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“Amazing- go early and you'll be alone”

Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena
Ranked #7 of 68 things to do in Monteverde
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: It is a community non profit project, located near Monteverde, Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The Reserve has an extension of 310 hectares, covered by a majestic Cloud Forest, in which you can observe a great variety of plants, Orchids, trees, ferns, heliconias and others. Also hundreds of residents and migratory birds, as the Quetzal and the Bell bird. Entrance Fee foreign Regular $14 Entrance Fee foreign student $7 Regular Guided walk $15 + Entrance Fee Private Guided Walk $75 + Entrance Fee
Reviewed 26 June 2014

We arrived right when it opened and the only other person we saw was the other guy on our shuttle. We intentionally went there because I had read that it sees much less traffic. I can't compare it to Monteverde because we didn't go there, but it was absolutely beautiful. The longer trails are a little muddy and not super developed, which we loved. The trails cross small streams and one has an observation tower where you can see above the forest and a volcano. We mostly saw insects and giant millipedes, heard birds, but did see a coati, though it was on the developed trail near the information building. I would say if you want to see much more wildlife, hire a guide. We didn't, but when we hired one at another national park, we saw sloths, all kinds of birds, and bats.Transportation, it seems, is mostly arranged with a shuttle that will pick you up at your hotel and can bring you back, but it is all on a schedule. We spent approximately 4 hours there. At this time, it is $14/ person. I think wheelchairs could go on the trail nearest the visitor center.

Thank NikkBT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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170 - 174 of 462 reviews

Reviewed 15 June 2014

My husband and I had three full days in the Monteverde area, and visited Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve on the third day. We were excited about the visit to this park for a number of reasons: it is slightly higher in elevation than Monteverde Reserve and theoretically a bit cooler and wetter with different flora; it is often touted as the best place to see Three-wattled Bellbirds and Bare-necked Umbrellabirds; and as many of the reviews here on TA attest, it is often cited as less crowded than the other reserves in the area.

We had a great time on our hike with excellent guide Samuel Arguedas (from Monteverde Lodge and Gardens) – Samuel is so knowledgeable and is very good at understanding and adapting to the interests of his clients. We hiked for several hours in the morning, went up to the observation tower (where we saw a lovely Swallow-tailed Kite and drank in the amazing and verdant view), and saw some of our favorite birds, such as Emerald Toucanets, an Orange-bellied Trogon, and Black Guans. We saw some wonderful tree ferns and other ferns with fronds only one cell thick. We caught the aroma of some peccaries, but did not actually see them. But the most exciting part of the excursion was when we were tracking a couple of Three-wattled Bellbirds. We could hear them, and we could follow them, but even after tracking them for at least 30 minutes we never saw them. These are amazing birds – their call is absolutely ridiculous and sounds mechanical. The ones we were following had two different calls, and Samuel explained to us that some bellbirds are actually bilingual (we found the scientific paper online after we were back in our room – see Kroodsma et al 2013, Wilson Journal of Ornithology). Overall it was a great day.

Even with such a wonderful day, this was our least favorite of the three reserves we explored in the Monteverde area, hence the 4 rather than 5 rating. We did not find this park to be less crowded, in fact it was the most crowded of the three. We ran into a very rude group of about 20 teenagers hooting and hollering (great for viewing wildlife …); the group had two guides who did absolutely nothing to quiet them down even though Samuel asked the guides to do so. There also seems to be a zipline nearby that makes a ton of noise, really detracting from the tranquility of the place, and I think making it less likely to see wildlife. Finally, it had clearly been VERY dry over some period of time, as the moss on the trees and some of the ferns were very desiccated.

But we still had a wonderful time – it is an incredibly beautiful forest and even though we did not see much in the way of fauna, we could surely hear a lot and the bellbirds calling were a true highlight. After a long morning in the park, we headed back to Monteverde Lodge and Gardens and just as we emerged from the van we looked up and saw a pair of Golden-olive Woodpeckers on a tree right outside the entrance of the lodge. Another perfect ending to a wonderful day in paradise.

3  Thank reptileenthusiast
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 June 2014

Dense cloud forest seems less crowded than the others. So important to support these forest reserves

Thank 23Rick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 May 2014

We loved hiking in this cloud forest reserve. However we regretted not taking a guide! The are four trails to choose from and we the longest one, which we completed in a couple hours. Some parts of the trail are quite muddy so good shoes are highly recommended. We hear a lot of birds. But without a guide it was very difficult to spot wildlife. We didn't encounter anyone else on our hike other than at the end. We saw a stuffed puma which had been killed a couple of days before.

Thank Mansourhe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 May 2014

Santa Elena Reserve Tour – 3.5 out of 5
Two things marred this tour – rain (it is a cloud forest so this wasn’t surprising but it’s higher than Monteverde, which was clear) and the long bumpy road to get there. Since we were coming back up for the Skywalk in the afternoon we’d rather have eaten a packed lunch there than go all the way to our hotel and back again. Didn’t see so much, perhaps because of the rain, but it was MUCH less crowded than Monteverde and atmospheric. Some time to explore on our own would have been good. Wish I’d bought my stick to help with all the ups and downs.

Thank Dee365
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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