Nestled on top of Costa Rica’s continental divide, sits the small town of Monteverde, a region surrounded by cloud forests, coffee plantations and agriculture. Based at an altitude of some 4,662 ft (1,440 m) above sea level, Monteverde receives a steady supply of sunshine, clouds, fog and an annual average rainfall of around 3,000 millimeters, making a more than ideal ecosystem for growth and life.
On our visit to the mountainous town, we ventured to the family run farm of El Trapiche. My original draw to the farm was to explore an infamous Costa Rican coffee plantation, but upon exploring the farm, I realized the vast diversity of the Costa Rican agricultural industry. From sugar cane, coffee, coco beans, bananas, plantains, macadamias, pineapples and oranges, the high altitude climate is ideal for year round growth of a variety of produce. A lot of which is shipped around the world to regions which aren't as fortunate ie. Minnesota...
In the span of our walk around the farm, we were exposed to the coffee process, starting from plantation to the crushing, peeling and roasting of the beans, as well as sugarcane cultivation and the drying, roasting and grinding of cocoa beans to make chocolate. Agriculture and tourism make up the majority of income in Monteverde. With a ride on the back of a traditional Ox Cart, a "carreta", and being surrounded by mountainous backdrops, the experience makes you appreciate the value of the Costa Rican land.
A journey to Monteverde, should not be taken lightly. Like most travel in Costa Rica, the roads aren't the greatest and getting anywhere takes time. The road to Monteverde, in our case, traveling from the Pacific coast, seemed relatively simple for the first couple hours. It's the last leg of ascending up the semi-vertical dirt terrain of rocks and boulders, which puts you to the real test. Whilst the rocky dirt road and the odd cattle crossing will give you the authentic mountain experience, you will be more likely to enjoy it with 4 wheel drive and the relief of knowing you went with the maximum insurance coverage. Upon finally arriving in Monteverde, the ever long, slow and bumpy climb up the mountain side is rewarded with a gem of town. Surrounded by the beauty of the cloud forest along with a culture of welcoming people makes the trek worth all the while, "Vale la Pena".
Stay tuned for a further post on trekking through the Cloud Forest and check out the full photo gallery and story from Monteverde here.