Exploring Monteverde Cloud Forest In Costa Rica

Monteverde Cloud Forest Costa Rica

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Monteverde, Costa Rica

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is an extremely popular tourist attraction in Costa Rica. Over 70,000 people visit the park every year.

The reserve was created by a group of Quakers who fled the United States to avoid the Army draft. Use of violence clashed with their moral code & belief system, and Costa Rica had just abolished it’s military.

My good friend Abby came down from the States to visit, and together we decided to go explore Monteverde for a day.

The next morning we hopped on an early local bus into the reserve from the nearby town of Santa Elena. Luckily we arrived at the start of Costa Rica’s rainy season –
the landscape was incredibly green and there were no tourists around.

Many of the trails in Monteverde are raised up on walkways made of concrete blocks or wood. They’ve been constructed like this to support the massive popularity of the park.

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Colorful Mushrooms in the Forest

Colorful Mushrooms in the Forest

Monteverde Adventure

We began our adventure in Monteverde by walking for about 2 hours along the Sendero El Rio trail under massive trees, past colorful mushrooms, and stopping to gaze at small waterfalls.

Further along the trail the wilderness got increasingly rugged & wet.

We hadn’t seen much wildlife thus far. Both of us were hoping to catch some monkeys and bring them home as friends pets.

How could we possibly leave without a pet monkey?

We passed giant old-growth trees covered in vines that must have been hundreds of years old. Clouds were rolling in through the canopy, creating a pretty surreal atmosphere.

It was as if we were strolling through the movie Avatar.

Ancient Vine-Entangled Trees

Ancient Vine-Entangled Trees

Here Kitty Kitty…

Marching on into the wilderness, our heads began dreaming up all kinds of hilarious monkey shenanigans. I planned to name my monkey Dr. George Bananapants the III.

Further down the trail, Abby suddenly stopped cold. “What is that!?”

I slowly followed her hand with my eyes as she pointed at the muddy path in front of us…

“Is that what I think it is?”

Well, it certainly explains the wildlife camera!

She was staring, wide-eyed, at a fresh set of paw prints. Big kitty paw prints.

We were not alone in this creepy forest.

Jaguar Tracks Costa Rica

Big Cat Tracks in the Mud

Cyanide Poison Excreting Millipede

Cyanide Poison Excreting Millipede

Did It Eat The Monkeys?

There are 6 different types of cats that live in Monteverde. Jaguars & Pumas are the largest… I reassured Abby that big cats don’t hunt humans on Sundays and we both continued nervously through the trees.

More prints were discovered every now and then in the mud as we hiked. Each track was about as big as a closed fist.

Obviously the reason we weren’t finding any monkeys was because the big kitty had eaten them all. Bad kitty!

For the rest of our hike we kept a close watch on the thick underbrush.

Monteverde Canopy Bridge

Monteverde Canopy Bridge

Monkey Shenanigans Must Wait

After hours of hiking through wild-kitty territory, deep inside Monteverde, and with rain clouds moving in, we decided to abandon our quest and go home monkeyless.

We explored the rest of the park in the drizzling rain on our way back. One highlight (besides the kitty tracks) was a 300ft tall canopy suspension bridge through the clouds.

While the reserve lacked a ton of visible wildlife, the plant & insect diversity was incredible. Ultimately we had plenty of fun hiking around Monteverde in the rain. Even without finding any monkeys.

Our hilarious monkey shenanigans will just have to wait. ★

More Information

Location: Monteverde, Costa Rica
Accommodation: Cabinas Vista al Golfo
Useful Notes: Take the first bus into the park early in the morning to avoid other tourists. You don’t need a guide and the (public) trails are all well marked.
Budget Travel Tips: Costa Rica On A Budget
Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Costa Rica
Suggested Reading: Monkeys Are Made Of Chocolate

READ NEXT: Hiking Corcovado National Park

What wildlife would you like to see in Costa Rica?

Any Questions Or Comments?

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16 Comments

  1. Hi mat !

    I am going next week to costa rica with my husband

    do you think i should wait until i am there to book the excursions or should i preboook them cheaper? because I am staying in a 5* Hotel but I dont want to pay for the extra charge the hotels usually charge for adventures

    Did u zipline? which one was your favorite?

  2. Hey Matt. we just spent 3 months in Costa Rica partially trying to get more travel under our belts but also partially trying to avoid the winter in Minnesota!! We loved it, our favorite was driving 100kms off road in the Guanacoste region and actually ending up where we planned! Safe Travels

  3. My friend and I went to Monteverde in January, definitely a great time to visit Costa Rica! The weather was gorgeous! We did not go to the popular cloud forrest, we hiked along other hanging bridges that were very similar (and cheaper). I 100% recommend Monteverde! Very cute little town with amazing people!

  4. That kitty print was no print that your black kitty Nightmare would make. Glad that you and Abby came home with all your important parts intact.

  5. Incredible monkey pictures. One in green and one in blue. The blue one seems to need some hair tonic. I bet offering a banana would make them tame.

    1. We discovered a new species of hairless monkey! That shot will make the cover of National Geographic. Just wait.

      And feeding wild animals in a National Park is against the law… :)

  6. Epic post!! Two things:

    a) You left out the part that you left me on a ridge with a loaf of Bimbo Blanco bread and a can of police grade pepper spray in case your big ass pussy friends came to visit while you were gone. Your act was noble, to say the least: however, as I sat there for what felt like an eternity, wondering if I would ever make it home and what I would do if the giant pussy came to say hi, I clutched the pepper spray in one hand and rosary beads in the other…. I had done some research about the dangers in Monteverde- and, at the height of my senses and intense level of fear, I hear some bushes rustling and then- a COUGH- typical warning threat of a jaguar…. On the verge of tears, Matt makes his way around the bend…. I really wish Costa Rica had imported Depends at that moment!!!

    2) I know you have a hard time with the notion that we are brother and sister minus the DNA, but we can look past the blood relations and, although you are a Monk in training, I still refer to you as my brother.

  7. Can’t blame you for wanting to steal, sorry rescue, a cute little monkey and take it home. I love monkeys and have long wanted a monkey butler, sorry friend, to live with me. And Dr George Bananapants III? Awesome name.