My name is Chas Bruns. And I travel the world in search of the cheapest food, hostels, transportation and tours so you don’t have to. Which means you’re going to get to find out some of the best places in the world to eat Some of the best people in the world to meet And where to go to have a damn good time. And the best part is I’m gonna show you how to do it all Dirt Cheap Wanna travel to Peru or Ecuador? Well with Good Life Expeditions you’ll be guaranteed to not only have a great vacation but you’ll also be giving back to the local communities you visit Jira and I are in San Jose for the night and tomorrow we’re headed to the Monetverde Cloud Forest First order of business is getting the rental car. Depending on the time of year you can get them for as cheap as $8 a day. We got our for $12 And you obviously don’t have to, but if you want to be safe, get the extra insurance. Lets just say there’s a lot of cliffs in Costa Rica I usually find the best car rental prices on Kayak.com And remember to return it clean and full of gas to avoid additional fees. Tonight we’re staying at Van Goah Hostel $11.20 a person. It’s right in the middle of the city and comes with free breakfast. We got in the city kind of late, but the hostel told us there was a food and art festival down the street. Lets go see what there is to see. Remember, art is subjective. And there’s no right or wrong way to appreciate it. This guy was loving it. I don’t know if he was a participant or a spectator. In any case, it was interesting to watch. There was art everywhere. So one block from our hostel we stumbled upon a free art festival with music and awesome Costa Rican food Let’s go try it. Oh man! There’s a crap ton of food options, but I’m in the mood for good old fashioned buttery corn on the cobb. And if you’re looking for something a little more filling they’ve got fried chicken and rice for $5.29 Jira got some flavored shaved ice for $2.64 This is amazing And I’m telling you. There’s no shortage of food options The best part is, it’s free to hang out and walk around. After eating we decided to take a stroll and check out the art exhibits. They were equal parts cool and equal parts creepy. We had to get up early, so we decided to call it a night. Now it’s time for some Costa Rica facts. It’s slightly smaller than the size of lake Michigan It borders Nicaragua and Panama And it has over 800 miles of coastline It’s free breakfast time And I know everybody always says I eat too much junk food and I’m trying to be better about it But I just can’t pass up a good bowl of corn puffs Whole milk and lots of sugar I’ll be dead by 50 Now we’re driving three hours to the Monteverde Cloud Forest There’s a whole bunch of tolls along the way 4 tolls with a grand total of $3.84 What are you gonna do? Gotta pay the man We stopped about half way to grab some lunch I got rice and veggies for $4 After lunch it was pretty much smooth sailing Until we hit traffic But I wasn’t complaining cause I got to pet this little guy. Making a friend This girl told me the grey one looked hungry I tried to give him some grass, but he was having none of it Shortly after that farm, we noticed the road turned into dirt. and dust and some rocks I don’t know what’s going on. Might be entering the desert Check out these rocks though. and no, we didn’t enter a Costa Rican desert. This is what it looks like when they build a highway through the mountains A crazy adventure for us, but by the time any of you come to Monteverde they’ll have it paved. Which should shave off at least 30 minutes from your journey. Quite the drive. But don’t let a little dust deter you. A few minutes down the road is the Monteverde Inn and Nature Preserve It’s focused on Permaculture A carbon neutral design method that applies a certain set of principles to recharge the earth. It can be used to design a community, a home, a school or any place of human use. Hello, my name is Jonah. I’m the owner of Valle Escondido. and the Monteverde Inn here in Monteverde Costa Rica. We are a small hotel. A small nature preserve. 40 acre preserve. We have a small night tour that we do here and a little cafe. And we’re also doing something here called permaculture We have a farm called Hidden Valley Farm There we are introducing working with and learning about different sustainable design practices. The hope is that the people who come to stay at Monteverde Inn or visit our cafe or visit the preserve that they have both an intimate connection with the beautiful and natural surroundings that are here We have 4 different waterfalls that can be seen Around 4.5 km of trails And we’re what is called the Pacific Slope biological corridor we have a lot of birds and trees that are endemic to this area of Costa Rica. The hope is that people have an intimate connection with nature remember hopefully that they’re nature they’re natural and that they’ll see some examples of sustainable design Wherever they go back to in the world hopefully they’ll walk more in nature connect more with nature and then works towards efforts of preservation or conservation. Or compost, or google Permaculture. And try to figure out a way to hopefully reduce their carbon footprint. or live in a more sustainable way. So here at Monteverde Inn, at the reception there on any given day we might have 30 40 people checking in. Part of our introduction is that we talk about permaculture. So we have different examples. Right here, in front of the reception this is our rain water catchment It provides and environment for a couple different kinds of frogs. a toad and a place for children to play interact, catch tadpoles and it’s full of water cleaning plants then we use it for our flush toilets in the buildings here so we’re not flushing chlorinated or fluorinated water into the hotel We also have a solar drying room It increases the life of our towels by not running through the dryer It lowers our electricity bill and then with that extra money we can use it for other sustainable efforts. Then we have our grey water catchment so all of our sinks, showers, kitchen and laundry gives us right around 1,000 gallons of waste water a day and because we don’t use any toxic cleaning substances or bleach. we actually collect that water and put it through a series of filtration terraces and then use it for growing bananas and other vegetables for the farm and for our cafe. And then we have an example of different organic fertilizers We use a worm compost called vermiculture. We have a compost tea that we make And we have different composting stations that we make so people can experience what composting is different methods. We have raised bed gardens that use something called hugelkultur where we put in rotting logs of different sizes and different biomass from the forest and create a living compost that we can then grow our vegetables on top of We have two small aquaculture ponds ponds where we’re growing talapia as well as a little coffee plantation that hopefully in a few years will provide enough coffee for our hotel guests and we have a donation program where we’re working with local schools putting in these small green houses that use recycled material. Including two truck tires. We have a couple of different schools that we’re getting them into now. We have a full two week permaculture design course. happening in June. And we do permaculture tours here regularly as well as as a class in agroforestry coming up. And a weekend workshop in composting So that’s a part of what we’re doing here at Hidden Valley Farm Valle Escondido in Monteverde Inn. Here in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Jonah wanted to show us around, so we headed out to the trails. They just had a crazy wind storm that knocked down an avocado tree, so his employees were out cutting it up to use the wood. What does it smell like? Like avocado. But this huge ficus tree survived the storm. They’re known for having a really interesting life cycle. A bird eats one of their fruits and then poops out the seed on top of another tree. There it grows as an epiphyte, taking moisture and nutrients from the canopy. Eventually its roots reach the ground and it appears as though it grew from the jungle floor. Because the tree it grew up on is much older, it usually dies first. Which leads to a pretty cool evolutionary side effect. We can go inside it. Once the other tree dies and rots out you’re left with this hollow tunnel. And they can grow for 700+ years. Jonah installed a series of awesome overlooks so you can check out the mountains and rivers below. I can’t think of a better person to run this place. Jonah knows about everything. Did you just hear that “Breah”? That’s the Bell Bird. This is a wild avocado. So this is swallowed by the Trogon and also the Bell Bird. and the Quetzal and a couple other birds and they cough out the seed after they have swallowed it and that touching of the birds stomach the acid in the birds stomach is what gives the seed the capacity to germinate. So there wouldn’t be the birds if there weren’t the trees and there wouldn’t be the trees if there weren’t the birds. If you’re a wild life fanatic, Costa Rica is built for you. And the Monteverde Inn has miles and miles of trails. You could spend days in here. I’ve barely shown you 10% of it. It’s a kite. It’s just lie National Geographic in here. Yeah, it’s really incredible. You must be thinking “this place looks pricey.” But guess what? 2 beds for $35. Or $17.50 a person. I thought it was pretty sweet. Jonah told me I should have the vegetarian pizza for dinner. So we’re heading over to the cafe. Sitting up top for this view. Jira got a burger for $7 And local beer costs $3. And my pizza cost $8. And it was pretty good. Loaded with veggies. Something about this place just inspires healthy living. I can’t get over this view. Incredible. After dinner we hung out until the sun went down and then went on the night tour. It cost $25. The cool thing about the night tour is that they had special lights to help you see the creepy crawlies you might not see otherwise. Like a tarantula hiding in some rocks. Pretty cool. Our guide Miguel also found a beetle that glowed like a fire fly. This is the head light click beetle. It’s a click beetle. It clicks the head. He also found us the brown bark scorpion. He had a special flashlight that made them glow this crazy neon color. He said it was because of the zinc in their exoskeleton. This is what they look like under a regular flashlight. I think I prefer the neon. Apparently the ants never sleep. Obviously the leaf cutter ants like leaves. But army ants like to devour caterpillars. I felt bad for him, but it’s the circle of life. The Costa Rican jungles are full of awesome insects. Most of them can’t hurt you. But don’t go sticking your hand anywhere you shouldn’t. This wolf spider wouldn’t kill you, but it would hurt. We also found a cute little tree frog. But the highlight of the night was the kinkajou. We were able to get a quick glimpse of him at the top of a tree. Our guide said he hadn’t seen one in over 22 years. Lucky us. So this hike was really amazing. We had such a wonderful time. I really recommend that you go do it. It’s only $25. Yeah $25. It’s like nothing for what you do. Incredible. Totally shouldn’t miss out on this. It’s a really really great hike. Time for free breakfast at the hotel. And I gotta say, it’s probably my favorite free breakfast ever. Not only was there a delicious spread with lots to choose from but you really can’t beat this view. And I’m still doing my best to eat healthy. Rice and plantains. Today we’re driving 10 minutes to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. So we got up at 6 am today, which is a little earlier than I normally get up if you watch this show. but it’s going to be worth it. We’re going to head up into the Cloud Forest. which is a little different than the transitional forest that we did yesterday. With larger trees and different animals. So, lets go on another adventure. It cost $21 to enter the Cloud Forest but I suggest paying the extra $15 a person to get a guide. We did and it was worth it. We requested Miguel from the night tour. Alright. Okay. Here we go. We have a Cordyceps Beetle over there. There is a fungus that gets inside of the beetles and insects and it starts to grow and controls the beetle until the beetle dies. They grow by spores and that’s the way that they reproduce. Were going to go a little bit closer and get to see that. You can actually see that there is a piece of the fungus coming out of the beetle. And there are two things coming out of the antennae of the beetle. That was the type of beetle. Not a big one though. Big enough for the fungus to grow. and get in there. The Costa Rican jungle is a crazy place. This is some poisonous foam protecting beetle eggs. Miguel also told us that 30 years ago this was all cow pastures. So the majority of the trees you’re seeing grew that fast. But of course there’s still some super old ones like this. 27% of Costa Rica is protected land. So hopefully these trees are here to stay. Wow. Miguel told us this tree could be a few hundred years old. and the one that used to be inside it is long since gone. And as long as there’s not any crazy wind storms this tree will probably stand for a few hundred more. The Monteverde Cloud Forest was established in 1972. And it has over 8 miles of trails. There’s over 100 species of mammals 400 species of birds and over 2,500 different plants. There’s also too many insects to count. Oh and 1,200 species of amphibians and reptiles. As well as 6 species of cats. A puma could be anywhere. So keep your eyes open. But even if you don’t see any big cats the plants alone are worth a visit. And there’s a waterfall. And waterfalls are awesome. And who knows what you could find? Dan and Monica found a beetle so rare our guide didn’t even know what species it was. We just got back from our walk and it was incredible. We went with out guide Miguel and he was amazing at spotting out the birds. We saw a Quetzal a male and a female. which is very rare and he was telling us how bird watchers don’t often see them. and really incredible to have him showcasing everything. We would have missed all the animal life if we didn’t go with him. I think one of the highlights for me was umm a hummingbird nest where we could actually see the baby hummingbirds in the nest. and we would not have been able to see that without our guide. It was well worth having a guide lead us through the walk. Yes, definitely pay the extra money for the guide. On the drive back I took a quick nap and then we ate at Stella’s Bakery. I suggest eating outside in the garden. If somehow you don’t find any birds walking in the Cloud Forest come here. The staff feeds them banana’s, so there’s a lot of them. and they don’t seem to mind all the humans taking photos. Not to mention, the food is damn good. I got the cheapest thing on the menu. Ayote squash and carrot soup. But for $.17 you can get huevos rancheros with bacon. That’s what Jira got. Dan got a wrap and Monica got avocado and dill soup. We were all quite satisfied. Especially me. It might have been one of the better soups I’ve ever had. That’s f$%king awesome. hahaha The healthy Costa Rican way of life inspired me so I watched some YouTube videos about Yoga and meditation. But, I don’t think I’m doing it right. uuuuuuummmmm. Regardless of my technique the Monteverde Inn is a beautiful spot for meditation and yoga. ha ahhh. whoooo If you want to learn the correct way to do it, I suggest taking a course. But if you’re a cheap bastard like I am YouTube’s just fine. I think I lost 30 lbs from just this session alone. After my Yoga we rushed over to catch the sunset. We were told there was a huge ficus up on a mountain that you could climb to get the best view in town. I can’t tell you exactly where it is because the locals want to keep it a secret. But if you ask nice enough, maybe they’ll tell you. There was quite the line to go up the middle, so I decided to climb up the outside. Ahh what a crazy sunset. And the tree is so amazing. Natures ladder. Thank you. It’s so easy to climb. Hahaha. Topped out. If you’re afraid of heights, you might want to slip this one. The best part about it? It’s free! Woo who! Hahaha. Since this whole episode is tree themed, we might as well eat at The Tree House restaurant. As you might have guessed, it’s a bar and restaurant built around a tree. If you’re looking for a romantic night out, this could be it. There’s just something unique and primal about eating dinner in a tree. I got a salad and a beer for $10. The salad was great, but my favorite part was the guard dog outside. I was like, “Who’s a good boy?!?” and he was like, “I’m a good boy!!!” and I was like “You’re the good boy?!?!” and he was like, “Yeah, I’m a good boy!” and it went back and forth like that for a long time. and then we just danced. After free breakfast we followed some locals down into a swimming hole. And you’re gonna hate me, but once again I can’t tell you where it is. Cause if I did, it wouldn’t really be a secret anymore. So you’ll have to make friends with the locals and ask one of them. You can walk down, but we decided to ride in the back on a pick up truck. Ah what up? This is great! And I wouldn’t attempt this in your rental car. You’re going to pop a tire…or get stuck…or both. Oh yeah that’s cool. Although if you were to get stuck, it wouldn’t be the worst place to spend a few hours. Oh no! One’s coming over. You can’t come cow. Sorry. hahaha. Oh, horseback riders. We just found this ancient rock. No idea who made it or how long it’s been here. My gut says ancient aliens. Even of you never find the swimming hole hiking through these hills is pretty damn cool. and starting at about $50, you can ride a horse in the mountains. But our flight leaves in a few hours, so I’m going to drink a beer in the hot springs instead. It’s great! I can’t think of a better way to end the Costa Rica episode than to sit in a hot spring. And remember, you can do this too. Costa Rican beer from the gas station for a buck. Make sure to like and subscribe. Seriously, I need more subscribers. So please, hit subscribe right below this video. It’s very satisfying. Dan here hit subscribe and look how happy he is.