Straddling the Continental Divide at 1440 meters (4662 ft) above sea level, Santa Elena and the Monteverde cloud forest area offer one of the most interesting places to visit in Costa Rica.

The area is acclaimed as being one of the most outstanding wildlife refuges in the New World Tropics. Monteverde is known as an international ecotourist destination and one of the top places to visit in Costa Rica.

Within the Monteverde Cloud Forest more than 100 species of mammals, including 5 species of cats, are found. In addition the following flora and fauna can be found:

  • 400 species of birds, including 30 kinds of hummingbirds
  • 500 species of butterflies,
  • 120 reptile and amphibian species,
  • 2,500 plant species (among them 420 different types of orchids and 200 fern species),
  • 500 species of trees
  • Thousands of insect species.

Among the 400 species of birds, some of the best known species are: The Quetzal, the Bird Bell, the Black Turkey Bird, the Mot-Mot, the Orange-bellied Trogon, and the Bare-neck Umbrella Bird.

quetzalAmong the mammals found are the Collared Wild Pig, the Small Deer, the Margay, the Spider and Howler Monkey, the Coatimundi, the Kinkajou, the Olingo, the Agouti and the Paca, the Two-toed Sloth, the Armadillo and the Weasel.

  • Average temperature: 16-22 C (61-72 F)
  • Annual rainfall : 3,000 mm (118 inches)
  • Dry Season: December to March.
  • Located 225 km northwest. of San Jose, 3h30 by 4x4, 4h30 by car, 5h by bus.
  • Population of Monteverde: 250
  • Population of Santa Elena: 6,500.
  • Altitude, village Santa Elena: 1,250 meters or 4,100 feet,
  • Highest trails: 1,800 meters or 5,900 feet.


Medical Supplies
If you are taking any medication, ensure that you have sufficient supplies with you for your trip to Costa Rica.
You should also consider bringing the following in your first-aid kit:

  • Antihistamine or another anti-itch cream for insect bites
  • Painkillers – aspirin
  • Lomotil / Imodium (or equivalent) for diarrhea
  • Eye drops (Monteverde can be very dusty)
  • Bandages/band aids
  • Antiseptic cream


  • Insect repellent
  • Contraceptives
  • Sun block
  • Tampons (especially if you have a preferred brand - they can be expensive in Costa Rica)
  • A torch/flashlight is always useful
  • Camera and film (camera film can be expensive)
  • Plastic bags to protect clothing and items such as cameras and film
  • Binoculars (even a small pair)
  • Photocopies of all important travel documents

In Costa Rica the most commonly accepted credit card is VISA - Like the commercial says. American Express is almost useless. Master card is accepted in some parts of the country but not others. Traveler's cheques and US dollars are easily exchanged in any tourist area such as Monteverde. Many people prefer U.S Dollars over Colones due to the inflation of the Colon.
There is one bank in Monteverde, the Banco Nacional de Costa Rica. They can make cash advances on Visa cards and Master cards. Take your passport and be prepared to wait in line. There are no ATM's in Monteverde. The bank is open weekdays from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Closed weekends.

Monteverde can get quite chilly at night (and wet!). Bring a waterproof jacket and a warm layer to wear underneath. Long pants and hiking boots are a good idea. Clothes that wash and dry easily are the best option as items such as jeans take a long time to dry. A combination of t-shirts and long sleeved tops which can be layered is ideal, as the weather can change quickly from hot and sunny to cold and wet. You may find hats and a small folding umbrella very useful.

This is a brief background of Monteverde of Costa Rica

Monteverde is located along the continental divide in north central Costa Rica. Famous for its rich biodiversity and cloud forest, Monteverde is a popular location for both biologists and tourists. You may have heard of the disappearance of the golden toad that was once found in the forests, or the Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), which still nests here.

At approximately 1500 meters above sea level, the climate is cooler compared to the lowlands of Costa Rica. There are two seasons in this part of the world; the rainy season and the dry season. There names say it all. The rainy season is from May to the end of October. The climate, like the flora and fauna, is very diverse in Costa Rica and depends on many factors such as solar radiation and the complex topographical relief of the land. Then there exists the phenomenon known as El Niño to further complicate things. With such a complicated climate, meteorology is not a fine art in Costa Rica. Suffice to say that in the rainy season it rains about 100 inches and in the dry season (particularly Jan – Apr) there is practically no rain at all.
In Monteverde there is very often a light mist blowing in with the trade winds from the west. This is one of the ingredients in a cloud forest where many plants are arboreal not terrestrial. Such plants depend on a high humidity or mist of precipitation for the nutrients and moisture they carry.

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