With a world-famous cloud forest, the Monteverde Biological Reserve is one of Costa Rica’s most important private protected areas. With 90% of virgin forest, its biodiversity of ecosystems brings together about 70,000 nature lovers a year from different countries.
This Biological Reserve is internationally recognized as a sanctuary of flora, fauna and water resources in the tropics of the American continent. Its territory covers the Atlantic and Pacific slopes, being in the Cordillera de Tilarán.
Exemplary model of preservation through environmental education and scientific studies.
With drastic variations of temperature and humidity, crystalline streams, rapids, waterfalls and abundant species of plants and animals.
Here you can find exposed forests, on the tops of the hills, molded by the wind that gives them a dwarf shape and size. The protected forests, on the contrary, have trees of impressive heights decorated with orchids, bromeliads, ferns, lianas and mosses. And swamp forests in low drainage areas.
As the clouds pass through the treetops there is an abundance of bird species, such as the Bell Bird and the Quetzal (visible during March and April, their nesting period). During some time of the year the native birds and those that migrate from North America are in this place. Although cloud forests usually have less rainfall, unlike rainforests, the Reserve has higher humidity and is more cloudy due to the height of its terrain (between 1,200 and 2,600 meters).
Its level of precipitation in the east sector feeds the tributaries of the Peñas Blancas river, which empties into the San Juan river with the name of San Carlos. In the south sector, rainfall supplies the Guacimal River that flows into the Gulf of Nicoya.
Thanks to the cloudiness and drizzles trapped by the reserve forest this river is capable of carrying water to the Pacific even in the dry season, as a “sponge” effect.
The Reserve forms part of a group of protected natural, private and public areas such as the Children’s Eternal Forest, Santa Elena Reserve, Arenal Volcano National Park and Alberto Manuel Brenes Biological Reserve. It limits with the Childrens Eternal Forest in the sector east, north and south.
Rainfall between 2500mm (Pacific slope of the Reserve) and 6000 mm (Atlantic slope). Average temperature varies between 10ºC and 25ºC.
Rainy season: from May to November. June, September and October the wettest months. Dry season: from December to April (high season) but with haze. December and January are the coolest months. From December to March the weather is usually windy and cloudy with frequent drizzles.
In Monteverde 7 life zones have been identified: the Tropical Humid Forest transition to Premontano, along the Pacific slope of the Tilarán Mountains; The Premontane Wet Forest: on the Pacific slope; The Premontano Forest very humid; The forest very humid Premontano low; The Montano Low Rain Forest: in the high peaks and ridges of the continental divide; The Premontano Rain Forest; The forest very humid Tropical transition to Premontano: along the Peñas Blancas river.
In the Monteverde Biological Reserve there are about 2,500 species of plants including more than 200 species of ferns. With more than 400 species of orchids (more in one place), which bloom in March white, lilac and yellow.
The variety in the heights and temperatures of the Reserve result in an impressive variety of types of vegetation and plants; With an abundance of mosses, epiphytes and lianas. The most representative species of the cloud forest are the guarumo, the oak, the zapote and the matapalo. In addition, there are natural dwarf forests sculpted by the wind. About 10% of all the flora of Monteverde are endemic species of the Cordillera de Tilarán. The Podocarpus monteverdeensis (Podocarpaceae), is endemic and is the only tree of gymnosperms native to Monteverde. It is considered that a third of the flora of the country is located here.
The Reserve includes more than 400 species of birds (almost half of Costa Rica) such as the beautiful quetzal (sacred to the Mayan civilization), calandria, the parasol bird, bell bird, the emerald tucancito, the black kite, the royal redstart , The silly bird and the peacock. 30 species of hummingbirds, the green kingfisher, the feathered owl, the solitary eagle and the green lapa.
With 153 species of reptiles and abundance of translucent frogs, unfortunately, the golden toad, endemic to this area, became extinct some years ago. Also numerous snakes like the boa constrictor, the venomous velvet and the Central American coral.
There are 490 species of butterflies and 100 of mammals, including the tapir, jaguar and stingray.