Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve

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.

Santa Elena Reserve visitor centre.

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.

PB is raring to go and hit some trails!

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!

Check out this cool Rhinoceros beetle!
There are many options for walking the trails.
A collared redstart.
More jungle.
CC is in the jungle.

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 🙂

Arenal Volcano in the distance.
CC relaxes after some tough uphill walking.
Back in the deep jungle.
We found a black guan hiding in the undergrowth.
More dense jungle.
Yes, this reserve is all about the jungle…
PB heads through the jungle.
Finding a huge orange-kneed tarantula was a bit of a surprise!
More trails!
CC on a cool bridge in the cloud forest.
Yes, the birds were VERY difficult to photograph! This is a black-faced solitaire.
The reserve had an observation tower, but it was pretty hard to see anything…
Up in the high altitude cloud forest.
We spotted the guan again!
Slaty-backed nightingale-thrush.
Emerald toucanet.
A coati eyes us suspiciously…
After all the hard work walking up and down hills in the jungle, CC felt that she deserved a big pile of chips from the cafe! See how happy she looks! 🙂
Common chlorospingus.

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! 🙂 🙂

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