16 Jul

Family Visit to Monteverde Cloud Forest & Nosara Beaches

A family vacation of Central American proportions! Grandiose sunsets, colorful wildlife in lush, wet cloud forests, yummy foods, quotes from movies of our youth the likes of Ace Ventura and Speed. Couldn’t ask for anything better.

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Hallooo, family! After traveling close to 5,000 miles / 8,000 kilometers from California, it was certainly nice to have hugs – in person – from Amanda’s Mom, Dad and Sister who flew in from Calgary, Alberta.


Everyone’s first time to Costa Rica, we decide to check out the highly acclaimed Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and neighboring town of Santa Elena. We were unsure what to expect from the weather, but knew it would be cooler than at the coast. Set high up in the interior mountains, north of the capital of San Jose, we experienced wind like never before! The rain was expected and came in horizontal at times. Some days were wetter than others, as can be attested to by Team Patagonia.

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The area around Monteverde and Santa Elena is known for its numerous private reserves protecting the flora and fauna, marked by low clouds and massive tree forests. Big thanks to Amanda’s Mom, Louise for taking pretty much every one of the incredible nature pictures on this post!

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The guidebook warned us of appalling roads in the area. Whoever got the middle seat, with five of us jammed into the rental car, was in for a bucking bronco ride and rewarded with an extra beer at the end of the day.

The town of Santa Elena is only three streets that form a triangle, packed with tour companies, restaurants, tourist shops and hotels. The rain pushes you from one indoor establishment to the next.  A stop into the local coffee shop is a must to get dry and buy some souvenir Costa Rican beans.

We did have a few moments of sun, and thoroughly enjoyed the light hiking. A typical picture of the gang on a self-guided nature walk. The conversations went something like, “Stop. What’s that? I heard something. I don’t hear it. Wait, there. Where? Oh, it’s gone now.”

Photo by Louise Paffrath

After four days of incessant wind, we head back home to the Nosara beaches on the Pacific coast in search of more wildlife. The howler monkeys did not disappoint and made daily backyard appearances for our guests.

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The pool is always a nice respite from the heat and humidity. El patron lets loose! Tico-life agrees with him.

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Surfs up, sneaky wave-stealer.

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My sister Tamara is a badass after about 2 tries.

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It’s not all rest and relaxation. We had to get Georg the Mechanical Engineer involved to soup up Amanda’s already killer bike with a surfboard rack. Unstoppable!

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A lizard looks on. Work is not in his plans for the day.

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Morning beach run at our neighborhood beach, Playa Pelada. We did this more than just this one time, I swear!

Jack-o-lantern crabs in hiding. These colorful creatures are so dumb that they drown in our pool regularly. This usually happens at night, and the birds have gotten used to their morning cangrejo snack when we scoop them out of the pool!

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We celebrated Canada Day in style and ate well all week long. Fish stews with Chardonnay by night and whole fried snapper with beach-side beers during the day.

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Thanks again to our resident photographer; the monos are disappointed their biggest fan has left the premises. Family time rejuvenated our spirits, made lasting memories and filled the fridge before departing! Lots of love until next time!

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  • Hannah Ray

    Love this! Did you see any quetzals?

    • Amanda

      No quetzals – that is one elusive bird! We saw other funny things called Agoutis. Look them up! They look like a cross between a rat and a rabbit!