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Imagine yourself on a tour in Costa Rica and you might conjure images of fun in the sun or treks to epic volcanos. But there’s no doubt about it, one of Costa Rica’s most intriguing features is its expansive network of rainforests. Of all the great forests in the country, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the most breathtaking.
Venture to this private reserve, one of the best national parks in the country, and you’ll find unimaginable lush greenery, mist-filled canopies, captivating wildlife and exhilarating activities. Experiencing its natural wonders could take a lifetime and with so much to do in the park and surrounding area, Monteverde Cloud Forest is a magnificent destination worthy of a spot in all travel itineraries, family, solo or group tours. To help you plan your adventure, enjoy this guide on what to do in Monteverde, Costa Rica.
|Number of annual visitors||Over 70,000|
|Size||104 sq. km|
|Entrance fee/permits||USD 20 per person, USD 6* for students and children over 6. A maximum of 450 persons admitted per day.|
|Camping||No overnight camping permitted within the reserve.|
|Common wildlife sightings||Birds (quetzals, toucans, hummingbirds, parrots), howler and capuchin monkeys, anteaters, armadillos, sloths, tapir, deer, snakes, frogs, toads, wildcats (rare)|
|Best season to visit||The dry season, December to May, is the best time to visit. While the forest is covered in clouds for the entire year, the wet season (from June to November) makes many of the trails impossible to pass.|
- Let out an obligatory scream as you soar through the sky on a riveting zip-line.
- Encounter some of Costa Rica’s most elusive birds and other wildlife while hiking in one of the best places to hike in the country
- Discover mind-blowing vistas from the ridge-top of the Continental Divide.
- Tour working farms to learn the traditions of growing some of Costa Rica’s culinary delicacies.
- While wildlife is abundant, many animals can be shy or hidden in the dense forest. Consider bringing binoculars and remember to look up in the canopy!
- Monteverde rainforest is home to venomous spiders, snakes, and other reptiles. Though they are usually elusive, do stay alert and take precautions as you explore.
Though zip lining has taken off in destinations around the world, Monteverde is home to some of the first and definitely some of the best zip-lines around. Crossing incredibly close to the treetops, then soaring across open sky, these long cables will have you wondering when you’ll hit the next platform.
Swing through the zip lines in Monteverde in over 14 different cables with this tour.
2. Hanging bridges
Walking through the treetops across long suspension bridges is one of the essential things to do in Monteverde. These bridges make excellent pit stops on your hike to peer deeper into the treetops in search of wildlife or snap breathtaking photos among the misty greenery.
3. Sky tram
Want more adventures in the canopy? Consider taking the cable car. You’ll head up one of the highest mountains in Monteverde to an overlook on the Continental Divide. This is a great option for people seeking a less physically strenuous adventure and is accessible to all ages!
Any way you chose to venture through Monteverde is spectacular, but wandering on trails by foot is best for close appreciation of the diverse flora and fauna. Admire fascinating ferns, orchids and bromeliads that line the trails, breathe in the fresh crisp air and definitely take the trail to “La Ventana,” an epic viewpoint overlooking the Continental Divide.
Try the Costa Rica Experience tour where a guide takes you on a walk through Monteverde.
Monteverde has long been recognized as a top destination for birding enthusiasts. Bring your binoculars and remain watchful for the resplendent quetzal, the three-wattled bellbird and emerald toucanets. Don’t be surprised to hear hummingbirds buzzing by your head as you walk!
Birds aren’t the only inhabitants of this lush oasis. Still, many of the interesting animals in the rainforest can be challenging to spot. Wildlife tours in Monteverde, Costa Rica will give you the best chance of spotting the shy critters as trained guides know where to look and the behavioural habits essential for the search. For a thrilling take on wildlife tours, book a night walk tour for a rare opportunity to spot some interesting nocturnal animals.
Try the Pura Vida tour if you are into spotting wildlife in Monteverde.
7. Wildlife exhibits
With the abundance of unique animals in the region, there are endless opportunities to encounter and learn about Monteverde’s local residents. Check out the butterfly garden, bug museum, frog exhibit, and bat jungle in the surrounding towns of Monteverde and Santa Elena.
1. Horseback riding
Not only is horseback riding an exciting way to venture through the terrain, but it also is one of the most efficient ways to travel through multiple areas, trotting through mountains and countrysides within just a few hours. Though horses are not permitted within the actual reserve, several tour options are available to ride on private land and trails nearby.
2. Botanical gardens
Whether you’re a plant enthusiast or not, a trip to the nearby Monteverde Orchid Garden or Monteverde Botanical Garden is a marvelous way to spend the afternoon. Witnessing unique orchids thriving in their natural habitat is a rare experience that should not be overlooked. The Orchid Garden is located just 5 km outside the park while the Botanical Garden is located 8.5 km west of the park.
3. Coffee, chocolate, and sugarcane tours
A delicious addition to a tour in Monteverde Cloud Forest, seize the opportunity to learn the traditions and cultural history of some of the world’s favourite culinary items. Tours offer an excellent glimpse into local life on private farms and reward the taste-buds with rich samples.
Tour the El Trapiche Sugar Mill on a day trip in Monteverde.
4. Cheese factory
After your chocolate tour, you may need to balance that sweet tooth. Head over to the nearby Monteverde Cheese Factory to enjoy the region’s excellent selection of cheese and yoghurt. If you didn’t get your sweet fix already, enjoy some ice cream featuring local flavors, such as coconut, soursop, or rum raisin.
- The park is open daily from 7 am to 4 pm.
- Though no camping is permitted overnight in the park, a small hostel offering basic lodging is located within the reserve. Many other accommodations are available in Monteverde or the nearby town of Santa Elena.
- Expect wet conditions. A rain jacket and suitable hiking shoes are recommended.
- Travel from San Jose to Monteverde takes 2.5 hours by private vehicle. Alternatively, buses leave San Jose at 6:30 am and 2:30 pm daily for a 4.5-hour journey.
Don’t miss an opportunity to see Costa Rica’s most breathtaking scenery. With a trip to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, you’ll be refreshed, inspired, and invigorated by the landscape, the people, and the thrilling range of things to do.
*Prices are as per January 2018.