Monteverde is the green jewel of Costa Rica, an area where the attractions related to the environment, nature and conservation are part of everyday life.
Ecotourism was born in the Monteverde cloud forest, creating innovative activities so the experience in the forest was more fun, interactive and enriching. Activities such as canopy tours, cable cars, suspension bridges through the trees as well as guided tours have become the most popular attractions in the area. This surreal world is full of animals and plants in numbers too great to count.
Fog covers the town and the forest. Water droplets merge with sunlight to form a magnificent rainbow, set in the backdrop of the sky. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the best and most diverse natural reserves in the world, with thousands of species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects and plants.
Monteverde is one of the major tourist attractions of Costa Rica, there is much to see in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve as well as in different private reserves: bridges, ecological sanctuaries and various live museums of snakes, butterflies, bats, frogs and more.
The locals will tell you that Monteverde is the only place in the country with three different seasons: wet, dry and misty. This misty season is caused by clouds driven by the trade winds from the Atlantic that bathe the forest from November to February and mist blowing from the Continental Divide to the town of Monteverde. Daytime temperatures are still pleasant, but may cool off a bit more depending on cloud cover and winds. It is always better to visit Monteverde prepared for the weather conditions detailed above.
Monteverde means Green Mountain in Spanish and the name couldn’t be more appropriate.
The community was founded in 1951 by 44 Quakers from the U.S. Midwest who emigrated from his native country refusing to enlist in the army, his decision was based on the fact that Costa Rica abolished all kinds of army since 1948. They settled in the peaceful Costa Rica, and after exploring different regions immediately fell in love with Monteverde and purchased 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares) of land overlooking the Gulf of Nicoya.
Economic prosperity came when they began a cheese manufacturing industry, with 50 head of Jersey cattle brought from the United States. Some of these dairy products manufactured in the area remain the best in the country and are exported to international markets. The factory also, offers guided tours and access to direct purchase of products.
MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST
Acclaimed as one of the most outstanding wildlife refuges in the world, the Monteverde Cloud Forest protects eight different climate zones that covers 25 730 acres (10,400 ha) and extends from the Caribbean to the Pacific slope. The private reserve is operated by the Tropical Science Center of Costa Rica, a nonprofit organization that promotes forest conservation, research on species and ecosystems and the education for the future generations. This reserve has a unique ecosystem in the world due to the action of several factors: geographical location being on the continental divide that is the point where the winds collides; this winds come loaded on cooling moisture which condenses and forms into Clouds, this feature makes the forest a cloud forest.
A single tree in Monteverde is a habitat of its own. You may encounter in a single tree over 200 species of plants. Some trees measured 30 to 50 m high rise proudly into the clouds, providing a home for hundreds of birds, insects, monkeys, raccoons, spiders and other animals and lots of plants. More than 450 species of orchids adorn the vegetation, along with 400 other species of epiphytic mosses, bromeliads and ferns. Thousands of insects also live in the foliage that contributes to the richness of the ecosystem.
However, many visitors come to Monteverde in search of one thing: the magnificent quetzal. This unique bird plumage is characterized by its emerald and ruby colors and adult males also have a long tail used to attract females during mating season. The nesting season runs from March to June and more than 100 breeding pairs ensure the survival of endangered species. The Quetzal is a permanent resident of the cloud forests and is easily visible from December to August.
Admiring nature in Monteverde is easy thanks to a diverse and well-maintained trail system that leads into the heart of the reserve. Hearty hikers can also venture down rugged trails through the Caribbean slope and into true wilderness.
Extinct or hidden in the rainforest of Monteverde, the fate of the golden toad, endemic specie to some areas of Monteverde is uncertain.
SANTA ELENA RAIN FOREST
Conservation efforts in the region would not be as successful if not for the active participation of the community. The Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve is a clear example of this, is constituted as a private retreat nonprofit operated by the Eco-tourism High School in Santa Elena and is dedicated to environmental education, conservation and ecotourism..
Created in the 1990s, the reserve protects 1,440 acres (580 ha) and is located on the same mountain range as the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Although they share most of the wildlife, habitats and peculiar characteristics, Santa Elena Rainforest is unique in many ways.
CHILDREN’S ETERNAL RAINFOREST
The Children’s Eternal Rainforest was founded in 1984 for preschool children from Switzerland as the country that sets the standard, eventually joined children around the world to this cause. The Monteverde Conservation and Conservation League is responsible for this prestigious project. The Children’s Eternal Forest covers an area of 50,000 acres (20,200 hectares) reserve covers a transitional habitat between the pre-montane wet forest and wet. One of the main attractions is the Sendero Bajo del Tigre, located on the Pacific slope. The altitude and humidity create a unique atmosphere where thirty species of trees that have been identified as new to science.
Thousands of plants cover the cloud forest, one of the richest biodiversity of the planet. It is the forest that has
the most orchids per square meter in the world; this does not mean it’s so easy to appreciate because 90% grow in the treetops. A third of about 3000 Cloud Forest Plants grow in this way and they are named epiphytes which are plants that grow on trees and do not feed from them what makes them different from the parasites that do feed from the host tree.
Due to the success of the Monteverde forest sanctuaries, several private reserves and natural attractions have taken advantage of the rich biodiversity of the area and opened their doors to eco-tourism. We mention the Ecological Farm Wildlife Refuge, the San Luis Waterfall, Monteverde Orchid Garden, Butterfly Garden, Project Bellbird and Sendero Tranquilo Reserve. Each has unique characteristics that make them stand on their own.
The place where you can easily see hummingbirds is the “Galeria Colibrí” at the entrance to the Monteverde Reserve, it’s free. Stay for ten minutes and you are guaranteed to come in close contact with at least six species, and flitting between the drawers. You may be absorbed by the purple saber wing or throat of fire and want to stay longer. Until today Ornithologists have counted 30 varieties of hummingbirds in the Monteverde area, these birds have the highest global heart rate which ranges from 900 to 1000 beats per minute.