Reserva Santa Elena, or the Santa Elena Cloud Reserve, is a cloud forest near Monteverde, Costa Rica. While the nearby Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve is considerably better known, we chose Santa Elena because we hoped it would be less crowded and because we could book a $2 shuttle from our hostel.
Indeed, when we got there, there weren’t many people at all. We did see some gorgeous little hummingbirds right at the entrance though (there are a number of feeders set up).
It was an overcast day and the weather was perfect for hiking – it didn’t get too hot. The sun did come out at times to light up the trees around us.
If you’re looking for a hike with grand views, this is not for you. But if you like being in nature with few other people around you, looking at interesting trees and spotting a few animals (we saw hummingbirds and some really cool insects), you’ll enjoy it.
I spotted this guy only a few feet in front of me at one point. It pays to walk quietly and keep looking around every once in a while.
There is one point on the hike we did where on a clear day you can see Arenal volcano. But the day we were there the cloud forest lived up to its name, and you couldn’t see anything.
Santa Elena Cloud Reserve is not full of action or must see views, but it is beautiful and tranquil and absolutely worth a visit in my opinion. There are multiple hiking trails and while I couldn’t remember which one we did, I remember it was a nice hike and not too difficult, though there is definitely some elevation change.
- How to Get There: The easiest way is to book a shuttle from your accommodation in Monteverde. It costs $1 each way. There’s also a shuttle from Info-Center Camino Verde every 2 hours from 6:30 AM to 3 PM, same price.
- Price: The entrance fee is $12.
- Hours: Open every day 7 AM to 4 PM
- Other: Guided tours and night tours are also available, though we didn’t do one. Wear long pants, take a jacket, and don’t forget your bug spray!