Costa Rica Monteverde information
(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,
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 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.
||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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
- You can visit the butterfly farm and learn about the
nearly 400 species of butterflies that inhabit the region.
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.
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
- ATV 4X4 are available for rent on the road
between Santa Elena and Monteverde, just
El Sapo Dorado, on the left hand side.
riding tours are highly recommended with El Rodeo Stables
or use the link to get more information about prices and
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:
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.
Restaurant is another winner. They specialize in the vegetarian
Tramonti is a very good Italian restaurant, offering
oven made pizza and other delicious Italian dishes, they are
located at Hotel Del Bosque.
De Vida Restaurant is one of the best places in Monteverde
to watch the sunset. They offer a combination of delicious
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.
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