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The cloud forest lives up to its name!

Costa Rica day nine


View Costa Rica 2022 on ToonSarah's travel map.

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Cloud forest in Monteverde

The Senda Monteverde required pre-reservation for all meals (perhaps because of Covid?), so we'd arranged for breakfast at 6.15. We were the first to arrive and got a corner table with the view right across to the Pacific.

After a good breakfast (great granola!) we were picked up by our guide for the morning's walk in the Sant Elena reserve, Marcela. It was about a twenty minute drive and as we went she explained that the reserve was on the other side of the mountain, the Caribbean side. Because Monteverde sits on the Continental Divide, there can be a different climate on each side, and so it proved today. The mix of mist and sunshine that produced a beautiful rainbow over Sant Elena as we passed through the town turned into proper steady rain by the time we reached our destination. Fortunately we had come prepared with waterproofs and a plastic bag cover for my camera.

Despite the weather, or may be in part because of it, we had a fascinating walk with Marcela, spending about three hours in the cloud forest. She pointed out so many small things we would have missed, like tiny subtle-hued orchids and delicate ferns.

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Cloud forest orchids

And many of the facts she shared intrigued me. Did you know, for instance, that some trees can walk?! She showed us how by putting down their long external roots in different places some trees can inch their way across the forest floor, travelling as much as thirty centimetres in a year!

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Cloud forest scenes

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Tree ferns in the cloud forest - it's worth looking up ...

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... and down

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We saw several millipedes

She showed us a tiny fungus that lives by invading an insect's body (in this case it was a wasp's) and somehow manipulating its brain to land in an area where the fungus will thrive. The fungus then kills the host insect and lives off its dead body. I found myself thinking that there could be the plot for a great SF film there, if the fungus were to evolve to attack humans! But I decided that we have enough to deal with at the moment without inventing another threat.

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This flower looks like a pair of lips kissing!

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Various plants and flowers

I was also fascinated by the many epiphytes that live on these trees - mosses, ferns, bromeliads, vines. A single tree is a mini ecosystem in itself, hosting up to 200 species! Unlike parasites the epiphytes don't kill their hosts. Some have a symbiotic relationship with the tree but most simply live there as they would on the ground, but much closer to the essential light that all forest plants fight to capture. However they can eventually damage their hosts as branches snap off under the sheer weight of the plants, soil and water.

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Lichen

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Bracket fungus

I also loved the textures and patterns of the leaves which were emphasised by their wetness. They made for interesting monochrome shots, both colour and black and white.

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Cloud forest leaf details

After our rather damp walk we were dropped off back at the hotel around 11.30. So we had plenty of time to dry off and download photos before lunch. After our meal we walked back to our room via one of the hotel's nature trails in the forest above and behind the property and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the view.

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Banana flower and tree on the nature trail

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View from our terrace

After a rather spectacular sunset we headed down the hill for a drink in the bar before dinner. We were able to have the latter quite a bit earlier than yesterday and sat over our wine afterwards for a while before turning in for the night.

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Sunset from our terrace

Posted by ToonSarah 08:45 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises trees flowers hotel plants insects costa_rica forest Comments (9)

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