Costa Rica is home to diverse habitats with incredible variety of plants and animal species. Over 880 bird species, 90000 recorded species of plants, 200 mammals, 2000 butterflies as well as 50 species of hummingbirds and 150 species of amphibians and more. There are 12 distinctive ecological zones from dry forest to mangroves to tropical rainforests and many of these species reside in the cloud forests of Monteverde and San Gerardo de Dota, a must for those looking for a birding holiday to Costa Rica.
WHY VISIT the cloud FORESTS of Costa Rica
- To experience one of the most unique environments in the world
- For the abundance of birds, including the hummingbirds and tanagers
- One of the best places to spot the elusive and beautiful quetzal bird
- San Gerardo de Dota is home to around 200 avian species that inhabit the cloud forest
- Fantastic hiking opportunities through moss-covered and mist-shrouded forests
- Monteverde can be explored by aerial tram, hanging bridges and zip lines
- 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, 2,500 varieties of plants (of which 500 are orchids) reside in the mountains of Monteverde
OUR SPECIALISTS 'MUST DO'
A nocturnal nature tour is a magical experience that opens the door to a completely different appreciation of the forest environment. The sights, sounds and smells are very different to those during the day and accompanying guides will expertly draw attention to snakes, tree frogs, porcupines, agoutis, blue-crowned mot mots and hole-dwelling tarantulas, among other creatures of the night.
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT the cloud forests of Costa Rica
Preservation of the remarkable forest of Monteverde is largely thanks to a community of Quakers who left the USA to avoid military conscription in the 1950s and settled in this highlands area of Costa Rica. They very soon realised that conserving the forest was crucial to the protection of the area’s watershed. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve was officially established in 1972. Despite the effort needed to reach Monteverde (a long drive, poor roads) it has become a leading destination for eco–tourism and bird watchers flock there between February and April in hope to see the resplendent quetzal.
San Gerardo de Dota
For those looking for something more low key, San Gerardo de Dota is a great alternative. Of course where there are no crowds, variety of accommodation can be limited, but located in the highlands of the Talamanca Mountains San Gerardo de Dota is referred to as the emerald valley, and is one of Costa Rica’s best kept secrets. San Gerardo de Dota is at a high altitude, approximately 2,200 metres above sea level, and therefore the climate is much cooler and wetter with daytime temperatures reaching around 20 Celsius. The small town was founded in 1952 as a small agricultural settlement, growing cubano beans and fruits such as apples and peaches. The picturesque terrain is ideal for nature hikes, well-maintained trails fan out from most lodges, offering leisurely hikes through meadows of wildflowers.
DID YOU KNOW?
It’s not just the cloud forest that Monteverde is known for. It is also home to one of the best cheese companies in Costa Rica, the Monteverde Cheese Factory. The cloud forest of San Gerardo de Dota is considered the best location to see quetzals.
WHEN TO GO
Monteverde is best visited during the dry season (January to April) when bird watching is at its best and you can probably stay dry for most of the activities. However, this is an area of cloud forest and you should always be prepared for wet conditions. San Gerardo de Dota is best visited between December and April. Days are warm, but due to the altitude, nights can be cool.