I had booked my guided tour to the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve through the hostel Cabinas El Pueblo. At 8:30 the pick up to the Cloud Forest arrived and interestingly one had to extra for the pick-up service. The shuttle to the reserve was 6USD or 4K Colonnes. But never mind, it was a rather long drive to the reserve from Monteverde. After getting the ticket, we met our guide Orlando at the beginning of the trail. The other tour members were a mix of Americans, French, and one Romanian couple who had lived in Vienna for nine years.
Unfortunately, although I am not really sure that this is the correct word here, the weather was gorgeous. So the cloud forest was not shrouded in mists, but was rather a banal rain forest as any I had seen before. But never mind, a rain forest is always interesting, and I was not disappointed.
For three hours we walked around the forest and learned about the difference of the primary and the secondary forest. The primary forest is the older one and the difference between the two kinds of forests can easily be spotted. The secondary forest comes only to about 30-40 years. The land of the reserve had been farmland before. But due to harsh conditions, lots of rain, and wind, the farmers gave up and nature took over. Since everything grew at the same time, trees look rather uniform.
In the primary forest, everything has a different size and age. Trees fall here easily, since they have shallow roots. Over the years other plants and trees grow on them. Like the ficus tree, a house plant in most western countries, but like a parasite in its natural habitat. It grows over a tree and slowly suffocates it. Others just grow on top and throw their roots down, which are then called lianes. These lianes grow roots eventually in the soil though.
Fun fact: How Tarzan could swing in the African jungle from liane to liane is a mystery. He must have hacked all the lianes first. He also couldn’t have used vines, which are long as well and hang from trees, but they are herbaceous and therefore rip.
Since moss coats the trees as well and it can soak up copious amounts of water, eventually all of this can get too much for a tree. Then the tree just falls. Apparently that happens a lot around here and is perfectly natural. Because this opens up room for other plants beneath to get access to light and start growing.
The tour was really informative and interesting and when it ended shortly after noon, I was happy to head back to Monteverde instead of walking another track. What I enjoyed the most, besides the many flowers and the lesson on trees and plants, was the platform overlooking the area. Honestly, it can’t get any better than this. Yours, Pollybert