Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica

Cloud Forests

Costa Rica is home to diverse habitats with an incredible variety of plants and animal species. Over 880 bird species, 90,000 recorded species of plants, 200 mammals, 2,000 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.

Skywalk, Monteverde, Senda Monteverde Hotel, Costa Rica
Monteverde, 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.

Rainbow View, San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

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.

Blue-crowned Motmot, Monteverde, Costa Rica
Blue-crowned Motmot, Costa Rica

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.

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.


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Where to stay

Some of the wonderful places to stay that we frequently recommended.

Trogon Lodge £££££

  • Costa Rica
  • B&B, Motel and Guesthouse

Surrounded by 205 acres of private cloud forest reserve at an altitude of 2,200 metres above sea level, Trogon Lodge provides 25 rooms in 12 log cabin units dotted around the gardens.

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Senda Monteverde Hotel £££££

  • Costa Rica
  • B&B, Motel and Guesthouse

Featuring 24 contemporary and spacious bungalows with open-air porches overlooking lush gardens, Senda Monteverde hotel offers a range of upscale duplexes and individual rooms. Light and airy yet warmed by the delightful wooden interiors, the aim is to provide a luxury stay whilst interacting with nature and experiencing general mountain living.

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El Silencio Lodge & Spa £££££

  • Costa Rica
  • Farmstead and Ranches

El Silencio Lodge & Spa enjoys a 500-acre private reserve blessed with gently flowing creeks and waterfalls. 14 luxury suites offer river or cloud forest views and private deck. Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors guarantee amazing vistas of the cloud forest. Twin day beds with end tables create a perfect lounging and reading area, doubling as sleeping arrangements for quadruple occupancy. The restaurant offers a varied menu emphasising local flavours with fresh and organic ingredients and the property has now been recognised by Relais & Chateaux, making it the first hotel to be awarded Relais & Chateaux status in Central America.

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Monteverde Lodge & Gardens £££££

  • Costa Rica

Monteverde Lodge & Gardens offers a charming forest lodge experience, just 15 minutes from the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. A collection of 24 rooms are housed in the main lodge with a further three rooms located in gardens. Accommodation is spacious and all rooms have queen-size beds and an ample bathroom with bathtub. Some rooms also have enormous wraparound windows, which provide the opportunity to observe local wildlife, including several hummingbird species. The Garden Restaurant serves a tempting variety of local and international cuisine alongside the popular bar area and large open fireplace.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Rachael Tallents

Adventure, discovery and my curiosity for people and the natural world is what drives my love of travelling.  I am grateful for my parents’ desire to explore, and from an early age my eyes were open to diverse landscapes, cultures, and underwater worlds.

For the last 16 years, I have worked for a leading luxury tour operator designing incredible journeys for discerning clients and travelled to some magical places. I am excited to have joined Steppes Travel, and to be working for a company with such strong ethical and sustainable values.

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  • 01285 880 980

Clare Higginson

It was my passion for languages that first encouraged me to leave the UK behind and grab my rucksack. Since then, it’s been a mixture of intriguing cultures, jaw-dropping landscapes and the wonder of seeing animals in their natural habitat that sees me continuously extending my travel wish list.

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  • 01285 880 980

John Faithfull

Costa Rica is simply the best spot in Central America for nature lovers, and is always John’s top recommendation for those wishing to hike, swim, zip, raft, ride or float through outstanding scenery and rich biodiversity.

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  • 01285 880 980

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