Eerie, mysterious, yet peaceful, strolling through Costa Rica‘s Monteverde cloud forest is a memorable experience. The trees are almost entirely covered by mosses, ferns, and epiphytes—plants which grow on other plants but cause no harm to their hosts. The fog enshrouded scene is brightened only by the brightly colored orchids which grow high up into the canopy.
A great number of plant and animal species, many unique to this delicate environment, live in the cloud forest—most impressive of all is the Resplendent Quetzal, which looks more like the product of a papier-maché piñata factory than a living creature. Predominately green, the Quetzal has a brilliant red breast, a helmetlike crest, and remarkably long streamers for tail feathers.
Monteverde was first settled in the 1950’s by a group of pacifist Quakers from Alabama who migrated to Costa Rica to escape serving in the military of the United States. Located high up in the mountains on Costa Rica’s continental divide, it has been internationally acclaimed for its conservation efforts.
To visit Monteverde, you must travel two hours up a 25 mile steep, unpaved road. Efforts to pave the road have been vehemently opposed by members of the community, who believe that by making access to the area a little difficult they limit visitors to those who are environmentally conscious and truly interested in what this unique area has to offer. It’s well worth the drive.