After we finished our housesit in Sámara, we headed to the Monteverde Cloud Forest for a few days before leaving for Mexico. It did not disappoint! It is easily one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life. If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica, Monteverde is a can’t miss! We spent 3 nights, and could easily have spent 5 or more. If you’re short on time, I would say 3 is the bare minimum.
We stayed at Casa Paraíso, a 4 bedroom/2 bath house on a working farm, several miles outside the town of Monteverde. The farm is located on the side of mountain that looks out at the surrounding mountains, all the way to the Pacific Ocean when it’s not cloudy. Even when it is cloudy, the clouds on the jungle mountains are stunning. The house was simple, but spacious and well-equipped, with a glassed-in front porch that was perfect for sipping morning coffee and enjoying the view. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember to get any photos of the house, but the Airbnb listing is very accurately representative.
The family that owns and runs the farm are lovely people, and made us feel so welcome. They can even cook meals for you if you order ahead. There are a couple of pigs on the farm, cows, Soro the Dog, and a mama cat and her 4 kittens. The kids loved exploring the barns and seeing the animals. John had to work one of the days we were there, and The Boss and I spent hours rounding up the kittens, who had taken over Abuela’s laundry room and moving them to the barn (mama cat is super friendly and loving, but her kittens are a bit feral and didn’t welcome the move!). I think it might be The Boss’ favorite memory from our time at Monteverde.
The only potential drawback to Casa Paraíso is that the wifi does not reach the house itself, which we hadn’t known when we booked it. There is an open barn/common area with tables and benches with strong wifi, but since John needs a private space to see teletherapy clients in, that didn’t work out very well. He ended up finding a really friendly and helpful guy in town who let John use his office for a few hours on the day John had to work (more on that further down in the post!). If you don’t need a private space for wifi use, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Casa Paraíso!
The town of Monteverde itself is small, but because it’s such tourist draw, it has everything you could ever need. One gem we found, which is actually outside the downtown area, is Nuestra Tradición. While they have all types of food, from hamburgers to pizza, the best food there is the typical Tico fare, such as casados (your choice of meat with rice, beans, and plátanos). It’s inexpensive and delicious. The best part about the restaurant, however, are the people. Oscar is the son of the owners, and he is a wealth of information. He’s an independent tour guide, and knows all the best places to hike and go on tours. He spent a long time showing Bird Nerd all of the photos he’s taken of birds and other wildlife in the Monteverde area. Oscar also arranged a tour for us (which he didn’t charge us for), AND when John needed a private space to work in, he offered up his office and wouldn’t let John pay him any rent for it. Definitely make that one of your first stops in Monteverde and ask all the questions you have!
Our first night in Monteverde, we took a night hike, hoping to catch glimpses of some of the nocturnal species. We took our night hike at Aguti Refugio, on Oscar’s recommendation. He mentioned that there are other night hike operations that feed the animals and/or straight up cage them during the day and release them into the “wild” at night. He told us that Aguti is newer, so not as well-known and less likely to be crowded, and that from what he had observed, the guides, and the refuge itself, operate ethically. I think he’s probably right about that, because we didn’t see much of anything, apart from a few stick bugs and spiders. The kids were definitely disappointed, but we still had a good time.
Our second day in Monteverde, we hiked all over the forest, taking whatever trails we felt like. It. Was. STUNNING! You could spend days hiking in Monteverde, and only scrape the surface. We started our day hanging on the patios around Café Colibrí, where dozens of hummingbirds hang out around the feeders, trees, and flowers. We could have spent hours there. The kids loved it! We eventually dragged ourselves away from the hummingbirds and hit the trails. We saw an agouti (large rodent-like animal) on the trail, as well as a very small bright green side stripe viper curled up in a tree, right at the beginning of our hike, without a guide. If we’d had more time, I would have liked to have taken a guided hike, particularly an early morning bird watching hike.
Our final day in Monteverde, we decided to go all-out and did something none of us had ever done before: we went zip lining! I really had no desire to go zip lining, heights being very far from my favorite thing. The kids had an amazing time, and even I had fun, though I’m not in a hurry to do it again. We went through the Original Canopy Tour, and I definitely recommend them. Our guides were fun and safe, and there are a LOT of zip lines on the tour. The Entertainer went with a guide on every zip line, which was a big relief to me, because I really don’t think he could have managed it well alone, at 5 years old. The Tarzan Swing is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but it was also really fun. There was a light drizzle throughout most of our zip lining time, and on our very last zip line, the super long one, a huge, gorgeous rainbow showed up across the mountains. It was an incredible way to end our trip to Monteverde!
If you have any questions about visiting the Monteverde area, or suggestions for other readers, please share!