The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reservein north-central Costa Rica is one of the most visited sites in Costa Rica and one of the world’s supreme wildlife reserves. The cloud forest is the ideal example of the rainforest you hear about in film and books. Lush plants grow in every direction and rare and diverse wildlife is abundant.
The reserve was founded by American Quakers who began farms here and realized the diversity of the area.
Monteverde cloud forest is a favorite haunt of scientists and volunteers and has been labeled a UNESCO world biosphere reserve. Approximately 2,500 species of plants can be found in Monteverde, including more than 400 varieties of orchids. Ferns, mosses, vines and flowers grow from every nook and cranny in Monteverde.
Wildlife in Monteverde
Wldlife in Monteverde cloud forest is quite hard to beat and only Corcovado on the Osa peninsula and Tortuguero in Costa Rica are comparable. More than 100 species of mammals can be found in the park, including all five of the species of cats found in Costa Rica such as the Jaguar and the Ocelot. A number of monkeys, Baird’s Tapir, and coati may be seen by the quiet and patient.
Birdlife in Monteverde
Birdlife in Monteverde cloud forest is even more spectacular. There are more than 400 different species in the park including the Resplendent Quetzal. There are 30 types of hummingbird that frequent the area and they can best be seen at the Hummingbird Gallery just before the entrance to the park. The “gallery” showcases both photography of wildlife in the reserve as well as amateur photographers taking photos of live hummingbirds feeding on the feeders outside the gallery.
Hiking in Monteverde
Hiking Trails dissect Monetverde cloud forest in many sections and apart from the parts near the entrance to the reserve, few people wander to the ends of the main trails, leaving you better chance to see wildlife.
Hotels in Monteverde
Monteverde can be accessed on a long day tour from San Jose or from nearby Santa Elena, which is a short taxi ride away. Hotels for Monteverde line the route between Santa Elena and the reserve with many major resorts such as Monteverde Lodge and Hotel Finca Valverdes. Budget minded backpacker haunts are also available.
What To Do in Monteverde
Apart from the actual Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve there are many other activities in the area from zip lines, snake farms, frog ponds, bat caves, orchid houses, coffee plantations, quaker dairy factories, and also the almost equally respected Santa Elena Cloud forest reserve.
Getting to Monteverde
To get to Monteverde you can take a taxi in Santa Elena or a bus from the Banco Nacional in Santa Elena which leaves every hour starting 6am. Bus routes to Santa Elena run from San Jose and less frequently from Arenal.
Hours: 7am-4pm daily
Price: $13 adults/$6.50 students
–Costa Rica’s Cafe Britt Coffee Tour
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.