The cloud forests of the Monteverde and Santa Elena national parks remain relatively uncrowded thanks mainly to a long stretch of unpaved road that keeps the tour buses at bay and a local community that’s lobbying hard to stem the tourist flow. To get into the vibe, we stayed in the eco-friendly Tree Tops House, which as the name suggests, is nestled into the forest and offered great views and peaceful surroundings.
Part of the area’s appeal comes from the chance to see a rare and unique bird called the Resplendent Quetzal, which we got some terrific views of thanks to a knowledgeable and sure-footed guide. Some of the animals that are harder to see in the wild can fortunately be viewed at a number of different sanctuaries and attractions scattered between the town’s restaurants and art galleries. The kids were thrilled to visit places like the Bat Jungle, Ranario’s Frog Pond, and the El Jardin de las Mariposa Insect and Butterfly Garden. But the highlight might have been the Jewels of the Rainforest Exhibit at the Selvatura Eco-Park which houses an entomological collection of over 500,000 insects from all over the world in a display that’s as aesthetically stunning as it is informative.