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Monteverde Costa Rica is one of this country’s most popular tourist destinations in part, because of the incredible biodiversity contained within its amazing wildlife refuges.

Monteverde, which means “Green Mountain,” is one of the lushest areas in Costa Rica and draws thousands of tourists each year. This is a destination that should not be missed by visiting nature lovers and bird watchers.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Many Costa Rica tourists ask “What is a cloud forest?”

Unlike a typical tropical rainforest, cloud forests are generally found at higher elevations. A Cloud forest is usually more humid because the forest canopy is often shrouded in low-lying clouds or fog (hence the nickname “fog forest“).

Although cloud forests receive much less rain, the humidity and low light penetration causes the forest floor and low-lying tree trunks to be covered in dense undergrowth such as moss and ferns, prompting some people to also call them “mossy forests.” In fact, the cloud forest of Monteverde Costa Rica boasts over 3,000 species of plant life including over 500 different types of orchids and 400 types of mosses.

Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is very extensive and the variance in elevation has created six distinct ecological zones that are quite unique from each other.

Monteverde Wildlife – Birds, Amphibians, Mammals

Tourists to Monteverde Cloud Forest are often treated to rare wildlife and bird sightings like the Resplendent Quetzal, the exceptional Bellbird, the Emerald Toucanet and about thirty different types of hummingbirds. The types of Monteverde wildlife found here are remarkable and include approximately 130 species of amphibians and over 120 different types of mammals such as the Jaguar, Tapir, and Ocelot.

Monteverde Costa Rica Co-operative – Casem

Tourists who wish to take a piece of the cloud forest home with them should visit the Casem, which is part of the Monteverde Cooperative, and includes a store, workshop and gallery. The non-profit Casem cooperative provides training and employment to the women in and around the town of Monteverde who excel at various types of arts and crafts 

The main subjects of their artistic endeavors are the fauna and flora of the cloud forest. They fashion souvenirs that are hand embroidered or even hand painted, portraying golden toads, quetzals, and other plant and wildlife. Casem is an independent Monteverde cooperative. Funds raised through the sale of these local handicrafts help improve the livelihood of the women who make them. Tourists can purchase a wide variety of crafts including ceramics, jewelry, toys and wood carvings.

Monteverde Cheese Factory

Another famous and fascinating stop enjoyed by visiting tourists is the Cheese Factory in Monteverde Costa Rica, which produces over 3,400 pounds of cheese a day! For nearly 60 years the Monteverde Cheese Factory has produced an array of different kinds of cheeses plus other delicious products like cured meat and dairy products. There are some seventeen varieties of cheese that are produced at the local factory in Monteverde including Gouda, Provolone, Parmesan, and a cheese smoked with local coffee.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Hummingbird Gallery

The Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery is a rather unusual gallery located immediately preceding the entrance to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in Monteverde Costa Rica. The Hummingbird Gallery holds a wealth of well documented photographs of the 51 different species of hummingbirds to be found in Costa Rica. The documentation also extends to Costa Rica’s fauna and flora.

The works were created by Patricia and Michel Fogden who painstakingly recorded all the living details of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. The Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery is also a souvenir shop where the beauty of Costa Rican textiles and t-shirts are tourist favorites.

The bird feeders set up outside the gallery is the meeting place for many of the varieties of hummingbirds to be found in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve including Costa Rica’s largest hummingbird, the Sabrewing.

Other Monteverde Costa Rica Reserves

When visiting the Monteverde Costa Rica, there are a number of other nearby places of interest to explore.

Reserva Sendero Tranquilo is a haven for wildlife that roams freely on the 200 acres in this private reserve. Reserva Sendero Tranquilo offers visitors excellent guided tours that can take up to four hours at a time and are conducted by bilingual naturalist guides.

Santa Elena Forest Reserve is a 765-acre forest reserve that is even cloudier and more humid than the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Situated at a higher elevation than the Cloud Forest Reserve, Santa Elena Forest Reserve is less travelled but well worth the visit. It can be experienced via the 10km of hiking trails.

Selvatura (with over 700 acres) is another area that is protected and offers tourists plenty to do including canopy tours, bird watching, nature walks through the rich cloud forests, and beautiful gardens with butterflies and hummingbirds. Costa Rica is home to more than 1,300 different types of butterflies!

Visit Monteverde Costa Rica with Caravan Tours

Monteverde Costa Rica and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve are included as part of our fully escorted, all inclusive Costa Rica Tours by Caravan Tours. These very affordable, all inclusive 9-day tours are exceptionally priced for people travelling alone, in doubles, or in groups.

Check out Caravan’s Costa Rica Tour reviews page to read what others have said about Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Caravan’s fully escorted Costa Rica tours.

Call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to reserve your space today!

Caravan Costa Rica vacations are the perfect holidays offering something for everyone. With a name that literally means “Rich Coast,” how can you miss?

Costa Rica is a small Central American country but although small in size (just under 20,000 square miles), Costa Rica is overflowing with natural wonders and exotic tropical beauty.

No matter who you are or where you are from, Caravan’s well-planned Costa Rica vacations will astound you. Stops include the country’s two most famous volcanoes, Arenal volcano and Poás volcano plus some of the most popular attractions in the country:

  • Hiking or walking through tropical virgin rainforests and cloud forests
  • Relaxing on white sandy beaches at world class resorts
  • Exploring wildlife refuges, nature reserves, and protected turtle nesting beaches
  • Taking in jungle river cruises and bird watching cruises
  • Or taste-testing fresh coffee at a local coffee plantation

Top 4 Costa Rica Destinations

While on our Caravan Costa Rica vacations, travelers get to enjoy the most popular, must-see destinations including:

  1. Leatherback Turtles National Park: This protected marine and wildlife refuge is one of the more popular National Parks in Costa Rica and a top eco-tourism destination. Plan to travel here between September and March to catch a glimpse of the prime nesting season for leatherback turtles. This national park also has an overabundance of mammals and birds (over 174 species!), plus truly unique flora and fauna just waiting to be explored.
  2. Poás Volcano: This popular Costa Rica volcano is located near the center of country. Poás Volcano is often misty and cloudy but when the mist breaks, visitors are given a unique glimpse of the green sulphuric lake that shoots geysers up over 800 feet in the air. At a mile wide and over 1,000 feet deep, Poás volcano is the world’s largest active crater.
  3. Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge: The only way to get to Cano Negro, one of Costa Rica’s most popular tourist destinations, is on a boat cruise along the Rio Frio River. Experienced Costa Rica tour guides help visitors stay on the lookout for migratory birds, crocodiles, web-footed water walking lizards, spider monkeys, jaguars, cougars, and more.
  4. Arenal Volcano: Located about 55 kilometers northwest of Costa Rica’s capital San José, Arenal Volcano remained dormant for several hundred years until it erupted suddenly in 1968 creating three more craters. Only one crater still exists today and tourists enjoy visiting one of the 10 most active volcanoes in the world (from a safe distance of course).

All Inclusive Vacations by Caravan

Because Costa Rica is small it is possible to travel from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast and see all the major attractions in between while on Caravan’s 9-day Costa Rican vacation. Caravan’s Costa Rica tour guests are pleasantly surprised by not only the tropical diversity of Costa Rica but also how affordable it is to travel Costa Rica all inclusive on Caravan’s fully guided tours!

Caravan Costa Rica vacations well planned with tour itineraries that make them ideal all inclusive, fully guided trips for every type of traveler including singles, couples, families and seniors.

Caravan Tours Are Fully Guided

There is a good reason why Caravan Tours has named Costa Rica the “Natural Paradise”.

Caravan Tours offers Costa Rica vacation packages that include most of the destinations and activities mentioned in this article. Visit Caravan’s Costa Rica tour reviews page to read about the personal travel experiences of previous tour guests on Caravan’s fully guided, all inclusive tour of Costa Rica.

Call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to reserve your space today!

What Are Cloud Forests?

This information about a cloud forest Costa Rica location is provided by Caravan Tours.

A cloud forest (aka “fog” forest) is similar to a rainforest except that they have high humidity and less rain. Cloud forests can be found in nearly four dozen countries around the globe that have either tropical or sub-tropical climate conditions.

The cloud forest Costa Rica location exists in a forested mountain area with high humidity and is persistently shrouded in low-lying clouds (usually at the forest canopy level). This is usually caused when warm moist winds push up against mountain terrain. As the air rises and cools the cool air can’t hold as much moisture and clouds or mists are formed by the excess humidity.

Costa Rica cloud forests can be found in a number of locations throughout this small country. These cloud forest regions have the right combination of geography and weather and many are designated as national parks.

Places like Braullio Carrillo National Park, Irazu’ Volcano National Park, J. Castro Blanco National Park and Monteverde Biological Reserve all display the unique characteristics of cloud forests and are major tourist attractions.

Escallonia Cloud Forest Trail

There is a cloud forest near Poas Volcano National Park, which used to be part of our Caravan Tour until the volcano became active. Escallonia Cloud Forest Trail is a favorite tourist destination primarily because of the cloud forest Costa Rica is so famous for.

There is an abundance of small cypress and myrtle growth plus orchids, tropical ferns, and Escallonia plants that give the Escallonia Cloud Forest Trail its name.

Escallonia Plants

The varieties of Escallonia plants that dominate many of the Costa Rica’s cloud forest sites include more than three dozen varieties of small evergreen trees, along with many ferns and shrubs. Escallonia plants are native to South American but obviously they do well in many other tropical and subtropical locations like Costa Rica.

Escallonia plants flower at various times throughout the year, with primary colors appearing in summer and autumn. This makes a cloud forest trail hike a perfect escape for visitors wanting to get away from winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere and immerse themselves in tropical flora and fauna.

Biological Curiosities

Unlike many other locations, this cloud forest Costa Rica location stands apart as a biological curiosity because it differs slightly from many other rainforests, especially those in lowlands of tropical countries.

Biologists have found that some of the species in certain Costa Rica cloud forests are found only in that one place. This is reason enough for many travelers to include an Escallonia Cloud Forest hike on their Costa Rica vacation itinerary.

But even the cloud forests of Costa Rica are changing. As rising world temperatures affect plant growth, many animal and plant species move to higher elevations, which eventually affect the biological map of the mountain forests.

As mentioned earlier, this cloud forest Costa Rica site is a result of a unique combination of factors that come together perfectly in the mountains of Costa Rica. With the right humidity levels and elevation, the thick green forest vegetation becomes shrouded with added beauty and mystery when engulfed with low-level clouds and fog that move in and stay, depending on strength and direction of the winds.

Costa Rica All Inclusive Tours

Due to recent volcanic activity in the area, trips to Escallonia Cloud Forest Trail and Poas Volcano have been temporarily suspended and at present, are not part of Caravan’s Costa Rica Natural Paradise tour.

See this Costa Rica Guide page for an update on Poas Volcano activity.

This is a fully guided 9-day tour that is affordably priced and includes all accommodations, meals, land travel, itinerary activities, and gratuities.

Visit Caravan’s Costa Rica Tour Reviews page to read what others have said about Caravan’s fully guided tour and for the most recent updates on the Costa Rica tour itinerary.

To book your Costa Rica Trip call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826)

(Editor’s Note – This original post from December 2011 has been updated to reflect current Costa Rica tour activities.)

Costa Rica in Central America is home to over 10,000 species of different plants and trees making it one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. The forestation consists of unique flora and fauna in luscious virgin rainforests, mysterious cloud forests, and unique tropical dry forests.

Costa Rica vacationers can enjoy the exceptional natural beauty of Costa Rica thanks to excellent rainforest eco tours by Caravan including:

1. Rio Frio Cruise and Rainforest Tour

On this Costa Rica rainforest cruise, tour guests drift through Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge on a fully guided river cruise along Rio Frio. As you pass through virgin Costa Rica rainforests your naturalist guides will help you watch for all kinds of rainforest wildlife including elusive jaguars, caimans, howler monkeys, black turtles, and even water walking lizards.

2. Tarcoles River Cruise and Rainforest Tour

Also known as the “river of crocodiles”, the Tarcoles River winds through Guanacaste’s protected Carara Biological Reserve, home to the rare and endangered Scarlet Macaw. A fully guided Costa Rica rainforest cruise is the best way to view this protected sanctuary and makes an ideal bird watching cruise.

3. Aerial Tram Rainforest Canopy Tours in Costa Rica

Eco conscious aerial tram tours through the rainforest canopies of Braulio Carrillo Park and Manuel Antonio National Park are definitely the ultimate way to see rainforest canopy wildlife, plus flora and fauna up close, with minimal human impact on the natural environment. Braulio Carrillo Park boasts virgin rainforests and outstanding cascading waterfalls. Manuel Antonio National Park was recently named one of the world’s Top 12 most beautiful parks and includes a number of outstanding accessible Pacific coast Costa Rica beaches.

4. Escallonia Cloud Forest Trail Tour

Cloud Forests (or Fog forests) have a higher humidity and less rain than the typical rainforest. The unique ecosystem is found in less than 50 tropical and sub-tropical countries around the world, including Costa Rica.

The Escallonia Cloud Forest Trail is situated near Poás Volcano National Park in central Costa Rica, less than an hour’s drive from the capital city of San Jose. This Costa Rica rainforest features lower woody plants with an abundance of small cypress and myrtle growth. Escallonia Cloud Forest is also home to dozens of hummingbirds and large stunning orchids.

Plants along the trail flower at various points throughout the year but the best time to visit is in the summer and autumn when primary colors emerge. Because of this, the Escallonia Cloud Forest Trail is a popular destination for North Americans on winter vacations in Costa Rica.

5. Guanacaste Tropical Dry Forest Tour

Guanacaste National Park is situated on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. It was originally created as a biological corridor for the migration of birds and insects between the dry forests, cloud forests, and rainforests. The founder of Guanacaste Park also had the vision of encouraging locals to become involved in Costa Rica environmental programs.

Caravan’s Guanacaste tropical dry forest park tour features hiking, nature walks and bird watching. If visiting in the afternoon, guests should be ready for a short rainfall (especially during the rainy season that lasts May through November).

Tours along Guanacaste National Park trails interweave through several ecosystems as the elevation increases from the Pacific Ocean up to Orosi and Cacao volcanoes. For Cost Rica vacationers with more time to spend in Guanacaste, a hike up and across the Continental Divide will lead to a typical Costa Rica rainforest.

The most popular Costa Rica wildlife visitors see in the dry forest include howler monkeys, white-tailed deer, long-tongued bats and capuchin monkeys. Birds such as the Orange-Fronted Parakeet and Crested Caracara are common and easy to spot up in the trees as well.

Caravan Costa Rica Vacations Include Rainforest Tours

All of Caravan’s Costa Rica vacations include glimpses into the country’s amazing rainforests, cloud forests and dry forests. Very affordably priced for a 9-day tour, these are fully guided, all inclusive Costa Rica vacations and they book up fast!

Read more about Caravan Tours’ current Costa Rica Paradise vacation or take a look at a few Caravan Costa Rica reviews to see what others are saying.

Call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to reserve your space today!