Up to this point in my life, I always held out on zip lining, because I wanted to have my first experience in Costa Rica (ie. canopy tours began). In fact, in the 1970’s, wildlife biologists set up zip-lines within the rainforest so that they can study and explore the area without disturbing the environment. And from that came the idea of doing canopy tours via zip lines!
Getting to Monteverde wasn’t as easy as I thought, because the road getting there is largely unpaved. You can read more about driving in Costa Rica on my prior post here. Once you get to the edge of where the town begins, you’ll notice paved roads, which was a relief for us. The town is small and somewhat spread out, but you can easily walk to get to places. Just be mindful that you are going to be walking up and down some hills, and the weather also resembles the temperate of San Francisco weather, so bring a windbreaker! We stayed at two hotels during our time there: Hotel de Montana Monteverde and Hotel Fonda Vela. We were not able to stay at the Monteverde Lodge because it was fully booked by the time I tried to make reservations, which was 6 months out from time of visit. This lodge works alongside a popular tour operator, so they get first access to rooms before the public does. Thus, try to book rooms, especially during high season, much earlier in advance than you normally would. Even though I wasn’t able to stay at Monteverde Lodge, I was still able to visit and take pictures of the place! After exploring the lodge, I did get jealous that I wasn’t able to stay there overnight. But, there’s always next time!
The first hotel in Monteverde we stayed at was the Hotel de Montana. This was going to be considered our lower end hotel, but it actually was a great hotel. I mean, there was a hot water issue the first night there, but besides that I actually loved it and, I don’t have anything bad to say about the hotel. It seems that since the hotel was not a part of the List I did not take any pictures of the hotel or the room so I guess you will just have to take my word for it.
The second and last hotel we stayed at in Monteverde was Hotel Fonda Vela, which we considered to be more on the higher end of hotels in the area. This hotel, like Hotel de Montana, had big rooms and a nice balcony (that comes with beautiful views). If you desire some privacy, these chalet style rooms are ideal due to the two leveled buildings with just one room above and below. I loved staying here as well, but I really don’t think you can go wrong picking any hotel in Monteverde. One complaint I did have of the place was how far apart the chalet rooms were to the restaurant and amenities, where it could be difficult to navigate at night since not much lighting is available. There was another building with rooms that was much closer to the restaurant, so you may want to request those rooms instead. This hotel is also close to the Monteverde Cloud Forest National Park, even walking distance from our hotel! I highly recommend heading to this park for a day hike. There are some amazing viewpoints you can enjoy, and you’ll see why they call it a cloud forest by the end of your visit. Not only that, right next door to the park’s entrance is a hummingbird cafe. You’ll get to see tons of hummingbirds up close! Also, try the cafe’s pan de elote, it was delicious!
A dinner spot that the book recommended while staying at Monteverde was called Sofia’s. It was actually quite close to Hotel de Montana, which I’d say was a few minutes walk from our hotel. From all the other restaurants we tried in Monteverde, I would say it was the fanciest restaurant we dined at. And when I say fancy, I mean fancy for Costa Rica. It was by no means a Michelin star restaurant or anything, but it was a restaurant that tried to strive towards that standard. Unfortunately, none of the food was very memorable. The ginger mango mojito was so overpowered with ginger flavor, it got too sour to drink at one point. The seafood chimichanga was on the smaller side to what I’m used to, and I would have preferred a regular beef chimichanga instead. We had banana bread pudding for dessert, and I would suggest just passing on it to begin with. I personally do not like raisins in my bread pudding, but I also do not like it being drenched in sauce, and this dessert dish had both. Instead, I would recommend Choco Cafe for delicious coffee and sweets, Tree House Restaurant for some cool ambient dining, or Don Luis for some amazing pizza.
Now, when it comes to zip-lining, it seems the two main competitors are Sky Adventures and Selvatura Adventure Park. But, since I have to follow the book’s instructions, I chose Selvatura Adventure Park. And to be honest, I think Selvatura is the more widely known adventure park anyways. We already bought our package (Canopy Tour and Sky Bridge), which I highly recommend buying in advance since there are group tours that swarm the adventure park in the morning. Since the morning lines were so long, we were told to do the bridge walks first then come back for the afternoon session. The bridges were fun to walk across and slightly scary as the bridge can sway side to side when you have people leaning on the sides. But you can get amazing views of the forest and clouds, it was quite beautiful. After that, we were ready to conquer the zip line! So, if it’s your first time, you are naturally going to be a little scared. But luckily they give you a short and easy lesson on how to zip line properly. Not only do they go over how to zip line, but there’s a smaller, very manageable zip line to go through before you start on the bigger ones. I think after going through the first short zip line, you will lose the fear of going on the longer ones. It does get a bit scary walking up to get to the zip line, but you are there for the adventure and thrill of zip-lining. So trust in the zip line system! You will be reassured when you see there is a person sending you off and a person on the receiving end to “catch” you. It is very thrilling and would recommend it to anyone that wants to do something exciting!