There are so many reasons to visit Costa Rica but if you need just one then Monteverde, with its cloud forest and abundant nature, will suffice. This eco-destination is situated in a mountain range that spans for thousands of acres – offering everything from cozy tourist towns and aromatic coffee plantations, to magical green scenery and endlessly diverse wildlife.
An area this size requires planning and forethought to travel through – and while some backpackers might enjoy exploring Monteverde on their own, others will appreciate the organization and support that comes with a guided tour. Adventure Tours Costa Rica run some of the best tours in Monteverde, suited for people with an adventurous spirit at heart.
Booking a couple of these tours is a fun way to get introduced to the country after flying into San Jose, as the capital is just three hours away. The cooler temperatures and fog that lingers over the mountain slopes and treetops gives this place a mystical vibe. Cloud forests are unique natural wonders and Monteverde is arguably the most beautiful one on earth.
Travelers could easily spend a week here hiking the trails of La Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena, discovering waterfalls like Catarata Los Murcielagos, spotting wildlife at the Curi-Cancha Reserve, ziplining above tropical canopies and soaking in the views from hanging bridges. Each section of the forest has its own distinct landscape and activities to revel in.
Even families can be catered for with a range of options that suit kids such as gondola rides and visiting a sloth sanctuary. With the help of Adventure Tours Costa Rica, your vacation in Monteverde will be the highlight of your trip to Central America. The six tours outlined below give you a few ideas on how you can spend your days in this eco-tourism paradise.
6 Best Tours in Monteverde
1. Monteverde Canopy, Tram & Bridges Tour
Three awesome adventures are packed into this four and a half hour tour: a scenic tram ride, hanging bridges walk and canopy zipline course. The tour gets underway with a tram ride up the mountains which affords spectacular views the entire way. Upon arrival at the observation platform, guests begin their walk across a series of epic suspension bridges.
Then your adrenaline really gets pumping as you fly from one zipline to the next at speeds of over 40 miles per hour. Children over 3 feet 11 inches can ride the ziplines accompanied by an adult, so it’s something that the whole family can do. In total, there are seven cables to zipline across with the highest tree canopy standing at 328 feet above ground level.
Not much physical effort is required on this tour apart from a leisurely one and a half mile hike through the hanging bridges. A naturalist guide will accompany you for the walk and share curiosities about the flora and fauna native to this part of Costa Rica. All of these exhilarating activities are set in the forest with its ethereal vistas leaving you in awe at every turn.
2. Monteverde Zipline and Hanging Bridges Tour
Another exciting zipline tour in Monteverde but this time your walk through the bridges will be self-guided. Without a naturalist guide, the price of this tour drops slightly (in comparison to the one above) and therefore it might be better suited for budget travelers or backpackers. The sights of the cloud forest are still breathtaking, with or without a guide.
When you make it to the zipline, trained guides will be there to support you for the whole 2.2 mile course as you fly like a bird across 15 different cables. One such cable runs for a kilometer in length – making it the greatest zipline adventure you will have ever experienced. Afterwards, you will get the opportunity to jump on the Tarzan Swing or Superman Swing.
These two swings take thrill-seeking to new heights. The Tarzan Swing is a highly secured rope where you hurl through the air like Tarzan, and the Superman Swing reenacts how Clark Kent flies in the movies. Both are optional extras, yet we suggest giving one a try because they are so much fun. All in all, this tour has a duration of about four to five hours.
3. Tenorio Rafting Tour
For something totally off the beaten track, why not join a rafting trip with Adventure Tours Costa Rica that takes you from Monteverde to the Tenorio River for a full day of fun. Not only will you get to ride the rapids but you will also see amazing sights along the way and savor a delicious Costa Rican lunch. The tour starts at 7am with a running time of seven hours.
Make sure you pack dry clothes to change into after because most people get thoroughly soaked on this adventure. Rafting down the river, with its Class 3 and 4 rapids and drops of up to 12 feet, is a heart-racing excursion that every traveler will love no matter their predilections. As waves crash, your raft heads down narrow passages and over waterfalls.
The highlight is tumbling over the 12 foot drop of Cascabel Falls. Everyone gets drenched and the anticipation is almost too much to bear for some. However, as you come to the surface after being dunked into the river, you pop up with a big smile on your face ready for more. An expert guide who has led the trip countless times will keep you safe for the entire journey.
4. Tree Climbing Experience Tour
The trees that make up the forest are staggering in size and formation. They tower over you – each one with different roots and branches. Climbing the trees here is without a doubt one of the most special activities that you can do in Costa Rica. Arboreal Tree Climbing Park is the first of its kind in the country and offers a unique immersion in nature.
There are four types of trees to choose from. The smallest is a 33 foot tree, while the largest and hardest tree to climb is double that size at 66 feet. All fitness levels can be accommodated for, whether you fancy yourself as a fit adventurer or prefer to take things nice and slow. Words can’t describe what it’s like to hug trees like these and ascend high into the lush treetops.
The views from the top are magnificent. You should also understand that this tree climbing experience follows eco-friendly and sustainable practices. It would be a shame if trees got damaged during the climbs, but luckily the team at Arboreal Tree Climbing Park utilize a special system of climbing equipment which in no way harms the trees or the surrounding plants.
5. Sloth Sanctuary & Butterfly Gardens Tour
You can’t come all the way to Costa Rica without seeing a sloth and this tour allows you to see these slow-moving creatures in an accessible and ethical fashion. The Selvatura Park Sloth Sanctuary is where you will find 20 sloths who were brought here for protection. They weren’t able to continue living in the wild due to illness, poaching or habitat degradation.
Sloths live safely at the sanctuary. They are treated with the utmost respect that you would expect at an eco-destination such as Monteverde. The sloths roam around specially designed paths that keep the safety of the animals and visitors in mind. You will get the chance to see them hanging upside down from branches and relaxing (as they do) on the canopy.
Another cool experience on this tour is seeing over 30 species of butterfly at the Selvatura Park Butterfly Gardens. Butterflies are some of the most majestic and colorful insects found in Costa Rica and they are always a hit with children, so bring the entire family along. A big dome houses the butterflies and you can explore the gardens to your heart’s content.
6. Monteverde Coffee & Chocolate Tour
Coffee production has a rich history in Costa Rica stretching back to the late 18th century. Today, it plays a large part in the economy. A two and a half hour trip with Adventure Tours Costa Rica takes you to Santa Elena, passing by splendid mountain landscapes on the drive there, to learn all about how the coffee beans are made and then exported around the world.
A well-versed coffee guide will meet you at the farm and lead a lovely little walk around the coffee fields. Guests are invited to partake in each step of production, techniques which have served Costa Rican farmers for centuries. You will learn how to pick the coffee berries and beans, see what it takes to peel and roast them, and finally grind and brew the perfect cup.
Nothing is sweeter than trying a cup of coffee that you have made yourself from start to finish. The next half of the tour is all about chocolate. Cacao beans are what creates this delicious treat enjoyed by billions of people globally and this tour showcases the refinement process which turns the humble bean into chocolate. To cap off the tour, enjoy a sugar cane sample.
Final Thoughts on Visiting Monteverde
Before visiting Monteverde you ought to know that it’s cooler up here, in contrast to the high temperatures by the beach. Pack warm gear like jumpers, trousers, thick socks, etc. to keep yourself comfortable on colder days and at night. December is the wettest month in terms of rainfall, so avoid that month if you don’t want your adventures to be ruined by rain.
Another thing to note is that the rainforests of Monteverde are teeming with all sorts of wildlife including creepy insects like spiders and poisonous frogs. It’s a good idea to keep your distance if you encounter these creatures. By all means take photos but don’t put yourself at risk. As a general rule, you don’t want to be touching any of the flora and fauna.
For accommodation, most travelers either stay in Monteverde or in Santa Elena. Both of these spots have ample options for places to stay like hotels, airbnbs and hostels. Do some research online and read reviews to select the right choice. Driving a car in Monteverde is how you want to be getting around as it enables you to explore with freedom and at your own pace.
Having said that, many of the roads are dirt tracks and potholes are common. Try to drive cautiously so you don’t damage your car rental. Booking a tour, such as the ones with Adventure Tours Costa Rica, is the best way to dive into the activities and culture of the area. You could explore on your own but you might miss out on so many epic experiences.