What’s happening in Monteverde?

Monteverde is so rich in nature and culture that it can reinvent itself quickly. From tours that range from basic backpacking to sophisticated stays, to restaurants and lodging, we always find something new and surprising. Here are our recommendations.

Daily Dose of Adventure

Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve

This reserve is administered by the Santa Elena High School’s Board, which allows for greater community education, preservation and research. Because of its geographic location and climate, these 310 hectares (775 acres) were, before 1985, a dairy farm. Today they are a naturally regenerated forest with biological influences both from Monteverde and the Caribbean slope. The reserve has five trails. Don’t miss the Enchanted Trail, one of our favorites. The Sendero Mundo Joven, which measures 480 mts., is completely wheelchair accessible. If the climate cooperates, from the La Torre observation deck you can see Arenal, Tenorio and Miravalles volcanoes – all at the same time. The reserve also has a visitors center, cafeteria, souvenir shop and lodge for researchers.

Tel. 2645 5390 • •

Santa Elena Reserve. Photo: Andrés Madrigal
Santa Elena Reserve. Photo: Andrés Madrigal

Monteverde Horseback Riding

The Monteverde of yesteryear, like many rural communities in Costa Rica, was reached by our campesinos on horseback. Today, many of these communities preserve this elegant tradition. Horse Trek Monteverde is a company whose owners, husband and wife Janet Ellis and Marvin Anchía, love horses and offer the chance to explore several of Monteverde’s corners on the back of a gorgeous horse. These horses have been trained for riders of any ability, from first-timers to experts. You can select from four options: the Mountain and Farm View, In the Clouds, San Luis Waterfall, and All-Day Cowboy tours. After your tour, if you’d like an even deeper understanding of horses, you might get lucky and Marvin and Gladiator, his beautiful, intelligent Costa Rican criollo horse will perform. They’ll give you an impressive exhibition of camaraderie, obedience and love between man and beast.

Reservations with Marvin Anchía at the telephone number 8379 9827 or at • 2645-5874

Marvin and Gladiador. Photo: Andrés Madrigal
Marvin and Gladiador. Photo: Andrés Madrigal

San Luis Waterfall

The San Luis Waterfall is approximately 10 km away from Santa Elena. Visitors arrive at a family’s property, where the hike takes around 45 minutes. The family charges $10 for foreigners and 4,000 colones for Ticos. Visitors get to see a beautiful 150-meter waterfall with a pond nestled in primary cloud forest. Hikers should be in reasonable condition. Check about driving conditions in the rainy season, as the road gets muddy and you have to cross two small rivers. On the hike, you’ll have to cross a river a couple of times, walk on rocks and such. We do not recommend bringing small children on this hike.

San Luis Waterfall, about 10 kilometers from Monteverde. Photo: Andrés Madrigal
San Luis Waterfall, about 10 kilometers from Monteverde. Photo: Andrés Madrigal

Sweet Dreams: Hidden Canopy Tree House Boutique

You’ll love this place! They have six luxurious options for lodging. Four chalets sit amid the forest canopy, each with its own personality and warm, relaxing ambiance: Sol Naciente, Claro de Bosque, Neverland and Eden. The first is wheelchair accessible and the last is special for honeymooners, and all have impressive forest views, living room, balcony, minibar and a waterfall-style stone bathroom. All the chalets were built with naturally fallen wood. There are also two rooms in the main house, Nube and Jardín Paraíso, which are equally as comfortable and well equipped. The owners, Jennifer and Christian, offer personalized service. They love what they do and their warmth and enthusiasm is easily passed on to their guests. Breakfast is traditional Costa Rican fare, and whatever you do don’t miss the deliciously relaxing tea sunsets on the main house’s terrace, with views overlooking the Gulf of Nicoya. Santa Elena. 300 meters east of the road that goes towards Sky Trek.

Tel. 2645 5447 • info@hiddencanopy.com7 •

Hidden Treehouse Lodge. Photo: Andrés Madrigal
Hidden Treehouse Lodge. Photo: Andrés Madrigal

Pensión Santa Elena

With a long history, this is the best option in the area for budget travelers. Pensión Santa Elena offers lodging options that range from cabins for four and five people, standard rooms for two with private bath, and dormitories for men, women and mixed, as well as a camping area. Pensión Santa Elena’s experienced staff are a great source of information. And of course, staying here is also a great way to meet people from around the world. Santa Elena Centro. 50 meters west of the Banco Nacional Tel. 2645 5051 •

Pensión Santa Elena. Photo: Andrés Madrigal
Pensión Santa Elena. Photo: Andrés Madrigal

Eat Well Café Caburé

Located in a building built to look like something you’d find on an old coffee plantation, this restaurant also has a Monteverde history museum, bat exhibit, art gallery and gift shop. Café Caburé, called such in honor of the carnivorous bird of the same name whose feathers are said to have magical powers, specializes in hand-crafted chocolates. Their cuisine is international with a touch of Argentina. The breaded shrimp in a coconut sauce are delicious, as is the curry. Don’t miss their desserts! If you want to enjoy the view as you eat, take a seat on the terrace. Monteverde centro. 150 meters west of CASEM, in front of Hotel El Bosque.

How to get there

By bus: Daily buses from San José twice daily (6:30 AM and 2:30 PM) to Monteverde/Santa Elena. The bus takes between four and five hours and departs from Barrio Mexico. There is a direct bus from Puntarenas to Monteverde (2:15 PM) that takes three hours.

Private shuttle: Interbus offers comfortable, private shuttles daily.

By car: Traveling to Monteverde by car is definitely the most flexible way to see the area. There are no car rental agencies in Monteverde, so planning ahead is necessary. Be prepared for the long and rough dirt road that leads to Monteverde, where a 4×4 is recommended (it is necessary during rainy season). Make sure that you fill up your tank before driving to Monteverde as there is no petrol station in the area.


Location: Central Costa Rica, between Guanacaste and La Fortuna. It takes about 3 hours to drive from San Jose. From Liberia, in Guanacaste, travel time by bus or car is around three hours. There is no landing strip.

Additionally, many travelers are connecting Monterverde and Arenal as part of their trip. Driving takes around 3:30 hours.

The taxi-boat-taxi option takes around three hours. Desafio offers several different ways to get to Monteverde:

• Arenal Volcano+Boat Transfer Lake Arenal + Horseback Ride Monteverde

• Arenal Volcano+Boat Transfer Lake Arenal + Mountain Bike Ride Monteverde

• Arenal Volcano+Boat Transfer Lake Arenal + ground transfer Monteverde

What to bring: It can get chilly up in the mountains, so bring a sweater and a light jacket. Rain gear and hiking shoes/boots are a must, too.

Weather: The climate is refreshingly cool, with precipitation rolling in with little notice.

Don’t miss: There are tons of activities to do in this tiny region. Be sure to check out one of the cloud forest reserves.

Rancho Heliconia offers a wide range of traditional activities. In fact, the entire region is so rich in activities that you’ll likely want to spend at least three days here.

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