Cloudforests with Alison

Pookaverse spent some time apart for the first time in 5 months and survived.

Alison wanted to go and see Cloudforests but Rohan didn’t fancy the 3 hour bus journey so stayed in San Ramon.

i wouldn't want to find this under by bed.

i wouldn’t want to find this under by bed.

Strung between two lovingly preserved cloudforests is this slim corridor of civilization which consists of the Tico village of Santa Elena and the Quaker settlement of Monteverde. A 1983 article in National Geographic described this unique landscape and subsequently billed the area as the place to view one of Central America’s most famous birds – the resplendent quetzal. Suddenly, hordes of tourists armed with tripods and telephoto lenses started braving Monteverde’s notoriously awful access roads, which came as a huge shock to the then established Quaker community.

In an effort to stem the tourist flow, local communities lobbied to stop developers from paving the roads. And it worked. Today, the dirt roads leading to Monteverde and Santa Elena have effectively created a moat around this precious experiment in sustainable eco tourism.


Having survived the bus journey, most of it spent standing, it was a quick check in then off to Monteverde Reserve with 3 other volunteers met on the bus. Two from Sweden, one from the UK. We were lucky enough to see a family of coati  (from the racoon family) within minutes of entering the reserve.  The reserve was beautiful, quiet and peaceful with some awesome views. Luckily the cloud in this cloudforest remained quite high so we could enjoy the spectacular surroundings. We also saw a group of white faced capuchin monkeys playing in the undergrowth.

Volcan Arenal in the distance

Volcan Arenal in the distance

The next day it was the turn of Santa Elena Cloud Forest, a fraction of the size of Monteverde Reserve but this exquisitely misty reserve was a joy to spend time in. It stands at a slightly higher elevation than Monteverde and has a stable population of  Sloth and monkeys. The place is moist, and almost all of the water comes as fine mist, more than 25% of all the biomass in the forest are epiphytes, mosses and lichens, for which this place is a humid haven.

Coati snuffling for goodies

Coati snuffling for goodies

Volcan Arenal can be seen in the distance. The trail through the reserve was slightly spoilt by a group of young people of mixed nationalities who thought it hysterical to imitate animal calls during the walk and then wonder why they didn’t see anything!


The area of Monteverde and Santa Elena offers all kind of excitement such as zip wires, bungee jumping etc but I just opted for the Nightwalk and had a fabulous time. I saw a two toed sloth and its baby, an armadillo, two highly poisonous snakes, a tarantula, several sleeping birds – a toucan with its beak tucked under its wing ( very inconsiderate), and several other unpronounceable named mammals. All fantastic to see but impossible to photograph. You will just have to take my word for it.

Sunset from my Hotel room in Santa Elena

Sunset from my Hotel room in Santa Elena

The return bus from Monteverde left at 6.30am and this time I had a seat but it turned out to be the wrong seat – Doctors handwriting on the ticket caused the problem – anyway I am sure  standing is much better for the circulation!


7 Responses to “Cloudforests with Alison”

  1. Thompson Says:

    That sounds fantastic Alison – well worth standing up on the bus for.

  2. jose Says:

    What an adventure, to see creatures like the sloth, not fussed on the snakes and spiders great photos. x

  3. Terri and Andrew Says:

    Wow what an adventure Alison and worth the early morning and standing on the bus! Glad you saw the night life too!
    Safe travels, Lots of love, Terri and Andrew xx

  4. Anne Says:

    Sounds & looks great. Not quite in the same league but – it was my birthday today and so following squash (I made them all sing happy birthday to me on court before we warmed up), we went for the obligatory tea / coffee and chocolates and then Hilary, Jan, Ian, Tricia, Katie and I walked up to the cafe in the woods. It rained / sleeted down the whole time. We were cold and soaking wet. Hot soup up the top and then back down to Hilary’s for tea, scones and cake. We had a great time are planning the next one – to celebrate your return maybe? Carry on having a great time.

    • pookaverse Says:

      Hi Anne and belated Happy Birthday – we haven’t had access to internet for two weeks hence the delay. Sounds like you had a fab day and I admire you all walking up to the cafe in the lousy weather. Hot soup has probably never tasted so good.

      We are finally getting a small taste of the cold having just arrived in New York where it is just on freezing and there is still a bit of snow on the ground. Shock to the system after 3 months in warm/hot climes. Have to say, having just come in from a walk around our Brooklyn neighbourhood, that the cold felt good!

      We will be in Aylesbury sometime during week of 10th March so maybe we could arrange a get together that week. Who knows, we may even be able to stick around for squash on the Sunday. Now that sounds like a good idea. Will keep you posted.

      • Anne Says:

        Hello -not that I am thick or anything – but I have
        Only just spotted that you are replying to things!!! If you are. Around this Sunday – that would be great. As far as I know squash is on and we are down the chocolate shop afterwards. Hilary isn’t well again so don’t know if she will be around. Phone and let us know where you are – looking forward to meeting up again. Anne

  5. Rach Says:

    Hello my lovelies – totally fascinated by Ali’s trip – what amazing photos – particularly liked the Coati!
    I’m totally giddy about seeing you both on Sunday – bordering on Hysteria!!!As Charlotte only stays Friday and Sat, I will change the bedding etc on Sunday Morning when she gets up to get it all fresh and cosy for you both. If you need to hibernate in there for a couple of days and rest, that’s totally fine – just bang on the floor and I’ll bring tea and biccies 🙂
    Love you both to bits and I will try to contain my hysteria 🙂

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