Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve protects 10,500 hectares or 25,946 acres. The reserve ranges from 1,250 - 1,830 meters in elevation. It protects river, rainforest, and cloud forest habitats. There are well groomed trails within the reserve that vary in length and level difficulty.
There are many species of wildlife within the Monteverde Reserve. In fact, there are over 100 species of mammals including white faced and howler monkeys, pacas, porcupines, deer, ocelots, jaguars, and pumas. There are 160 species of reptiles and amphibians including 29 species of lizards, 71 snakes and 60 amphibian species. The reserve is most famous for the exotic birds that inhabit it such as the resplendent quetzals, bellbirds, emerald toucanettes, toucans, trogons, and many species of hummingbirds.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is privately managed. The reserve is open from 7 AM – 4 PM daily. There is a private ranger station with bathroom facilities. The entrance fee for the reserve is $18 per person. Basic lodging is available at the reserve with either private or shared rooms. The majority of visitors to the area stay in lodges in nearby Monteverde and Santa Elena.
More about the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Like all cloud forests, visitors will be subject to cooler and damper weather that is accompanied by a seemingly endless mist. The reason for this is when warmer air comes off the Caribbean waters, it makes its way up the mountain, eventually becoming cooler, and ultimately this moisture results in the formation of clouds at the peak. This type of weather brings with it an ideal environment for varied flora and fauna to flourish including over 400 variations of orchids.
A hike through the trails of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve will eventually bring you to a point where you can literally stand on the continental divide.
There is a small art and gift shop just before the reserve. They have hummingbird feeders in front of it, so there are always many in the area. Bring a camera as you will be able to take stunning photos of the otherwise difficult to photo birds.
At a glance
Region: Northern Zone
Closest town: Santa Elena/Monteverde
Size in hectares: 10,500 (25,946 acres)
Year established: 1972
Elevation in meters: 1,250 - 1,830 (4,101 - 6,004)
Private managed: yes
Government managed: no
Rangers station: yes
Overnight facilities: yes
Public restrooms: yes
Entrance fee: $18pp
Hours: 07:00 - 16:00
Hiking trails: yes
Boat tours: no
Average temperature range in Fahrenheit: 60 - 75
Average yearly precipitation in millimeters: 5,100 (201 inches)
Habitat: cloud forest, rainforest, river
How to get there
From San Jose, take Rt.27 west until you reach Rt.1. Take Rt.1 northwest and follow until you reach Sardinal. Turn right on Rt.606 and follow all the way to Santa Elena. Once in Santa Elena, you can follow signs to the reserve. The roads to Monteverde are not paved, so a 4x4 is recommended.
Weather and packing list
As previously mentioned; it is almost always cool and damp in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Daytime temperatures usually range from 65 – 75 degrees and night time temperatures are usually in the upper 50s to low 60s. The reserve receives an average of 510 cms of precipitation per year, so be prepared for rain. It is worth noting that just across town, the Santa Elena Reserve only receives an average of 3,400 mm of rain annually. The reason for this is this area is on the fringe of both the Caribbean and Pacific slopes, and affected by weather patterns from both sides. The driest months are typically December through April and July, though it can rain at any time.
Visitors should pack shorts, tee shirts, appropriate shoes, rain gear, sun block. It is also advised to bring at least one pair of pants, a long sleeve shirt, and even a sweat shirt or light jacket. You can also check our recommended packing list for more ideas.
Fun Fact: The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is regarded as one of the best highland birdwatching locations in the world. Several species of rare birds are common here including bellbirds, resplendent quetzals, and emerald toucanettes.