Monteverde Cloud Forest is one of the crown jewels of Costa Rica. This lush, verdant cloud forest has everything one could hope for in a unique nature destination: cool little tourist towns, magical plants and scenery, incredible wildlife and insect life, coffee plantations, zip-lines, horse riding and more.
In this article, we will be sharing our experiences at Monteverde Cloud Forest, providing insight into our favorite places and the best adventures on offer. Hopefully, by the end of this piece, you will be adding this spot to your Costa Rica bucket list as it’s a place we highly recommend. But first, let us tell you all about how we ended up in Costa Rica in the first place.
Visiting Costa Rica during the Pandemic
During our trip around the world in 2018-2019 we traveled to the east coast of Costa Rica and were super enthusiastic about the country, especially the biodiversity. Since it was already the end of our trip and we had to leave after a few days, we could only explore the area around Puerto Viejo.
That is when we decided we had to come back and travel the country more intensively. The COVID-19 crisis also slowed us down as frequent travelers and we didn’t have any ideas about where we could go in 2021. We then came across Costa Rica through a well-known Instagram account.
We briefly checked the entry requirements and it was clear that we could enter under certain conditions. So we spontaneously booked our flights and after a short time we found ourselves in the middle of San Jose, the capital of this wonderful country. With a 4×4 rental car we explored the Nicoya Peninsula and the most famous surfing town of Santa Teresa.
We continued on to Monteverde Cloud Forest and then to Manuel Antonio National Park. Afterwards, we headed to Uvita and the small coastal towns along the Pacific all the way to the Osa Peninsula. There we hiked through a part of the Corcovado National Park and ended our trip again in San Jose.
Our tour in Corcovado National Park was with Oropopo Experience and they were outstanding. The owner is a local named Marcelo and he is a biologist with amazing knowledge of the flora and fauna of his country.
Three Wonderful Weeks in Costa Rica
We traveled through the country for three weeks and tried to move as slowly as possible. We really wanted to go to Santa Teresa: a small surfing town on the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula that for many is still an original place, which hasn’t lost its magic and surf vibe to mass tourism.
Along the Nicoya Peninsula you can find undeveloped places where you have the feeling of being the only tourist. Sadly, there aren’t many of these places left on earth anymore, but Costa Rica and its wild Pacific coast still has them. The livelier Monteverde in the mountains was also on our list.
The cloud forest and the national parks surrounding this beautiful area are (of course) one of the most famous spots in Costa Rica, but they are still worth visiting. Further south we enjoyed wonderful days on the edge of Manuel Antonio National Park. The vibe of the Ticos, as the people of Costa Rica are called, is truly unique and we lingered on the beaches for a while.
Via Uvita and its long stretch of a dark sand beach, we went all the way south to the Osa Peninsula. This can still be described as a real adventure because you don’t find too many tourists so far in the south. But it was clear to us that we had to visit the stunning Corcovado National Park too.
As one of the most biodiverse regions on earth, this park is home to almost 2% of the entire biodiversity of our planet. Those who do the hard yards of a multi-day hike through dense jungle and along lonely beaches will be given an epic experience. All in all, it was a wonderful journey in Costa Rica!
Mystical Moments in Monteverde Cloud Forest
We didn’t do a lot of research about the individual places before this trip. We wanted to let ourselves be carried away by the flow and hoped for a lot of tips from other travelers who would cross our path. So, someone recommended Monteverde Cloud Forest and of course we followed this tip.
It was therefore a rather spontaneous decision to go to the mountains. The temperatures up there are a little cooler than on the coast and in the end we spent a total of three days there exploring the area as best we could. We made a conscious decision against the popular activities and for example didn’t go on the zip-lines. This is an activity more for families with children.
During these amazing three days we were on foot basically the entire time and crossed the Curi-Cancha Reserve, the Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena, hiked to the Monteverde Waterfall Catarata Los Murcielagos and enjoyed the small villages with their charming restaurants and cafes.
Monteverde Cloud Forest is a nature reserve and can be reached in about three hours by car from San Jose. The whole area extends over 10,500 hectares and is always home to green tropical cloud forests. On the slopes of a mountain range in the center of Costa Rica, the park encompasses a wide variety of habitats and is home to incredibly diverse flora and fauna.
The always visible fog, which constantly stretches along the slopes and treetops, gives this place an incredibly mystical existence. Cloud forests are rarely found on our planet and are a unique natural spectacle. The fantastic infrastructure and the many activities that can be experienced in Monteverde make the cloud forest a must visit on your Costa Rica vacation.
Favorite Place in Monteverde: Santa Elena
Our favorite place there was Santa Elena which is a bit north of the city center. This is a part of the forest, which is laid out with beautiful hiking trails, where you can dive really deep into the rainforest and find yourself in a fairytale. Everywhere you can hear the noises of the jungle, meet all kinds of animals and feel very small next to the mighty trees standing tall.
We didn’t have a guide here and explored the park on our own. However, the parking attendant at the entrance gave us tips on where to look. At the parking lot a poisonous snake was waiting at the entrance to the forest, as well as a tarantula guarding her nest. If you are afraid of spiders and other crawling animals, you will probably not be relaxed in the national park!
Best Things To Do at Monteverde Cloud Forest
- Hike through La Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena: This is the most beautiful part of the national park in our opinion, with very few tourists and the opportunity to hike through on your own.
- Visit Monteverde Waterfall Catarata Los Murcielagos: After a descent into the jungle you reach a nice waterfall in the middle of the village.
- Explore the Curi-Cancha Reserve: Another part of Monteverde Cloud Forest that you can explore on your own. It’s absolutely breathtaking!
- Check out Mirador Arenal Volcano in Santa Elena: A high tower in the middle of the jungle from which you have a view of the Arenal Volcano as long as there is no fog. It’s best to come very early in the morning.
- Drive to Monteverde Cloud Forest: If you are traveling with your own vehicle, the way into the mountains is a real highlight in itself. Everywhere you will find wonderful views all the way to the Pacific.
Where to Stay in Monteverde Cloud Forest
There is a huge range of places to stay in Monteverde. The best thing to do is to visit one of the popular booking platforms and then you will definitely find what you are looking for. We had our own apartment called Apartamento Lantana and were extremely satisfied, and felt comfortable.
Highlights from this Amazing Destination
Since we are both massive animal lovers, even if they are crawling animals, spotting a venomous snake as well as a tarantula in Monteverde Cloud Forest was a real highlight for us both. But the hikes through the cloud forest were also incredibly beautiful. The calm in the middle of the jungle and all its noises is almost like a form of meditation!
Epic Places Near Monteverde Cloud Forest
From Monteverde you can reach the Pacific on the Nicoya Peninsula quickly. If you long for a few relaxing days after hiking, you can enjoy your time on the beach. A must-see is the Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park. Anyone looking for jungle adventures off the beaten track will be rewarded with the most beautiful park they have ever seen.
Tips for Visiting Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monteverde is a little higher and in the middle of the mountains. The temperatures are no longer like on the beach and you should definitely put some warmer clothes into your backpack for this. Anyone who is afraid of crawling animals is sure to experience one or two shocks in the park.
But you shouldn’t be afraid of the jungle inhabitants. As always, what counts is very clear: just look and don’t touch so nothing will happen. You should plan at least two days for the cloud forest and take your time for the hikes. Thanks for reading and enjoy your visit to Monteverde Cloud Forest!