There’s nothing like exploring the lush ecosystem of a new and exotic place, immersing yourself in a foggy rainforest as you gaze at surrounding volcanoes, soaking in all the beauty around you. The only thing that’s even more magnificent than that? A cloud forest.
A cloud forest happens when geography and wind clash in the most perfect way. Imagine yourself in said rainforest, miles above the trees, allowing yourself the vast aerial perspective that only a passing bird or electric blue butterfly might get the privilege of experiencing.
Honestly, there’s no better way to experience the unique flora and fauna of Costa Rica. My first time in a cloud forest, I was twelve years old. I was, and still am, very afraid of heights, but somehow, being thousands of feet in the sky and walking gingerly on a narrow suspension bridge, my mind was emptied of all phobias and anxieties. It was replaced with the pure bliss of immersion – the moment when you and nature become one.
That’s probably due to the fact that it feels like a living dream, as you breathe in life itself and experience Mother Nature’s terrarium as it was intended.
And while we don’t recommend braving this elevated journey alone, there are a few tour companies that are more than willing to help you out, such as Sky Tram or Selvatura.
They’ll let you soar via zip line, tram, or hanging bridge, depending on your level of adventure. I personally was only bold enough to try the hanging bridge, but adrenaline junkies might want to opt for the zip-line instead. Here are the must-see cloud forests of Costa Rica which can be accessed via tour group.
The queen of cloud forests, located on both the Atlantic and Pacific slopes of the Continental Divide. Almost 500 species of birds reside here, as well as an infinite amount of unique species of plants, insects, and other animals, mammals and reptiles. Also home to the famous but elusive Quetzal bird. After you’ve gotten your nature fix, you can check out the nearby town of Santa Elena which features a butterfly garden and has a thriving art community.
Bajos Del Toro
This private reserve is perched in Costa Rica’s central highlands, about an hour and a half from San Jose. It is a less tourist populated area, since Monteverde is usually the first choice. Wild ecosystems including grasslands, pools, mountain streams, waterfalls, and more. After a day of hiking or zip lining, stay at the wellness-based El Silencio Lodge and Spa where you can meditate in their hummingbird garden and lean about healing plants.
Los Angeles Cloud Forest
Another area that is less inundated than Monteverde, but still very accessible. Air currents from the Pacific, Atlantic, and Northern Plains smash together to create a very rare climate that is normally only seen at much higher elevation levels. Arenal volcano isn’t too far, and at just an hour and a half from San Jose, this cloud forest allows access to 2,000 acres of private reserve, with over 350 species of wildlife.