Monteverde – in Spanish translates as Green Hill…you’ll find out why this is self explanatory in my travel guide to Monteverde!
You will not be able to escape the rainforests in Costa Rica. Plus why would you want to? Which is great as more than 25% of the country being dedicated to national parks, refuges and reserves. The forests are filled with lush trees, and are home to some of the most amazing wildlife in the world. Costa Rica hosts more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity, even though the country itself only makes up 0.3% of the planet’s surface. There is no doubt you will see some of this amazing wildlife.
Monteverde was our next destination on our trip. We stayed here for 3 nights but looking back we would have cut this down. This was personal taste due to the weather and the budget we had. This is very individual and depends what excursions you wish to do whilst here, there is a lot to do here but cost dependent. So read on to get the best travel guide to Monteverde.
Getting to Monteverde and in fact all other towns if you are not in San Jose is easiest by shuttle buses/minivans. Although these can be at a cost. These are small minivans, which can pick you up from your hotel and drop you at your next hotel. Some may have set times for set routes. The most popular companies are Grayline and Interbus where you can pre book your seat online. There is normally a morning shuttle around 07:00 and an afternoon one around 14:00. Each will set you back around USD52.00pp.
The road to Monteverde is somewhat questionable. If you are scared of heights then be prepared. The road is a dirt track slowly winding up the edge of the cliff with no barriers or railings. A 4×4 is recommended, so get ready for a bumpy ride in a minivan! Historically, the Quakers did not want tourists or any outsiders alike to visit the area and therefore made the road impossible to travel on – yup I can vouch for that!
There are two towns you can stay in whilst visiting the area. Monteverde town itself, which is closest to Monteverde cloud forest. Or the town of Santa Elena that is located roughly 1.7km West of Monteverde. Santa Elena is a town built in the shape of a triangle. A very small town but with all the amenities you require such as supermarkets, cafes, restaurants and tourist agencies. Being located in Santa Elena you will be closer to the Selvatura Reserve (the alternative cloud forest to Monteverde). As well as the majority of adventure activities, such as Sky Top Adventures, 100% Aventura and Selvatura. We stayed in Santa Elena as we wanted to be in a slighter bigger town and located centrally. There is a convenient bus to the Monteverde cloud forest so getting there was not a problem.
Santa Elena downtown-Monteverde Cloud Forest: 6:00 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m
Camino Verde Bed & Breakfast was where we stayed. Located down one of the back roads but everything is within walking distance, due to the town being so small. The people who run the B&B also offer you all sorts of tours for the same prices as the external agents in town. If you do want to do anything book through them. I would highly recommend them, they sort it all for you and all you have to do is get on the bus outside the reception.
Now let’s get to the good bit, what to spend your hard earned cash on! As I mentioned previously there is a lot to do here so it all depends on your budget. Of course you must visit either Monteverde or Selvatura Cloud Forest. You can easily spend half a day here. Depending on how lucky you are at spotting animals – the forests are huge. You may just end up trying to follow bird noises desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous Quetzal or the ‘Squeaking Gate’ call of the Three Wattled Bellbird.
The highlight for me here was the ‘window’ area of the forest, a clearing in the trees where they have built a balcony. Here you can look over and out across the vast forest and gaze at the continental divide. We spent our afternoon walking back from Monteverde Reserve to our hotel. Crazy? No we just didn’t want to wait two hours for our bus home. We made good time and arrived home within 2 hours!
Things that go bump in the night…
Night Walking Tours are very popular here and I would recommend doing one. You might, like us, end up seeing more on this tour than in the forests. You can get a guided tour, we chose Kinkajou Night Walk. They pick you up from your hotel and take you out of town to their hut. Arm you with torchlights and lead you deep into the forest. Wear long clothes and spray that DEET! We saw an array of snakes, spiders, birds, fireflies, frogs, scorpions and even a sloth high up in the trees.
Unfortunately it had thunder stormed all night and was pouring with rain on the morning that we had booked to do Zip Lining at Selvatura Park. We asked our reception if the zip line would remain open in a thunderstorm, to which we were told, “…this is not a thunder storm…”. We wore our shorts, rain jackets and trainers and set off on the bus. After a quick safety lesson we were all up in the tress. W had done the first 4 lines in less than 2 minutes! We chose Selvatura Park as it has one of the longest zip lines across the treetops, which you can go in pairs on. The view is stunning!
There are quite a few around town, and you can pick between average priced restaurants or cheaper taco joints. Check out the ‘Sodas’ dotted around town for even cheaper eats.
This was a sore spot for us. We had rain and cloud all day for 3 days. The seasons are the same here as the majority of Costa Rica but be aware that the weather here can change at the blink of an eye. Sunshine one minute and the next the cloud will have crept up the mountains and you will not be able to see more than a metre in front of you. It can get chilly up there as well so be prepared in what clothes you take.
Accommodation – USD114.00 for 3 nights (2 people sharing)
Transport – Around USD52.00pp + USD1.00 – 5.00 for bus to rainforest.
Monteverde Cloud Rainforest – USD20.00pp without a guide
Night Tour – USD23.00pp
Zip Lining at Selvatura Park – USD50.00pp with transport