town of Sta. Elena has been founded by Quaker families immigrating
to Costa Rica from the United States in 1951. They came
to Costa Rica because of the fact that the country does
not have a standing army and, in many ways, supported their
ideals. A dairy farm and associated cheese factory now produce
over a ton of cheese a day, and much of the 1,500 hectares
they purchased forty years ago is part of the famous Monteverde
Cloud forest reserve.
Starting point to all attractions of the region is the small town of Sta. Elena, located between the most important nature reserves, Santa Elena and Monteverde . Most of the hotels and lodges are situated between the village of Sta. Elena, along the connecting roads between both preserves.
MONTEVERDE BIOLOGICAL PRESERVE
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve is owned and administered
by the Tropical Science Center (TSC). The Center, established
in 1962, is a non-profit, non-governmental organization
with headquarters in San José, Costa Rica. The objective
of the Center is to conduct and support scientific research
and education, particularly in relation to the understanding
and rational management of tropical environments. Established
in 1972, the Monteverde Preserve covers over 10,500 hectares,
more than 90% of which is virgin forest. It contains an
extremely high biological diversity, including over 2,500
plant species (among them 420 different kinds of orchids),
100 species of mammals, 400 bird species, 120 reptilian
and amphibian species, and thousands of insects. Visitors
can enter the Preserve on a natural history walk, or on
their own. There are more than 20 kilometers of trails.
SANTA ELENA BIOLOGICAL PRESERVE
As Monteverde, Santa Elena is both the name of a small village and the name of another cloud forest preserve, located about 5 km northeast of the village. The Sta. Elena preserve is as beautiful as Monteverde, offering more than 10 kilometers of hiking trails through 764 acres of protected forest but is much less frequented by visitors. It is administrated by the Sta. Elena Tech College in cooperation with the costarican national park system SINAC.
Half way between the town of Sta. Elena and the Sta. Elena
Preserve, the „Skywalk“ is located: A complex
of suspending bridges and platforms, with a total of 1800
m in length, constructed within the cloud forest. It allows
a vision of the forest from a different perspective which
starts with a walk on the ground taking you up to explore
the treetops, a hardly discovered habitat, called the “canopy”.
Sky Trek is a system of three platforms suspended above
the ground in the midst of tree boughs. Zip lines attached
from one platform to another allow our to slide with the
use of special equipment. A suspended bridge 90 m. (300
ft) long and 22 m (66 ft) high, gives you the best view
of the inner forest. An observation platform above the canopy
offers visitors a panoramic view (360°) of the Guanacaste,
San Carlos, and Puntarenas lowlands. There are four cables,
two of them 190 meters (633 ft) run through the inner canopy,
and the other two 214 (713 ft) are outside. The whole system
is integrated by a path 2300 m long (7000 feet) in length.
Sky Trek gives you access to a world of incomparable beauty,
tropical cloud forest canopies. Through jumping, flying,
and gliding, experience what it is like to be an inhabitant
of the canopy. You will never forget the Sky Trek experience,
which guarantees you 1,317 meters of secure and comfortable
MONTEVERDE BUTTERFLY GARDEN
The Monteverde Butterfly Garden is located about 1 km from downtown Sta. Elena. It was founded in 1991 by biologist Jim Wolfe. The focus of this Monteverde project is environmental education, and thousands of butterfly enthusiasts each year visit the Nature Center and four enclosed butterfly gardens.
Opens from 9:30am - 4:00pm
SERPENTARIUM STA. ELENA
More than 25 different species of Costa Rican snakes are
shown and explained. The Serpentarium is located just a
few walking minutes from downtown Sta. Elena.
TREE TOP WALKWAYS SELVATURA
This is a complex of suspended bridges, platforms, and trails
built within the cloud forest. The bridges total 2400 in
length with altitudes of up to 240’above the forest
floor. This complex allows you to experience the tropical
cloud forest from several different perspectives starting
in the somber forest under story and working your way up
to the treetops.
CANOPY TOUR SELVATURA
This Canopy Tour, built entirely in virgin cloud forest,
consists of 12 cables and 14 platforms which add up to a
total of 2.3 miles of total cable length. The longest cable
is half a mile in length.
This herpetarium with over 20 species of frogs and other amphibians allows visitors to appreciate the beauty of the areas amphibians and to learn about their role in the natural world. Some of the species include the large Marine Toad, the colorful Poison Arrow Frog and the famous Red Eyed Tree Frog. Visitors receive an informative guided tour of the terrariums with their entrance fee. Frogs and toads are undergoing a massive global decline. Part of the proceeds from ticket sale goes to conservation and research efforts. Part of the goal is to educate and inspire others to take an interest in the conservation of amphibious life and nature in general. It is best to visit after dark as the frogs are more active and you can hear their calls.
Open 9:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Located about 3 km from downtown Sta. Elena, “Aerial
Adventures” offers cable cars for two persons gliding
through the canopy of the cloud forest, similar to the “real”
rainforest aerial tram of Braulio Carillo National Park.