Sunday, May 27, 2007

6. Monteverde Skywalk (5/27/07)

Sunday, May 27, 2007
After a siesta, we boarded the bus at 2:30 PM for a drive across "town" to the Skywalk. Monteverde is actually made up of several small towns. We passed landmarks such as Stella's Bakery. Linda & Jerry remembered when Stella sold baked goods from her kitchen, but now she has a large coffee shop/bakery. Also saw the CASEM (Community of Artisans of Santa Elena and Monteverde), the women's craft cooperative that started in 1982.
The Monteverde Skywalk/Skytrek staff explained the options, but then stated that it was too late to do the Skytrek, the series of zip lines from 11 platforms on steel towers. Although a few of us were disappointed, we did realize that the zip lines were more for the thrill of speed rather than to enjoy the views of the forest canopy. Birding would not be possible! As it turned out, the clouds rolled in and obliterated all visibility on the zip lines.
Jimmy took us on the reverse route of the Skywalk, a one and a quarter mile trail with 7 very long and narrow suspension bridges through the cloud forest canopy. This way we avoided the long spiral staircase up to the first suspension bridge. The longest bridge was 797 feet long and the highest was 132 feet above the forest floor.
Suspension Bridge (Photo by Kent)
Suspension Bridge (Photo by Linda)
Some of the bridges had a limit of 10 persons, so our group was divided into two.
The jungle was so thick that you had rare glimpses of the forest floor. We could hear water of a babbling brook, but couldn't see it.
Looking down on the forest floor (Photo by Brynne)
We had a great close-up view of an Elleanthus Orchid (Elleanthus robustus).
Orchid Elleanthus robustus (Photo by Linda)
The thick clouds were rolling in as the last of the zip liners were zipping to the end (see that dot to the left of the platform towers?!)
Skytrek platform (Photo by Kent)
After the first pair of suspension bridges, we could hear the distinctive sound of the Mantled Howler Monkeys (Alouatta palliata). We peered through the jungle, but they weren't as close as they sounded. Another suspension bridge brought us closer for a glimpse of them in a tree canopy, and another bridge closer still. At least a half dozen monkeys occupied the top branches of one tree we circled from afar.
Mantled Howler Monkey (Photo by Linda)
Of course, we spotted some birds, and Jimmy was calling to one in particular. But this species was elusive. The clouds were coming for us, so we headed back to the end of the trail where hummingbird feeders were set up. These were swarmed with bees.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped in the village of Santa Elena. Some of us went to an ice cream place and others went for coffee at the Tree House Restaurant hiding behind a huge bushy tree. We also had time to do some window shopping or souvenir shopping. A dog was in the Farmacia and laid down on a display of blankets or some kind of folded textiles!
Back to the hotel to shower and meet for the bird checklist before dinner. We started dinner with a veggie cream for Brynne and a salad for me. Brynne and I shared a spaghetti bolognese and Kent had the ravioli with spinach and lots of marinara, accompanied by a Bavarian beer.
Can you believe we were in bed by 10:00 PM?
Next: 7. Arenal Lake.

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