From Manuel Antonio National Park we drove North to Monteverde. If you plan to drive there, make sure your car has four-wheel-drive and drives well on rocky grounds. The gravel road up to Monteverde wound itself through the mountains for a long time until we finally reached the village of Santa Elena. While driving we could already see why the area has its name: nothing but green mountains in the distance.
We stayed at Hotel Belmar, a charming eco-lodge with very extensive grounds. The hotel, which is built in a Chalet style, includes a very nice restaurant, a yoga studio and juice bar and overlooks a huge garden with a natural pont. The hotel has its own micro-beer brewery as well as its own herb and vegetable garden and works together with local farmers who provide the restaurant with fresh regional ingredients. Since coffee is grown and produced in the Monteverde area, the hotel offers free, very good coffee in the restaurant and rooms all day (I loved this!). When we arrived at the hotel the staff was very friendly and made us feel welcome right away.
We stayed at Hotel Belmar for two nights and spent our days exploring the area, hiking – there is a beautiful little trail right behind the hotel and a bigger one leading up a mountain with a breath-taking view – we did the obligatory zip-lining excursion in Monteverde (don’t miss it! I suppose this is the best area for zip-lining in Costa Rica) and we enjoyed the hotel grounds.
The hotel had a very intimate feeling about it and we loved having dinner in the hotel restaurant and walking down just a few wooden steps to our room afterwards. It kind of felt like you were visiting a well-travelled, wealthy Austrian friend in his Costa Rican residence.
From Monteverde we drove back down the mountains (again not without some difficulties) and to the Nicoya Peninsula, a very popular destination for surfers. Stay tuned!