It’s known for its lush green scenery, coffee plantations, bad road conditions and cloud forest; it was time to visit Monteverde! We had spent the last two nights in Playa Grande on the Pacific Coast, where we joined a day trip to Nicaragua.
Both the GPS and Google maps said it should take about 3 hours to get from Playa Grande to Monteverde. We knew we couldn’t rely on either of them, so we added another hour. And that would probably be right, if we just took the right road…
Driving to Monteverde
We had heard the roads were bad, really bad! But we couldn’t understand that it was suppose to be that bad being the main road to Monteverde. And we were right… We knew we were on the right way, but then we turned off to follow the GPS and after driving for a while we got a bit insecure. Was this the right road, where we still headed in the right direction? But we continued…
When we got to a steep hill a farmer stopped us and tried to tell us that we had to turn and go back. He spoke Spanish, but we know the hand language and can pick up some words. He meant it wasn’t possible for us to drive this road, so we felt like we had no other option than to turn around. We then met another man, and he said we were driving on the road to Monteverde. He also said that we could manage to get there with a 4×4 (which we had). He gave us the directions (again, in Spanish and hand language). We had to continue up the steep road and when we got to a T-junction we had to take left. We thanked him and turned around.
When we finally got up and to a T-junction we couldn’t believe it was possible to take left. It didn’t look like a road at all, more like a horse carriage road. So we both though: “no, this can’t be right, lets take right and see if we get to another T-junction”. But we were wrong, oh so wrong. In he middle of nowhere we got a car behind us. The driver stopped us! And he told us that the road we were driving on only led to a farm and a small horse track, not suitable for cars. And the other man was right; we should have taken left. So we turned around once again…
The “road” went on top of the ridges almost all the way. And it was a really terrible dirt road with large rocks but the view was gorgeous! We had to stay in low gear almost the whole way, so lets just say it took a while (driving 15 km/h). Since we had started off the day so early we arrived around 3pm. We have no idea for how many hours we drove, but it was kind of an adventure. Would we recommend this road? Nope! And even if we wanted to, we have no chance to tell you where we drove, because we have no idea, haha. We were just so happy we arrived before dark.!
Hotel Fonda Vela
When we got to Fonda Vela to check in we also took a look on some brochures to find out what we could do this day, and we asked if it was possible to just head right to the cloud forest and hike for a few hours. The receptionist didn’t recommend doing so because it was too late in the day. But he recommended joining a night tour in the rainforest, and we thought that sounded like a great idea. We booked that tour for 6pm and decided that we could just wake up early to hike the cloudforest before leaving Monteverde.
We went to see our large beautiful room with two big beds and seating group with a view of the garden. The bathroom was nice with a separate room for toilet and shower. The Wi-Fi did only work in the reception area due to a thunderstorm earlier that week. And we didn’t check out the pool area cause of the weather. It was a bit colder with its high altitude (1,440 m above sea level).
We ate a delicious late lunch/early dinner in the hotels restaurant before we headed back to our room to get ready for the night walk.
Night Walk in The Monteverde Wildlife Refuge
It was light rain in the air, but we packed our cameras to hopefully get some nice pictures of creepy crawlies and other night animals. We got picked up at the hotel, and the driver made a few stops along the way to pick up some more people. We were all divided into small groups before the guided tour began. It’s not that much to tell about the night walk. But we walked around with our flashlights to see if we could spot any animals. If the guides found something cool they called the others up on the walkie-talkie to let them know what they had found and where.
We brought headlights, but it was possible to borrow flashlight
Jon really have a good eye on stuff like this and found the very first animal. This was an animal hard to catch with an aye in the dark, which was a Kinkajou. We didn’t get any pictures of it as it disappeared after few seconds. During the two hours of searching for night animals we saw Cat Eye Snake, Two Toed Sloth, Orange Kneed Tarantella, Bark Scorpion, two Green Vipers, lots of insects, Toucans and other birds.
We were quite lucky with the weather as it stopped raining when we went out in the forest. And as soon we were heading back it started again.
The Sloth was hiding, but you can se something furry
Would we recommend a night walk?
YES, no doubt. We find tours like this interesting as you get to see animals you normally wouldn’t see, as they are active during the night hours. You will also have a guide, which know where to look, what to look after and also know what you are looking at. We had a few stops where our guide pulled out a poster to show us what we just saw. On a night walk you will learn so much about the wildlife in the area you are visiting.
The Monteverde Wildlife Refuge is a private reserve in the Cloud Forest area, and offers a wide variety of species. The night hike in this reserve is rated as the best in the area and run on 2 schedules from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm and 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm.
Early the next morning we ate breakfast (which was included) around 6:30am. And then we went straight out to be at the cloudforest before opening hours (think it was around 7am). Luckily our hotel is one of the closest to the cloudforest so we didn’t have a long ride ahead of us. When purchasing entry tickets to the park they asked us about how much time we wanted to spend there and then they recommended a route. We hiked a 4km long route, and we didn’t meet one single person during our time in the forest. That’s the advantage of being early, and go slightly off-season.
We didn’t see that much. We had hoped for some animals, but saw just a few insects (bring mosquito repellent!). It was a nice walk though, surrounded by lush green mystic forest, fog, wet dripping trees and leafs dancing in the wind. All we heard was the sound of nature: birds were singing and the trees creaking. The trails were good, and it was a nice hanging bridge there too.
After the hike we went back to the hotel to take a shower (we had quite a drive ahead of us) and packed our things before we started the way down from Monteverde. We stopped at the gas station to fill up the tank and to get some more air in one of the tires. The men who worked there didn’t just want to fill air; they checked the tire and found the leak. And in a few they had plugged it for 6$.
The road back down was easy to find and it wasn’t that bad. You do not need a 4×4 (if you stay on the main road though)! But it’s gravel, and you should take it slow and easy.
We didn’t have that much time in Monteverde, and we could have spent another day or two there. There are many places in the area worth a visit, and lots of activities to do; such as zip lining, bungee jump, horseback tour, Sky Walk, Butterfly Garden and so much more. The drive was an adventure in itself and the time we had there was worth it.
After Monteverde we went to Uvita where we tried surfing for the very first time, all on our own (it’s worth a read!). We also went on a horseback tour to the beautiful Nauyaca Waterfalls and a snorkeling tour to Cano Island.