Cloud Forest Highlands Region
Imagine picturesque valleys, misty forests that seem to drip with emeralds, natural history museums alive with life, panoramic ocean vistas and some of the best ice cream in Costa Rica – this is Monteverde. Tucked in the Tilaran Mountain Range and flanked by the awesome Arenal Volcano, the scenic Cloud Forest Highlands Region encompasses the towns of Santa Elena, Cerro Plano and Monteverde, extending north to the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve and east into the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve.
Named for its lush, green mountains, Monteverde is one of Costa Rica’s most visually stunning locations: purple wildflowers paint the mountainside, hilltop views look down onto rolling valleys and out to the island-dotted waters surrounding the Nicoya Peninsula, colorful birds sing and play in the trees, and the region’s many reserves resonate with life.
The area's surprising beauty has led to unsurprising results – every one of the region’s reserves is privately owned, operated and maintained by people who care about Monteverde’s natural treasures. Together, they help manage and care for the rain and cloud forests that house more than 130 species of mammals, 400 species of birds including 30 species of hummingbirds, 5,000 species of moths and 3,000 species of plants including more than 450 species of orchids.
Most of the forests’ plant life is epiphytic – symbiotic mosses, lichens, bromeliads, vines and orchids that cling to the towering trees – creating the green scenes for which Monteverde is so famous. Indeed, the area’s reserves look like magical forests straight out of a child’s favorite fairytale, and first-time visitors often stop to stare upwards, awe-struck by the verdant landscape. Guided day and night hikes provide the perfect introduction to Monteverde’s wooded treasures, and self-guided tours allow visitors to further investigate the natural world around them.
Of course, the region offers much more than beautiful forests and their resident wildlife – in fact, the area teems with more activities than almost any other region of Costa Rica. Serious birders enjoy incredible birdwatching opportunities, and many arrive in search of the elusive resplendent quetzal.
Natural history museums abound, including a frog pond, insect museum, serpentarium, orchid garden, butterfly garden and hummingbird gallery. Several adrenaline-charged canopy tours dot the region’s treetops, sending tourists flying through the forest. Hanging bridges dangle in the air, and aerial trams sway in the breeze, providing hikers and riders with bird’s-eye views. Coffee and cheese tours educate visitors in the region’s history.
For every whim, Monteverde has an answer, offering adventure, relaxation and a unique nature experience to each of its visitors. Bursting with ecotourism and reveling it its own biodiversity, Monteverde is truly a must-see destination.
This Region is Best Known For:
- Thrilling Canopy Tours
- Misty Cloud Forests
- Quetzal Spotting
- Bird and Wildlife Watching
- Hanging Bridges & Canopy-Top Walkways
- Interactive Coffee Tours