverse cloud forests and lots of wildlife including over 100 species of mammals, 400 bird species, 120 reptilian and amphibian species, and thousands of insects. One of the most popular ways to see the cloud forest is to zip-line above the canopy. We thought this sounded like a good idea. That is until I was stuck hanging in the air above the valley 150 metres below.
Eventually I managed to get moving and we continued soaring above the cloud forest across the valley on a total of 14 separate cables measuring 3.2km. With the heavy cloud cover, sometimes you just disappeared into the mist as soon as you left the platform. It was terrifying.
Eventually the guide assured me that the cables were over. However, what he failed to tell me was that the only way to get down was by rappelling 100m to the ground. This involved stepping off into the abyss and then dropping at speed through the layers of canopy. He also conveniently failed to mention the ‘Superman zip lines’ where you get pushed down face-first with your legs suspended behind you.
I’d had quite enough at this stage and was amazed when Jack decided to once more jump into the air on a 50m long Tarzan swing 100m above the ground.
Overall it was an amazing way to view the landscape from above but I won’t be doing it again.
After the drama of wires and pulleys, the next day we caught a bus to the nearby Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve. The forest was teeming with life. We walked the misty trails amongst moss-covered trees and foliage dripping with water. It was an incredible scene as the clouds drifted through the canopy and birds chirped all around us.
On the way home we stopped beside the road at a bar for a beer with a view. A much more leisurely day.
Next up: Roatan, Honduras