Exploring Costa Rica: Our Visit to the Monteverde Cloud Forest

So in writing this post about Monteverde, we’ll have to be really honest about a couple of things. And we’ll get right to the first one.

At one point during this segment in the episode, we tell everybody that: if you’re in Costa Rica, don’t pass up a chance to see Monteverde. Well, to be perfectly honest, we actually did that. Pass up a chance to see Monteverde, that is. Twice. In our two previous trips down to Costa Rica within the last decade, we absolutely had the chance to go up to Monteverde and see why it was so special. And even back then, people would talk about what a fantastic place it was. But both times, we passed.

Now, in our defense, it was always because there was just something else we wanted to do. Costa Rica really is one of our favorite places on earth, in part because of all the incredible things there are to see and do and experience there. And truthfully you could probably spend ten years there and still not see, do and experience it all. And in those previous trips of ours, Monteverde just unfortunately didn’t make the cut.

So when we got around to planning this particular trip with our friends at Adventure Life, we were thrilled when we found out Monteverde was an option. We weren’t gonna pass up another chance to see it. Not again.

Okay, first, the nuts and bolts. The facts about Monteverde. Which are super important and very cool. Check it out:

Monteverde: One of the Rarest Places on Earth

National Geographic calls the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve “the jewel in the crown of cloud forest reserves.” Newsweek magazine named Monteverde number 14 on its list of the world’s Places to Remember Before They Disappear. And Costa Ricans themselves voted Monteverde as one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of Costa Rica.”

Why? Well, quite simply, Monteverde is one of the rarest, most special places on earth.

Founded back in 1972, the reserve consists of more than 26,000 acres of cloud forest, and today is visited by roughly 70,000 visitors every year. The reserve is made up of 6 different ecological zones, which are home to more than 2,500 plant species (including the most orchid species in a single place), 500 species of birds (including the spectacular quetzal), 100 species of mammals (including pumas, monkeys and endangered jaguars), 120 different kinds of reptiles and amphibians, and thousands of different kinds of awesome little creepy crawly insects.

So, yeah. Like we said. It’s a special place.

Beyond the facts: the feeling.

But like we said in the episode, the coolest thing for us about being in Monteverde was just the feeling we got there. Just walking along the trails through the reserve you feel absolutely immersed in the natural world. Not just immersed in it, but connected to it. Which, honestly, you could say about being in Costa Rica in general. But being in a place like Monteverde, far from the busy streets of the city, and even farther from the headaches and hassles of our modern world, it’s just so simple to melt away into nature. Feeling the mist on your face, hearing the distant calls of birds and animals, watching and listening as the waterfalls cascade over the rocks and and through the canyons… well, you get the idea. It’s one of those places that we all desperately need to visit now and then, just to remember that we’re all a part of something much, much larger than ourselves. Good stuff.

Monteverde: A Word of Warning

So, yeah. At the top of this thing we said we wanted to be really honest about a couple of things. And here’s the second one.

Yes, Monteverde is absolutely (and literally) crawling with incredible wildlife. Animals and insects of all kinds and sizes. But here’s the thing: if you make the trip up to Monteverde expecting to be blown away by all the spectacular animals you’ll see… well, don’t. Just don’t. We are among the many, many, many people who can speak from experience: there’s an excellent chance you won’t actually see many, if any, animals, at all.

In fact, we spent a few hours wandering through the reserve and, save for a few beautiful birds and a smattering of insects, we didn’t see anything. Period. Which is why, if you’ll notice, aside from a few birds and insects you didn’t see any animals during the segment on the TV show. And as it happens, that’s actually pretty common in Monteverde from what we understand. And yes, to be honest, it was a great disappointment to us, as it has been to many other people who’ve visited the reserve. In fact our guides told us that throughout the year they actually get a fair amount of complaints from people who think they’re coming to Monteverde to get up close with Costa Rica’s most spectacular animals, only to leave without seeing much of any.

Why not, you ask? Well fact is, again, Monteverde is 26-thousand square acres of lush, dense forest. Twenty six thousand acres. That’s a whole great big lot of land. And believe it or not, wild animals don’t tend to congregate in the one little area of the park where all the thousands of humans happen to be stomping around every day. Imagine that. LOL. Truth is, there’s lots of room out there in the park where they can enjoy a fantastic, relatively human-free existence, which they undoubtedly prefer. So a close encounter with an animal – shoot, sometimes any kind of encounter with an animal – is never guaranteed and in fact, a rare occasion. Oh, sure. It does happen. And it might very well happen on your visit. Just don’t expect it to.

But – having said that – definitely still make a point to visit! In spite of the lack of visible wildlife it’s still a spectacular, spectacular place and we’re so glad we actually got another chance to visit and this time actually visited! 

Our one and only regret about our visit to Monteverde is that we couldn’t stay longer. We’d loved to have spent a few days in that area, especially in and around the little town of Santa Elena, which was just a super cool place. And who knows? Had we stayed a little longer we might have seen some spectacular wildlife. All the more reason to go back. And chill there for a while.

What do you think? Ever been to Monteverde? How was your trip? See any animals? Share your stories (and any tips you might have) for other folks in the comments below.

Cheers gang! Happy travels. And pura vida!

our signature small





Leave a Reply