The Monteverde Ecological Sanctuary is a privately-owned wildlife refuge administered by a local Costa Rican Family. The sanctuary was created in 1992 with the purpose of protecting 52 acres of beautiful mountainous forest and offering guests an unforgettable and educational experience.
In the past, some parts of the forest were used for banana and coffee plantations, but today, a large portion of this former agricultural land has regrown into dense woodland areas teeming with all sorts of animal and plant life, including endemic species. The sanctuary’s privileged location between the Dry Forest and the Cloud Forest in the Pacific zone of Monteverde makes it an excellent spot for birdwatching and wildlife observation.
Today, visitors can walk through miles of trails and explore scenic overlooks, waterfalls, plantations and more. The sanctuary is characterized by an abundance of fruit-bearing trees, which make it a hot spot for birds, mammals, and insects that can be hard to spot in the Cloud Forest. Visitors have the opportunity to see sloths, agouti and coatimundis, just to name a few of the mammals that call the sanctuary home.
The Monteverde Ecological Sanctuary has three different trails with different lengths and levels of difficulty. Visitors can walk at their own pace and see a wide variety of flora and fauna along the way. Each trail has its own unique features and hidden gems. We recommend that you explore all of the trails in order to make the most out your Monteverde experience:
Coati Trail: This easy 720 meter trail takes about 45 minutes. The Coati Trail is ideal for beginners as it has relatively flat terrain and few staircases. The trailhead is located in the sanctuary’s banana and coffee plantation, which makes it easier for visitors to see friendly Coatis and stunning butterflies. While exploring the Coati Trail, they may even have the opportunity to see Orange Kneed Tarantulas, which are often hidden between the roots of the magnificent Stone Ficus Tree. At the end of The Coati Trail there is a small waterfall.
Manakin Trail: This lush 2.3 km trail takes about 1.5 hours. It is located within a dense forest, making it a favorite of the Long Tail Mankin and birds. Along the way you will see signs to the second banana and coffee plantation where the family harvests organic coffee beans for their own coffee brand. At the end of the Manakin Trail visitors have the option to see the largest waterfall in the sanctuary or the small one.
Capuchin Monkey Trail: This beautiful 4 km trail takes about 2 hours. It has three different scenic overlooks offering beautiful views of the neighboring canyon and the stunning Nicoya Gulf. While exploring the trail, visitors can see one of the prettiest trees in the property, the Hollow Ficus Tree. At the end of the Capuchin Monkey Trail there is a gorgeous 55 ft. waterfall.
Make sure to use a map while hiking through the trails. Don’t forget to bring insect repellant, hiking shoes, a camera and a raincoat (seasonal). We recommend that you wear long pants for exploring the trails.
The Monteverde Ecological Sanctuary offers three different bilingual guided tours: the Day Tour, Bird Watching Walk and Night Walk.
Day Tour: During the 2.5 hour Day Tour, you will learn about the history of the sanctuary, its conversation efforts and flora and fauna.
Birdwatching Tour: The Birdwatching Tour gives visitors the opportunity to see a variety of tropical birds, like Quetzales, Bellbirds, Manakins, Hummingbirds, Hawks and Toucans.
Night Tour: The two-hour Night Tour is a fun and educational experience where visitors explore the sanctuary alongside a professional guide with a flashlight in hand. You may see foxes, owls, howler monkeys, tarantulas and other nocturnal species.
Make sure to book your spot on these tours ahead as they fill up especially during high season!
Other Fun Activities
Are you interested learning more about Costa Rican culture and cuisine? Do you want to stay in the sanctuary for the night? The Monteverde Ecological Sanctuary offers two unique experiences: homestays and cooking classes. The family opens their doors to visitors, offering them delicious homemade meals, private and shared rooms and a unique experience like no other. Admission to the parks and tour is included in the homestay. For those who want to learn about traditional Costa Rican food and cooking techniques, the sanctuary offers fun cooking classes. Contact the sanctuary ahead to reserve your spot.
The Monteverde Ecological Sanctuary is a hidden gem among the Monteverde attractions. From fascinating species to fun tours, to authentic Costa Rican experiences, do not miss out on this beautiful place! If you want to get away from it all, make sure to add the Sanctuary to your itinerary.