costa rica monteverde cloud forest tree top suspension bridge

Exploring a Magical Forest


Explore Monteverde, one of the outstanding nature reserves in the New World tropics, with its complex forest canopy and distinct ecological communities. More than 400 species of birds—including toucans, tanagers, barbets, hummingbirds, and bellbirds—have been recorded here, and this is the place to see the resplendent quetzal, the venerated bird of early Central American mythology.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 (pre-trip)
San Jose

Arrive in San Jose, where you are met and transferred to the Hotel Grano de Oro (this hotel night is part of your Private Journey itinerary)...meals on your own

Day 2 (pre-trip)
Monteverde / El Refugio

Morning transfer to the Monteverde, a world-famous reserve set at 4,600 feet in the Tiláran Mountains straddling the Continental Divide. Monteverde was founded in 1951 by a small group of Quakers from Alabama, attracted to Costa Rica by its lack of an army and its peaceful policies that matched Quaker philosophy. They bought land and brought dairy farming and cheese production to the region (today, Monteverde’s cheese is sold throughout the country). They preserved about a third of the land they purchased to protect the watershed above Monteverde, and in 1972, after visiting biologists noted the richness of the flora and fauna, the Quakers turned it into Monteverde Biological Cloudforest Reserve, owned and operated by the Tropical Science Center of San Jose. After settling into the comfortable environs of Monteverde Lodge, visit El Refugio, a private wildlife refuge located 10 minutes from the town of Santa Elena in Monteverde. Originally a coffee and dairy farm, the reserve’s 50 acres are a prime location for spotting wildlife and birds. On a “twilight tour,” you’ll have the opportunity to see nocturnal animals including olingos, kinkajous, two-toed sloths, and possums, and it’s not uncommon to see migrant and resident birds (you’ll view them with flashlights handled by your guide, so as not to disturb their sleep). Regardless of what you see, the experience of walking in the forest after dark is unique. Overnight at Monteverde Lodge...BLD

Day 3 (pre-trip)
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

In the cloud forest of Monteverde, the forest floor is carpeted in fern, mosses, and shade-loving plants, while high above is a thick, green canopy made by the branches of tall trees reaching for sunlight. In addition to the more than 400 species of birds, there are also more than 100 species of mammals, including howler and capuchin monkeys, deer, tapirs, sloths, and five species of cats. Enjoy a morning walking tour with your private guide and visit the reserve’s butterfly garden (the Jardin de las Mariposas), with its gardens, greenhouses, and netted flyway. The nearby Saint Elena Forest Reserve, which you can visit on your own, is home to quetzals, ocelots, howler and capuchin monkeys, and spider monkeys. Overnight at Monteverde Lodge...BLD

Day 4 (pre-trip)
To Arenal

A scenic 3.5-hour journey brings you down the mountain road by 4WD vehicle to beautiful Lake Arenal. Boarding a boat, enjoy a 30-minute ride across the lake and begin your Private Journey itinerary in Arenal on Day 2...B

Note: This is a pre-trip extension.


Length: 4 days
Cost From: $1295  
Arrive: San Jose, Costa Rica
Depart: Arenal, Costa Rica
Lodging: 2 nights lodge
Meals: Meals as indicated (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level:

Nature walks

Visa Requirements

A visa is not required for U.S. citizens visting Costa Rica.