Monday, March 1, 2010

Costa Rica- Tropical Paradise

Arriving in Costa Rica a day late due to a blizzard & driving to the Peace Lodge in a cloud forest north of Arenal Volcano is a mystical and other worldly experience. Costa Rica is a beautiful country and, having never been in a cloud forest, I was not prepared for the lush vegetation and beauty awaiting me.

A cloud forest is a highland forest characterized by nearly 100% humidity throughout the year. As the winds sweep up to the Continental Divide, they cool and condense to form clouds, bathing the forest in a constant soft mist. The cloud forest here receives an incredible four meters of rain every year- that is almost twelve feet.

One of the most characteristic features of a cloud forest is the abundance of vegetation. Competition for growing space is so intense that trunks and branches are almost entirely covered with a variety of lichens, liverworts, and mosses. The lush cloud forest canopy is thus home to many species of insects, amphibians, and mammals which never even come down to the forest floor.

The Peace Lodge is an exceptional hotel built on the side of a mountain, near the La Paz Waterfalls. It is an organic part of the environment. There are 3.5 kilometers of paved trails that wind through cloud and rain forest,70 acres of wildlife and forest, showing the diversity of plant and wildlife.

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