The small bus chugs up the lush mountains in the region of Puntarenas. Rain is falling and the previously dry dirt road is now turning into mud. We are closing in on the clouds, vertically as we are climbing up the mountains, but also as we are soon to approach the Monteverde cloud forest. This national park is one of the most famous and important of Costa Rica and is one reason behind why this country is the most biodiverse in the world.
After a few hours on curly and steep roads, with magnificent views of the Costa Rican countryside and grazing cows, the bus finally chugs it final meters into the village of Santa Elena. This little village, complete with a football pitch, small shops, hostels and restaurants, pretty much lives of the tourism stopping here overnight as they visit the cloud forest. Most people has to stay overnight, as the roads here simply take too long for a return trip on the same day. Actually, it is said that the village refused the construction of a better road, as that would mean lost income of the tourists.
Either way, I follow the trend, and after a rather chilly night, compared to the tropical coast at least, I find myself at the entrance of Monteverde national park. At 1500-1600 of altitude, right in the clouds, it is humid, and the forest is dense. Supposedly there should be both monkeys, ocelots and sloths here, but in all honesty there are more than one place for these animals to hide. Regardless, I did not find any during my 2,5-hour long hike, but the national park does not need the animals to shine. The greenery is fascinating, with all kinds of trees, flowers and bushes. And out of nowhere, a red suspension bridge in metal appears. It breaks of from the all so green cloud forest, and gives a nice contrast, both for the eyes and for the camera.
The suspension bridge is, though, not the only contrast of this national park. At the top of a mountain ridge, at the viewing point “la ventana”, the distinction between the two sides of the mountain is even more dramatic. On one side, towards the Pacific Ocean, it is calm, a sense of Pura Vida, barely a breeze of wind and the beaches of the ocean are fully visible. On the other, the of the Atlantic, the wind is shouting, hitting our faces with blasts of cold sea air and most of the time you should be lucky if you can see the trees just ten meters away.
While this national park might not be ideal for spotting wild animals, just outside the gate there are hundreds of hummingbirds flying around at the Cafe Colibri. Luckily enough, the hummingbirds themselves are not on the menu. Instead they feed from standings filled up with nectar, which makes it possible to get a close up on these fast-flying birds, which is the perfect end-point of a visit to the green mountain of Monteverde.