Tip-Toe Through the Tree-Tops: Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica …

March 7th, 2012 § 3

Selvatura Park, Santa Elena, Costa Rica: Suspended Bridges Span Verdant Valleys & Lush Canopies of Mist-Covered Tree Tops

When describing a great adventure, sometimes the hardest part is knowing where to begin. Such was the case when I returned from my recent travels in Costa Rica. Because I truly fell in love with one particular area —the Monteverde Cloud Forest Region— I knew right away that I would find it impossible to tell the tale in chronological order. So I skipped right to the middle, and I hope you won’t mind!

Getting to Monteverde Cloud Forest —4,662′ above sea level— is quite a journey in and of itself. Miles and miles of narrow, dusty dirt roads twist and turn up, around and through the rugged mountainous terrain in the Puntarenas region. The travel is slow-going, with tourist-filled busses and supply trucks popping up around perilous corners. Although I love to drive, for once, I was very happy to be in the passenger seat!

The View from the Mountains Leading to Santa Elena, Looking Down to the Coast and Nicoya Peninsula 

The Monteverde area sits high above sea level, spanning Costa Rica’s continental divide, and encompassing a variety of microclimates.  The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve is a protected, natural area founded by American Quakers when they settled the area and began farming in 1951. Since that time, more Cloud Forest area has been devoted to parks and preserves …

Mist-Covered Tree Tops at the Edge of the Continental Divide, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Cloud Forests are truly some of the rarest, most magical places on Earth. Only 1% of the world’s wooded areas are cloud forests. While staying in Santa Elena de Monteverde at the beautiful Arco Iris Lodge, I visited two of these mysterious, mist-covered forests within minutes of each other: Selvatura Park and Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve.

Michaela in the Monteverde Cloud Forest

Selvatura Park alone boasts 8 suspended bridges, carrying hikers through and above the cloud-shrouded forest canopy. We spent approximately 3 hours hiking in Selvatura Park, and a similar amount of time in Monteverde Cloud Forest; listening to the sounds of tropical birds, breathing in the moist, warm air and ogling countless botanical beauties. There are far too many photographs and stories to share in just one post, but here’s a first glimpse at some of the incredible flora I observed at ground level. I truly felt as if I were roaming a gigantic terrarium …

Slender Threads of Mucuna Vine (there are seven different species in Costa Rica) Drape Between the Trees Like Emerald-Hued Web

Delightful Combinations of Hart’s Tongue (Elaphoglossum eximium) & Tree Ferns Mingle Upon & Between Moss-Covered Trunks

Begonia convallariodora, a cloud forest native, blooms in the shadowy, blue mist

This gorgeous, pink-tinged Blechnum occidentale, stands out amid her lush, verdant neighbors

Another Native of the Monteverde Reserve, This Beautifully Pink-Tinted Begonia involucrata Shimmers with a Fresh Coat of Raindrops

Familiar, Yet Strange: It’s Always a Pleasure to Stumble Upon a Common Houseplant —Like this Leathery Philodendron— Growing in Its Native Environment.

Bright Red, Tubular Cuphea appendiculata Flowering on the Forest Floor

Pathway Through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Floor, Lined with Senecio cooperi

At the End of One Trail, a Waterfall Spills Into a Fern-Lined Pool, Carved into Earth and Stone

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina and WB for The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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