Looking over tree tops to a cloud covered mountain
Costa Rica,  Monday walks,  Wildlife and nature

Hanging bridges and butterflies

Selvatura Park is one of several private concerns in the Monteverde area that offer various experiences to explore the cloud forest. While not offering quite the pristine ‘back to nature’ experience we found at the other reserves we visited, the Children’s Eternal Rainforest and the Santa Elena Reserve, it still has a sense of wilderness in places. And as we were to discover, it has its share of wonders.

Many come here to do a zipline canopy tour; but we’d decided against that as it’s not advised if you’re prone to back trouble as I am. So instead we booked ourselves on the hanging bridges walk, which I hope will make an interesting Monday Walk for Jo.

The website describes this as:

a peaceful 1.9-mile trail through the cloud forest combining forest trails interconnected with 8 bridges ranging from 170ft up to an amazing 560ft in length

The hanging bridges walk

This was one of the few walks we took in Costa Rica without a guide. You can pay extra for one (quite a lot extra, if I remember correctly) but on the whole we were happy to do it alone. Maybe we missed some wildlife, despite looking carefully; but Marcela’s tour yesterday had equipped us with a fair bit of information about this special ecosystem and we enjoyed identifying some of the details she had pointed out. And with better weather than on that day (dry, mostly cloudy but no moisture) we could take our time over the photos.

However the benefits of having a guide weren’t totally lost on us. Towards the end of the trail we came across a group of three being shown something by their guide. They kindly allowed us to stop and get his guidance in spotting what was causing the excitement – a Resplendent Quetzal! It wasn’t easy to photograph as it was partly hidden among the trees but I got one half-decent shot.

Blue bird with long tail among tree branches
An elusive Resplendent Quetzal

I’m sure we would have missed this had we not run into this group; so it was a real bonus to have done so and to tick off the iconic Costa Rican bird sighting. And as it turned out this was the only one we saw on the trip, making me even more grateful to that guide and the friendly couple who were willing to share the experience.

Butterflies

When we arrived back at the visitor centre there was a ‘butterfly tour’ just starting. Along with about half a dozen other visitors we were escorted to a dome a short distance away. The guide explained how the temperature was controlled to suit the butterflies, a bit warmer than that outside.

Inside the guide showed us Blue Morpho eggs and a caterpillar, and the cocoons of several species. All the species are native to Costa Rica and include the Blue Morpho and Monarch. He explained that some feed on nectar and some on minerals such as potassium, salt and sugar. There were plates of mashed up banana for the latter and a good range of flowering plants for the nectar feeders.

Then we went up to a platform at one end from where we could watch and attempt to photograph the butterflies. I had some success but not with the Blue Morpho which just wouldn’t cooperate and stay still for a second! Using my burst setting helped; I captured a nice sequence of shots, although without a tripod it was impossible to stay completely still, as you can see.

Butterfly time-lapse

At one point a butterfly landed on my finger. I know it was only interested in the salt in my sweat, but it was nevertheless a special moment! It was happy to be transferred from my hand to Chris’s too, and among others in our small group.

Chris on the left, me on the right

There was also a Scarlet Macaw near the platform, and it was much easier to get photos of him!

Head of a red parrot with white beak
Are you looking at me?

This is probably the last of my Costa Rican Monday walks so I’ll be taking you elsewhere in future posts; but I still have a couple more non-walking adventures from that trip to share!

I visited Costa Rica in February 2022

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