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Costa Rica – Monteverde:
Monteverde, Costa Rica is a small town in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, located in the Cordillera de Tilarán. Roughly a four hour drive from the Central Valley, Monteverde is considered a major ecotourism destination in Costa Rica. The area is host to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and numerous other reserves, which draw considerable numbers of tourists and naturalists.
National Geographic has called the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve “the jewel in the crown of cloud forest reserves”. Newsweek has declared Monteverde the world’s #14 Place to Remember Before it Disappears.” By popular vote in Costa Rica, Monteverde was enshrined as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Costa Rica, along with Isla del Coco, Volcán Arenal, Cerro Chirripó, Río Celeste, Tortuguero, and Volcán Poás.
This article deals with Monteverde and its surrounding zone. This includes the larger town and tourism hub Santa Elena, as well as the nearby cluster of homes and businesses known as Cerro Plano, along with numerous reserves and attractions on the periphery of the town.
Resting roughly at 1,400 metres (4,600 ft) above sea level, Monteverde is misty, humid, and windy, with a mean annual temperature of 18 °C (64 °F) (Nadkarni 2000: 17). Annual rainfall averages around 3,000 millimetres (118 in). Humidity oscillates between 74% and 97% (Nadkarni 2000: 34).
In recent years rapidly increasing numbers of tourists has brought a sizeable influx of Costa Ricans into the area. Now, an estimated 250,000 tourists visit Monteverde a year. Improved goods and services, including partially paved roads, have arrived in recent years. In 2007, Costa Ricans voted Monteverde one of Costa Rica’s Seven Wonders, along with Isla del Coco, Tortuguero, Arenal Volcano, Cerro Chirripó, Rio Celeste and Poás Volcano.
One of the many eco-tourism oriented suspension bridges in the area. (Selvatura Park)
Due to the acclaimed rain forests and cloud forests in the greater Monteverde area, Monteverde has become a major part of the Costa Rican tourist trail – despite difficult access. It was recently voted one of the “7 Wonders of Costa Rica” by the Costa Rican newspaper La Nación.Of Monteverde’s total 250,000 annual tourists, around 70,000 tourists visit the reserve.
The bulk of Monteverde’s rain forest and cloud forest can be found in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, a private nature reserve created in 1972 by scientist George Powell and Quaker Wilford Guindon. The area around the park entrance is the most visited, though camping deep in the reserve is possible with reservations. Nine main trails, which total 13 km, are well-kept and easy to access. The reserve features a large network of less accessible trails and a number of rustic research stations, two of which house 10 persons each, as well as one research station that can house as many as 43 persons, though these can now only be used by researchers.
To the West of the town of Monteverde lies the Bosque Eterno de los Niños conservation area, a project funded by schools and children from all over the world. The Bosque Eterno is the largest preserve in the area with 22,000 hectares (54,000 acres). Most of the Bosque Eterno lands surround the Bosque Nuboso lands to the North, East, and South of the smaller Bosque Noboso preserve. Bajo del Tigre, a small section of the Bosque Eterno de los Niños, is known for birdwatching and night hikes.
Still farther north, past Santa Elena, is the Reserva Santa Elena. This area is visited less frequently by tourists than the Monteverde Reserve, but offers a rustic station and views of Arenal Volcano.