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Monteverde Cloud Forest

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The Monteverde area was one of the first in Costa Rica to develop as an eco-tourism destination, and the cloud forest here is still one of the great attractions of the country. The area was initially settled in the early 1950’s by Quakers escaping the military draft in the US. They chose Costa Rica because of its lack of a military and Monteverde because of its climate and suitability for grazing cattle for milk and cheese production. The Quakers have been central in the efforts to preserve the Monteverde Cloud Forest area, setting aside part of their territory for protection.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve is an area of orchids, bromeliads, ferns, vines and mosses as well as crystal clear streams and waterfalls. At over 1,400 metres above sea level, it straddles the watershed between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The difference in altitude in the forest has helped produce an area of very high biodiversity, and it is home to over 400 species of birds, including the quetzal, 30 species of hummingbird, the mot mot and the bare-necked umbrella bird. There are 100 species of mammals, including the jaguar, tapir and several types of monkeys. There are also 500 species of butterflies, 120 reptile and amphibian species and 2,500 plant species, including 400 different types of orchids. The Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve is nearby, and although smaller, contains much of the same wildlife.

Exploring the cloud forest trails on foot with a guide is the best way of spotting wildlife, along with a walk on the Sky Walk. This is a network of suspension bridges, platforms and trails in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, allowing you to explore the forest canopy. Apart from spotting the wildlife, Monteverde has become well-known for more adventurous activities, especially canopy tours. These are zip-wire tours that allow you to slide between platforms in the treetops for an exhilarating ride.