Costa Rica, 11 June

Sammy really enjoyed the zip lines
Sammy really enjoyed the zip lines

After a terrific breakfast at our cabins, Orlando met us and took us to the Selvatura Cloud Forest park, where we began a zip line tour over the cloud forest.  Where we were in Monte Verde, Costa Rica, looks a little like a tropical rain forest, but in fact a cloud forest is different.  Where rain forests get torrential rains, most of the rain runs off and moves into tributaries of rivers.  A cloud forrest doesn’t have as much rain.  Most of the moisture comes from clouds that are pushed inland by ocean winds.  This means that the moisture comes in the form of condensation that runs off leaves and soaks into the ground.  The Selvatura park features a number of really long zip lines, the final one measuring a full kilometer.  At points we were hundreds of feet above the canopy, passing over and among terrific scenery.

Ready for our zip line tour of the cloud forrest
Ready for our zip line tour of the cloud forest

Soon after our arrival we were suited up and ready to go.  We had to take a short shuttle ride from the reception area to the first tower. After a short instruction session, we were on our way.  The first zip was short, but the next one was almost a kilometer.

Samantha makes it look easy.
Samantha makes it look easy.
Tom enjoyed the ride.
Tom enjoyed the ride.
Candy barely had enough weight to create enough momentum to get her to the platform at the end.
Candy barely had enough weight to create enough momentum to get her to the platform at the end.
What a handsome devil. Candy is SO lucky.
What a handsome devil. Candy is SO lucky.

After completing the zip line tour, we then hiked along the couple miles of trails through the Selvatura Park, which is sort of a privately held nature preserve.  Tom wanted to see a “big cat.”  Sam wanted to see a sloth.  Candy wanted to see a monkey.  I wanted to see a toucan.

One of several pedestrian suspension bridges in the Selvatura Park
One of several pedestrian suspension bridges in the Selvatura Park

I’m not exactly sure how long the nature trail was, but it took us nearly two hours to walk it, stopping from time to time to try to spot some wildlife.  There were several pedestrian foot bridges along the trail that gave us a chance to look at the forest from the middle and top of the canopy as well as walking from bridge to bridge along the ground level.

Another view of one of the bridges
Another view of one of the bridges
Looking up into the cloud forrest canopy
Looking up into the cloud forest canopy
Looking down into the cloud forest from one of the bridges
Looking down into the cloud forest from one of the bridges
Sam, enjoying the view
Sam, enjoying the view
One tree grew around another tree
One tree grew around another tree
Sam and Candy ambling down the trail
Sam and Candy ambling down the trail
Two handsome dudes
Two handsome dudes

This picture gives you some sense of scale for the length of these suspension bridges through the cloud forest.

We were just a few feet away from this ocelot
We were just a few feet away from this ocelot

The best way to find wildlife at a national park in the US is to watch where all the cars are parked by the side of the road.  Someone spots an animal and everyone else stops to see it too.  The same was true in the cloud forest.  We came around a curve in the trail and found a couple pointing into the trees.  It turned out to be an oncilla, which is somewhat smaller than an ocelot.  He eventually got tired of all of us staring at him, came out of his tree, and disappeared into the vegetation.  Tom was the only one who got to see what he wanted to see on the hike.

Crossing the final suspension bridge
Crossing the final suspension bridge

As we finished the walking tour, we were getting hungry for lunch.  Orlando took us to a small Soda in town where we had yet another terrific meal.  We bought a few groceries to take back to our cabin as the afternoon rain began to fall.  We then spent the afternoon relaxing in our cabin.  We went to a nearby pizza joint for dinner, and then ended the day with some board games back in our cabin.

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