Sloths are such cute animals, and these guys take care of injured animals or otherwise in need of help.
The 1 hour tour starts with a short (10-15 minutes) video about the sanctuary history, followed by a 15 minutes explanation, and culminating with the view of some 10 sloths - 2 and 3 toe types residing there.
The cost is a stiff $20 per person (they might offer a discount for students, but I am not sure), which in my opinion is way too much, considering what you get, but probably a right price if your intention is of helping to support the sanctuary.
Selvatura Park is one of the best places to try zip lines through the jungle. They have 15 cable zip lines and 8 suspension bidges as well as a tree swing. I have taken my students here twice and they had a great time.
This cloudforest is a private nature park. It was founded by Quaker families that came from the US to Costa Rica back in 1951.
At the entrance you will receive a map on which all the trails are indicated. There are trails ranging from a few hundred meters to several kilometers. The trails are well maintained, clearly signed, and it is quite easy to make your way around the reserve without a guide. There is one main trail leading to a nice viewpoint from where you will have a nice view over Puntaneras. There is also a trail going over a hanging bridge.
We had planned to walk for 3 hours, so at the entrance they showed us which trails to follow.
There is a limit of 120 people in the reserve at any time. This limit is rarely reached in the green (rainy) season, but if you come in the high season plan to arrive early.
The park is open daily from 7 am to 4 pm. Entrance fee: 13 USD
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is the reason why ppl want to visit Monteverde. This famous reserve is actually not a national park, it is owned by a private, non-profit organization based in San Jose.
At the entrance, there is a cafeteria that serves meals and snack. There is also a souvenir shop.
You can take a taxi or a bus to the reserve. The bus service is infrequent though, with only two running between Santa Elena and the reserve. Your best bet is share a taxi with other travellers. The taxi ride from Santa Elena is about 2500 colones. Some ppl choose to walk to the reserve. It is possible if you stay between Santa Elena and the reserve, but bring a flashlight with you as the winding dirt road becomes pitch black at night.
Getting into the reserve is $13. They take credit cards.
There are numerous walking trails of various distance in the Monteverde Reserve. I highly recommand hiring a guide for a nature walk in the park. It is well worth the money as the guides have great knowledge of the area and can explain the fauna and flora, as well as spotting wildlife along the trail. Without the guides, it will only be a walk in the forest. They have really sharp eyes and they know where the animals and birds hang out as the forest is their office! With the guide, I was able to see numerous spider monkeys, quetzals, toucans, hummingbirds, tarantulas and other species of birds.
There is also an early birdwatching tour and a guided night walk. I'm not sure about the prices for these tours.
You can hire a guide for $15, and the walk lasts for about 3 hours. Ask for it when you pay your admission.
I took a guided twilight walk in the Ecological Farm (Finca Ecologica). The view outside of the visitor center was truly amazing, as the sun was setting into the clouds.
It was a two-hour guided walk along one of the four trails in the forest. It was very different from a day walk, as we saw nocturnal wildlife (those that come out at night). We saw a coati, poccupine, tarantula, and many interesting insects.
The twilight walk is $15, from 5:30-7:30pm. Transporation can be arranged when you book from your hotel for $2.
You can go to the farm to walk on their trails during the day as well.
I recently traveled to Costa Rica with my College on a Latin American business environment trip. While we were there we took Spanish classes at Centro Panamericano de Idiomas (CPI). It was a great learning experience, not only from the Spanish classes but also from our homestays. We stayed with typical "tico" families, so we had the chance to practice Spanish even more, and had typical Costa Rican breakfasts and dinners. The classes were also small, the max is 4 students so you get a lot of personal attention which is great when you are learning another language.
I cannot say enough about the teachers and staff at CPI, they were extremely friendly and patient with us. They even have staff there dedicated to helping you plan trips during the day to go zip-lining, horseback riding, countless nature hike’s (we even had to privilege to see the elusive Quetzal!), and even night hikes. They can also help you plan weekend excursions if you’d like. I went to Arenal volcano area, which has beautiful views, and I also went to Manuel Antonio which is a national park right on the beach! We had the chance to see tons of sloths and monkeys.
If you want to immerse yourself in Costa Rican culture, learn Spanish from certified teachers, and still do awesome tourist activities, CPI is who you need to contact! These guys are pros, they have 3 campuses in 3 very different regions of Costa Rica, one in a typical town in Heredia, another in the mountains in Monteverde and the last near the beach in Flamingo (my favorite was Monteverde). They will also handle all the logistics for tours and your stays, all you have to do is go to class, learn Spanish and go on amazing trips!
When you are up near the canopy, you may see animals. You WILL see lots of vegetation. I heard somewhere that about 50% of the biomass is supposedly in the air plants alone!
I think that because the zipline areas have more people (tourists) you are less likely to see larger animals. While in the country you will definitely see monkeys if you do any kind of walking outside of the cities.
many tours can be found in Santa Elena for night hikes in Monteverde reserve. I found that Hidden Valley Trail is one of the best. Affordable with knowledgeable guides that know where all the animals are. It is an easy hike and flash lights are provided. Hikes usually start right at sunset.
A guided tour in the cloud forest was really a great experience. We have ordered a tour online through www.anywherecostarica.com/ website. The cost was $45 for adult. We have presented our vouchers at the entrance to the Reserve and were surprised it turned out to be a private tour (maybe it happened because they had no other tourists who had made reservation like we did). What we also learned at the entrance was that a ticket cost was only $9 and a guide service was $15 per person, all together $24. So for a privellege to have our reservation we had overpayed $21 per person.
Night walk was also good. We had no reservation, just stoped by a tourist agency in Santa Elena and they aranged everything for us. A nice thing was that for the same price they picked us up in our hotel and drove back. It was especially helpfull because of terrible roads over there.
This is a high-tech, high altitude, extreme and exhilarating version of the flying fox. Depending on the company you go with you traverse the forests at or above the tree-lines on nothing more than a harness and a cable (and good guides and instructors).
This was the most fun I have ever had and I will keep the photos to brag to anyone who has the time to listen. I was moderately afraid of heights but determined to give this a go and I loved it so much I could have done it again the next day.
The company I went with was Xtreme Canopy and the guys were young (I am 53), very cool without trying and extremely professional and capable. They were also so nice and friendly and made everyone feel like a group of friends in good hands. I went on another tour with Sepulveda a day later and the difference was amazing - the Sepulveda guys were surly, unfriendly, unprofessional and I felt like I was a major annoyance to them.
No such problem with Xtreme Canopy - the best part was the Tarzan Swing - I was very worried about the height thing but was so glad I did it. Highly recommend the canopy tours and totally recommend the Xtreme Canopy company.
The price (from memory) I think was $35 - best money I ever spent!!!
This is next to the Rainforest. There are always about 20 hummingbirds buzzing around. There is also a cafe here for a break. Lots of different types of hummingbirds. You can hear their wings beating, some 50 times a second if I recall...?
Free of charge.
I strongly suggest getting a guide for the Cloud Forest. They have to go to college to become one, 2-3 years of schooling. They also have a high-powered scope that lets you able to see up close. You ca put your camera next to it and get a photo too. They'll you loads of info you wouldn't know otherwise. They also spot, if you're lucky, the resplendent Quetzal. Ours did. They all seem good, and if 1 finds a quetzal or something, they'll whistle so the others can come over and see it too. Ours spotted a sloth also.
Mine was named Rafael Elizondo, phone 2645-6624. You can ask at the Rain forest for him the day before, or possible that day. icardo.
This is what a lot of people come to this town for. It's at the end of the pot-hole filled road, a bumpy 20 minute bus ride from Santa Elena. Guides are available there, or you ca reserve in advance, often thru the hotel can do this because 'they know a guy'.
There are various walking paths going around the reserve. There are a few with high vantage points that give you an amazing view of the valleys. It's not teeming with wildlife, or that you can see anyway. You will see many birds you'll never see again, plantlife that will amaze you, and maybe a sloth or a monkey.
I'd suggest getting a guide. For $15 he will find you much more than you can find, plus he'll have a high powered scope that you will need to see them. You can even take photos thru it.
$15 to get in, $15/person for a guide
There are about 4 internet places in town. Pura Vida Internet & laundry is a block west of the Supermarket. Yes, you ca do your laundry here too. 20 minutes of use--about $1.50...pricey. use it at your hotel or wait until you get to another city.