Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve Monteverde, Costa Rica, Monday, 20 January 2014 10:00pm

The original reason why Monteverde became a tourist attraction was the cloud forest atop the local mountains. The area had been settled by Alabama Quakers who, after WWII, wanted to find somewhere that they wouldn't be drafted against their pacifist creed. Costa Rica, had abolished its army, and seemed like a great choice. Once they were established in the Monteverde area and were clearing land for dairy farming, a biologist came looking for the Quetzal, a rare bird. One of the Quakers (who until then had been trying to set up a chainsaw business) became his guide, and together they sighted the Quetzal and many other species. They worked together to get the community to set aside a reserve to protect the cloud forest ecosystem.

We visited the reserve today on a two-person tour. The cloud forest is similar to the rain forest near Arenal, but different in some important ways. There are many non-native trees around Arenal (eucalyptus and three-needle pines), while much of the Monteverde reserve is original forest, never cut. This means that there are some very large, very old trees that can't be found elsewhere. We saw many kinds of birds, and two different mammals, the coati (again!) and the squirrel.

There are a large number of species of hummingbird in the area that we glimpsed in passing, and just outside of the reserve, a cafe has set up hummingbird feeders where you can get a close look at them. There are some amazing large blue and purple ones, as well as many different patterns of green, brown, and red.

In the evening, we stopped by a Ranarium (frog exhibit) and got to see more of the frogs of the region. While it's not as fun as tromping around through swamps, we did get good looks at a bunch of different frogs and toads.