of Costa Rica. This zone is home to a string of volcanoes, both active and dormant, beautiful national parks and diverse weather
A long winding dirt road off of the Pan American Highway leads to the lush mountaintop paradise of Monteverde, which is nestled between two primary cloud forest reserves. The town was founded in the 1950’s by a few Quaker families that were looking to leave the U.S. and its war behind. The absence of a military made Costa Rica the perfect fit. They settled in the area now called Monteverde and established dairy farms which would eventually supply the Monteverde Cheese Factory. Shortly after their arrival they established the wildlife sanctuary of Monteverde.
Once you’ve reached the mountaintop you’ll first come upon the quaint town of Santa Elena. Here you’ll find gift stores, accommodations, a bus stop, restaurants, cafes, a supermarket, banks and much more. Though Monteverde does not have a town center, it is comprised of a dirt road that leads to the Cloud Forest Reserve. Spread out along the walkable road are hotels, cafes, restaurants, galleries, and excellent views.
The spectacular Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve attracts scientists, bird watchers, and wildlife lovers from all parts of the world. Inside the reserve you can explore the virgin forests and multi-century old strangler fig trees on your way to a viewpoint which sits on the continental divide. On a clear day you can see both the Caribbean and the Pacific coasts. The reserve is also one of the few remaining homes of the endangered resplendent Quetzal; the opportunity to see this exotic bird is worth the trip alone.
On the other side of town you'll find the slightly smaller, and higher, Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve which has views of the Arenal Volcano. Other popular activities in the area include the canopy tours, visits to the butterfly garden, the suspension bridges tour, horseback riding, a visit to the cheese factory and the hummingbird galleries found at the entrances to both reserves.
"We love Monteverde. We weren't there long, so we didn't get a good feel for the culture, but what we saw was beautiful! The locals we talked to here were very nice and helpful. Our overall experience was perfect! It was better than we could imagine. We saw so many amazing birds!"
"Felt very safe and was not as touristy. We did a coffee tour listed at the hotel since we had time. It was nice to learn about coffee and sugar cane, and also chocolate. We tend to take our food items for granted without realizing how much work goes into growing and processing them. Enjoyed Monteverde area. Loved Costa Rica all around and hope to come back again soon! Thanks everyone!"
"Had an EXCELLENT dinner at Morpho's downtown. Monteverde is a really unique area, very different from the rest of Costa Rica, but definately a must see area!"
"We walked into the town of St Elena and we did feel safe. It was a neat little area! We ate in the tree house. This is definetly for nature lovers. The air here is so fresh!! "
"We felt save in the Monteverde area which is not too touristy even if there is many tourists. Still spacious space for the nature lovers tourists. We did talk to some locals and each person was very helpfull and hospitable. We really enjoy this little town and the hotel proximity of it."
These suggested travel routes combine logistically compatible places and match common traveler interests.