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Stunning rainforest, wildlife, zip-lines, good food. There is plenty to do in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Monteverde’s crazy amount of activities will have you spending all your money in no time. I don’t think I ever spent so much money on tours. Don’t worry though, I made sure to throw in some free activities as well for my fellow backpackers on a budget.
Self guided hike santa Elena cloud forest reserve (or Monteverde cloud forest)
Whatever you do, don’t be an idiot (like us) and try to go hiking in the middle of the afternoon. However well prepared for rain you are, you will end up completely drenched. Go early in the morning to really enjoy this stunning rainforest! You’ll have the biggest chance of staying dry at that time of the day. We lasted about half an hour before the downpour completely soaked us and had to go back, because we honestly couldn’t even see anything anymore. If you want to go to santa Elena cloud forest reserve don’t forget to prebook the shuttle. Monteverde cloud forest has the reputation of being more crowded than Santa Elena’s. Santa Elena’s is also a little bit cheaper.
Go on a zip-lining canopy tour
You can go zip-lining in many places in Central America, but Monteverde is the place to do it. Go with 100% Aventura to enjoy the longest zip-line in Latin America! It is 1,6 km long and it feels awesome soaring over the rainforest. Their canopy tour also features a ‘Tarzan swing’. This is not for the faint of heart as this means jumping from a height of 50 meters/148 feet. If you’re trying to imagine how high that is, imagine a 13 story building. I’ll admit I was a little nervous and needed some time to mentally prepare. The guide thought I was taking a little to long (to be fair, I was) and he helped me out by pushing me off the platform. (Picture below to prove that I did end up enjoying it in the end)
Hanging bridges in Selvatura park
This is the place for all you instagrammers out there. We all know you want that shot of yourself on a hanging bridge overlooking the rainforest;) This is a nice easy trail that everybody should be able to do. There are a total of 30 suspension bridges in the park and you’ll see monkeys and birds along the way!
Do a night walk tour
If you’re a wildlife love, like me, you may enjoy the night walk tour. Lots of wildlife can only be viewed at night and scouring the rainforest at night is kind of exciting! Wear shoes with good grip or you’ll end up face first in the mud, I can tell you from experience.
Find the waterfall
Since all the tours are pretty expensive we looked for something to do for free. We had read about a waterfall and set out with a few friends to find it. Beware! I am not talking about the San Luis waterfall. We walked towards were te entrance was supposed to be, but it was nowhere to be found. We are
idiots not quitters so we bravely continued and picked a random path. It turned out we actually found the trail and we eventually found the waterfall. This was however purely beginners luck and I wouldn’t recommend picking a random path yourself. Walk in the direction of Stella’s bakery and when you’re almost there just ask the locals where the trail starts. They will point you in the right direction. There is a path on the the right side of the road that you should find before you reach Stella’s bakery.
Climb the fig tree
Another free activity, yay! There are alway people climbing this tree, so if you want it to yourself go early or find the other tree that no one knows about. To the right side of the famous fig tree there is actually another one. You might as well try to find this one while everyone else is waiting their turn to climb the tree.
Visit the butterfly garden
You’ll see plenty of butterflies in costa Rica, but here they have 40 different species in one place! This is the perfect activity for a lazy afternoon. A hike in the morning calls for a relaxing afternoon and what is more relaxing then walking around in a garden full of butterflies.
Where to eat in Monteverde
The orchid Cafe
This place is a little expensive for the average backpacker, but the lunch is so worth it. We splurged on lunch here a couple of times, because we couldn’t get enough. The coffee is here great too!
To compensate for your expensive lunch at the orchid cafe, head to Taco Taco for dinner. This is for a fast and easy meal. The serve super nice Mexican food for cheap:)
Stella’s bakery has some stellar (see what I did there) pastries. This place is good for breakfast or for lunch. Make sure you sit outside and watch the bird feeders, because they attract a variety of birds.
Monteverde Beer House
I’m a huge lover of
any kind of alcohol craft beer and they serve a variety of local craft beers here! If like me, you like to try a new beer everywhere you go, this is a mandatory stop.
Where to stay
Like always, we were traveling on a budget and we try to spend around €10 a night. To stay under budget we usually went for a dorm, but at Cabinas Vista al Golfo we booked a double private room for €22 a night. If you share that’s only €11 a night! The view from their terrace was beautiful and breakfast is included! They were also super helpful with booking trips. The rooms aren’t anything too special, but for that price and service I would definitely recommend them!