Monteverde and the Cloud Forests of Costa Rica:Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve -- the most heavily visited of Costa Rica’s cloud forests and the most difficult to access -- is situated on both the Pacific and Atlantic slopes of the Continental Divide. There are more than 425 species of birds, thousands of species of insects, and innumerable plants, reptiles, mammals, and the famous and “hard to spot” quetzal. Historically sacred to earlier civilizations, the quetzal is cherished by birding enthusiasts and naturalists. The nearby village of Santa Elena is a small art community featuring galleries, museums, a butterfly garden, lodging and restaurants. We recommend including Monteverde as part of a guided module.
Costa Rica’s highlands – where misty fog and clouds cling to the tree canopy -- offer a refreshingly cool retreat from the tropical zones in the country. These high elevation rainforests are filled with brightly colored bromeliads, orchids, ferns, and an abundance of mosses add to the exotic nature of the flora found here. Cloud forests are hotbeds of biodiversity, harboring innumerable plants, animals, and amphibians that are found nowhere else in the world.
Los Angeles Cloud Forest provides a less crowded and more accessible cloud forest experience. Air currents from the Northern plains join those from the Pacific and Atlantic and fuse over the region, creating rare climatic conditions normally occurring at much higher altitudes. Located about one hour from San Jose, this 2,000 acre private reserve protects more than 347 species of birds, life-saving plants and a variety of wildlife and amphibians. The reserve features hiking trails where expert guides assist you in spotting an array of flora and fauna. Horseback riding, birdwatching and quetzal spotting add to your adventures. Arenal Volcano and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens are easy day trips. You may also tour the nearby village of San Ramon, a historic intellectual and cultural center of Costa Rica, and home to three former presidents. Overlooking picturesque rolling farmland and pristine tropical cloud forests, the premier lodge in this area offers an authentic Costa Rican experience in charming casita accommodations.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens offers a picture perfect image of lush tropical rain and cloud forests, spectacular waterfalls, and rushing rivers. In a day trip to the park, visit the world’s largest butterfly farm and hummingbird gallery, hike the well-maintained and accessible trails leading to the falls, and explore the wildlife exhibit. For overnight stays, enjoy luxury accommodations with balconies offering views of the Poas Volcano and the misty clouds over the valley. Day trips from the lodge include rafting, canopy adventures, horseback riding, Arenal Volcano and hot springs, Poas Volcano and the Doka Coffee Plantation.