Think you’ve seen Costa Rica? Not without a visit to Monteverde…

It’s a simple truth – if you haven’t been to Monteverde, if you haven’t explored its cloud forests, sampled its coffee or had a few close encounters with its wildlife, you haven’t really been to Costa Rica. For one, it’s just been voted amongst the 25 most beautiful places around the world by CNN, but there’s more to Monteverde than its good looks. This magical destination tucked away in Costa Rica’s Tilarán Mountains has more than its fair share of fascinating stories to tell, notable residents – both human and animal – to mention, an ecosystem that ranks as one of the rarest in the world and a long history of inspiring conservation efforts.

In essence, Monteverde exemplifies everything that Costa Rica stands for.

Cloud Forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica.

Monteverde is a Place of Peace

Monteverde’s story is a curious one. It begins in the early 1950s when a group of Quaker families from the United States fled to army-free Costa Rica in search of peace and tranquillity. They found just that in Monteverde: a safe haven far from the fears of enlistment – or imprisonment – as the Korean War waged.  And so they settled for a simple, harmonious life surrounded by nature.

Decades on, there’s still a sense of peace and calm in the cool mountain air, an atmosphere much appreciated by all who visit. 

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Monteverde is the Birthplace of Costa Rican Ecotourism

In the early 1970s, the Quakers joined forces with resident scientists to make the case for an official private nature preserve, a first in Costa Rica. With an initial parcel of some 330 hectares, they successfully established the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve, handing over management responsibilities to the Tropical Scientific Center.

In the years that followed, tourism began to grow in Costa Rica from small numbers of scientists to thousands of tourists and Monteverde was on every itinerary. In order to expand the Preserve while maintaining its biological integrity, the Tropical Science Center turned to ecotourism, charging small entrance fees, establishing maximum visitor quotas a low-footprint interpretation areas. It was something of a first.

Hailed “the jewel in the crown of cloud forest reserves” by National Geographic, the Preserve grew to over 10,500 hectares encompassing multiple different life zones, and became an international model for conservation – one that every visitor to Costa Rica should experience.

Monteverde is a Conservation Trailblazer

But the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve isn’t the only conservation feat in the area. There’s also the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, and its story is inspirational. The reserve’s name comes from its founders, a group of Swedish school children concerned about deforestation who campaigned to gather support from their government and others around the world to protect this pristine plot of Costa Rican cloud forest. They succeeded in establishing the now 22,000-hectare private reserve, the largest in the country.

Monteverde is a Costa Rican Natural Wonder

Voted one of “7 Wonders of Costa Rica” by La Nación, a daily national newspaper, it’s no surprise that Monteverde’s cloud forests have been so well taken care of. They’re a truly rare ecosystem of a thousand greens making up only 2% of the world’s woodlands, where biodiversity thrives across habitats found nowhere else on Earth.

Amongst the trees that drip with moss, ferns and epiphytes, Monteverde is home to thousands of uniquely-adapted plants, more orchid species than anywhere else on Earth, over 100 mammals including pumas, monkeys, tapirs and endangered jaguars, plenty of endemic amphibians, and tens of thousands of insect varieties. Not to mention its birdlife…

Monteverde is Costa Rica’s Most Famous Birding Destination

Monteverde’s misty cloud forest treetops are home to over 400 exotic bird species including the iconic Resplendent Quetzal, the Three-Wattled Bellbird and the Bare-Necked Umbrellabird to name a few. Long a favorite destination for birders, a number of world-famous ornithologists including Robert Dean have taken up residence in Monteverde.

Not a birder yourself? A visit to Monteverde with a pair of binoculars and a knowledgeable guide will almost certainly spark an interest you never knew you had.

Monteverde is Downright Magical

Whether you’re traversing Monteverde’s sky-high hanging bridges, adventuring along the world’s very first recreational zip line (yes, that’s in Monteverde too!), or hiking up to the Continental Divide to watch the clouds in action, Monteverde never fails to fill all who visit with a sense of wonder. Just like stepping into a real-life terrarium, its dewy dense cloud forests are nothing short of mystic. Its dramatic microclimates of blue skies, fine mists and vivid rainbows are mesmerizing. Its wildlife is one-of-a-kind. In Monteverde, the longer you look, the more you’ll see – stay a while and experience the real Costa Rica.


Ready to experience all that Costa Rica stands for? Wonder and wander at Senda Monteverde Hotel, Monteverde’s newest luxury mountain lodge at the foot of the magical cloud forest. Chat to us or drop us a note at to start planning your cloud forest adventure.

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Hans Pfister

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