Monteverde means ‘The Green Mountain’ but is best known as the ‘Cloud Forest’. The nature reserve is on top of a mountain range where a spectacular microclimate encloses the dense jungle in an adventurous mist.
Written by Mette / Photo by Martin
The Travel Guide has been published in IN Magazine, 2016
Translated from Danish
Monteverde is located in a green mountain landscape at roughly 1400 meters above sea level. This is where Costa Rica meets the sky as the locals describe it. The narrative feels spot on as we approach the cloud forest to experience the natural phenomenon on our own.
From hanging bridges in the treetops you can see the clouds roll in like white and airy avalanches. And in between the rolling mountains rainbows are fighting to get the best spot. And if you enter the dense forest with moss-covered trees, giant ferns and beautiful orchids you will experience a world-famous birdlife and an explosion of exotic plants.
OUR TRAVEL TIPS
To the Costa Ricans themselves Monteverde is among the country’s largest wonders. The nature reserve is number 14 on the US magazine Newsweek’s list of places to see before they disappear. We have therefore gathered our best tips for where to live and eat and what you need to experience. So pack your bag and follow our footsteps into a true wonder of nature.
HOTEL: WAKE UP TO THE CHIRPING OF BIRDS
The mountain town of Santa Elena is the commercial port of Monteverde. Here you will find most supermarkets, tour operators, restaurants and hotels, but the city itself is not worth a visit. The best hotels you will find outside the city center.
Hidden Canopy Treehouses is an intimate and original boutique hotel surrounded by a privately owned jungle. There are five octagonal and individually decorated wooden houses with panoramic windows, a balcony, rustic wooden furniture and a shower cubicle with waterfalls. Hotel Belmar is a family-owned eco-hotel built in Swiss style, resembling a wooden cabin in the Alps. From the room balcony you have the most beautiful sunset of Monteverde. The hotel features a spa, yoga studio and a juice bar where you can revitalize on freshly squeezed organic fruit and vegetables.
EXPERIENCE: A HUMMINGBIRD ON EACH FINGER
Just before the main entrance to Monteverde’s nature reserve The Hummingbird Gallery resides. The gallery houses a café, a souvenir shop and a gallery with fascinating photos of hummingbirds. The place also has a courtyard where you will find a surprisingly large but physically very small experience.
Small tubes with sugar water are hanging in the trees and act as a feeding station for the hummingbirds. With up to 4800 wing strokes and 1200 heartbeats per minute, the tiny and adorable bird has the world record in calorie combustion, forcing it to consume food every 10-15 minute – which explains why there is a constant buzz of hummingbirds in the garden. If you place your hand under a tube of sugarwater the little birds will use your fingers as a stool.
DRINK: MOCHA MECCA
Coffee enthusiasts will be happy to know that some of the best coffee in the world comes from Monteverde. In late April the green fields bloom and the red berries are harvested by hand from December to February. If you go to Café Monteverde’s coffee shop you can literally walk in the footsteps of the coffee farmers. From the world’s most famous bean is picked to the black and scented elixir steamily lands in your cup.
The culinary art of making a damn good cup of coffee you can experience in the cozy coffee shop Beso Espresso in Santa Elena. Here passionate baristas serve coffee brewed on the best local beans, which otherwise are only used for export.
NATURE PARK: THE FOREST SEEN FROM ABOVE
In 1983 National Geographic placed Monteverde on the world map. The magazine designated the nature reserve as ‘the crown jewel of cloud forests’ in a feature about Central America’s famous Quetzal. A rare and colorful bird that enthusiasts pay thousands of dollars to capture on a photo safari.
But you do not have to be a bird fan to be enchanted by the natural beauty of the forest. Its home to more than 3000 exotic animal and plant species that you can experience walking, standing and floating. On hikes, from hanging bridges and cable cars far above the treetops. Read more about Reserva Biológica Bosque Nubuso Monteverde.
EAT: CAFÉ AND CHOCOLATE ART
In Argentina, Caburé is the name of an owl whose feathers according to an ancient legend have magical powers. But Caburé is also the name of an Argentinian café in Monteverde where the magic is found in the form of cocoa.
In addition to the celestial and handmade filled chocolates – obviously made on Costa Rican cocoa beans – the stylish café also serves Monteverde’s best wraps, sandwiches and salads. Everything is made from fresh organic produce obtained from the surrounding farms. And yes, you can (fortunately!) also buy a selection of chocolates to bring with you. And if you are really in to chocolate you can sign up for Caburé’s chocolate course.
ROAD TRIP: THE TRIP TO CLOUD FOREST
Monteverde is one of Costa Rica’s main attractions. Nevertheless, the actual drive is an overlooked experience in most guides. The journey down the coast and up through the rolling green mountain landscape goes through rough dirt roads. Each turn reveals new prospects for dramatic sceneries that put the superlatives in line and make it difficult to keep an eye on the road. Therefore, book an entire day for the trip that begins when you turn off Highway 1 and onto Road 145.
Don’t miss a breakfast with the Ticos on a local soda – Costa Rica’s response to a diner – in the colorful and authentic Latin American city of Las Juntas, which was a thriving gold mining town in the 1900’s. Try the Gallo Pinto National Court, consisting of fried rice and beans. What the dish is missing in appearance it makes up for in taste.