Our next reserve visit while we were in Monteverde was to the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve – otherwise known as the Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena. This reserve is very ‘cloudforesty’ – yes I know that’s not a word 🙂 – and contains areas of high altitude cloud forest. On the plus side there is beautiful forest, on the minus side there is mistier weather and more difficult wildlife spotting conditions!
It’s located around 7km from the village and there is a shuttle service that you can book from the tourist office the day before. When you do this you get given a voucher which means that they will let you in even if the numbers have reached the official allowed maximum. Most people drive up there, so I guess they want to make sure that if you have paid for a shuttle bus you can still get in! 🙂
That worked for us, so voucher in hand we were ready at 8am opposite the tourist office. The bus then went all round the houses picking up people from whatever random places they were staying, until we finally arrived at the reserve.
Once inside the reserve, we found a network of well marked trails and set about the business of walking through the forest to look for wildlife.
As suspected, the forest was extremely beautiful – but also a bit misty with occasional drizzle (yes, well it is a cloud forest….!) The wildlife was pretty hard to spot, but we saw a few cool things and it was very enjoyable. We also got a good bit of exercise – as there were pretty much no flat parts in this reserve!
From the high point of the park at the back, you can supposedly see Arenal Volcano. We were skeptical, especially with the cloudy weather – but we were in luck! The cloud moved away for just about long enough to get a view 🙂
Although it had been harder to spot the wildlife here, the beauty of the forest more than made up for it – and so did the delicious chips! 🙂 🙂