Curi Cancha Reserve
- Entrance Fee : $15 per person
- Hours : 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. & 5:30 p.m. a 7:30 p.m. daily
Passing through the entrance to Curi Cancha you'll step underneath an ancient ficus tree stretching toward the sun. Inside the reserve's 250 acres, guests will cross through an intricate network of habitats from the rainforest into the cloud forest. The past remains etched upon the reserve as pastures once used for grazing cattle slowly regenerate with wild fruit and avocado trees. The trees, scattered throughout the pastures, attract many of the forest's most spectacular birds into the open making Curi Cancha an ideal location for bird watching.read more close
In fact, Quetzals are often seen searching for fruit among the many different species of avocado trees in Curi Cancha from late February to March; before they begin nesting higher up in the cloud forest.
As visitors hike higher in the reserve toward the continental divide they'll watch the forest transform. The dusty soil and dry leaves become softer and damper. Moss grows along the trunks of timeworn primary rainforest trees. The air cools and the vibrant green colors of the forest overwhelm the under canopy with life as the forest transitions from premontane wet forest to cloud forest. Near the top of the reserve, visitors can see where the wind whips through the mountains around the pacific slopes of the continental divide while looking out into the Monteverde Cloud Forest and Children's Eternal Rainforest Reserves.
Average Temperature: 59 to 77 degrees.
Annual Rainfall: 117 inches (9.75 feet) – Keep in mind that the cloud forest is often cloudy, humid, rainy and misty.
Hiking and wildlife watching are the reserve’s most popular and fulfilling activities; bird watching tours are especially popular.
Flora & Fauna
Curi Cancha borders the Monteverde Cloud Forest and the Children's Eternal Rainforest Reserves and shares many of the same plants and animals approximately 3,000 plant species, 120 mammal species, 130 amphibian and reptile species, more than 400 bird species. More than half of Costa Rica’s bird species can be found here, including the resplendent quetzal, three-wattled bellbirds, black guans, bare-necked umbrella birds, hummingbirds, and tanagers (more than 30 species in the Monteverde area). The best time for seeing Quetzals is late Feb. to March.
The visitor's center offers information, reservations for guided tours and tickets.
Seven trails crisscross through the forests and pastures like the lattice on a cherry pie. The longest of the trail, Manga, loops more than a mile through the rainforest, into the pastures and along the Cancha stream back toward visitor's center. The Puma trail follows the northern edge of the reserve through the densest parts of the cloud forest. The Leo trail loops more than a mile through some of the reserve's best bird watching spots; make sure to stop in one of the pastures to look for Quetzals hiding in the avocado trees.
From Santa Elena, drive east along the paved road, passing first through Cerro Plano and then onto a winding dirt-and-gravel road that heads up the mountain. After passing the Monteverde Cheese Factory, look for signs advertising the Curi Cancha Reserve and turn left.
Public buses ($2; 45 minutes) leave Santa Elena for the reserve at 6:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. every day. A taxi from Santa Elena downtown costs about $8 one-way.