Back Country Costa Rica

Trip Start Jul 24, 2012
Trip End Jul 28, 2012

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Puntarenas,
Thursday, July 26, 2012

    We started off early to drive the 75 kilometers to Monteverde and check out the Cloud Rain Forest. There traffic was a bit heavy on the main road CR 27, which is also CR 1 the Pan-American Highway at this location. Tthere were quite a few trucks on the road. Every time we  came to a pretty substantial hill on the road, some beat up old truck was reduced to about 40 kilometers an hour and everyone was lined up behind, crawling up the hill. The construction of these roads did not account for passing areas nor the steepness of the road grade. So down hill on the other side of the hill was still a problem because of the long line of cars. The drive was a test in patience.

    Even when the road way was clear the maximum speed limit was 80 kilometers an hour (50 mph) and the opportunities to get going that fast were far and few between. Again along the roadway were vendors set up selling fruits and vegetables. We saw several hitch hikers, some of them even looked like north americans backpacking through Central America.

    We got off CR 27 and onto CR 606, the road was narrower, but there weren't too many potholes and we were able to maintain our speed at 70 - 80 kph. There was almost no traffic on this smaller road and what traffic we saw was coming our way. Driving was looking pretty comfortable........

    And then the asphalt ran out. Whoa!! This looked like a just barely improved dirt road that had had the blade run over it, 10 years before, smoothing the road way. It was extremely rough. Villages were about every 6 - 8 kilometers, not too many individual house and what house we saw, looked in disrepair. But every village had a school zone and the speed limit was 25 kph. As you can imagine this effected our speed greatly. We were reduced to a maximum of 35 - 40 kph. And more on the lower end due to the curves and the steepness, both up and down, of the road. We were gradually gaining altitude, but the GPS did not display altitude.

    Referencing the GPS, we had initially debated whether we would pay the extra $10 a day for the GPS, but because of the poor signage, it proved to be an excellent decision. We would have surely gotten lost. Most of the road junctions had no signage and what few direction signs there were, were in places that didn't really help navigation.

    After about two hours we passed through Santa Elena, which interestingly, the town roads were all paved, and then back on to the dirt as we made our way to the town of Monteverde. It was a tourist town with lots of local restaurants and small hotels. This area appear to be a destination town for folks interested in rain forest ecology. The traffic picked up considerable in this area.

    We did reach the entrance to the Cloud Rain Forest and were shown, via a small map, a 1.5 kilometer hiking trail in to the forest which lead to a waterfall. The area is a biological reserve for studying the rain forest ecology, as well as having a small cafe and gift shop.  After we paid our entrance fee, $18 a head, we started down the trail as it started to rain. The forest was so thick that very few of the rain drops reached us below the canopy. There were a number of different colored flowers, many different styles of leaves/plants with vines going every which way.

    There were several small groups out looking for different butterflies and hummingbirds. One guys said (a guide) he could see a monkey sleeping in the trees, but we were unable to see the monkey even with the binoculars. We were surprised that we were not harassed by insects either flying or crawling. So that was a good thing for Kathy. The area was interesting and one could spend and an entire week exploring the various trails. It was approach 2 pm and we really are interested in trying to reach the Volcano Arenal, which as the crow flies is about 20 kilometers north. So after a cup of coffee, we are back in the car heading up the dirt road.
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