In Spanish, Monteverde means “green mountain” and it is one of the most interesting and most popular tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Best known for the world famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, there are a number of other reserves and activities in this area.
For nature-lovers and birders, Monteverde is a natural destination and one of the best areas to visit in Costa Rica so lets go over each one of these 8 best activities to do while in Monteverde in detail.
1. Hike Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
This large reserve is one of the most outstanding wildlife sanctuaries in the Americas and includes eight distinct ecological zones.
It protects more than 400 species of birds and over 100 species of mammals. In addition to the spectacular Resplendent Quetzal, you may see the endangered Bellbird, or Emerald Toucanet.
There are also 30 species of hummingbirds. (I recommend stopping at the Hummingbird Gallery)
While you can walk the trails with a self-guiding pamphlet available at the entrance, we recommend taking at least one guided tour, as an experienced guide will point out flora and fauna that you would probably not notice yourself.
Your hotel can arrange a guide for you. As with most wildlife viewing early morning is the best time to go and you should purchase your entrance ticket or arrange for a guided tour the previous day.
The popularity of the Monteverde Reserve has given rise to the preservation of several other similar areas nearby.
2. Reserva Sendero Tranquilo
This 200-acre private reserve allows only two groups of 2 to 6 people at one time. Tours, led by excellent bilingual guides, last 3-4 hours. Groups are for the most part silent when in the forest, and visitors are usually pleased with the amount of wildlife they see.
3. Monteverde Bird Sanctuary – Paradise for Bell Birds
There are 4.5 miles of trails in a special eco-system with an abundance of birds, mammals and plants, which have been preserved through out the years thanks to the heightened interest in conservation that has spread among the inhabitants of Monteverde.
For information and reservations contact Hotel Heliconia.
4. Santa Elena Forest Reserve
The 765-acre Santa Elena Forest Reserve is located 5 kilometers northeast of Santa Elena. It is at a slightly higher elevation than the Monteverde reserve and tends to be cloudier and wetter, but is also less visited than its better know neighbor.
There are over 10 kilometers of trails, with one leading to a lookout point from which you can see Volcán Arenal on a clear day. There are usually local guides on hand, or you can hire one before hand through your hotel. You have the option of buying a self-guided trail map and renting boots at the entrance.
Monteverde Guides Association
Created in 1996 with the main propose of make professional the tour guided service in Monteverde. The organization has improved the knowledge and capacity of the guide service not only in Monteverde, but in other areas like Tortuguero, San Carlos and Cabo Blanco in Guanacaste.
For arts and crafts, be sure to stop by CASEM, a cooperative of local women who make beautiful embroidered and hand-painted clothing and souvenirs portraying quetzales, golden toads, and other cloud forest flora and fauna. It’s located on the right next to the food co-op as you enter Monteverde.
6. Hummingbird Gallery
The Hummingbird Gallery, just before the entrance to the Monteverde Reserve, features the photography of Michael and Patricia Fogden. The Fogden’s spend months at a time with sloths, frogs, snakes, insects, and birds, trying to get just the right shot. They also sell beautiful T-shirts and high-energy snacks for the trail.
There are feeders outside the gallery that attract a wonderful variety of hummingbirds. I would recommend that you stop by on your way to or from the Reserve.
7. Monteverde Cheese Factory
The famous Monteverde Cheese Factory sells 14 types of cheese including: cheddar, jack, Gouda, and Monte Rico. You can also buy great homemade whole-wheat bread and rolls, fresh milk, and cajeta (scrumptious milk fudge) there.
A conservation project with over 700 acres of protected land. A thrilled Canopy Tour, walks thru the virgin Cloud Forest, Bird watching, a Butterfly and Humming Bird Gardens, which ever is your adventure at Selvatura you will enjoy all the cloud forest has to offer.
Getting To Monteverde
There are very few flights to Monteverde and It is about a four hour drive by car from San Jose. While you probably can make it in a regular car, I strongly recommend a renting four wheel drive car.
You can also fly into the Liberia Airport and drive from there is about 3 hours. Which airport you fly in will depend on where else you plan to go.
For those who do not want to drive I would recommend a package tours (by tour bus) from San Jose or arrange a private transfer.