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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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. ★
Location: Monteverde, Costa Rica [Map]
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?