The roads towards Monteverde are all unpaved. The locals disapprove any improvements on the street, as this would bring in more tourists into the area. We had a view “picture stops and arrived at the little town of Sta. Elena, the starting point to all attractions of the region around lunchtime.
The town of Sta. Elena has been founded by Quaker families(some sort of religious group) immigrating to Costa Rica from the United States in 1951. They came to Costa Rica because, beside other considerations, the fact that the country does not have a standing army. Surprise! US-citizens that don’t like the idea of having an army, I bet those guys weren’t supporting the Republicans.
But even Quakers, somehow have to maker their living, so there is a dairy farm and associated cheese factory which now produce over a ton of cheese a day. And you get to see a lot of cows running around, which is bad for the environment, as cows like grass and don’t usually life in the rainforest.
Our first stop was at the Skywalk, we initially just wanted to visit the “Selvatura” Trek, which was recommended to us by a fellow traveler in La Fortuna. But after the guy at Skywalk offered us half-price (it’s always good to mention the competitor) we decided to do both of the treks. The Skywalk is a complex of suspended bridges, platforms and paths, built within the Cloud Forest. These allow the observation of flora and fauna from ground level all the way up to the top of the trees. That enabled us to explore the tops of the trees, a world which is very close but yet unknown to most. The lush green garden of mosses, ferns, flowers, and epiphytes growing thickly on every tree was very impressive. At the end of the door we even got to see some hummingbirds.
On our way back to Sta. Elena we stopped at a marvelous spot to listen the sound of birds and watch the fog rising from the rainforest. First we thought about camping, but due to the wet weather conditions we decided to have a look at an Inn which was promoted on a dirty little sign on the side of the road. On the way to the inn we had the chance to catch an amazing sunset with superb view of Vulcan Arenal. The Inn was indeed very remote. The water was supplied by their very own spring and the electricity was provided by an generator.
The guy who was in charge was very friendly and we met Chety, a tour guide and Abel, a biology student who was working on his final papers. Both where also staying at the Inn. Chety was from Los Angeles and running a small agency in Costa Rica, he offered us an unique canyoning tour the next day. We got it half price, as he was still training his stuff and we where the first tourists to try their equipment. The hut we stayed in where basic, but the view was amazing. It was even possible to watch the eruptions of Mount Arenal at night.