Located in northwestern Costa Rica high up in the mountains is the town of Monteverde. It’s home to several hundred people and is known for its many natural attractions and for being one of the country’s leading ecotourism destinations. Nearby is the larger settlement of Santa Elena, which has a population of around 6,500 and is somewhat more developed. Both have their own cloud forest reserve and together attract some quarter of a million tourists to the area each year. Thanks to Monteverde’s reserve and its impressive biodiversity, it’s been named one of the country’s seven natural wonders.
Due to the town being some 4,600 feet above sea level, it’s a lot cooler than other parts of the country, though still pleasantly warm year-round. Its rainy season typically runs from May to October, with September the wettest month by far. The town’s noticeably dry during the first few months of the year, with February the driest and March the warmest. For accommodation, there’s a broad range of options available that cater for pretty much every budget. Generally speaking, they tend to be more rustic than luxurious in character, though they’re still clean and well presented with plenty of amenities and facilities for guests to make use of. There’s a good amount of choice available in the town itself, with options including self-catering apartments, rental homes, modern hotels and homely cabins. Most options, however, are to be found in Santa Elena.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is undoubtedly the area’s principal attraction. It's been open since 1972 and covers some 10,500 hectares of cloud forest - forest that frequently has mist or low-level clouds present among the vegetation. It contains no fewer than six different ecological zones and is known for the rich diversity of both its flora and its fauna. Throughout the reserve are suspension bridges, walking trails and even zip lines; there’s also a nature centre with a variety of animal displays. Guided treks, horseback rides and canopy tours are readily available. When not exploring the reserve, many who come here enjoy visiting the cheese factory and learning about how it’s produced and how it ties in with the town’s Quaker history. Tours of the town’s many coffee plantations are also popular.