Nestled in between two spectacular cloud forest preserves down a remote dirt road is Monteverde. This green, lush, mountainous town in the center of the highlands of Costa Rica was named by the Quaker farmers who migrated there in the 1950s. The Quakers first came to Monteverde from the United States in search of a peaceful place to settle while war raged at home. These settlers were attracted to Costa Rica as they had recently dismantled their military. Once there, the Quakers set up the Monteverde Cheese Factory, a dairy farm that has famously helped to preserve much of the cloud forest.
When the Quakers made their first purchase of 3,460 acres, they began to reserve a third of the land to protect the watershed that supported their farms. These pioneers in environmental preservation expanded their protected area as time went on and they now have managed to protect 55,000 acres of rainforest in all. Thanks to their efforts, Monteverde offers a safe haven for millions of species of animals and plants as well as providing eco-tourism opportunities for travelers from all over the world. This area boasts great ecotourism activities in the many national parks that lay amongst a string of volcanoes.
Activities & Things to Do in Monteverde
The cloud forest of Monteverde is home to the longest canopy tour in Costa Rica that stretches over two miles of the virgin rainforest. A trip to the cloud forest would not be complete without a canopy tour to watch the birds fly by the old strangler fig trees. If you are curious to discover some of the biodiversity that thrives in the rainforest at night, take one of our recommended sky night tours where you ride across the tops of the rainforest on trams and suspension bridges.
If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground there are numerous well-groomed trails worth checking out. On these trails, keep your eyes open to spot the exotic birds, butterflies, trees decorated with ferns, orchids, mosses, bromeliads, lianas and streams of crystal clear water. If you want to learn more about the fauna that thrives in these regions, be sure to visit the butterfly gardens, hummingbird galleries or check out the mountainside by horseback. For those looking for an epicurean adventure, sign up for a chocolate tour or visit a coffee plantation to see how Costa Ricans have been growing their coffee for over two hundred years.
Animals & Wildlife in Monteverde
Visiting the cloud forest provides visitors the opportunity to view one of the most spectacular displays of biodiversity in all the world. Monteverde is one of the few homes left to the endangered resplendent quetzal, jaguars, ocelot and now the Tapir. There are opportunities to discover tapirs, agoutis, peccaries, sloths, bats, and a variety of moth species. With four life zones that make up this area, the biodiversity is great and includes more than 400 bird species (including the magnificent quetzal, bellbird and black guan), 120 species of amphibian and reptiles, 490 of butterflies, 100 of mammals (60 being bat species). Also, a great opportunity to see a magnificent display of butterflies that inhabit the region means that the Selvatura Butterfly Garden is not to be missed.
Cultural Activities Available
To learn more about the Quaker past of the area take a trip to the Cheese Factory that helped to start it all. This is a must do for tourists where you can sample and buy several varieties of cheese, cured meats, cream, milk, and caramels. Be sure to try the ice cream or milkshakes to re-energize for another day exploring the cloud forest. In the adjoining town of Santa Elena, you can find almost any amenity you need, like cafes, banks, markets, and gift shops.
Weather in Monteverde
The cloud forests provide a unique weather experience as these highland forests have 100% humidity that allows for their tremendous biodiversity. As this forest is on the continental divide and is subject to the strong trade winds of the ocean, you can expect some cool wind when you are higher in elevation. The nights tend to be cooler than the beach and lowland areas. From May to October you can expect downpours at night followed by sunny mornings during the rainy season.
What to Pack When Visiting Monteverde
Be sure to pack a pair of closed toed shoes such as hiking boots for navigating the rainforest’s floor. A backup pair of shoes such as strap-on sandals could suit you well in case you are traveling during the rainy season. While hiking, be sure to bring a small daypack that can hold a change of clothes or rain jacket and your camera. For the evenings, it is wise to have a sweater, light jacket, and long pants.
Book a Trip to Monteverde
Even for locals, getting to Monteverde can be difficult due to the rough dirt roads that carve their way up the mountain. And with a variety of activities to do while visiting Monteverde, the experts at Costa Rica Escapes would make sure that you get to Monteverde safely and that you visit the points of interest you wish to see. You would be matched up personally with quality tour guides and companies who will provide you with exceptional service. With Costa Rica Escapes, you can be assured that we will make sure to put together a unique itinerary for you that provides you with a rainforest adventure you will never forget.