Travel in Costa Rica: Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Monteverde Cloud Forest, located in the northern highlands of Costa Rica, known for its unique ecosystem and high biodiversity, is truly a nature lover’s paradise. ❤

DSC_3488A cloud forest is a humid and tropical woodland, found at high altitudes, which makes for cool climates and a consistently low-hanging fog. Just stunning! 😀DSC_3567This tropical montane forest is one of the few places on earth where the clouds and the earth intertwine, creating a distinctive environment for both exotic plants and animals.

female orange-bellied trogon

In fact, there is an abundance of endemic species that can only be found in Monteverde. 😮

unusual plant in Monteverde

Now as a home base for visiting Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, most tourists stay in the small, mountain town of Santa Elena.

local homes in Santa Elena

Santa Elena is incredibly touristic and family-friendly. It sort of reminds me of the cheesy Wisconsin Dells atmosphere, which I actually loved! I mean, after visiting so many party spots in Central America, as a non-party person, I was really embracing this kiddish vibe. For example, Santa Elena has a frog pond, snake exhibit, and butterfly garden, among other educational attractions. ❤

Santa Elena frog exhibit

There are also many organic shops, cozy bakeries, and eco-friendly hotels.

hotel in Santa Elena
craft beer house in Santa Elena
local art and souvenir shop in Santa Elena

One of my favorite stops was the Monteverde Coffee Center, which had a deliciously sweet, honey-press coffee, made by drying the beans with their fruit skin on.

Monteverde Coffee Center

Anyway, to visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, I took the local bus from Santa Elena, which took 15 minutes and cost 1.50 USD. I thought the facilities at the reserve were excellent, with a newly-built reception house, gift shop, cafeteria, and cafe.

Monteverde reception
Monteverde cafeteria and gift shop

Entrance to the park costs 20 USD for adults, but only 10 USD with a student i.d. 😉

Monteverde trail map and ticket

Now before even entering the park, I had the delight of spotting over 6 resplendent quetzal birds, a toucanet, as well as, a large group of fluttering hummingbirds. Monteverde has the largest concentration of orchids on earth, which makes it the perfect nesting spot for these hummingbirds.

green hummingbird
purple/blue hummingbird

The quetzal birds may have been the highlight of this trip though, as they were absolutely stunning, with their iridescent green wings and bright red belly.

Apologies for the fuzzy picture, but it was difficult to shoot these guys, as they were high up in the trees, right in the direct sunlight and covered in a foggy haze. They also kept hopping branches every 30 seconds! Hah!

The quetzals are frugivores, and I think I was lucky to spot so many, since this month is the fig and avocado fruiting season. DSC_3515As well, this time of year, they are mating, so I was able to spot both bright males and dull females.

I felt like a quetzal paparazzi trying to shoot pictures from every angle! 😛


so many bird booties! 😛

Anyway, after finally entering the park, I began a 15-kilometer hiking route, suggested by the staff, which led me on a path through the cloud forest, over a suspension bridge, and ending at a rushing waterfall. DSC_3523Here are a few pictures from the 3-hour trek. 🙂G1377268_1496261562917_high

family of coatis

DSC_3570DSC_3580DSC_3599IMG_20170531_143219_191IMG_20170531_143711_542DSC_3544DSC_3549DSC_3588DSC_3553DSC_3605At the end, this Chatty Cathy kept me entertained for quite some time. 🙂DSC_3543

As well, the wildlife sightings didn’t stop once I left the reserve. Since these animals obviously aren’t contained, they can be found outside the reserve as well. One recommendation by a local was to walk back from Monteverde to the town of Santa Elena, where it’s easy to spot wildlife along the way.

walking from Monteverde to Santa Elena
bright orange butterfly
bananaquit bird
blue-grey tanager

In fact, the guided night tour of Monteverde starts on this very same road.

bat crossing sign on the way from Monteverde to Santa Elena

As a side note, these night tours range from 25-35 USD. As well, Monteverde can also be toured with a guide for an additional 17 USD pp; however, I was pretty content with everything I found on my self-guided hide. 😀
Accommodation: I stayed at Sleepers Sleep Cheaper Hostel. The name says it all right there! Hah! The beds were decent, for only 10 USD/night, which included a breakfast of eggs, cereal, and fruit as well.

Getting there: To get from San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua to Monteverde, Costa Rica, I took local transport. I first took a 5 a.m. bus to La Libertad, then caught the bus to the border, or La Frontera. I arrived at 6 a.m., when they opened, and after paying a 2 USD exit fee, I walked across the border to Costa Rica, where I caught a bus to La Irma. My fourth and final bus was to Monteverde. Total travel time was 8.5 hours, but the total cost was only 11 USD!

bus stop at La Irma

Side note: Most shuttle services only offer transport from San Juan Del Sur to Liberia or San Jose, plus it costs a whopping 50-75 USD! Since I’m on a budget, I didn’t mind taking extra time on these local buses, as it saved me a small fortune! 😀

Anyway, not only was I able to explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest trails, I was able to get a bird’s-eye view on an exhilarating canopy tour. Stay tuned to hear all about it. Until then! 😀

2 thoughts on “Travel in Costa Rica: Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

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