We were all up early with great anticipation for a day in the famed Monteverde Cloud Forest. Having arranged a tour with our hotel to visit the Selvatura Adventure Park, the van pulled up in front of the building and we were on our way. The van rumbled up the winding roads towards the park.
Most people come to Costa Rica with ideas of zip lining, rafting, horseback riding, and rock climbing on the itinerary. But we would be enjoying the less extreme activities available due to traveling with a little girl. But that just means we will need to come back and get the full experience another time.
For today we signed up for the hanging bridges, sloth sanctuary, and butterfly garden. When we arrived at the park, we were immediately welcomed by brightly colored flowers set in front of the park’s restaurant.
First up for the day was the hanging bridges that would take us through the canopy of the Cloud Forest. It felt like we were being enveloped in the surrounding rainforest with every step along the path we took as we marveled at the incredible variety and layers of green everywhere. Every thing we saw was covered in vines, moss, and other plants making it all seem magical.
The path takes you further and further up through the canopy with eight hanging bridges along the way. To be in the middle of the forest with trees below and above was incredible and we were excited for each new bridge and the different view of the forest that it would give.
But when we thought that we couldn’t love the bridges more, then the wisps of clouds came in taking the experience to a whole new level. This is the Cloud Forest at its finest when the clouds come in while on a bridge in the middle of it.
The path offered what seemed like an endless amount of wonder. Because we are visiting at the beginning of the rainy season, most of the flowers had finished blooming but here and there we could see the bright color of one popping out from the green. The shape of the trees along the path were so interesting and we loved seeing what was coming along every bend.
We arrived at the highest bridge where we walked across the top of all the trees. We just kept looking down trying to get an idea of how high we were and how far we had come to get to the top. We had loved all the bridges, but this one I think would be the favorite because there is nothing like going across the top of the canopy of the forest.
We made the decent back down the path still marveling at that moment of feeling like we could touch the sky above the Cloud Forest. We finished off this portion of the day with lunch at the restaurant while we waited for the next part to begin.
We followed our guide down to the sloth sanctuary where as soon as went through the door we were met by one of the residents. The sloth was curled around the building structure looking at us with a look of mild interest before falling back asleep.
The sloths claiming part of the building itself is nothing new. Our guide said that on the second day the sanctuary was open, they couldn’t find one of the sloths. They looked for hours in every corner and spot, and finally found the missing sloth at the very top of the building looking down at them. There was nothing to do but wait for it to make its slow climb back down.
This sanctuary is home to 13 two toed sloths who were all saved from the wild when they would not have survived on their own. Most of them were saved when they were only 2 or 3 months old. All of the sloths here are female, and even though there is the occasional fight for the most part they all get along harmoniously.
It was amazing to watch the sloths and their slow deliberate movements along the rungs of the created structures everywhere. They would release their hands and hang by their feet to reach the food in the bowls. The real thrill came when they would be hanging right above the walkway as we stood below them.
In this safe environment the sloths are likely to live for 40-50 years, while in the wild they would only live half that time if they were lucky. Sloths are not endangered by any means but there is still a desire to protect them from predators and give visitors the chance to see so many in one place.
There was no question that everyone had fallen in love with these gentle souls on our visit to the sloth sanctuary. It was so peaceful watching them move and eat and just be.
The last stop of our tour was to the Butterfly Garden where over 1500 different species call this home. We took a slow walk through the garden being cautious of where we stepped and pausing when butterflies would land on us briefly.
Throughout the garden they had wood cabinets where rows and rows of cocoons in different stages of development. We watched as some butterflies on the bottom row let go of the last remains of their cocoon and fly off to join the others around. It was really interesting to see the different stages and then to watch one of Costa Rica’s famous blue butterflies emerge fully from the cocoon.
There is really something beautiful about being surrounded by so many different butterflies. Butterflies are always a good reminder about how change leads to wonderful new beginnings.
The Cloud Forest has become one of all time favorite places. We loved our day of seeing the park from the canopy of the trees to the creatures that live within the park. But how can anyone not love a hanging bridge and the furry face of a sloth.
If you love a great bridge to cross, then you may be interested in these other places:
Thanks for coming along to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. May your pace be slow and sure as you see incredible views.