Cloud Forest Tours of Monteverde, Costa Rica (Santa Elena)
Monteverde is a town in mountainous northwestern Costa Rica. It's renowned for its biodiverse forests in the clouds. The famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve shelters countless wildlife species, including jaguars, ocelots, and the colorfully plumed resplendent quetzal. The reserve's marked trails cut through ferns and orchids, and way overhead, suspended bridges allow walks above the forest canopy. The cloud forests are premier destinations for everyone from budget backpackers to well-heeled retirees. The Monteverde area is a place where you can be inspired about the possibility of a world in which organic farming and alternative energy sources are the norm. With so much to see and do, Monteverde is a great place to experience, and there are several exciting tour options available to help you make the most of your time here.
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Take your pick from four daily departure times, and begin the day with pickup at your Monteverde hotel. Begin with an exploration of Costa Rica's beloved caffeinated export on a coffee tour, where you'll trace the history of the crop and how it became such an important part of the tiny nation's socioeconomic development. Learn how ripe coffee cherries are picked, and hear the stories of the migratory workers who play such an important role in the harvesting process. If touring during harvest season, try your own hand at coffee picking. Then, see how the raw cherries are transformed into aromatic brew with stops at the depulping machine, drying patio, storage warehouse, and coffee roaster. If you like, take a ride on a typical ox cart for a sense of how coffee farmers historically traveled. Finally, complete the journey with a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee and a snack at the farm's La Casona restaurant. Once properly caffeinated, you'll next learn about another celebrated Central American crop on a 30-minute chocolate tour. See how cacao beans are roasted, separated, and ground into smooth, rich chocolate using traditional methods. After participating in this process, taste the finished product in various forms including a velvety drink and solid chocolate flavored with spices or coffee. End the 3-hour tasting experience on a sweet note with a look at Costa Rica's sugar cane industry. Learn how to extract sugarcane juice from the reeds, and then enjoy a glass of the pure, sweet liquid along with pieces of raw sugarcane.
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Discover the Cloud Forest and Monteverde Butterfly Farm on a tour of this unique attraction. Founded in the 1950's by a group of Quakers from the United States, Monteverde has gained international renown as one of the most outstanding wildlife sanctuaries in the tropics. The reserve is spread over 10,500 hectares of land that holds 6 different life zones. The climate and terrain of the preserve produce an incredible biodiversity, with at least 400 bird species, over 100 species of mammals, 120 species of amphibians and reptiles, and an estimated 2,500 species of plants. Your tour will last between 2 and 2.5 hours, and you'll walk through the different levels of the forest during your Sky Walk, which combines trails and suspension bridges, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the flora and fauna of the area. After lunch you'll visit the butterfly farm. The Monteverde Butterfly Garden boasts a biodiversity center, medicinal plant garden, live leaf cutter ant colony, and 4 climate-controlled butterfly gardens where you can see some of the most beautiful and fascinating insects in the tropics. In the afternoon, you will experience the Don Juan Coffee tour, where you can learn the process of coffee, chocolate and sugarcane production.
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Make your own way to Selvatura Park in the Monteverde Cloud Forest to begin your tour. Experience the cloud forest of Monteverde by zipline on the only canopy tour located inside the cloud forest reserve. Your ziplining guide provides a safety briefing and equipment, then leads you on a route that takes 15 cables across 18 platforms. You have the option to also hop on the Tarzan Swing at the end. Then, see the canopy from eight different suspension bridges of varying lengths, from 150-510 feet, and heights, from 36-180 feet. Look for a variety of animal and plant life at each level of the tree canopy, and enjoy sweeping views of the Monteverde region. Your package includes a guided walk inside the live butterfly exhibitions, one of the largest in the world at more than 29,000 square feet. Learn about the life cycle and behaviors of the more than 20 species of butterflies represented at the exhibit. You'll also see more than 100 beautiful hummingbirds from 14 different hummingbird species in the hummingbird gardens. Keep your energy up with an included lunch at the on-site restaurant, the perfect way to round out your day.
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Go horseback riding in the beautiful expanse of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve on a 4-hour excursion led by a real Costa Rican cowboy. Ride along the continental divide on a route that offers stunning views of the local countryside and farms, as well as the Gulf of Nicoya. The horseback ride follows unpopulated back roads and small tracks. The length of the tour will allow you to penetrate deep into the farming community, with opportunities to see the land use of the area well away from the tourist spots. Get to know your Costa Rican cowboy and practice your Spanish as you try and spot wildlife, such as toucans and sloths, and emerge with a better understanding of the beauty and ways of the people and life in the Nicoyo Peninsula.
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