Monteverde is a population and large natural conservation area located in the borders of the provinces of Puntarenas, Guanacaste and Alajuela. It comprises various privately protected areas including the International Children’s Rainforest, Costa Rica’s largest privately protected forest with over 30,000 hectares of protected land where also Selvatura Park’s forest is neighboring.
Monteverde encompasses a large area of the top of the Tirarán mountain range split by the continental division which provides access to both the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the forest. Less than 1% of the total land mass of the Earth is covered by cloud forests, yet Monteverde is part of that 1% which also hosts 4% of the total world’s biodiversity. These forests are endangered habitats and our goal is for people to experience these unique environments and wake in our visitors a real sense of preservation of these and all other natural habitats.
Monteverde (translates to Green Mountain), is also not only the name of a small mountain village, but the perfect description for the entire cloud forest area of the Tilaran mountain range. Monteverde is divided into four main areas: Santa Elena, Cerro Plano, Monteverde and San Gerardo:
Santa Elena is the most populated area, and has the highest concentration of local businesses and shops including banks, supermarkets, the municipality, souvenir shops, restaurants and the local high school.
Cerro Plano is mainly a hotel zone that also has some specialized restaurants and neighborhoods that extend from the exits of its the main road.
The Monteverde area is known as the place where the cheese factory is located, where the majority of the Quaker community lives, where you can find the CASEM community arts center and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve.
Finally, San Gerardo has become a zone of high visitation in Monteverde due to the construction of different adventure and ecology parks. Within these the largest are Selvatura Park and the Biological Reserve of Santa Elena. A peculiarity of this area is that it does not have neighborhoods since most of the properties are forests in conservation, in addition to this, this area of the forest is located on the Atlantic side of the continental divide, so there is a greater variety of flora and fauna in this area which receives a little more rain throughout the year. This allows Monteverde visitors to experience both the Atlantic and Pacific side of the country on a single day.
There are three main roads that will take you to Monteverde: the first and the most recommended is to fork toward Route 606 from Route 1, North Inter-American Highway, and follow this route for approximately 40 kilometers until you reach the town of Santa Elena. It must be noted that the last 18 kilometers of this route are part of a gravel road which you will need to cross before returning to the pavement once you get to Santa Elena.
The second route is to fork towards Route 145 from Route 1, North Inter-American Highway, at the crossing at Irma and follow this route for approximately 40 kilometers until you reach Monteverde. Both high and low portions of the roads offer occasional breathtaking views of the lowlands as you climb the mountain’s edge.
On these roads you can observe the wind blowing through thin clouds, occasionally observe the cattle at the bottom of deep valleys, looking as small brown or white spots scattered on the steep pastures. The climb up the rocky road offers an abundance of time for the visitor to enjoy the beautiful scenery, as well as the most beautiful sunsets and views towards the Gulf of Nicoya once you arrive at the destination.
Finally you can enter Monteverde from La Fortuna taking route 142 towards Tilarán. Once there, fork towards route 145 until you reach El Dos de Tilarán to finally fork towards route 606 that will take you to Monteverde. This route takes about 3 hours to travel. Through this route you will border the Arenal Lake, the largest lake in Costa Rica. You will also pass through the Tilaran countryside where you will see wind farms contrasted with dairy farms, and on sunny days, beautiful views of the Guanacaste plains. Since this is a long route, we recommend driving it early in the morning, however there is transit throughout the day.
You can also use a GPS aid to reach Monteverde, either by renting a GPS from your car rental or by using apps such as Waze (most used navigation app in Costa Rica) or Google Maps, with which you may also download a Map for offline use in case you don’t have a data plan that works in Costa Rica.
Weather in Monteverde varies throughout the year between the dry season (November – April) and the rainy season (May-October). The temperature is pleasant all year round and ranges between 62º F and 82ºF (16ºC – 28ºC). The average annual rainfall is around 118 inches (3000 m.m.) but can reach up to 236 inches (6000 m.m.) in forest areas. As a general rule in Costa Rica there are sunny mornings and there may be rains in the afternoons, so we recommend taking this into consideration when planning your activities.
In Monteverde there is a growing number recreational activities for travelers who love nature and adventure. These activities include butterfly gardens, natural exhibitions, reptile and amphibian exhibits, guided hiking tours through the Monteverde Forest Reserve, the Reserve of Santa Elena or Selvatura Park, zip lines, Walks through Hanging Bridges in the forest, Night Walks, visits to Coffee Plantations among many others.
Certainly, one of the biggest attractions of the area is its friendly people, whose environmental philosophy has made this one of the most sustainable destinations in Costa Rica, and the area, one that pioneered ecotourism. The majority of businesses in the area are owned and operated by locals, this has allowed the development of a mountain culture in the community that promotes conservation and the integration of new members from other parts of the world. People with values of natural conservation and a love of nature that makes this wonderful destination unique.