Monteverde Costa Rica’s Remote Rainforest Reserve, Wildlife Refuge

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Monteverde Costa Rica’s  Remote Rainforest Reserve, Wildlife Refuge

Let’s visit  unique  place in Costa Rica, settled by the  Quakers in the 1950’s. A bone-shaking road leads up to Monteverde from the Inter-American Highway 1. Only about 35 miles but takes around two hours to drive. It is unpaved and rocky and winds around the mountain up 3,500 feet above sea level. The views are lovely along the way but the drive is tiring and hard on the vehicle. Once at the top you have the feeling of going back in time. Life is rural and peaceful, a simple life.   Quakers from Alabama in the 1950’s settled here looking for peace -free from war and unrest.

The heart of things is the little village of Santa Elena…there is no village called  Monteverde. The bedrock of the local community is tourism, however dairy cattle farming and cheese processing is second. Monteverde cheese is famous all over Costa Rica.The big tourist draw is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve here in Costa Rica….founded in 1972. A visitor can hike thru the reserve (there is a nominal entrance fee) hopeing to see the famous Quetzal bird which makes this highland rainforest it’s home. Here the giant primary rainforest trees seem to reach the sky, allowing very little sunlight to reach the canopy floor.

Places to visit: Serpentario Monteverde- 20 species of snakes inside glass cases.
Orquideas de Monteverde miniature orchids Monteverde Nature Center and Butterfly Garden- La Lecheria- cheese factory where fourteen different kinds of cheese is made. Monteverde cloud Forest Reserve- primary cloud forest with wonderful hikes to waterfalls. With luck you can see the reclusive Quetzal bird-brilliant turquois in color-the most beautiful bird of the rainforest.

Several different tour companies offer canopy tours, sky walk tours, and horseback riding.

Conservation is community based and is taught starting in the primary schools. Courses in local ecology are taught to local farmers at the Monteverde Institute.

There is no shortage of small hotels and inns. ( Refer to the Lonely Planet guide to Cost Rica) The local small restaurants specialize in fresh foods grown locally. My favorite restaurant is El Sapo Dorado. With its linen white table cloths, first classs food and service and a nice wine list.

If you are planning a visit to Monteverde, Costa Rica…the dry season is best…December thru April.
This area gets a lot of rain esp in the months of rainy season May-November..heavier in September and October. So bring a rain jacket and warm clothes, and good hiking shoes or tennis shoes.

Many people want to travel by car from Monteverde thru Tiliran on to Arenal Volcano. I did it and even in the dry season, it is very difficult . Road are not paved, rocky and hard on the vehicle. You need a 4×4. Much easier: You can contract thru your hotel –transportation by 4×4 to Lake Arenal , then cross the lake by boat, and then a taxi to your Arenal Volcano area hotel.

For the adventure tourists Monteverde offers many outdoor activities, Canopy tours, skywalk over the rainforests, horseback riding, butterfly farm, cheese factory tours, birdwatching and hiking into the reserves.

Here one feels like Heidi with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps.

How long should you plan to stay? 3 nights minimum I have stayed up to 5 nights and found things to do each day….and took time just to wind down and relax.