The ride to liberia from the border took longer than expected. Again, the winds were exceptionally powerful. Driving through Santa Rosa National Park was very hot and windy the entire way, which was a good hour and a half ride to Liberia. Come to find out, Santa Rosa is actually one of the last remaining tropical dry forests in the world (follow link to wiki details).
I made it to Liberia by around noon and stayed at the same place I had stayed the first time through, the Hospedaje Dodero. The place is very clean and comfortable. It is also two blocks from the bus station. So many people just pass through Liberia, because it is a cheap destination for flights and the last town before heading to Nicaragua.
When I passed through last time, I was ready to hit the road, when the owner, Jesus, stopped me and told me that drones were illegal in Nicaragua and that I would not be allowed to cross the border with it, for sure. I’d heard that a couple of times before, so took his word and left it with him, at a charge of $1 per day. I was away for just over 40 days, so he charged me $40. Well worth the security I felt leaving it with someone I believed I could trust. Jesus is a great guy and ever so helpful for local travel info and border crossing. Thank You Jesus!!
Well, now that I’d been reunited with my drone, I was a happy camper. I had to decide where to go next. I was ultimately headed to Atenas to spend a couple of weeks to regroup, wash my clothes (in a washing machine) and relax. The only thing was that it is about 4 ½ hours from Liberia, well over my 3 hr. point to point max. It looked like my two options were either Monte Verde or Lake Arenal, as both were approximately 2 hours away. I could stretch it a bit and head towards the beach near Punta Morales, but I’d had enough beaches and wanted to get up into the mountains for a while. People had good things to say about the cloud forests in Monte Verde, so I decided that was the one and would hit La Fortuna and Arenal on the next leg of the journey.
I checked Hostel World and Bookings and had a look to see what they had to offer. There were so many hostels and they all looked very nice. A lot of mountain resort (’ish) looking places. I decided on Cabinas Vista Al Golfo. It looked nice and had great reviews.
The following morning, I headed out around 8:00 am, thinking I would arrive around 10:30. Again….. Another windy day. It was Highway 1 all the way down to the turnoff. I checked both Google maps and Maps.me. Maps.me had me going one way and Google another. I usually feel more comfortable using Google, so I went with that. Only thing was that I’d hit the “Motorcycle” filter, rather than the “Car” option. As you know, my bike is loaded down with 3 bags on the back before unloading at my destination.
Well, I took a left off the highway and headed down the road. It was paved all the way to this small village, Juntas, then, dirt road for a while, then rock, stone and really steep inclines. I mean to the point, I had to lean forward over the handlebars, so I wouldn’t flip the bike backwards. It was really steep. I almost dumped the bike, about 5 or 6 times.
About half way down this stretch of road, I started to wonder if Google had taken me on one of those wild rides off into the middle of nowhere that you hear about from time to time. I had about a quarter bottle of water and it was really hot. I was wearing a damn black, padded, bike jacket, safe for sure, but ultra hot!! I pulled over a couple of times to check the map. All it said was “Unknown Road.” There were no cars whatsoever and no houses for that matter. As I started to reach the ridge at the top, or what I thought was the top of this range, I really thought I was screwed. Only a couple of sips of water left. I thought, If I go back now, it’s almost further than what it looks like is the remaining distance to Santa Elena, Monte Verde, if that’s actually where I’m headed….!? I rode along the range for a couple more kilometers and saw a couple of houses, then a couple more. The road started to improve somewhat and started to see nice houses on the hills and lots of trees. To this point it had been almost desert terrain and climate. Finally I reached a turn in the road and saw quite a few vehicles. The road was under construction, but was flat and fairly smooth. I believe this was the route Maps.me had me going… which seemed to be a fairly good road! 🙂 I followed that directly into Santa Elena.
I arrived at Cabinas Vista Al Golfo a bit worn and frazzled and was happy to find that they had very nice beds and warm blankets, as it was very windy and chilly. When I arrived it was sunny, but still in the lower 60’s. In the late afternoon / evening, it usually starts raining over towards the mountain tops, in the cloud forest, but ended just across the way from the hostel. Each afternoon you can see a beautiful rainbow, which ends right in front of the hostel, no bucket of gold, but really quite spectacular!
The next day, I headed off into the hills. Hoping to get crazy on some of the roads/trails on the outskirts of Monte Verde. I did just that. First heading down some very steep paved roads to El Socorro and San Luis. Then, I went off road and, as usual, followed the road and every offshoot I could find. Some of which ended up as small paths in the forest. Gorgeous views and a very challenging ride.
It was cloudy and rained the next morning, but around noon, things cleared up enough, so I could visit the Big Ficus Tree (see review). What an amazing natural phenomenon. The roots of the tree have grown as a tube all the way to the top, so you can climb up inside and see a beautiful view of the town and mountains. I was really impressed. This is a must see!
On my last day, I went off into the hills near where I had entered several days earlier. I wanted to see the “Path” I had taken and what the ridge looked from afar. Again taking winding roads, dirt paths and finally a small walkway in the grass to a plateau overlooking mountains and valleys stretching all the way to the sea.
It was a gorgeous ride, though a bit scary at times. At the end of the road, on the small plateau, the wind was so incredibly strong that it blew me right over when I tried to get off the bike. It was so damn strong, I couldn’t turn the bike around to leave the plateau. I finally got it turned around, carefully navigated my way off the plateau and rode back down the pathway. That was probably one of the most incredible views I’ve seen…. after the grand canyon that is!