The cloud forest in the Central Highlands of Costa Rica is one of the most scenic parts of the country with spectacular mountain peaks giving way to sweeping views of coffee plantations and active volcanoes below. This area is dotted with cloud forests – high-elevations forests that seem to literally rest within banks of clouds. Cloud forests are cool retreats from the tropical zones of the country, and hotbeds of biodiversity.
Cascading waterfalls abound, and brightly colored bromeliads, 420 different kinds of orchids, ferns, and an abundance of mosses add to the feel of a rainforest in the clouds. Don’t forget binoculars and sturdy walking shoes – the forests’ extensive trail systems are a draw for every adventurer. The area contains small mountain villages, but it is primarily quiet and underdeveloped, keeping its distance from busy San Jose. The higher elevations are great for bird watching with the possibility of seeing the mystical Resplendent Quetzal.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
The Monteverde Cloud Forest is the gem of Costa Rica’s Cloud Forests. It is situated on both the Pacific and Atlantic slopes of the Continental Divide. There are more than 425 species of birds, thousands of species of insects, and innumerable plants, reptiles, mammals, and the famous and shy Quetzal bird. Historically sacred to earlier civilizations, the Resplendent Quetzal is cherished by birding enthusiasts and naturalists. The nearby village of Santa Elena is a small art community featuring galleries, museums, a butterfly garden, lodging and restaurants.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens
The La Paz Waterfall Gardens in the Central Highlands Cloud Forest is a fun destination for both families and couples. The Gardens are completely surrounded by lush, natural vegetation in a protected setting. Hike the well-maintained and accessible trails just a short distance to stunning waterfalls and rushing rivers. Get close to nature at any of the La Paz wildlife exhibits. A butterfly farm, hummingbird gallery, and several wildlife exhibits are all available on property.
Travelers can even stay at Peace Lodge, an on-site luxury lodge for guests. Enjoy views of the Poas Volcano and the misty clouds over the valley from your balcony. With so much available on property, you may not want to leave the lodge.
Bajos Del Toro Cloud Forest
Bajos del Toro is a private cloud forest reserve in the central highlands of Costa Rica. El Silencio Lodge & Spa is a popular eco lodge situated on the reserve. Explore the misty and untouched cloud forest while enjoying all of the amenities of an authentic but luxurious eco-lodge. A personal Eco-Concierge will guide guests along spectacular hiking trails, through the forest to view the hummingbird garden and medicinal plants. The focus on wellness and staying in tune with nature guarantees that every guest will leave with dreamy memories of happy days.
Los Angeles Cloud Forest
The Los Angeles Cloud Forest is a less crowded and more accessible cloud forest experience. Air currents from the Northern Plains join those from the Pacific and Atlantic and fuse over the region, creating rare climatic conditions normally occurring at much higher altitudes. Located about one hour and a half from San Jose, the 2,000 acre private reserve protects more than 347 species of birds, life-saving plants and a variety of wildlife and amphibians. The Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel is situated within the Cloud Forest reserve allowing guests easy access to the charms of the region. The reserve features hiking trails where expert guides assist you in spotting an array of flora and fauna. Horseback riding, birdwatching and quetzal spotting add to your adventures. Arenal Volcano and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens are easy day trips. You may also tour the nearby village of San Ramon, a historic intellectual and cultural center of Costa Rica, and home to three former presidents.
Cloud Forest Travel Information
Climate: It is wet year-round, but drier December- April.
Temperature: 65° average high, refreshingly cool with precipitation.
Bring: A sweater or light jacket. Rain gear and hiking shoes or boots are recommended.