Monteverde is a spectacular place to visit while you're travelling in Costa Rica. Home to the impressive cloud forests formed by dense, low-hanging clouds, there are eight different biological reserves to explore with an abundance of flora and fauna. Located over 1,400 metres above sea level, it is a long drive along bumpy, narrow roads but it is definitely worth it when you get to the top!
Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve
At Monteverde, the main attraction is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve. Here you can either choose a guided tour available in both Spanish and English or explore the forest by yourself. We chose the latter. There a number of trails that you can follow around the reserve of varying distances and difficulties and cross a large suspension bridge leading you into the clouds as well as a number of viewpoints and waterfalls. Keep an eye out for colourful birds darting through the trees. I think a highlight for me was the Black Guan, an arboreal, turkey-like bird that is endemic to the cloud forests of Costa Rica and Panama. However, we also saw many other birds including Collared Redstart, Black-faced Solitaire and Sooty Thrush as well as the very cute Central American Agouti and White-nosed Coati.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve suspension bridge Monteverde Cloud Forest
After visiting the cloud forest preserve, make sure you stop by the hummingbird garden just outside the entrance. It is a little bit hidden out of the way and we almost missed it, but I am so glad that we didn't. The numbers and species of hummingbird that the feeders attract are incredible and it was amazing to sit amongst them. I could have easily spent hours there watching these colourful little birds whizz around going about their business.
Much of the wildlife that can be found at Monteverde scarcely makes an appearance during the daytime. Therefore, make sure to take a night tour while you are staying in Monteverde to observe all the weird and wonderful animals that inhabit this unique environment. We booked a tour with a local guide called Michael Leiton-Bello of Monteverde Nature Tracks. He was fantastic at spotting wildlife and knows exactly where to look. I recommend booking a private tour with him; it is well worth the money and means that you can go around at your own pace and focus on the wildlife that specifically interests you. He came to collect us from our hotel before taking us to the Monteverde Wildlife Refuge. On route, he told us he had heard from a friend that a sloth had been spotted not too far from where we were; he took us straight there where we observed amazing views of our first ever two-toed sloth.
At the reserve, we saw so much more than we ever expected to be able to: Violet Sabrewing, Mottled Owl, Side-striped Palm Pitviper, Brilliant Forest Frog, Orange-bellied Trogon, Emerald Toucanet, Orange-kneed Tarantula, Giant-banded Anole, Stick Insects and even a 9-banded armadillo scurrying off into the night. Also, Michael was very skilled at photography and used our iPhones to capture brilliant photos through his telescope of all this stunning wildlife. Be prepared for a lot of walking - we spent the entire time moving about the forest trying to see as much wildlife as we possibly could within the few hours we had. The night tour at Monteverde was one of the many highlights of our trip and perfect for getting great encounters with animals you wouldn't normally get chance to see.
Violet sabrewing Mottled owl Side-striped palm pitviper Orange-bellied trogon
Monteverde is also the perfect place for adventure lovers and thrill seekers. With a multitude of zip lines running through the forest, there are plenty of opportunities to explore this unique habitat from a different angle - high above the canopy. There are many companies who run zip lining tours, we chose to go with 100% Aventura who gave an excellent tour. Our canopy tour consisted of 12 zip lines across the forest of varying heights and distances (including the longest zip line in Latin America extending about 1 mile long) that offer a completely different view of the cloud forests.
Sunset over Monteverde, Costa Rica
Monteverde is a really spectacular place, home to one of the rarest habitats on the planet and a great diversity of plants and animals. Make sure to add it to your itinerary!
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