The community of Monteverde, near the reserve, is an interesting place to visit. It was founded in 1951 by American Quakers (from Alabama) who were attracted to Costa Rica because of its lack of an army. The Quakers built a cheese factory in this quaint town and have taken charge of maintaining the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and raising funds for its expansion. If you visit the cheese factory, you can try all the local specialties, including the beloved Palmito cheese. (If not, you can purchase Monteverde cheese in almost any market.) Comfortable accommodations are available, but be sure to book well in advance. It can be difficult to get around Monteverde because of its mountainous terrain, but taxis (all four-wheel-drive vehicles) are easily accessible and affordable.
Small businesses have sprung up to cater to the influx of travelers. The businesses tend to be environmentally and culturally sensitive—from a gallery specializing in hummingbird art and feeders to cooperatives selling local women’s needlework to a small butterfly garden.
Monteverde Cloud Forest – This rain forest is set upon the steep slopes of a mountain range and is home to rare and unusual wildlife, including jaguars and pumas (the thick vegetation can make viewing them difficult). Among the 450 species of birds in the reserve are emerald toucanets and the world’s largest population of quetzal birds. You can even hear the very impressive call of the three-wattled bellbird, which emits a loud, electronic-sounding “bonk” in the ear of a potential mate. The best birding occurs September-April when many birds are migratory.
This area boasts six distinct ecological zones, Entrance to the park is restricted to 150 people at any one time. Costa Rica is doing all it can to protect this valuable ecological zone.