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Monteverde Cloud Forest
General information


The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biologic Reserve is located in the northeast region of Costa Rica, in the provinces of Alajuela, Puntarenas and Guanacaste. It is part of the Tilaran Mountain Range and separates the Atlantic and Pacific slopes, 180 km from San Jose.
Conservation Area:
Tempisque-Arenal Conservational Area (ACA-T)
4025 hectares, with 600 to 1842m elevations above the sea level (Tres Amigos Hills). The 3% is accessible to the public, the other 97% is restricted for the forest protection.
Every day: from 7:00am to 4:00pm.
When to go?

Dry season: from December to April

Conatct information
Regional Office:
(00506) 2437-9903
Send mail
Web Page:
Visit Wen Page
Camping permissions:
General information
The Monteverde Biologic Reserve is known worldwide for its tropical cloud forest, which is one of the most important private protected areas in Costa Rica. It has 90% of virgin forest, and its biodiversity of ecosystems brings together more than 70.000 nature lovers from different countries per year.

This biologic reserve is known worldwide for being a sanctuary of the flora, the fauna and the water resources in the tropics of the American continent. Its territory includes the Atlantic and Pacific slopes, as well as the Tilaran Mountain Range. It is a perfect example of the preservation through environmental education and scientific studies.

It has drastic temperature and humidity changes, crystal-clear streams, rapids, waterfalls and many species of plants and animals. Here you can find exposed forests in the top of the hills shaped by the wind, which gives them a short size. Unlike these forests, the protected forests have very tall trees decorated with orchids, bromeliads, ferns, lianas and mosses. You can also find swamp forests in low drainage areas.

Due to the clouds that pass through the treetops, there’s a large variety of birds, like the bellbird and the quetzal (it can be observed in March and April, during its nesting period). During certain time of the year, here you can see native birds and also birds that migrate from the north.
Even though the cloud forests usually have light rainfall, unlike rainforests, the reserve has higher humidity and is more clouded due to the altitude of its territory (ranges between 1.200 m and 2.600 m).

Its rainfall level in the eastern section feeds the streams of the Rio Peñas Blancas, which flows into the Rio San Juan under the name of San Carlos. In the southern section, the rainfall feeds the Rio Guacimal, flowing into the Gulf of Nicoya. Due to the clouds and drizzles trapped by the forest of the reserve, this river is able to carry water to the Pacific even during dry season, as a “sponge effect”.

The reserve is part of a group of private and public protected natural areas, such as the Eternal Forest of Children, the Reserve of Santa Elena, the Arenal Volcano National Park and the Alberto Manuel Brenes Biologic Reserve. It limits with the Eternal Forest of Children in the east, north and south sections.

The average rainfall ranges between 2.500 mm (Pacific slope) and 6.000 mm (Atlantic slope). The average temperature goes between 10°C and 25°C.
Rainy season: from May to November. June, September and October have the heaviest rainfall.

Dry season: from December to April (high season), but with fog. December and January are the coldest months. From December to March the weather is usually windy and clouded, and has frequent drizzles.

In Monteverde there have been identified 7 life zones: transitional humid tropical forest – pre-montane forest, along the Pacific region of the mountains of Tilaran; humid pre-montane forest, in the Pacific slope; very humid pre-montane forest; very humid low pre-montane forest; low montane pluvial forest, in the high peaks and crests of the mountain range; pre-montane pluvial forest; and transitional very humid tropical forest – pre-montane forest, along the Rio Peñas Blancas.

There are around 2.500 species of plants in the Monteverde Biologic Reserve, among them 200 types of ferns and 400 kinds of orchids (largest amount of orchids in the same place), which bloom in white, lilac and yellow colors during March.

The variety of altitudes and temperatures of the reserve result in an impressive diversity of vegetation and plants, with many mosses, epiphytes and lianas. The most representative species of the cloud forest are the trumpet tree, the oak tree, the zapote tree and the strangler fig tree. There are also natural short forests shaped by the wind.

Almost 10% of the entire flora found in Monteverde is endemic of the Tilaran Mountain Range. The Podocarpus monteverdeensis (Podocarpaceae) is endemic and the only tree of gymnosperms native to Monteverde. It’s said that the third part of the flora of the country is found here.

The reserve includes more than 400 species of birds (almost half of all the birds of Costa Rica), like the beautiful quetzal (sacred for the Mayan civilization), the chalk-browed mockingbird, the umbrellabird, the bellbird, the emerald toucanet, the black guan, the common redstart, the blue-crowned motmot, the pavoncillo, 30 different types of hummingbirds, the green kingfisher, the crested owl, the lonely eagle and the green macaw.

There are 153 species of reptiles and plenty of translucent frogs, but the golden toad, endemic to this zone, became extinct about 20 years ago. There are also several snakes like the boa constrictor, the fer-de-lance, and the Central American coral snake.

Here you can find 490 kinds of butterflies and 100 types of mammals, such as the tapir, the jaguar and the ocelot, which are endangered. There are also howler, spider and white-faced monkeys, armadillos, black squirrels and Mexican mice. You can find 40 species of bats (the Toltec fruit-eating bat is the most common), the common opossum, the shrew mouse, the giant anteater and the Hoffmann sloth.

Among other animals, you can see sloths, pacas, coyotes, skunks, porcupines, weasels, otters, coatis, raccoons, olingos, foxes, deer and peccaries.

Services and facilities on the Park
In the house of the reserve:
Rustic house with space for 47 people: investigators and students
Administrative offices
Rooms: 7 rooms with individual bunk beds, 3 shared bathrooms for men and 3 shared bathrooms for women. Two rooms have private bathroom.
In the low lands of the Atlantic slope:
Station with access to the very humid tropical forest.
Refuges: 3 refuges for visitors equipped with basic facilities, located along the reserve.
Trails (you can go over them with or without a guide)
Guided walks:
Natural History walks with qualified guides: 7:30am, 12:00md and 1:30pm. Takes from 2 ½ to 3 hours.
Night walks with qualified guides every night: 7:15pm, takes from 2 to 2 ½ hours.
Special walks for birdwatching: 6:00am.
Wilford Guindon hanging bridge at a height of 100 m, located on a pass where you can see the treetops and many epiphyte plants.
Souvenir store
Visitor center with TV and natural history videos
Facilities for investigation:
New lab with facilities to support field work and the preparation and storage of samples
Conference room with audio & video equipment
Electronic equipment: computers, printers and fax
Environmental education classroom with audio & video equipment
Environmental education: workshops, conferences, small projects and day and night tours

Inside the Park:
Tours through the trails with or without guides
Wilford Guindon hanging bridge, which offers a unique view of the forest
Observe bird migrations from February to May (at dawn and at sunset)
Safari through the Rio Peñas Blancas
Visiting the viewer La Ventana, where you can see both coasts of Costa Rica (Pacific and Atlantic)

Outside the Park
Hummingbird gallery: many species of hummingbirds are attracted by the feeders, perfect for taking pictures. There’s a store where you can purchase souvenirs and photos from the exhibit of the British Michael Fodgen.
Quakers cheese factory: it was founded 40 years ago by Costa Ricans and a Quaker family. It is ideal for observing the process of making cheese, with a store where you can purchase it. Schedule: Monday through Saturday from 7:30am to 4:30am, Sundays from 7:30am to 12:30pm. IMPORTANT: The production starts until 9:00am.
Serpentarium: many samples found in this region of Costa Rica. Schedule: Every day from 9:00am to 4:00pm.
Butterfly farm: it has entrance fee but you can enter as many times as you want during the same day. Schedule: every day from 9:30am to 4:00pm.
Bird farm: farm with elevations of 12 m; it can be accessed by 4WD vehicles. You pass through an ecological farm where you can see animals like monkeys, sloths, armadillos and birds. You must pay an entrance fee.
Bajo del Tigre terrain: it has an extension of 29 hectares, and the altitude ranges between 1.020 m and 1.380 m. It is managed by the Monteverde Conservation Association. The vegetation in this place is secondary (old coffee plantations and urbanized zones). It has a reception center for visitors and a store with items related to conservation and the organization. Next to the reception there’s a “little house for children”, with the purpose of teaching children of the zone. It is mainly visited by students, but also tourists and investigators come here. It has about 3.3 km of trails and is an excellent spot for viewing the sunset over the Gulf of Nicoya. Website: http://btigre.white.prohosting.com/
Bajo del Tigre trail: 100 m just after CASEM (Cooperative of Craftswomen of Santa Elena and Monteverde). Beautiful place with more than 2 km of trails under the rainforest and the dry forest. It is managed by the Monteverde Conservation Association and is part of the Eternal Forest of Children. The entrance fee serves as a donation.
Visiting the Eternal Forest of Children: it has an extension of 22.000 hectares that include primary and secondary forests. It has areas for investigation, education and protection of the environment, and some sections also have trails used by tourists, students and investigators. The project of preserving this zone of Monteverde began in 1987, in a small rural school in Sweden, when the 9-year-old Roland Teinsuu wanted to save the forest and its animals from destruction. This boosted a group campaign to save money and help the League of Conservation of Monteverde buy and save threatened lands of the Costa Rican rainforest. The children were able to raise the money needed to buy 6 hectares. This is the first rainforest for children worldwide.
Reserve of Santa Elena: it was created by a group of volunteer students from Canada, owned by the school of Santa Elena and managed by this community. It has a mission of long-term sustainability for the reserve and the community through an entrance fee, the guided tours and the souvenir store. The money raised from these activities is used for the reserve’s management, courses (environmental education, biology, agriculture, languages and tourism) and technological updates for the local school. It has an extension of 310 hectares, but there’s a plan to buy nearby farms and lands in order to expand the reserve. The trails of this reserve are more natural and hard to walk through than the ones in the Reserve of Monteverde. There’s a general entrance fee and another one for students; there are also private guides. Website: http://reservasantaelena.org/
Visiting the Reserve Sendero Tranquilo: it is part of a wildlife private reserve of 84 hectares, owned by the Lowther family for more than 40 years. It limits with the Reserve of Monteverde and the Rio Guacimal. This sector is very important for migrating birds, like the quetzal and the bellbird, where they find shelter and food. There are arranged walks with specific schedules throughout the day.
Horseback riding tours and regular tours to El Trapiche, a small and old sugar cane processor
Purchase beautiful handcrafts in CASEM (Cooperative of Craftswomen of Santa Elena and Monteverde)
Coffee tour
Canopy tour
Insect exhibit
Train through the forest of Monteverde in Santa Elena
There are bank branch offices, drugstore, hospital, gas station, ATM, police station and post office in the town of Monteverde.

Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • Recomendations
  • Interesting data
Tips para el viajero
Access recommendations
Request information regarding the refuges several days prior to arrival.
Register in the reception record before entering the reserve.
Schedule: every day from 7:00am to 4:00pm

General recommendations inside the reserve
In case you need any help, go to the park rangers, they will be more than glad to assist you.
Guided night walk: from 7:00pm to 9:30pm (with previous reservation)

Clothes and accessories recommendations
Bring sweater, shoes, clothes and accessories for rainy weather (umbrella, raincoat).
Bring photo and video cameras, binoculars and mosquito repellent.
Bring sunscreen and a hat or cap.

Stay recommendations
There’s no camping allowed in the reserve; you must look for a place to stay in the town of Monteverde.

Recommendations for the walks and tours
Reserve the tours in advance.

Health recommendations
It is not recommended for people with heart conditions.

Recommendations for a responsible tourist
Walk only along the authorized trails.
No hunting allowed or collecting samples of plants or animals.
Do not use radios, stereos or speak loudly, as it may disturb the animals or other visitors.
Do not feed or touch the animals.
Pets and horses are not allowed inside the reserve.

Recommendations with the animals
Some animals may be hard to find because of their nocturnal habits, their reproductive or migratory behavior and the forest's density.

Money recommendations
It is better if you hire a qualified guide for the guided walks. The money raised is used as contribution for the activities of the Department of Environmental Education that works with schools and local communities.

Datos interesantes
Datos interesantes:
1.Bosque Nuboso trail: it is 1.9 km long and has an elevation of 65 m. It takes about 1 ½ hours to go over it. At the entrance of the reserve you can get a brochure in English and Spanish that will help you take the tour without a guide. This trail is very beautiful, where you can observe hemiepiphyte plants (they grow in the branches of trees, but their roots reach the ground and absorb the nutrients they need). It goes towards La Ventana viewer through several creeks, like Aguacalillo and Higueron.

2.El Camino trail: it is 2 km long and has an elevation of 45 m. It takes about an hour to go over it. This trail is wider and more open, which allows more sunlight to come in, attracting butterflies. It is ideal for birdwatching and has a deviation for the Bosque Nuboso trail. From here you can also get to the Wilford trail, close to the sector with the hanging bridge.

3.Pantanoso trail: it is 1.6 km long and has an elevation of 40 m. It takes about 1 ½ hours to go over it. This trail goes through a swamp forest and through the mountain range. It has many daylight openings, magnolias and the only coniferous tree, the cipresillo.

4.El Rio trail: it is 1.9 km long and has an elevation of 65 m. It takes about 1 ½ hours to go over it. This trail ends along the Quebrada Cuecha with a small way with roots, ending in a waterfall with many zapote trees.

5.Wilford Guindon trail: it was named after one of the founders of the reserve. It is 900 m long and from here you can visit the hanging bridge of the same name (100 m long): an excellent opportunity for observing many bromeliads, orchids, ferns, climbing plants and mosses.

6.Chomogo trail: it is 1.8 km long and has an elevation of 150 m. It takes about 1 ½ hours to go over it. This trail has the highest altitude with 1.680 m. Oak trees, bamboos and heliconias are very common, and also the “hot lips” flower (from the rubiaceae family) can be easily seen.

7.George Powell trail: it is 0.2 km long and has an elevation of 20 m. It takes about 10 minutes to go over it. This area is covered by a secondary forest and was named after one of the founders of the reserve.

8.Brillante trail: it is 0.3 km long and has an elevation of 16m. It takes about 10 minutes to go over it. It goes through the mountain range towards La Ventana viewer, with a panoramic view of short forests. Bamboo trees are very common.

9.Roble trail: it is 0.6 km long, somewhat narrow and goes uphill towards the north. It has a beautiful grove of heliconias.

10.Tosi trail: it is 552 m long and is located between the trails Chomogo and George Powell; ends in Quebrada Cuecha.

Other interesting sites:
1. La Ventana viewer: one of the highest points of the reserve (1.560 m) where you can appreciate the mountain range. It has strong humid winds that descend towards the plains of the Central and North Pacific of the country.

2. Los Amigos Hill: it is the highest point with 1.842 m. At dawn and with clear weather, you can see the Atlantic and Pacific coasts from its top. You can also see radio and TV signal towers.

3. The lowest altitude spot of the reserve is the Valley of Peñas Blancas, with almost 800 m (2.624 ft). A river of the same name flows in this valley, with peaceful waters and a great diversity of flora and fauna, such as monkeys, sloths, caimans, iguanas and many bird species.

Historical review and others
George Powell and his wife lived in Monteverde due to the post-graduate studies about birds that he was performing. In 1972, the decided to join a resident and member of the local Quaker community, Wilford Guindon, in order to promote the creation of a natural reserve. 

This was made because of the invasion of squatters in the lands and the constant predation of hunters. Initially, Powell had guaranteed a donation of 328 land hectares, which were reserved for mining, property of the Guacimal Land Company, with the condition of having an organization that will take charge of the land.

These first hectares were part of the core of the Monteverde Reserve. However, Powell went to the Tropical Scientific Center for advice, support and financing. The Tropical Scientific Center is a non-profit organization that had a program for the creation of private reserves for biological and investigation purposes. 

It also met the requirements for receiving land donations. Powell became a member of the Center, which accepted the institutional responsibility of the land and the management of the protected area.

After the creation of the Reserve, the Tropical Scientific Center kept looking for the resources (human and economic) needed to protect, expand, strengthen and manage the Reserve in the best possible way.

In 1973, the Center released an international campaign in search of funds for expanding and protecting the Reserve. Several donations were received from the Explorers Club of New York, Philadelphia Conservation Society, New York Zoological Society, RARE Animal Relief Effort, World Wildlife Fund, Nature Conservancy, International Council for Bird Preservation and other people, including the philanthropist and photographer John Dunning. Between 1973 and 1978, other donations were received that allowed to obtain another 1.100 land hectares. In 1974, 471 people (mainly scientists and birdwatchers) visited the Reserve.

In 1975, the hydrographic communal reserve Bosque Eterno S.A. was annexed, which had 554 hectares and was founded in the middle 60s by the Quaker community. This land, located in the hills of the Cerro Los Amigos, had also bought the Guacimal Land Company by one of its first Quaker farmer, Hubert Mendenhall.

Between 1975 and 1980, several confrontations took place with the inhabitants of the region, who wanted to keep the lands for themselves. These confrontations also occurred because of the construction of a road for wood extraction, the cattle that would pass through the reserve, the hunting and the construction of a tower for a national TV station.

In 1977, the BBC of London (British Broadcasting Company) produced a color and high-quality documentary that included interviews with George Powell and the renowned Costa Rican entomologist Luis Ramirez. The documentary was transmitted in Europe and the United States in 1978, which turned out as a great support for generating interest in the preservation of tropical rainforests. That year, the total amount of visitors rose to 2.000.

In 1979, the Nature Conservancy made a donation that helped finish La Casona station, in order to accommodate more scientists and college teachers that performed studies. The incomes from the entrance fees and scientific research rights raise the budget needed for the costs of management, surveillance and environmental education. The Reserve has currently an extension of 4.025 hectares, and Guindon is still member of the surveillance and guard of the Reserve.

Monteverde Conservation
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biologic Reserve depends completely on private financing for:
1.Consolidate a trust that assures the economic stability for the management of the Reserve.
2.Support the Programs of Environmental Education and Investigation.
3.Improve the protection actions and management of the Reserve.
4.Develop the Monteverde – Gulf of Nicoya Biological Corridor.

Geology of the Reserve
Located in the Tilaran Mountain Range, the Monteverde Biologic Reserve is formed by materials from the Tertiary and Quaternary periods, mainly volcanic rocks from the Tertiary.
Some areas of the mounts of Aguacate, Monteverde and Cote were formed during the Miocene period. The southeast section of the region is mainly composed by andesite and basalt flows, agglomerates and gaps.
The rocks of the Holocene period match with volcanic materials (lava and pyroclasts), and are located in the northwest section of the canton and west and southwest of the lagoon.

Golden toad
It is an endemic species of the Reserve, deaf and voiceless, where the males have a very bright orange color. The spawning season was between May and June. Unfortunately, this animal is currently extinct, due to a type of fungus that attacked the species. It hasn’t been spotted since 1989.

Monteverde Cloud Forest
como llegar?
How to get there?
Transportes Tilaran (Street 12, Ave. 7-9)
From San Jose to Monteverde:
Every day: 6:30am and 2:30pm
From Monteverde to San Jose:
Every day: 6:30am and 2:30pm
Office phone number: (506) 2222-3854

From San Jose, take the North Pan-American Highway on the route #1 for about 133 km until you arrive to Sardinal. Then take the right exit towards Santa Elena (about 29 km). Once in Santa Elena, continue 6 km more until you get to the entrance of the reserve, following the signs.

Other kind of transportation


Monteverde Cloud Forest
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