Welcome to the Jungle: All About Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve
Perhaps the most well-known cloud forest in the world, Costa Rica’s Monteverde straddles the continental divide between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean. The area includes several different reserves, buffer zones on private land, and parts of Arenal Volcano National Park. Year-round, visitors explore the various parks and reserves that make up this unique cloud forest conservation area.
Its geographic placement provides Monteverde with two distinct environmental and climatic influences: strong, moisture-laden winds on the Caribbean slope provide the plentiful mists and rains, while the Pacific slope tends to be less humid, it also enjoys high rainfall levels. Steep slopes and high winds stress forest vegetation and define optimum cloud forest conditions in gullies, canyons, and wind-protected areas, where the forest reaches its maximum height.
Monteverde is also one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet: 3,021 known plant species (about 1/3 of Costa Rica’s indigenous flora), including the most diverse collection of orchids in the world. Of more than 500 identified epiphyte species in Monteverde’s forests, 34 of them are newly discovered.
The reserve’s 100+ mammal species are characterized by representatives from North and South America, in addition to endemic species, including 6 marsupial species (opossums, not sloths).
Monteverde is a birdwatcher’s paradise: 400+ species, most are insectivores, but frugivores thrive here as well. The reserve is home to the famous (and well-named) resplendent quetzal. Shy creatures, they are brightly colored with vibrant, glittering green plumage and a bright crimson belly.
Guided tours, with naturalist guides, are the best option to see and explore the Monteverde cloud forest. In addition to miles of hiking trails for all abilities, the park and local tour operators offer zipline and tram tours through the canopy, including a hanging bridges stroll through the treetops. Horseback riding is another option, as well as canyoning at Finca Modelo.
Just a short drive from the reserve, Hotel Belmar is one of the oldest hotels in the area and management is serious about providing the best experience possible for guests of this boutique hotel. Guest rooms in the Austrian-inspired chalets are elegantly and luxuriously furnished. Hotel management prides itself on its dedication to the highest levels of quality in eco-tourism.
Since its founding, Hotel Belmar has helped Monteverde’s economy transition from subsistence agriculture to eco-tourism in the community. Founders Pedro Belmar’s and Vera Zeledon’s commitment to their neighbors and vision of a sustainable eco-friendly business model has resulted the development of a thriving local employment model.
The hotel supports Chorotega indigenous art with exhibits from local craftswomen of the Cooperative of Artisans of Santa Elena-Monteverde and Casa de Arte workshops of indigenous techniques. Hotel Belmar’s commitment to supporting the community and the environment has earned it Costa Rica’s highest award in sustainable tourism—5 leaves.