Costa Rica 2019: Cloudforest

Light filtered through towering plant covered trees in the cloud forest.

Monteverde was an otherworldly experience. We stayed two nights in two different private cabins overlooking green rolling mountains filled with mist, flowing clouds, intense winds and sometimes rain flying sideways.

We spent our first night at Rainbow Valley Lodge in this cool modern “cabin”.
Coffee with a view at Rainbow Valley Lodge
A coati enjoying some cat food for breakfast.

Spending three hours exploring Bosque Nuboso Monteverde was not enough to see the entire park. This is partially due to the slow reverence of our walking, as we gazed upward into the glowing green soft light of the canopy above.

So much green!
Moss dripping, misty cloud forest

Giant ferns and towering trees made us feel like ants in Jurassic Park.
Everything was covered in life. No tree showed its bark. Moss, bromeliads, air plants and orchids sprout from anything standing vertical.

Feeling tiny among the giants.

There is a 100m suspension bridge that sways high above the cloud forest floor. Walking it gave us a bird’s eye view of trickling streams far below.

Suspension bridge for a unique view within the canopy!

After our journey we stopped at a coffee shop right outside the gates to see a multitude of humming birds that are attracted by feeders. So many gorgeous colors!

Many thanks to my husband Ian Nutting for his beautiful photographs that I used in this blog. Up next: Beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula!

Sunset looking towards the Gulf of Nicoya

Costa Rica 2019: Rainforest

Volcan Arenal

Our trip to Costa Rica began in the rainforest at Hacienda Guachipelin, waking up to the sound of dozens of different bird calls at 5:30 am. Bright sunshine transformed into a deluge of warm rain as quickly as a light switch is turned on and off.

Hacienda Guachipelin

What is it like in the rainforest? Poisonous snakes in the road and on the path. Mosquitoes, biting flies, leaf cutter ants carrying their prize, and thousands of other tiny and giant insects buzzing and chirruping in the trees.

We enjoyed the freedom of a rental car. And the road signs!
Eyelash pit viper that we saw on a night walk
Leaf Cutter Ants

The sweet smells of fruit, flowers and decay layered on top of each other just as the forest itself is life piling on top of life.

Parque Nacional Volcan Tenorio

We enjoyed several days exploring three different volcanoes and their rainforest environs. Part of volcanic fun is soaking in natural volcanic hot springs. In Rincon de la Vieja you can visit Rio Negro Hot Springs and soak in the 10 pools of different temperatures.

Enjoying the view at Rio Negro Hot Springs
Rio Negro Hot Springs

If you don’t mind getting down and dirty you can use a paintbrush to paint yourself (or your spouse) in skin softening volcanic mud.

Mud treatments at Rio Negro hot springs

At the foot of Volcan Arenal in the town of La Fortuna are several hot spring resorts. But if you don’t want to pay their pricey fees you can soak for free at El Chollin.

The path leading to El Chollin hot springs
El Chollin Free Hot Springs

A highlight was the seeing the gorgeous and surreal blue water of Rio Celeste in Parque Nacional Volcan Tenorio. It’s a 3 mile hike with some steep stairs but it’s worth the sweat and $10 US entrance fee to see this magical place. At the end of the trail you can see where 2 rivers converge to make the milky blue water. At the end of our hike we had the special treat of seeing a Three Toed Sloth!

Catarata de Rio Celeste
Three Toed Sloth, Parque Nacional Volcan Tenorio

We heard the expression “Pura Vida” everywhere we went. It translates to “Pure Life”, but it’s used as a greeting, a farewell, an expression of “it’s great!”, “have fun!”, and we found ourselves saying it back to the Ticos by the end of our trip.

Pura Vida means Pure Life, and you’ll hear it spoken all the time in Costa Rica

I’d like to thank and give credit to my wonderful and talented husband Ian Nutting for his photography on this trip. Most of the pictures in this blog (and the upcoming) were taken by him with his camera, a Sony NEX-F3. Pura Vida!

Cavernas de Venado Costa Rica 2019

Be prepared to get soaked and maybe scrape your knees on this expedition!

A beautiful 45 minute drive from our eco lodge in La Fortuna brought us to The Venado Caves. Named so because of the deer hunters who first discovered them in 1945 (venado translates to deer).

Eager at the entrance

Entrance to the caves ($28 each in USD) includes helmets, headlamps, guide, and rubber boots. We declined the boots after reading reviews that they fill up with water. For another $20 we hired the photographer to join us for a rare opportunity. Every photo in this blog is courtesy of Fausto Perez. The caves are over 6 million years old but have sea shell fossils even older. Currently they are home to fruit bats, vampire bats, and these lovelies. Scorpion spiders. This female has eggs!

Our guide told us not to be afraid and then proceeded to catch one and let us hold it. They have long antenna to help them feel their way through the caves because they are blind. Eeeeeeee!


We had to suck in our guts to make it through the ‘Birth Canal’. This really tested my latent claustrophobia.

Ian made it!

I kept feeling terror but couldn’t stop grinning. Could I be an adrenaline junkie?

We squeezed through tunnels, rock climbed slippery precipices, and walked through waterfalls deep under ground.

You have to go behind this waterfall. Pura vida!!!
Tarantula, one of several we saw in the caves.

We had the amazing luck to be the only ones there today. Sometimes they have entire tour busses come through.

It was only Ian, myself, our guide (Henry) and the photographer (Fausto).
This formation is called The Papaya

We got soaked to the bone, smelled bat guano from fruit bats and vampire bats, army crawled through tunnels barely bigger than my shoulders half full of running water, got spooked by countless spiders and the story of a Fer de Lance snake that was seen just a few weeks ago resting on a rock ledge. Had the time of our lives. Muchas Gracias Costa Rica! Pura Vida!