Home arrow Central America Guide arrow Costa Rica Guide
Costa Rica Guide

Our first stop was Monteverde so we asked the Trica bus crew to drop us at the appropriate place along the Pan American. At first it seemed like the middle of nowhere, but we asked at the little store and there were buses at 12:30, 15:30 and 17:30. The 17:30 turned up at 17:05, so don't cut this too tight. We got there around 16:15, so it was fine. There is a bank and ATM at the border. There are money changers on the Nicaraguan side.

Wildlife, Costa Rica

Monteverde

After coming from Nicaragua, where tourism is relatively sparse Monteverde seemed over-run. When you first arrive off the bus you are met by a handful of enthusiastic touts. If you decide to go with them the room won't cost you any more, it will just cost the hotel or hostel one night instead. We went to Tina's Casitas. Nice rooms with a kitchen, great views from the common eating area and hot shared bathroom for US$5 pp. However, the road where Tina's is has several cheap, good places that would be good, budget options. Tina, a long time resident originally from Germany is a fountain of information.

There are a couple of good eateries around. One of the better value ones is the soda just next to Tina's where a massive plate of good, local food will set you back a couple of dollars. Morphos is a popular option. The Morpho burger is a meal in itself. There are a couple of places internet places in town. The best value (and friendliest service) is Tranquilo, a short walk down the hill. Look for the signs.

Obviously, the main reason to come to Monteverde is the wildlife. We went out with Freddy (look for his posters or book through Tina - speaks good English), a local guide who specialises in birds. The amount of birds we saw was amazing and included several Keel-Billed Toucans, Blue-Crowned Motmot, Broad-Billed Flycatcher, Brown Jay, Hoffman's Woodpecker, Emerald Toucanette, Roufus-and-White Wren, 2 different types of squirrels, White-Collared Swift, Turkey and Black Vultures, Kiskadee, Squirrel Cuckoo, Green-Spiny Lizard, Three-Wattled Bellbird, lots of cool insects including many blue Morphos, Flat-Tailed Hummingbird, Groove-Billed Ani all in a morning. He charges US$18 for the session.

The early bus to Monteverde nature reserve leaves at 6. Once there you have to pay US$12 pp for the park. If you have student ID bring it for half-price entry. If you want a guide you must book at least a day in advance. The forest here is wonderful. We didn't have a guide and saw very little wildlife, but the trees and different ecosystems made the walk itself magical. Outside the park entrance is a hummingbird feeding station. There were about 30 birds and about 6 different species. While the use of feeders is a bit controversial this is a great place to observe these beautiful birds.

Back in Monteverde there are a couple of worthwhile things to see. The Serpentarium has lots of different snakes, lizards and some frogs. The displays are interesting and you are guided around with each one explained. Entry is US$8. The Butterfly Park is a nice walk out of town past the Serpentarium and has replicated several ecosystems to show off Costa Rica's variety of butterflies. Entry is US$7 and includes a large section of insects including a leaf-cutter ant colony where you can lift up panels to see the colony at work. Both are recommended.