Walk through the forest at nighttime, lovely brisk air, moonlight guiding our way, listening to the sounds of nature, encountering insects, amphibians and mammals and realizing, this is the cloud forest that never sleeps!
During a very recent visit to El Establo Mountain Hotel, I was reminded of all the activities available to guests while staying at the property. There really is no need to go elsewhere, as they have an amazing canopy tour (more on that soon), beautiful trails to explore, a relaxing pool where you can see the sunset while having a drink, a spa for a rejuvenating treatments, delicious restaurant for fine dining, and more. One experience that turned out to be a highlight of our stay was the Night Walk tour.
It was about ten of us that had signed up for the tour that night, we were asked to be ready at 5:45pm for a shuttle to pick us up at our rooms. Guests dashed back and forth to the panoramic windows to take photos of the amazing sunset happening as we piled into the minibus for a short drive up a steep hill inside the property. We got off the shuttle at canopy headquarters and split up into three groups depending on languages spoken.
Our leader for the evening was Rony Castro, a naturalist guide with several years’ experience, the last of which working directly at El Establo. We set out on different trails, a strategy which I learned worked to all or our advantages, because when a guide saw a mammal or insect, he would call out to the others so we could all see and experience same animals. These guys have hawk eyes for sure, doing the trail by yourself would be a very different experience.
It was a beautiful cool evening, moon as out, lighting our path, although we still used the flashlights provided to guide our way. First animal to see was a tarantula, in a small crevice on the side of the mountain. Once we entered the trail that read orchid garden, he showed us the miniature orchids living on moss covered trees, only a couple of millimeters large, but look closely at their detail, color and beauty.
There is a viewing point where different animals cross over from tree to tree, close to one of the decks set up for the canopy. A Kinkajou was there, didn’t seem to be too bothered to see us. We were all able to view him unobstructed and called out to other guests in our party to observe. Martin, as our guide Rony has named him, is a small tree-dwelling mammal. He has a scar on his tail which allowed Rony quick identification.
Some of the insects we came upon during our walk were a sleeping Morpho butterfly, hiding its blue wings too look like an owl at nighttime, a giant stick insect, a giant blue dragonfly, a beautiful bushy tailed mantis, and the larvae of a firefly, with a tremendously strong glowing light despite its tiny size.
A miniature frog was another highlight, half the size of the nail on my little finger.
I don’t know all the scientific names of all the species we saw, I know that Rony does, and he has taken many biologists on hikes, eager to share information and learn from them. He excitedly told the story of a new arachnid species identified in Monteverde not too long ago. I think my most favorite few minutes was just standing silent, switching all cameras and flashlights off, and listening to the nighttime sounds of the forest, inhaling its freshness and energy. A not to be missed experience while staying at El Establo Mountain Hotel!
Article by Katie Widdowson