Monteverde is a mystical area home to exotic birds, blooming orchids and floating mist. Due to its great natural beauty and high biodiversity, it’s Costa Rica’s premier destination and offers a myriad of activities. From its extensive walking trails and exhilarating zip lines to sky-high hanging bridges and adventurous horseback riding, there’s plenty of ways to explore this mountaintop paradise.
Folding over the Tilaran Mountains, Monteverde comprises of two cloud forests; the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and newer and smaller Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve. Put on the map in the 1950’s by Quaker families attracted by the fertile lands and the simple life, Monteverde became an area well known for its dairy farms and cheese production. With the aim to protect the flora and fauna and contribute to scientific researches, the Quaker families aided the creation of both reserves which today attract visitors from worldwide.
Revered as a bird watchers paradise, Monteverde boasts over 400 recorded species of birds in the area. From emerald toucans, to three-wattled bellbirds and over 30 species of hummingbird, the most famous bird to see is the resplendent quetzal: a strikingly beautiful bird which is high on the list of any avid bird watcher. Supporting six different ecosystems and perched 1,400 metres above sea level, the area is one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet. Home to around 3,000 species of plants (240 of which are orchids), 490 butterflies and over 100 mammals, including the jaguar, tapir, deer and all five species of cats; Monteverde is blooming with life.
Many of the lodges are found in the quaint town of Santa Elena which has an array of tasty restaurants, folky artisan shops and its own cheese factory. The Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, although slightly different in terrain- to the untrained eye, is very similar to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, home to the same flora and fauna but smaller and less crowded, it offers a more unique experience.
Both nature reserves offer various well-maintained walking trails, which offer the best way of spotting wildlife with a guide. With butterfly gardens, frog ponds and bat jungles, there’s plenty of opportunity to get close up to wildlife. For the more adventurous, suspension bridges, canopy tours and zip lines are all on offer and show the beauty of the cloud forest from a completely different perspective.