They lend Monteverde its individual texture, and allow visitors to become better acquainted with the subtle features that make this community special. Most do not require reservations – visitors can simply walk through the door or directly onto the trail – and many are free. As such, these supporting activities offer a perfect excuse to extended your visit in Monteverde, if only for a day or two.
If hiking is what you’re after, there are several smaller options that offer a nice – and no less beautiful – contrast to Monteverde’s larger reserves.
Cerro Amigos (whose name translates into “Friends Hill”) is a trail leading to the highest peak in the area. The summit tops out at 6,037 feet (1,840 m) and offers spectacular views of the surrounding cloud forest. On a clear day, hikers will be able to spot the Arenal Volcano, Pacific Ocean, and even southern portion of Nicaragua in the distance.
Finca Ecológica is a private farm that has four looping trails through secondary pre-montane rainforest. Trails wind past waterfalls and lookout points, as well as coffee and banana plantations, and offer spectacular opportunities for spotting the three-wattled bellbird, coatis, and sloth. Similarly, the private Reserva Sendero Tranquillo hosts over 3 miles (5 km) of forested trails and offers guided hikes by trained naturalists.
Aside from spotting a creature along a leaf or in a tree, there exist a number of galleries and museums in Monteverde where visitors can observe frogs, birds, bats, insects and more. Such places mix direct observation with educational exhibitions, making it easy to learn a great deal about the subject on display.
The Monteverde Frog Pond is one such place. Bilingual staff members lead tours of the facility, which houses over 25 species of frogs, toads and other amphibians. Visitors can peer into glass terrariums to observe the creatures or read about the natural history of amphibians at one of the many exhibits. Other attractions, like the serpentarium or hummingbird garden, offer similar experiences with the creatures of Monteverde.
As does Monteverde’s orchid and butterfly gardens. The orchid garden houses some 426 species of orchids, which are categorically arranged and explained by a knowledgeable local guide. Cerro Plano’s butterfly garden, established in 1989 by expert entomologist Jim Wolfe, houses more than 50 species of butterflies in four habitat-specific gardens. It also has a medicinal plant garden, arachnid display and a leaf-cutter ant colony, ensuring that a visit here is as diverse as it is educational.
The 100-meter (330 ft) San Luis Waterfall is another notable attraction. Visiting this picturesque allowing visitors to spend the day on both the trails and in the presence of this inspiring natural landmark.
The Monteverde Cheese Factory is another perfect midday diversion. Daily tours (at 9 AM and 2 PM) introduce visitors to the cheese making process as well as the history of Monteverde’s integral dairy farms. Samples of the products – which include cheese, ice cream, cured meat, milkshakes and caramels – are handed out generously. Needless to say, it’s difficult to leave this place without a few goodies in your hand.
Monteverde is, after all, a cloud forest, and as such endures a number of rainy days. The local bookstore – Libreria Chunches – is a welcoming and warm place to beat this kind of weather. Browse its bookstands and magazine racks and grab a cup of their locally roasted coffee. You can, in fact, even do your laundry while you read and relax!