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The Monteverde cloud forest
The forests in Monteverde are undoubtedly the most beautiful and best-conserved cloud forests in Costa Rica and are the region’s biggest attraction. Located at the top of the mountains (at roughly 1400 m or 4,700 ft), the forests are called ‘cloud forests’ because they receive most of their precipitation in the form of clouds or mist that hangs over the upper canopy of the forest.
The cloud forest is incredibly diverse and bursts with life, due to the abundant moisture in the air. Scientists have recorded more than 3,200 plant species in the Monteverde cloud forest, including 755 different types of trees. The forests are famous for their diverse epiphytes (plants which which grow on other plants non-parasitically), including lichens, orchids and bromeliads. In fact, the Monteverde forest is home to one of the highest concentrations of orchids found anywhere.
The Monteverde cloud forest and surrounding landscape offer amazing opportunities for birdwatching. More than 400 species of birds can be found here, including almost 30 species of hummingbirds. Resplendent quetzals can be seen feeding on wild avocados within the cloud forest. Emerald toucanets and keel-billed toucans be spotted in the cloud forest canopy, while the endangered three-wattled bellbird can be heard from kilometers away. And iridescent hummingbirds (such as the beautiful violet saberwing, or the purple-throated mountain gem) can be seen feeding on flowers within the forest.
Animals are also abundant. More than 100 species of mammals have been registered in the region, including howler, white-faced capuchin and spider monkey, all five species of wild cats (jaguars, ocelots, pumas, margays and jaguarundis), deer, coatis, porcupines, agoutis, tapirs, sloths and many more. There are at least 55 species of amphibians, 101 species of reptiles and probably tens of thousands of insect species.
With its unbelievable biodiversity, the Monteverde cloud forest is a magical place like no other and will likely be the highlight of your Costa Rican trip.