Voted one of Costa Rica's 7 Wonders in 2007, Monteverde is a beautiful town with its own culture and heritage. One of its most famous tourist attractions is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, which is home to hundreds of species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and plants, and is a favourite destination for nature lovers and those interested in hiking or backpacking.
The reserve has a total of nine nature trails, each with its own distinct highlights and characteristics. The Sendero Bosque Nuboso (Cloud Forest Trail) is one of the prettier trails and is generally very popular. Bird-lovers may prefer El Camino (The Road), which is receives more sunlight and is excellent for bird-watching as it attracts many birds and butterflies. Sendero Brilliante gives hikers an excellent view of the elfin forest and bamboo, while Sendero Rio (River Trail) leads to a breathtaking waterfall. Another interesting trail option would be Sendero Pantanoso (Swamp Trail) which goes through a swamp forest.
Visitors can opt for a variety of tours to suit their particular needs. Group tours are offered in English and Spanish. Visitors who want to experience the beauty of the reserve on their own can pay a little more and opt for the private guided tours. The Bird Lovers tour is another interesting alternative. This objective of this tour is to spot as many birds as possible while making your way through the different areas on the way to the reserve.
The Sky Walk and the Sky Trek are also offered for those who are not content with simply hiking through the trails. If you go on the Sky Walk, you walk along bridges that are suspended above the forest, allowing you to get a spectacular birds-eye view of the reserve. Sky Trek, meanwhile, allows more adventurous visitors to not only walk on trails and suspension bridges, but also to experience being suspended on zip lines and flying through the air above the forest canopy. This is not only a thrilling experience, it will also allow you to appreciate the reserve from a different perspective.
Backpackers have a choice of accomodation as there are three backcountry huts available for use. However, these are subject to availability and have to be booked in advance. There is also a restaurant, a souvenior shop and an art gallery. Travelling to and from the reserve is easy and affordable as there are hourly buses from the Banaco Nacional in Santa Elena, Monteverdo. Taxis can also be hailed to get to and from the reserve at affordable rates.
Orson Johnson writes for Holiday Velvet, a website providing Costa Rica holiday rentals & Holiday apartments