Monteverde, the jewel of Costa Rica’s cloud forests

photo by Everyspoon on Flickr

Costa Rica is famous for its world-class beaches, and also for its stunning nature reserves and forests. Although the country is small, it has some of the riches and lushest forests in Central America, and its national parks and reserves are a magnet not only for researchers and naturalists, but also for travelers who like to get out into nature. The small town of Monteverde is not only one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica, but also one of the most famous eco-travel destinations in the world. If you love forests, wildlife and mountain scenery, the the stunning forested region around Monteverde is worth a trip, no matter how long. And while you’re there, take some time to explore the town too – it also has its appeal! Here’s a guide to Monteverde, the jewel of Costa Rica’s cloud forests.

The town

photo by benet2006 on Flickr

Monteverde is a small town, but thanks to its stunning surroundings, it has more than 250,000 visitors every year, and it is considered to be one of Costa Rica’s seven wonders. It is not very easy to get to Monteverde, and the most common way to get there is by bus or taxi from nearby Santa Elena, which is slightly more accessible. There are more than enough hotels, restaurants and tour guides in town to cater to the needs of tourists, so your stay will be comfortable while you’re zipping in and out of the cloud forest reserve.

The nature reserves

While the bulk of the cloud forests around Monteverde are located in Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, there are other nature reserves nearby. The Monteverde Preserve contains over 10,000 hectares of tropical rainforest populated with thousands of species of plants and animals. There are more orchid species in this preserve than in any other place on the planet – in short, the richness of its biodiversity is nothing less than astounding. To get to the preserve, you can take the bus running twice a day from Monteverde. Alternatively, you can stay at the small lodge in the preserve and have everything at your fingertips. Bosque Eterno de los Niños is smaller but no less interesting, and one of its sections, the Bajo del Tigre, is famous for birdwatching and night hikes.Other nearby nature reserves include Bosque Noboso and Reserva Santa Elena.

Things to see and things to do

photo by Sam Effron

While the town is a pleasant place to be, most people are really interested in the cloud forests. Zip-lining is one of the most popular activities in the cloud forest, allowing you to take a good luck at the majestic foliage. There are several attractions in the cloud forests, which you can either explore on your own with the help of a guide pamphlet, or by taking part in a tour. The Bat Jungle and the Frog Pong showcase some of the most interesting local species, there are at least two butterfly gardens (one in Cerro Plano and one in Selvatura Park), and the Bajo del Tigre night walk is a great opportunity to see some tarantulas and reclusive sloths.

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