Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Central Highlands

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (Reserva Biologica del Bosque Nuboso de Monteverde) is where some of the best-kept cloud forest in all of Costa Rica can be found. It is a cloud forest, not a rain forest, due to its elevation of 4,724 ft (1,440 m) above sea level. Some of the best bird-watching can be done inside and outside the reserve.

The Monteverde Reserve is one of the best places to see the resplendent quetzal, as it migrates to the lower portions of the park during mating season. The endangered three-wattled bellbird is another member of the 400 species of birds found here, including close to 30 species of hummingbirds. More than 100 species of mammals live in the park, including howler and capuchin monkeys, all five species of cats, deer, tapir and sloths. A total of 1,200 species of amphibians and reptiles live in the reserve, including venomous and non-venomous snakes, frogs and toads. The fabled Golden toad was discovered here but hasn't been seen since 1988.

Along with the mega-diversity of wildlife, there are 2,500 species of plants, 420 of which are orchids. Don't forget the tens of thousands of insects and 5,000 species of moths found inside the reserve. All eight distinct life zones encompass 25,730 acres (10,400 ha) of protected land from high atop the continental divide. The reserve is overseen by the Tropical Science Center of Costa Rica which manages the trails and limits the amount of visitors. The unbelievable biodiversity found in Monteverde has given it international acclaim as one of the most exceptional refuges in the entire world.

When you visit the Monteverde Reserve, you'll probably stay in the bustling town of Santa Elena. Founded in 1951 by a group of Quakers fleeing the United States draft, Santa Elena was the elected area to begin a settlement which soon brought conservation thereafter. Bordering the reserve, the town has plenty of restaurants, lodging, a bank and even its own cheese factory, supplying top quality cheese to the entire country. The quiet tourist community provides a great launching point to discover the area nearby.

Well-maintained, yet muddy trails are found within all the nature reserves. There are even suspension bridges, canopy tours and zip-lines to let you experience Costa Rica like never before. Numerous companies in Santa Elena offer tours and excursions, so be sure to check it out. The exciting community even has a serpentarium, frog pond, bat jungle, butterfly garden and horseback tours for some pretty amazing up-close wildlife viewing.

The bone-shattering dirt road leading up to Santa Elena from the Pan-American Hwy provides gorgeous views of verdant rolling hills and on a clear day, the Nicoya Gulf. The area is constantly damp as the sweeping clouds rise up the Pacific and Caribbean slopes blanketing the area in moisture.

To access Santa Elena from Liberia, head south along the Pan-American Hwy until the turnoff for Hwy 145. The steep, rugged road will lead you to Santa Elena, making the total trip approximately 70 miles (112 km). From San Jose, head northwest along the Pan-American Hwy until the intersection with Hwy 145. Santa Elena is located 96 miles (155 km) from the nation's capital. La Fortuna is 22 miles (35 km) northeast of Santa Elena. The city of Puntarenas is located 50 miles (80 km) to the southwest.

Nearby Activities

 

Guided Tour Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

2-in-1 combo|3 hours

Monteverde

4.5 / 5.0
Starting At$60
Guided Tour Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Explore the enchanted Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve with a set of expert eyes on a guided hike. You will explore several trails in search of birds and mammals and...

4.5 / 5.0
Tour Details

Early Morning Bird Watching Tour

3-in-1 combo|5 hours

Monteverde

4.7 / 5.0
Starting At$75
Early Morning Bird Watching Tour

From start to finish, the goal of this tour is to identify as many birds as possible. Monteverde is home to some 400 species of birds, which are scattered among the...

4.7 / 5.0
Tour Details

Nearby Lodging

 

Trapp Family Lodge

Monteverde

Bar

Cable TV

Free Breakfast

Restaurant

& More

4.5 / 5.0
From$137

Trapp Family Lodge

The Trapp Family Lodge is located near the entrance of the gorgeous and unique Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Here you'll discover verdant pastures, hillsides and the...

4.5 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Hotel Fonda Vela

Monteverde

Bar

Cable TV

Free Breakfast

Jacuzzi

Restaurant

& More

4.5 / 5.0
From$192

Hotel Fonda Vela

Hotel Fonda Vela is situated in the gorgeous Tiliran Mountains, in the community of Monteverde. Monteverde is renowned for its stunning cloud forests and extreme...

4.5 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Hotel Villa Verde

Monteverde

Bar

Cable TV

Restaurant

& More

2.2 / 5.0
From$70

Hotel Villa Verde

Hotel Villa Verde is situated in Monteverde, northwest of San Jose. Monteverde is a magical place surrounded by a gorgeous cloud forest, abundant in bird and mammal...

2.2 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Belmar Hotel

Monteverde

Bar

Free Breakfast

Jacuzzi

Restaurant

Wireless Internet

& More

4.8 / 5.0
From$251

Belmar Hotel

Hotel Belmar is located in the luscious green mountains of Monteverde. Find yourself surrounded by the beauty of the cloud forest and its variety of wildlife and dense...

4.8 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Hotel El Bosque

Monteverde

Free Breakfast

Restaurant

Wireless Internet

& More

4.2 / 5.0
From$90

Hotel El Bosque

Hotel El Bosque is nestled in the Monteverde region, a hot spot for eco-tourism in the Central Highlands of Costa Rica. Monteverde is huddled between two primary cloud...

4.2 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

The Bell Bird Hotel

Monteverde

Free Breakfast

Restaurant

Wireless Internet

& More

4.1 / 5.0
From$57

The Bell Bird Hotel

The Bell Bird Hotel offers simple accommodations with a great view and is located between the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Santa Elena. The hotel is great for...

4.1 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Hotel Montana Monteverde

Monteverde

Bar

Free Breakfast

Jacuzzi

Restaurant

& More

4.3 / 5.0
From$92

Hotel Montana Monteverde

Hotel Montana Monteverde is found in the Central Highlands of Costa Rica amidst the mountain community of Monteverde. Monteverde is a biological masterpiece, home to an...

4.3 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Hotel El Establo

Monteverde

Bar

Cable TV

Free Breakfast

Jacuzzi

Restaurant

& More

4.3 / 5.0
From$225

Hotel El Establo

The elegant El Establo Hotel is situated in the majestic mountain community of Monteverde, in the Tilaran Mountain Range. A meandering dirt road leads you up onto the...

4.3 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Hotel Heliconia

Monteverde

Bar

Cable TV

Free Breakfast

Jacuzzi

Restaurant

& More

4.2 / 5.0
From$113

Hotel Heliconia

Located conveniently in Costa Rica's eco-tourism hub, Hotel Heliconia is a home away from home. The Monteverde area has several charming communities spread out along a...

4.2 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Monteverde Inn

Monteverde

Free Breakfast

& More

4.6 / 5.0
From$50

Monteverde Inn

The quaint Monteverde Inn sits in the Tilaran mountain range, found in the northern part of the Puntarenas province. For an incredible eco-adventure, visit this mountain...

4.6 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Wildlife Sightings