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If you’ve heard of cloud forests in Costa Rica, and want to get the most out of visiting one of these rare and spectacular ecosystems, you’re in the right place. In this article, you will find everything you need to know about these rare gems, best places to stay, and the best activities in Costa Rica’s cloud forests including hiking, zip lining and wildlife watching.
Cloud forests are very rare, and one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world, as they represent less than 1 percent of the remaining forests on the planet.
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Visiting one of Costa Rica’s cloud forests offers a chance to connect with nature, observe the habit of thousands of species of wildlife, and gain an appreciation for these threatened ecosystems.
Whether you’re driving in Costa Rica, or taking tours, we have you covered on the best ways to experience the cloud forests.
What are cloud forests in Costa Rica?
A cloud forest is a special kind of rainforest found in high mountains in tropical climates. Cloud forests are unique because the plants sustain themselves from the moisture from the clouds which often surround them. The most famous cloud forest in the world is located in the lush green mountains of Monteverde in Costa Rica.
The Best Costa Rica Cloud Forests: an overview
Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve
Where to stay in Monteverde: Hospedaje Mariposa
Monteverde is the most famous cloud forest in Costa Rica. It consists of 10,500 hectares (26,000 acres) of protected forest and is home to thousands of species of plants, and hundreds of species of birds and other animals.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve offers plenty of fun activities like hiking, ziplining, or bird and animal watching.
The best tours of Monteverde in Costa Rica
To see the most wildlife, and the otherworldly atmosphere of the Monteverde Cloud Forest, I suggest the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve Morning Walk. Getting up early in the morning for the Monteverde Cloud Forest Hike is essential if you want to see the animals, because wildlife tend to be more active earlier in the day.
✅ Check my complete guide to the best things to do in Costa Rica
What sets the Monteverde Cloud Forest apart from other Costa Rica cloud forests is that it has several hanging bridges, that allow you a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the cloud forest valley.
Top Things to Do in Monteverde Cloud Forest
There are so many different ways to visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest, whether you’re traveling Costa Rica with a family or adventuring on your own or looking for a more slow-paced Monteverde hike – here are options for all levels and interests.
- See the most colorful and rare birds of the Monteverde Cloud Forest in this birdwatching tour.
- Hike the Monteverde Cloud Forest at night to see creatures that aren’t common during the day. The forest transforms into a different environment at night, this 2-hour tour offers a chance to see things to see in Costa Rica’s most popular forest in the dark.
- For thrill-seekers, try this popular zipline tour that will allow as you fly over the hills of the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
Best zip lining tours of Monteverde Costa Rica
Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve
Santa Elena Cloud Forest is also located near the town of Monteverde. It’s a smaller forest, spanning 765 hectares (1,890 acres) but it’s higher in elevation than the Monteverde forest and has a slightly different ecosystem with different plant and animal species.
Santa Elena sees fewer tourists on the trails and a quieter atmosphere.
Best tours of Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve
Get the most out of your experience in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest with a guide who will teach you about the reserve, point out wildlife and take you up to a tower where you’ll see a stunning view of the forest.
San Gerardo de Dota Cloud Forest
San Gerardo de Dota Cloud Forest is a must-visit for birdwatchers. It’s a smaller, lesser-known cloud forest covering 2,500 hectares (6,175 acres) on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast in the east, an area that only a small fraction of tourists venture to.
Thanks to its location on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica, there are animals and birds unique to this region that aren’t found in other parts of the country. One example is the quetzal, one the most beautiful bird in the world, as well as the tapir and jaguarundi.
Best tours of San Gerardo De Data Cloud Forest
The best best to see the quetzal by booking a private tour with an expert who knows the forest, and where the famous quetzals hang out. Bonus – the tour includes meals, and pick up from your hotel.
Cerro de Muerte Cloud Forest
Translated as “Mountain of Death” in Spanish, Cerro de Muerte makes for a worthwhile visit to Costa Rica. Like the San Gerardo de Dota Cloud Forest, Cerro de Muerte is located in the Talamanca Mountains on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica.
The beautiful quetzal bird can also be found in the Cerro de Muerto Cloud Forest.
Braulio Carrillo National Park
The Braulio Carillo National Park is a large rainforest in the central part of Costa Rica. One of the best-kept secrets is that some sections of the Braulio Carillo National Park consist of cloud forests as well. One of the most notable cloud forest areas within the park is known as the Bosque de la Niebla (Forest of the Mist).
Braulio Carillo National Park is just half an hour north of San Jose, the best way to get here, besides driving, is to take a tour from San Jose that will pick you up at your hotel, and drop you back off at the end of the day.
Costa Rica Cloud Forest Tours
Book a tour if you plan to visit cloud forests in Costa Rica, especially the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Tour guides know the forests well, and they know the best places to spot wildlife, and where to look for them.
The guides also communicate with each, so you have multiple eyes set to find wildlife. They carry high-tech equipment for you to get the best look at animals from a long distance.
Here are some Monteverde Cloud Forest tours that I recommend:
- Monteverde Cloud Forest and Hanging Bridges in Selvatura Tour from San Jose – a popular tour of the Monteverde Cloud Forest with a knowledgeable guide, breakfast, and lunch included. Enjoy the view of the expansive cloud forest from the hanging bridges.
- Guided Tour in Monteverde Curi Cancha Reserve – a tour with a professional guide who will help you spot tropical birds and wildlife.
- Natural History Walk (Flora, Fauna, Culture, and History) a tour that provides information about the unique and rare plants that grow in the cloud forest with a private guide who is flexible about start time, and which trails you take.
Costa Rica Cloud Forest Hotels
Staying in Costa Rica Cloud Forest is an experience unlike any other. Here are the best places to stay near the cloud forests of Costa Rica.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve
- Hospedaje Mariposa – a cottage overlooking the mountains just a 15-minute walk from the famous Monteverde Cloud Forest.
- La Guyaba Monteverde – a popular stay with garden views, continental breakfast each morning, and proximity to all of Monteverde’s activities, including hiking and bird watching.
- Tiny House Monteverde – a great spot in the town of Monteverde, with an American or vegan breakfast each morning before heading off to explore the cloud forests
- La Casa de la Montana “House of the mountains” in Spanish, is the perfect place to stay if you want to get out in nature and enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast.
- Hotel Belmar – a luxury cabin with a restaurant and organic juice bar on sight, as well as a yoga studio, hot tub, and a terrace with beautiful views.
- El Sol Monteverde – the most spectacular sunset and mountain views from the terrace, delicious sustainable vegetarian breakfasts, and a swimming pool.
Where to stay near San Gerardo de Dota Cloud Forest and Cerro de La Muerte Cloud Forest
- La Roca – a rustic one-bedroom chalet, less than 10 minutes from San Gerardo de Dota Cloud Forest
- Hotel de Montana el Pelicano – a fun place with an outdoor pool, art gallery, and restaurant on site of this cute cabin with mountain views.
- Hotel Savagre – a perfect mid-range hotel close to cloud forests
- Suenos del Bosque Lodge – a comfy rustic cabin with a free breakfast every morning, surrounded by nature with beautiful views
- Dantica Cloud Forest Lodge – A luxury lodge with full windows. Wake up to a great breakfast every morning before leaving for your hike in the cloud forest.
- Lauraceas Lodge – A wooden mountain lodge with stunning mountain views. Your stay comes with perks such as free Wi-Fi, and an exceptional breakfast served in the morning.
Costa Rica Cloud Forests: FAQ
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Costa Rica Cloud Forests that will help you prepare and get the most out of your visit.
Is Monteverde Cloud Forest worth visiting?
Monteverde Cloud Forest is home to incredible biodiversity with some of the most unique flora and fauna in Central America. It’s one of the best spots on your Costa Rica itinerary.
Why is Monteverde famous?
Monteverde is famous for having the most well-known remaining Cloud Forest on Earth.
How many cloud forests are in Costa Rica?
This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on what you consider a Cloud Forest. Some sources estimate that there are up to 50 cloud forests in Costa Rica
What’s the best cloud forest in Costa Rica?
The most popular Cloud Forest in Costa Rica is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, in Monteverde. The Monteverde Cloud Forest is also the most famous in the world.
How much does it cost to go to the cloud forest in Costa Rica?
The price is different for tourists than it is for residents of Costa Rica. A non-resident adult costs $25, and non-resident children aged 6-12 cost $12. Children under 0-5 years old are free of charge.
What is the best month to visit cloud forest, in Costa Rica?
The best months to visit the cloud forest in Costa Rica are December through April because they’re the sunniest months of the year when the risk of rain is lower. One of the most popular months to visit Costa Rica for Americans and Canadians is March, because of spring breaks that take place around that time.
Costa Rica Cloud Forests: Final Word
Costa Rica Cloud Forests are some of the most well-known in the world. The Monteverde Cloud Forest, in particular, is the most famous Cloud Forest around the globe and is a must-see when visiting Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica’s cloud forests, you can see beautiful natural terrain, waterfalls, rare species of plants, insects, birds, and other wildlife.
While the Costa Rican government contributes a lot of time and money to sustainability, Costa Rica’s cloud forests are still a threatened habitat because of global warming.
As the Earth’s temperature rises, the moisture in the forests (the clouds) will deplete, which could kill a lot of the vegetation and animals. The preservation of these unique forests is up to us. Visit the Costa Rica cloud forests and appreciate them. Visiting these forests helps to support Costa Rica’s conservation efforts.