The Cloud Forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica

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My time in Costa Rica didn’t get off to the smoothest start. After a stunning drive through the Guanacaste landscape, I arrived in La Fortuna to thundering rain. It proceeded to rain about 22 hours out of the day for the next three days. (In the dry season!)

It wasn’t a complete washout. I enjoyed a dip in the Baldi Hot Springs and had a wonderful night walk with Geovani Tours.

But then I got to Monteverde — and this was the Costa Rica I had dreamed of.

The cute town of Santa Elena set against rolling hills. The sky was bright blue, and even so, light rains fell constantly from the cloud forest, landing in the town.

I had two days in Monteverde and I spent them doing as many activities as possible.

Kate Ziplining Monteverde

Zipline Monteverde

If you’re going to zip-line in Costa Rica, Monteverde is the place to do it. This is where zip-lining started, and there are tons of courses all over the place, from mild to extreme. (I met some guys whose tour ended with a bungee jump through a circular rainbow!)

For me, I wanted to zip down a piece of history — so I went with the Original Canopy Tour, the first zip-line in the world ever designed to be a recreational activity for travelers. It was built in 1992 and every zip-line built since has been because of this course.

Kate Ziplining Monteverde

I majorly lucked out by being the only person on the tour, so I literally had a private zipping session through the forest without any waiting!

I loved it. The landscape was enthralling (I hate to say it, but it reminded me of those godawful Twilight movies) and even though it was raining, it was so much fun to fly through the air.

This was my second time zip-lining — the first was in New Hampshire — and both times, I wore hot pink. It makes a great contrast against the forest!

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Hanging Bridges of Monteverde

The hanging bridges were recommended to me by so many Costa Rica-loving readers that I had to do them! On Selvatura‘s canopy walk, I took a two-mile walk through the cloud forest, crossing eight hanging bridges that overlooked the trees and gently wiggled as you crossed them.

Monteverde Hanging Bridges
Monteverde Hanging Bridges
Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monteverde Hanging Bridges

What I loved about the hanging bridges is that it gave me alone time with nature. Just me, alone, walking the trails and contemplating.

Monteverde Orchids

Santa Elena Orchid Garden

I love visiting gardens around the world, and after hearing that there was an orchid garden right in Santa Elena, I had to visit. Unfortunately, I thought it was overpriced at $10, especially at this time of year when hardly anything was blooming. Most of these photos were of the orchids in the greenhouse, not the garden itself.

Monteverde Orchids
Monteverde Orchids
Monteverde Orchids

I did get to see one cool thing — the smallest orchid species in the world!

World's Smallest Orchid

See the tiny yellow flower in the top left of the leaf cluster?

(PS — photographer friends, DAT BOKEH.)

World's Smallest Orchid

See it now?

So tiny — only one millimeter wide!

Holistic Healing

Holistic Healing

But my favorite Monteverde experience turned out to be a session of holistic healing. Located just across the street from the hostel, owner Ana offers reiki, massage, tarot card reading, acupressure, and a variety of holistic offerings. I signed up for a 90-minute session combining a bit of everything.

Personally, I love this kind of stuff. I’m aware that many people dismiss it as crap. But honestly, if you don’t take it as gospel but instead use it as a chance to get a different perspective on your life, you could learn something.

For me, the big takeaway was that my third chakra, the yellow chakra, was out of whack. Ana encouraged me to be better about eating, to eat more mindfully, and to avoid dairy. I’ve been following her advice since. She also pointed out that the third chakra is where worry is centered, and that I should find a healthier outlet for channeling my stress and worries. She suggested meditation.

The session ended with her pointing out the color I chose at the beginning of my session (the same shade of yellow as the third chakra, unprompted) and the tarot card I selected. I flipped the card over and burst out laughing. It was the two of pentacles — the CHANGE card.

I love change. I’ve always relished change. I’m at a point of great change in my life right now, once again, and I’m keeping pushing on.

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Is Monteverde Worth It?

Monteverde was such a beautiful place to visit! Two nights was plenty of time for me, but you might want a bit more if you want to do more things. Had it not been quite as cold and wet, I think I could have gotten stuck for much longer.


Solo Female Travel in Costa Rica: The Full Guide

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica

A Perfect Beach Town: Sámara, Costa Rica

Solo Female Travel in Central America: Is it Safe?

See all posts about Costa Rica here.

Essential Info: While in Monteverde I stayed at Monteverde Backpackers in Santa Elena. I really liked it, but it got very cold at night and the one blanket they gave us wasn’t sufficient, so you should sleep in lots of layers. Dorms start at $10, privates start at $30. They also have a resident sloth living in a nearby tree. You can find the best prices on other accommodation in Monteverde here.

I went zip-lining on the Original Canopy Tour for $45. For this price, I think it’s an excellent bargain.

I saw the hanging bridges at Selvatura Park for $30.

Monteverde Orchid Garden costs $10, which I think is overpriced. The attached cafe was my favorite place to eat in Santa Elena.

At Holistic Healing Art & Medicine, Ana offers most one-hour sessions for $50. My 90-minute combination session cost $75.

Be sure to get travel insurance before you visit Costa Rica. It will cover you financially if anything goes wrong. I use and recommend World Nomads.

Where’s your favorite forest in the world?

48 thoughts on “The Cloud Forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica”

  1. What a great post! The pictures are beautiful and I picking some inspiration. I don’t know where to go for my summer vacations and Central America seems appealing!
    PS: the holistic healing sounds awesome

  2. It rained for 3 weeks straight while I was in CR. Pretty much non-stop. It actually didn’t feel much different from being covered in sweat when it *wasn’t* raining, so there’s that. I did miss the sun, though. Beautiful bokeh on the orchid shot! I’d like to get in the habit of meditating during the day (I’ve tried many times, but find I need to start my day with coffee, which isn’t super conducive to meditation), but I *have* gotten in the habit of meditating myself to sleep. This is probably bad, but I’m out like THAT. It rarely takes me more than 5 minutes to fall asleep. I love it.

  3. It’s so great to see a new exciting destination post from you. It looks like you are having a great time embracing the original traveller in you (messy days and nights included from what I saw on your instagram profile of pub crawls and paint :-P)

    I completely agree with your notion of holistic healing. It was the only thing that really helped my mum overcome my grandmas death after months of blaming herself. Even if it weren’t true it can be a great way of overcoming events or realising fears.

  4. I have never ziplined but it looks like SO MUCH FUN! Also I cannot believe those orchids just grow in the wild and not some orangerie somewhere!

  5. This also looks like the Costa Rica that I dream of 🙂
    I love the orchids, and the forest. It looks like a gorgeous place!

    I’m always a bit torn with the holistic healing—I’m not the type of person that would get it, but for some reason I’m so intrigued by it. I totally get the mental benefits though.

  6. Looks like a lot of fun! For some reason, I’ve never been that interested in visiting Costa Rica, even though many people rave about it, but this post piqued my interest in terms of going there sometime.

  7. My cousin lived in Monteverde for several months and loved it. I’m enjoying your closeup view of those forests and flowers. Lush.

  8. I loved Monteverde! We went ziplining with 100% Aventura and did a tour of the Cloud Forest Reserve, both excellent activities. I think most things in Costa Rica are overpriced, but at least they were enjoyable, and the forest is SO beautiful!

  9. Your photos are beautiful and it looks like you’re having a great time in Costa Rica! I love how you tied in a spiritual journey at the end of your visit. I appreciate your honesty about your current state in life and where you hope to take it next.

  10. Awesome post, Kate!

    Hot pink is always a good choice for photographs as is red.

    Love this…”…alone time with nature. Just me, alone, walking the trails and contemplating…”

    – Allan

  11. Monteverde is such an awesome place. I loved zipping around from tree to tree, even though it was a bit scary being suspended from a high metal wire when lightning started up all around us!

  12. I loved Monteverde too, I only had time for either zip lining or the cloud forest so naturally I went zip lining (which I agree was amazing!) but wished I had time for the cloud forest as that too looks so incredible. I’d love to try Holistic Healing, I’ve never tried anything like that before but it seems very interesting and I’d love to give it a go. In terms of my favourite forest in the world, I’m from New Zealand and we are pretty blessed with many beautiful forests, so I’ll have to be partial to my homeland there!

  13. When I was there, we didn’t zipline but we rode through the forest in a tram car of sorts. As high up as you do when zip lining, if not higher. It was really cool!!

  14. Glad you had such a great time! I just got back from a trip to Costa Rica and ziplining in Monteverde was at the top of my to-do list. But the weather was so windy and rainy and I was so unprepared clothing-wise, that I decided to head back down the mountain and save an experience in Monteverde for another time.
    Now I need to go back and do the hanging bridges too!

  15. Oh my ….! The scenery is just flipping amazing!
    But I have to admit, I would be terrified if I had to do the zip-lining.
    I still have a small trauma from my Go Ape experience here in England 😀

  16. My sister and I visited that area a few years ago, and it was one of the highlights of our whole trip to Costa Rica! Your post made me nostalgic. Glad you’re enjoying it.

  17. Thanks for nothing Kate, after reading this post about Monteverde I’m going to have to add another destination my bucket list 🙂

    BTW, awesome pics of the rain forest. What lens did you use to take the pics. (Its time for me to upgrade).

  18. Costa Rica looks really exciting! I’ve never been to South America (if you don’t count the Dominican Republic), and I haven’t a clue why! I’ve never been ziplining before, but it sure looks like fun!
    I’m going to be really boring here. I live in Germany as an expat, but I think my favourite forests are actually in England LOL!

  19. Hi Kate,

    Good to hear you had such a great time in Monteverde! I arrived in Monteverde today, after visiting Manuel Antonio, San Jose and La Fortuna. I’m staying in Monteverde Backpackers as well and I’ve just asked for an extra blanket. 😉

    I went ziplining this afternoon and it was amazing! One of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I went on the 100% Aventura Canopy Tour. They have 3 regular ziplines, 2 superman ziplines and a so called ‘Tarzan Swing’. You make a free fall holding a rope and then swing back and forth – like Tarzan.

    Too bad you had so much rain in La Fortuna! I really lucked out. The day I went on a hiking tour the weather was absolutely perfect. The sky was clear and it barely rained. I had a perfect view of Volcano Arenal and the craterlake of Chato.

    Tomorrow I am going on a tour of the hanging bridges and after that I head to Samara Beach. I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!

  20. I did the zip lining in Monteverde and it was so much fun, although the weather was a little rainy at some points so we got a little wet.

    You must go to the sloth santuary if you have the time! Its in Cahuita i think.

  21. Your post and photos brought back so many great memories of my visit in Monteverde. I loved Monteverde and Santa Elena. When I lived in Costa Rica I zip-lined near Arenal Volcano, but I will definitely check out zip-lining in Monteverde as well when returning to Costa Rica. Your holistic heeling session at Ana’s sounds very interesting, maybe I’ll pay her a visit as well. When you liked the Hanging bridges in Monteverde I suggest checking out the Hanging bridges in Mulu Nationalpark in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo.

  22. Hi Kate! You’re trip sounded like a lot of fun! I was wondering if you could give me more information about Ana. The holistic thing sound like something I’m interested in doing when I go on my trip there.

  23. Hi Kate, I’ve been following you for some time. I am planning a backpacking trip through Costa Rica in June next year. One of the places I really want to go/experience is the Holistic Healing center. Is this in Monteverde or Santa Elana? Also, what is the name of the Hostel that you used (across from Holistic Healing)? Thank you for all you do!!! I love following you!

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