Costa Rica Monteverde information


 
  Introduction  
 

MONTEVERDE (The Green Mountain) and the nearby town Santa Elena, are two of the most remarkable and interesting regions to visit while in Costa Rica.

Located in the Northwestern part of Costa Rica, at an altitude of 1440 meters (4662 ft.) above sea level,

monteverd clode forst
 

the MONTEVERDE Cloud Forest enfolds an astonishing diversity of fauna and flora, rarely scene in other locations around the world. It is named a cloud forest due to constant creation of clouds and their flowing movement through the forest?s canopy.

This Ecological System hosts more than 400 species of birds, including 30 kinds of hummingbirds, over 100 species of mammals, including 5 species of cats, tens of thousands of insect species (more than 5,000 species of moths), approximately 420 types of orchids among the 2,500 species of plants.
The Monteverde and Santa Elena Reserves are known worldwide as an exceptional wildlife refuges in the New World Tropics.

 

The Reserves

  The Monteverde and Santa Elena area is the home for two major wildlife reserves. The Monteverde Cloud Forest wildlife reserve and the Santa Elena wild life reserve.
  Monteverde Reserve:
  Monteverde Reserve The reserve is located 6 kilometers (about 3.6 miles) south East of downtown Santa Elena, and covers a vast cloud forest area that reaches in its Northeastern parts to the Arenal Volcano region.
Expect to see some of the most majestically tall trees garlanded with a variety of ferns, vines, orchids, bromeliads and mosses.
  Poorly drained areas support swamp forests, while parts of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, dissected by deep gorges, have numerous crystal clear streams tumbling over rapids and waterfalls. The changing climate and large altitude gradient has helped produce an extremely high biodiversity. Among the Monteverde Cloud Forest inhabitants you will find the wild Jaguar, Baird?s Tapir, Ocelot, Three-wattled Bellbird, bare necked Umbrella bird and the Resplendent Quetzal.
 

How to get there:

There is a bus that leaves from downtown Santa Elena de Monteverde, near Banco Nacional, at 6:15 AM and 1:00 PM daily (except Sundays in the low season, only at 6:15 AM). Returns at noon and 4:00 PM.
A taxi costs approximately $5, one way.

How much does it costs:

Adults will pay $12, students with a valid student ID and children over 11 get a discounted rate of $6.5, younger children will enter for free.

Quetzal
 

Hours of operation:

Opens at 7:00 AM and closes at 4:00 PM daily

There is a restaurant, souvenir shop and art gallery in the main entrance to the reserve.

Tours with a bilingual guide are available for $15 per person and the duration is about 3.5 hours (the price goes down to $12 per person for groups of 5 or more people). You can meet a guide at the entrance to the park, or reserve in advance by calling the Monteverde Reserve offices.
There are guided night tours for $13 per person (entrance to the park and a guide are included). For the night tours there is no need for reservation. Meet at 7:15 PM at the reserve entrance gate. Please note that on rainy nights the night tour is not recommended.

Backpacking in the park is possible. There are 3 backcountry huts, and a prior reservation is needed with the reserve personnel. The fee is $3.5 per person per night above the entrance fee, and it provides for accommodation only.

 

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve is owned and administered by the Tropical Science Center (TSC). The Center was established in 1962 as a non-profit, non-governmental organization (Monteverde Reserve is not a National Park) with headquarters in San José, Costa Rica. The objective of the Center is to conduct and support scientific research and education, particularly in relation to the understanding and rational management of tropical environments.

 

Santa Elena Reserve

The Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the first preserves in Costa Rica to be administered by a community, Santa Elena's and Monteverde's communities.

How does the Ecological System of a Cloud Forest Works?

A cloud forest is a highland forest characterized by nearly 100% humidity throughout the year. In the Reserve Santa Elena of Monteverde, warm North-Easterly trade winds, filled with moisture, blow in over the Atlantic. As the winds sweep up to the Continental divide, they cool and condense to form clouds, bathing the forest in a constant soft mist. The cloud forest receives an incredible four meters of rain every year- that is almost twelve feet.

One of the most characteristic features of Monteverde cloud forest is the abundance of vegetation. Competition for growing space is so intense that trunks and branches are almost entirely covered with a variety of epiphytes, lichens, liverworts, bryophytes and mosses. The epiphyte mats store moisture, which is especially important in the dry season (February to May). The lush cloud forest canopy of Monteverde is thus home to many species of insects, amphibians, and mammals which never even come down to the forest floor.

  A walk through the cloud forest of Monteverde can be an eerie experience. As the high clouds creep through the twisted trees and hanging vines around you, strange sounds fill the air. Strong winds and the added weight of water-laden epiphytes often cause branches to fall to the ground.
This reduces the height of the cloud forest canopy and adds to the forest's gnarled appearance.
Monteverde Hanging Bridges.
 

Falling branches also create light gaps, allowing the growth of light tolerant plants and producing a constant mosaic of succession. A perfect place for hiking, bird watching, volunteering or do some research.

The reserve was established in 1989 after unsuccessful tries in farming the land brought the Santa Elena community, together with Youth Challenge International, a non-profit organization based in Canada, to convert the land into a Cloud Forest Reserve.

How to get there:

Taxi from Santa Elena Monteverde will cost you $5 to $7 depends on your negotiation skills. For those who are enthusiastic walkers, you can go on the trail that leads to the reserve.

How much does it costs:

Adults will pay $8, students with a valid student ID get a discounted rate of $4.5

Hours of operation:

Opens at 7:00 AM and closes at 4:00 PM daily

There are guided tours available in the Santa Elena Reserve and they cost $15 per person for a 3.5 hours tour.
There is a restaurant, a souvenir shop and hummingbirds feeders at the entrance to the reserve.
Tel / Fax: (506) 645-5390


How to get to Monteverde

By Bus:

There are busses from San José going to Monteverde at 6:30 AM and at 2:30 PM every day. Ask at your hotel for the Puntarenas bus stop, at Calle 14, avenida 11 y 9. The morning bus arrives in Monteverde at 11:00 AM. The afternoon bus arrives in Monteverde at 7:00 PM. In the wet season times might be slightly different.

From Puntarenas
There are 2 daily buses that go from Puntarenas to Santa Elena Monteverde daily: the first one leaves at 1:00 PM (via Las Juntas) and the second one leaves at 2:00 PM and it is a direct bus to Santa Elena Monteverde. Both busses arrive at around 5:00 PM.

From Guanacaste
There are buses from Nicoya, Santa Cruz, Tamarindo, Flamingo, Playas del Coco, the Nicaragua Border and Liberia. Taking one of these buses, you can go to Lagarto and La Irma and hop on one of the Monteverde buses (ask the driver when)

From Tilarán
There is a daily bus that leaves Tilarán heading to Santa Elena Monteverde at 1:00 PM. It arrives around 3:00PM, it's a bumpy ride and in wet season times might be slightly different.

If you want to get to Santa Elena Monteverde from the Southern Pacific beaches: Ballena National park, Uvita, Dominical, Matapalo, Quepos, Manuel Antonio, Jaco or Herradura, head to Puntarenas and follow the instructions in the Puntarenas section.

By Car:

From San Jose:
(Around 4 to 5 hours drive)
Take the highway to Puntarenas. Follow the signs to Liberia on the Pan American highway. In Lagarto follow the signs to Santa Elena Monteverde. It is 1.5 to 2 hours drive from the main highway to Santa Elena Monteverde.

From La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano Region:
(Approximately 4 hours drive)
This is one of the most beautiful roads in Costa Rica, going through amazing mountain and forest landscape, part of it is on gravel road and part on semi paved road.
Take the road that goes around Lake Arenal towards Tilaran. Follow the signs to Santa Elena Monteverde.

From Tamarindo ? Santa Cruz ? Liberia
Take the Pan Americana highway that leads south to San Jose. About 35 Kilometers (21 miles) before Puntarenas you will reach Lagarto. Follow the signs to Santa Elena Monteverde.


Internet Access:

There are 4 Internet Cafes in Santa Elena. Tranquilo Internet is one of the nicest ones, offering travelers the opportunity to burn digital photos on CD?s, send e-mails to relatives and friends, and taste a good Costa Rican Coffee.
*Some of the more up scale hotels offer Internet, Telephone and Fax services.

Ecological activities

Monteverde and Santa Elena areas have many Ecological activities to offer visitors.

  • Daily tours in Monteverde Reserve or in the Santa Elena Reserve.
  • Guided night tours are available. In-search of nature?s night dwellers.
  • You can visit the butterfly farm and learn about the nearly 400 species of butterflies that inhabit the region.
  • The Ranario, a Frog?s Zoo. Here you will learn about the many wonderful and colorful frogs that live in Monteverde and Santa Elena. Their phone number is (506) 645-6320 and they offer night tours.
  • The local Cheese factory has daily tours where adults and children can learn about the production of dairy products such as, milk, different types of cheese and creams. Later on, visitors are invited to taste from the delicious milkshakes and ice creams the factory is famous for.

 



 

Adventure activities

The area boasts a variety of adventure activities:

  • One of the most famous adventure activities in Costa Rica is the Zip-Line Canopy adventure. You will glide on a system of zip-line cables, from one platform based high up in the forest canopy to another, giving you the opportunity to explore the Cloud Forest from a bird's view. The most professional company in Monteverde is SkyTrek.
  • ATV 4X4 are available for rent on the road between Santa Elena and Monteverde, just before Hotel El Sapo Dorado, on the left hand side.
  • Horseback riding tours are highly recommended with El Rodeo Stables or use the link to get more information about prices and schedule.
 

Art Galleries, Souvenir Shops and Restaurants

There are many restaurants, galleries and souvenir shops on the road from down town Santa Elena to the Monteverde Reserve. Many visitors like to take the 6 kilometers (3.6 miles) trail that leads from Santa Elena to the Monteverde Reserve. On a sunny day this trail offers magnificent views of the Nicoya Gulf and travelers can visit on the way the many art shops, souvenir shops, galleries and restaurants that are located along the road.

A list of the best restaurants will include:

Moonshiva Restaurant ? They have a beautiful garden setting and a splendid Mediterranean cuisine. One of the night highlights is their weekend Theme Nights, with a live band and special drinks and food.

Morpho's Restaurant is another winner. They specialize in the vegetarian cuisine.

Tramonti is a very good Italian restaurant, offering oven made pizza and other delicious Italian dishes, they are located at Hotel Del Bosque.

Flor De Vida Restaurant is one of the best places in Monteverde to watch the sunset. They offer a combination of delicious vegetarian dishes.


We recommend travelers to dedicate a few days to explore Santa Elena and Monteverde, visit the many attractions and participate in the active efforts of the local community to preserve and keep the Monteverde and Santa Elena wild life refuges, as they where before man came and settled the region.

Make sure you use the list of discounts to art galleries and restaurants we have gathered for you in our discount section. And you are invited to browse and choose what hotel you are going to stay-in while in Monteverde at our Monteverde section for hotels.

Have fun!

   


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