Monteverde Cloud Forest and region, a brief guide to visit it

Monteverde Cloud Forest is, for those who have visited it, a realm of magical nature, mysterious trails, and breathtaking views. With an incredible sort of activities and multiple types of accommodations, it is a must in any Costa Rican itinerary.

Monteverde Rainfores Costa Rica
Monteverde Rainforest Costa Rica

Monteverde Cloud Forest has been known for any Costa Rica connoisseurs as one of the most popular, beautiful and remote regions of Costa Rica. Paradoxically, its voluntary isolation turned it into the objective for travelers from all over the World.

When we talk about the Monteverde Cloud Forest we are talking about two or three small towns, several forest reserves and an amazing array of activities and accommodations for visitors.

Monteverde Cloud forest

Where is the Monteverde Cloud Forest?

Monteverde is located on the Pacific slope of Costa Rica in the Tilarán Mountain Range and right on the verge of the Continental Divide and the limits between the Guanacaste and the Puntarenas Provinces.

San José Airport is 133.96 km/ 83.24 mi away, and it can take almost three hours to drive from San José.

LIR, the Liberia Airport is 76.2 km, 47.35 miles away, and if you don’t have delays, it takes two hours drive, average.

It could take much less than that, but the access to the area is as polemic as it can be rough.

But we have to get into the history of the Monteverde Cloud Forest and region to understand why in the World, the people who developed the place didn’t want to have a good road.

Monteverde Cloud forest

History of Monteverde Region:

In the late 1940s, suffering the increasing military development in the United States, the Meeting of Friends in Fairhope in Alabama concluded that they could not live in the States and pay their taxes that were paying for the war.

In 1949, four men in the group were condemned to a year in jail when, as honest objectors, they declined to register in the army and for the Korea war.

In November 1950 a group of forty-four Quakers, including eleven families, came to Costa Rica. They picked this country mainly for its agriculture potential and attractive climate, and a welcoming climate for foreign investors. Probably the most attractive feature of Costa Rica was its very recent abolition of the standing army.

After establishing in the Central Valley and looking for around six months for a good piece of property to buy, the Quakers decided upon 1400 hectares of land upon the mountains of Puntarenas.

They divided the property into single-family farms, holding a large portion for public purposes such as the school and community center as well as their first endeavor at a sustainable enterprise, the Monteverde Cheese Plant.

The region was covered in dense cloud forests and the clearing of the area was not easy. However, they created this community, dairy farms and factory little by little and successfully.

The Protection of the Forest

In a practical decision, the Quakers chose to preserve the cloud forest on the abrupt slopes at the summit of the mountain from where the rivers flowed, giving the community permanent water for all their needs.

They placed around one-third of the land,  in a reserve they called The Watershed Property and the whole community watched for it, managing the boundaries expelling illegal settlers before they made a claim and start cutting trees. This would be one of the first private reserves in Costa Rica.

Monteverde Cloud forest

A word on the road:

For decades the road to Monteverde was a dreadful pass in mud that could only be taken by horses or very good four-wheel drives.

As the travel industry bursts in Costa Rica in the early nineties, and with a community of Costa Rican and ex-pat enthusiasts the region became known simply by word of mouth. And its popularity has grown exponentially.

Especially for birdwatchers and nature lovers, Monteverde Cloud Forest became a sort of Mecca for those who came to watch the mightly Resplendent Quetzal, the Three-Wattled Bell Bird, and the Violet Sabrewing Hummingbirds among other equally impressive bird-watching targets.

The settlers didn’t want all the nature damage that construction of a good road would cause, but especially they did not want nonconcerned travelers that would come for the day without really giving any benefits to the community. 

Finally, in the last few years, the decision was taken to build it all the way to Santa Elena. And it is in construction right now. 

It is quite interesting to know that even though, the access is still partly on a dirt road (Not muddy anymore), mostly all the internal main streets in the area are already paved. 

What is a cloud forest after all?

A cloud forest is a rainforest that is in a certain and very specific geographical point where winds, precipitation, and evaporation agree on to create more fog than rain.

Remember we are in one of the very unique places on Earth where to huge oceans collide in one narrow strip of land, and Monteverde is right in the middle of this collision. 

The cloud forests are designed to take the water from the tiny fog drops and turn it into actual water. The moss covers, the huge leaves that accumulate the humidity and the think textures are part of this amazing life system.

And it is lovely. To say the least. 

Accommodations in Monteverde

This is an area that has it all when talking about the hospitality business!

From affordable hostels in the towns of Monteverde and Santa Elena to stunning boutique hotels, passing by cozy lodges and big resorts.

Ask our travel designers about your options in the region. It has a remarkable diversity of choices. 

Activities in the Monteverde Cloud Forest:

If you were to do all the experiences offered in the Monteverde Cloud Forest and region, you would have to stay, probably, for months. 

This is an area that offers raw nature experiences, learning activities, hands-on cultural tours, outstanding natural history hikes and quite unique exhibitions (Like the bat jungle and the frog pond)

You can find:

  • Natural History Cloud and rainforest hikes
  • Hanging Bridges through the forest
  • Ziplining and extreme adventures
  • Butterfly Gardens
  • Orchid Gardens
  • Coffee and Sugar Mills Tours
  • The Monteverde Frog Pond
  • The Monteverde Bat Jungle
  • Cloud Forest Night Tours
  • Hummingbird Gardens
  • Bird Watching Tours
  • Chocolate Tours
  • Sustainable Agriculture

In Conclusion

Monteverde Cloud Forest deserves to be one of the most popular regions in Costa Rica, its diversity, beauty, friendliness, and unique nature makes it a destination that anyone who likes nature should try.

Please ask our travel designers about this region and its options. There is so much to learn from it! And so much to enjoy!

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