Location: 180 km north of San Jose in Puntarenas Province; 6 km from Santa Elena
Time to Visit: Throughout the year
Preferred Timings: 7 am to 4 pm; 7:15 pm to 9:15 pm
Admission Fee: Adults – $13; Children under 12 and students with ID – $6.50
Guides – $15 per person (additional); Night trips – $15; Slide show – $3 pp
How to Reach: Fly to San Jose then travel by road to Santa Elena and thereafter hike or continue by road
Nearest International Airport: San Jose International Airport
The time required for sightseeing: Minimum 3 hours; preferably 2 days
You are walking through the clouds, literally, well almost! You can hear the sundry sounds of the forest all around you, but the sources stay hidden behind clouds. You feel one with nature in a way you have never been before. As the curtain of clouds lifts gradually, verdant vegetation opens up in front of you, opening a picturesque view of a tropical forest inhabited by exotic species of flora and fauna. Such is the experience in the Monteverde Cloud Reserve in Costa Rica.
The 14,200 hectare Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde is under the administration of Costa Rica Tropical Science Center. This reserve has an enviable habitation of over 1200 species of reptiles and amphibians, 400 bird species, over 100 animal species, 5000 species of moths, and 400 orchid types. Explore all this on foot along the numerous jungle trails.
Located in northern Costa Rica north of San Juan and south of La Fortuna and Arenal this cloud forest can be approached from either north or south. The journey from north beginning at La, Alena or from Santa Elena peninsula is breathtaking. Embark on a day-long road Fortuna journey which can turn to be the most memorable of your life. This journey of almost a full day along the shores of Lake Arenal and the foothills of Arenal Volcano is unmatchable by any other road travel. Alternatively, you can reach the Cloud Forest Reserve of Monteverde from the southwest via San Ramon, Sardinal and Lagarto, which takes about 4 hours.
Set foot on any of the eight different walking trails that traverse this reserve. If you wish to explore the protected portion of this cloud forest enter after 7 am and return with 4 pm. Take a guide along with you, since he knows the forest well and can ensure sighting of wildlife. Guided tours lasting for three hours are offered at 7:30 am, 8 am and 1 pm. You must be a team of three to nine members to take the facility of a guide. Before entering the forest carry your own food. For your convenience, a cafíé serves sandwiches, fried eggs, burgers, and mochas. Always put on hiking shoes since the forest floor in many places is sluggish. These shoes are available at moderate rates from the local lodges. The normal hikes are of 3 hours duration. However, full-day treks of 20 km can take you to exotic locales like the La Cascada triple waterfall, Rio Penas Blancas valley up to the Pacific slopes.
In case you love viewing birds, avail of the 5-hour birding tour which starts at 6 am. 400 species of birds including 30 varieties of hummingbirds, emerald toucanet, three-wattled bellbird, embrace black guan, and the royal Quetzal will charm you. Wildlife enthusiasts can go on a 2 hour night safari beginning at 7:15 pm.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a haven for naturalists, wildlife lovers, bird watchers, and hikers. In this protected biological reserve, the cloud cover is so thick that the leaves become moisture-laden and drip. A series of platforms and bridges perched on treetops enable you to get a marvelous view of the ethereal surroundings. Skywalk along these 200 feet to 650 feet cable bridges for an incomparable experience. Discover the jaguar, puma, ocelot, jaguarondi, and margay among the big cats. Howler monkeys and snakes will thrill you.
The visitor center offers accommodation in the form of dormitories to 39 individuals. Preference is given to students and scientists. You are advised to carry your own sleeping bag and food before going on this trail.
For a view of some of the most fascinating walks in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, click on the following links:
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=nr_DzEG_0TE: For a wonderful view of the Monteverde Cloud Forest, including its mystical beauty, watch this video!
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=V1GG0w-nCWg: To catch a glimpse of some of the most exotic flora and fauna in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, click on this link!