Monteverde Area Cloud Forest

Would you like to spend some time in the clouds, and still have your feet on the ground? I have just the place for you. The Monteverde area of northwest Costa Rica is home to several reserves and sanctuaries that allow you to immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere of a cloud forest. A cloud forest is usually a tropical or subtropical mountainous forest that is often covered by low level cloud cover. Because a cloud at ground level is pretty much indistinguishable from fog, these forests are sometimes called ‘fog forests.’ In general, this type of forest is only found in a restricted range of altitudes where the clouds cover the forest in moisture. As one would expect, the amount of sunlight that reaches the forest is limited, and the mist/fog/clouds supplies a lot of moisture as well. For this reason the vegetation is different than that found above and below the cloud cover. You’ll see a lot of moss, vines and orchids. Trees tend to be a little shorter and their stems thicker.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is the over ten thousand hectares (well over twenty thousand acres) and is home to more than 400 bird species and 100 mammal species. Although you can explore this area on your own, a guided tour will probably show you much that you would have otherwise missed. The reserve is open from 7 am to 4 pm. As of this writing, the entrance fee is $8, students with ID $4.

There are several other areas similar to Monteverde close by. The Reserva Sendero Tranquilo
is a 200-acre private reserve. Access is limited, allowing only two groups of 2 to 6 people at a time. Tours last 3 to 4 hours. There is a bird sanctuary, Paradise for Bell Birds. Several miles of trails wind through the sanctuary, where you can enjoy its abundant bird, animal and plant life. Another attraction is the 765-acre Santa Elena Forest Reserve. Slightly higher and wetter than the Monteverde reserve, it is less visited than it’s larger neighbor. It features 6 miles of trails and on a clear day it is possible to see the Arenal Volcano. As of this writing, entrance is $7/3.50 for adults/student. Same hours as the Monteverde reserve.

Visitors can choose from a large variety of lodgings, from simple to luxurious. One downside (maybe it’s an upside, depending on your point of view) is the arduous journey to get there by land. The road is, to put it simply, bad. The trip from San Jose takes 4 to 5 hours, and if you look at a map, it doesn’t look all that far. The last part of the trip is unpaved road, full of holes, sharp turns and all the rest you’d expect. If you decide to rent a car, you probably want a 4WD one, especially in the rainy season. As I say, the bad road is a negative or a positive depending on how you look at it. Once you get there, ask yourself whether the place needs a lot more tourists. Would a paved and straightened road result in more tourists?

Somebody call a rocket scientist, we need an answer!

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  1. WERE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE DOROTHY! Amazing place indeed!

  2. mauricio corleto says:

    i can hardly wait to visit monteverde next month….