Cloud forest in Costa Rica is one of the country’s main attractions, with its lush vegetation, suspension bridges, and zip lines hidden inside the dense canopy.
This type of forest is extremely rare, only 1% of the total woodlands of Earth is populated by it, and it can be found only in the subtropical and tropical regions where there are proper conditions for a consistent cloud cover environment.
The name of Costa Rica cloud forest comes from the fact that these forests are constantly covered by fog that condenses on the leaves and trees and drops onto the plants from the ground.
When you are up in the canopy on the suspended bridges, you feel like walking through the clouds, and you are on another planet.
The most beautiful Costa Rican cloud forest is located in the Central Highlands and is considered the most scenic part of the country.
The mountains from this area are surrounded by coffee plantations and a beautiful Costa Rica cloud forest, a great home for many species of plants and animals.
Inside these forests, you will find more than 450 species of orchids, bromeliads, and ferns, and from the suspended bridges, you can observe colorful birds that hide in the canopy.
Costa Rica s cloud forest reserves are home to many species of birds and impressive flora and fauna.
The high humidity level from the Costa Rica cloud forest creates the perfect habitat for many plants and trees that are specialized in collecting the nutrients and moisture from the rain and air.
Many species of plants and animals live only in these types of forests that divide the American continent in half.
Unfortunately, because of global warming, specialists estimate that the degree of humidity from these forests will decrease, and the temperatures will rise.
Because of this phenomenon, some plants and animals here will disappear if they cannot adapt to the new reality.
5 Reasons to visit a cloud forest in Costa Rica
If you are looking for the ultimate tropical holiday and are prepared for some adventure but you are not sure that you want to explore the wild side of Costa Rica I give you 5 reasons why you should include a cloud forest in your itinerary:
Only in Costa Rican cloud forests will you find many species of plants and trees, and you have the unique opportunity to explore the canopy without a lot of effort, thing which you cannot do anywhere else in the world.
Costa Rica’s cloud forests host an impressive number of birds and animals, some endemic wildlife, unique in the world.
A plethora of butterflies, snakes, birds and insects including the elusive Quetzal bird can be spot on your canopy walk.
Touch the sky
From the canopy of the trees, you feel close to the sky as most of the bridges are located around 60 meters high from the ground.
Coffee, cheese and chocolate
Nothing can be more beautiful than to end your canopy tour in the cloud forest with a coffee tasting tour or, why not, a chocolate tour.
Most of the cocoa and coffee plantations are located near the cloud forests because here are the best conditions for cultivating these plants, so don’t forget to stop at a farm and taste the real chocolate and coffee.
Explore this habitat before it is too late
All these climatic changes that affect Earth have a strong and irreversible impact over the Costa Rican cloud forest.
As the temperatures rise and the cloud coverage decrease, the fauna and flora from these forests are endangered.
So, hurry up and visit this unique habitat before it is too late!
Spread across the country, there are plenty of cloud forests; some of these forests are smaller and less popular, while others are real Gardens of Eden for fauna and flora.
Let’s discover together which are the most beautiful and popular cloud forests in Costa Rica and why you should include them in your travel list.
Best Costa Rica cloud forest
Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica
Definitely, the most famous Costa Rica cloud forest is Monteverde, located just 3 hours from San Jose, the perfect place for a day trip from Costa Rica’s capital.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve was set up in 1972 and comprised an initial surface of 329 ha (809 acres) and was extended up to 14.190 ha ( 35.080 acres) as it has today.
The protected area is located in the southwestern part of the Arenal Volcano in the mountains known as Cordillera de Tilaran.
This beautiful forest has the highest number of orchids, more than 100 species of animals, 1200 species of amphibians and reptiles, and more than 410 species of birds.
On the ground, you might come face to face with jaguars, pumas, margays, and ocelots but keep an eye on the canopy to spot resplendent quetzal or three-wattled bellbirds.
The protected area has many trails, suspended bridges, and zip lines that allow you to enter deep into this habitat.
There are more than 14 kilometers ( 8.5 miles) of trails that are very well maintained and very popular among tourists, so be there early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
The opening hours are between 7.30 a.m to 1.30 p.m and bring with you a raincoat, hiking shoes as well as water, insect repellent and a good camera for some memorable photos.
The town of Santa Elena is a great place for a short stop after visiting Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica as you can find restaurants, a butterfly garden, a small museum, and a gallery here.
Santa Elena offers a few interesting options for those of you interested in spending the night in the area, but the one I like most and has a great price-quality ratio is Monteverde Lodge And Gardens Costa Rica.
It is nestled in the middle of nature, just 15 minutes by car from the Monteverde area and Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, and features amazing rooms overlooking the forest or the gardens, an incredible restaurant, and top-notch services.
Read here more about Monteverde cloud forest and what you can see and do around.
Los Angeles Cloud Forest Costa Rica
Less popular than Monteverde Cloud forest but equally beautiful, Los Angeles Cloud Forest is a unique habitat with its microclimate generally met at higher altitudes.
The air currents from the Northern Plains meet the ones from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific ocean and determine a rare climate that is generally specific to higher altitudes.
This beautiful protected area is very close to San Jose, only one hour and 30 minutes drive from the main Costa Rican city.
Los Angeles Cloud Forest protected area has a total surface of almost 1995 acres and is home to more than 350 species of birds, amphibians, and plants.
Inside the protected area many trails are extremely accessible to everybody and guided tours are available for better spotting the fauna and flora of the area.
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Horseback riding and birdwatching tours can be bought from local agents and locals, while Arenal Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens are located quite close to the Los Angeles cloud forest.
Located 15 kilometers away from the Los Angeles cloud forest, The Retreat Costa Rica is one of the best resorts in the country.
This 5-star resort is nestled in the middle of the forest and features elegant rooms with breathtaking views of the forest, an outdoor pool, and a great spa.
The restaurant from the resort is one of the best, serving healthy food prepared from local ingredients and organic wines.
Discover here more useful information about the secret Los Angeles cloud forest Costa Rica.
Bajos Del Toro Cloud Forest in Costa Rica
Another perfect destination for day trips from San Jose, Bajos Del Toro Cloud forest is located in Alajuela Province from the Central Valley right near Poas Volcano national park and Viejo Volcano.
There are few roads to this Costa Rica cloud forest, making this protected area a very private experience for nature lovers, hikers, and bird enthusiasts worldwide.
Bajos Del Toro is home to many ecosystems like natural pools, mountain streams, waterfalls, and forests that hide many species of plants and animals.
Trails well maintained across the park allow visitors to enter deep inside the tropical forest to discover its mysteries.
This part of the country offers many exciting experiences like horseback riding, zip line tours, waterfall rappelling, mountain biking, and whitewater rafting.
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Hidden in the middle of the cloud forest, El Silencio Lodge Spa Costa Rica is a famous eco-lodge that features elegant rooms with views of the forest, a wonderful spa, and yoga and meditation classes.
The on-site restaurant serves local and international dishes prepared with vegetables from their garden and organic herbs.
Discover more interesting information about the hidden world of Bajos del Toro cloud forest in Costa Rica.
Interesting facts about cloud forests in Costa Rica
- The most famous cloud forest in Costa Rica is Monteverde Cloud forest established in 1973.
- Costa Rica lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, creating what people call the Great Divide. When you explore Monteverde, you step over this separation, and it is not wrong to say that you are in two continents at one time.
- There are more than 9,000 plants in Costa Rica, out of which about 3,000 can be found in Monteverde.
- Monteverde is famous and renowned for being one of the most accessible places in the country to spot exotic birds such as hummingbirds, trogons, and toucans.
- One of the most popular activities when visiting a cloud forest is hiking; in Monteverde, the highest trails lie at an elevation of 1,250 meters.
What to pack for exploring a cloud forest in Costa Rica
Cloud forest in Costa Rica is a unique habitat found in only a few other countries in the world and fascinates visitors with its abundance of animals and plants.
The best time to visit this ecosystem is during the dry season, from December to April, but even if it is dry season, take a raincoat as cloud forest has their microclimate.
You definitely have to book at least one day for a ziplining tour to experience what this rare habitat has to offer and end your day on one of the resorts indicated above, a true oasis of tranquility and relaxation.
Logistical tips and tricks for your trip
Book your accommodation
We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.
You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.
Don't forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.
We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.
Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.
We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.
Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.
We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.
Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.
Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.