|Santa Elena Rain Forest Reserve
Facts and History
The 765-acre (365 Ha) Santa Elena Forest Reserve is located 5 kilometers northeast of Santa Elena. It is at a slightly higher elevation than the Monteverde reserve 1,650 meters (5,414 feet) at an average temperature of 18 C (64 F)and tends to be cloudier, but is also less visited than its better know neighbor. There are over 10 kilometers of trails, with one leading to a lookout point from which you can see Volcán Arenal on a clear day.
The original vision was to use this land for agricultural research and education in Monteverde. For a variety of reasons, however, the farming proved to be unsuccessful.
The realisation of the eco-reserve became a reality on March 1, 1992 with the help of "Youth Challenge International" and the Santa Elena Community, who successfully manage the Cloud Forest Reserve under non profit purposes, achieving long term sustainability through the reinvestment of proceeds from entrance fees, guided tours and souvenir shop, in more and better education for the local high school students, who help as well in the maintenance and development of the Reserve.
This way the community profits from the improvements and the unique forest sourrounding is being preserved.Children's Eternal Cloud Forest (Bosque Eterno de los Niños), this is the first forest dedicated to the kids of the entire world. A group of children have gathered the money to buy 7.300 hectáreas of the rain forest and made it private.
Flora and Fauna in Monteverde
If Animales are your main interest you wont be disappointed: 100 species of mammals including 5 species of cats, over 400 species of birds including 30 kinds of hummingbirds and tens of thousands of insect species (over 5000 species of moths).
Some examples which you might see on your trail through the forest are Jaguars and Ocelots, tapirs, agoutis, coatis, toucans, sloths, howler monkeys, poison dart frogs, tarantulas, and the famous resplendent Quetzal, the national bird of Costa Rica. Some other outstanding species include the Black Guan, Great Green Macaw, the three-wattled Bellbird, butterflys, the Bare-necked Umbrella Bird and the Baird's Tapir.
Great bird watching, Resplendent Quetzal is usually seen in the March-April nesting season. Bring a warm jacket, raingear (a green poncho is just fine) and footwear for trail use. Rubber boots are usually not necessary due to the well-maintained trails.
One of the most characteristic features of Monteverde cloud forest is the incredible diversity and abundance of vegetation as vascular epiphytes and bryophytes, lichens, liverworts, bryophytes and mosses. Due to the big competition for growing space they are usually superimposed one over the other and form sort of a "thick carpet" of soft moss, which is more than 10 cm thick and provides the forest with the typical aspect of air curtains, making sometimes impossible to distinguish the leaves of the hosting tree. There are 2,500 species of plants of which include around 800 species of epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants) and about 425 kinds of orchids.