It's really hard to pick a favorite place on this trip, but the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is definitely a top contender. We spent our final full day in Monteverde/Santa Elena hiking around the reserve. The entire place was soaked in swirling mist and covered in luscious green -- it was spooky and atmospheric.
I can't get over the biodiversity of this place. Layer upon layer of plant life grew from the floor to the canopy. The entire place was a cacophony of texture -- SO MUCH LIFE. I'm sure we pass more plant species in 10 feet of this trail than exist in all of Utah.
Honestly, we didn't see many animals, but that was fine. Other people had more luck spotting critters after hiring a guide, but we were ready to experience the rainforest on our own. After a few miles of hiking, we lost the crowds, let the silence soak in, and felt the true wildness of this place. At the risk of being supercheesy, it was kind of magical.