Costa Rica is a famous destination for wildlife holidays and adventure breaks thanks to its pristine, diverse natural landscape. The cloud forest in particular, is one of the best known types of climate in the Costa Rica, despite the fact that cloud forest exists in many locations around the world.
But what exactly is cloud forest, and where can you find the best examples of it in a country that has designated 26% of its land mass as protected?
In this blog post, we’ll explain what cloud forest actually is and why it is such an iconic tourist attraction in Costa Rica, before letting you in on the local knowledge required to find the very best cloud forest in a country teeming with natural beauty.
What is cloud forest?
To put it simply, cloud forest is essentially rainforest at a higher altitude, usually at least 1000m above sea level. At this height, daily, reliable rainfall is replaced by a virtually permanent fog or mist as the moisture condenses due to the cooler temperatures.
This results in extremely high humidity and lower levels of sunlight than you would find in a typical tropical rainforest, and an entirely unique, mystical landscape. Moisture condensing on tree trunks and branches encourages the growth of mosses and vegetation growing on seemingly vertical slopes.
The cloud forests of Costa Rica are home to a vast array of wildlife species, including numerous exotic birds such as the resplendent quetzal, along with two-toed sloths, howler monkeys, jaguars, tree frogs, tapirs, and more.
This makes the cloud forest an absolutely essential destination for anyone hoping to embark on a wildlife holiday in Costa Rica, and an essential environment to preserve in order to protect the unique biodiversity in the country.
Where to find the cloud forest in Costa Rica
So we’ve established that any Costa Rican adventure holiday needs to include a trip to the cloud forest (particularly when you throw in the opportunity to zipline through the canopy and admire the views of the mountains and waterfalls from hanging bridges in the trees), but where exactly can you find cloud forest in Costa Rica, and where can you have the very best experience?
1. Cloud forest in Monteverde
The most famous and most frequently visited cloud forest, potentially in the world, is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, in central Costa Rica. And there’s pretty good reason for this.
Spanning over 25,000 acres, this virtually pristine cloud forest is one of the very best examples of this habitat in the world, thanks to the fact that it has been designated as protected land since 1972.
Thanks to almost zero deforestation and government initiatives in promoting sustainable travel in Costa Rica, Monteverde is home to a vast array of wildlife, much of which is unique to this very particular climate.
On a visit to Monteverde you can spot two-toed sloths creeping through the canopy, hummingbirds that shimmer amongst the ferns, and if you are incredibly, incredibly lucky, even jaguars that roam the mist shrouded hills. Try a guided night time tour for a truly unique wildlife experience, and spend your downtime exploring the canopy on hanging bridges or by ziplining through the trees.
When resting, look out over the top of the canopy that disappears into the cloud from your balcony, and drink in the views as the sounds of howler monkeys come drifting up towards you.