Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve

Opened in 1992 by a group of volunteer Canadian students, the Reserve of Santa Elena has around 12km of nature trails, 3 lookout points and an observation tower.

The Reserve is administered by the Professional Technical School of Santa Elena. All the profits are dedicated to help and to give support to the education of Santa Elena's youth. They are also invested into the development of courses in environmental education, biology, language and tourism.

Santa Elena Reserve of Monteverde has 766acres of primary and secondary forest. Birds are less abundant than in Monteverde Reserve, but you can find a variety of birds and animals such as the Three-wattled Bellbird, the Quetzal, the Coati, howler monkeys and Red brocket deer (Mazama Rufina).

At the entrance of the reserve, you can find a visitors center, a restaurant, a souvenir shop, boots for rent, etc.


There are four main trails in the Santa Elena Reserve

Caño Negro Trail (4.8km - 3.5hrs): This is the longest trail.
Encantado Trail (3.4km - 2.5hrs): It's excellent for bird watching.
El Bajo Trail (2.6km - 1.5hrs): This trail extends through more secondary growth forest.
The Youth Challenge Trail (1.4km - 45min): It is ideal for lookouts. There is a tower offering beautiful views of 5 Costa Rica volcanoes on a clear day: Arenal Volcano, Rincon de la Vieja, Tenorio, Miravalles and Poas Volcano. You can appreciate Lake Nicaragua from the tower on the clearest of days.

These trails are more natural and more difficult to walk than those of the Monteverde Cloud Forest.


Daily schedule

The reserve is open everyday from 7:00AM to 4:00PM.
Night walk from 6:30PM to 8:30PM (with previous reservation).


How to get?

A) By driving: From the town of Santa Elena turn right at the National Bank and go to Selvatura Park following the signs along the way. Once in Selvatura, continue for around 5 minutes, the roads ends at the Reserve.

B) Daily shuttles leave from the Info-Center Camino Verde (in downtown Santa Elena) every 2 hours, starting a 6:30AM and the last one at 3:00PM. The bus leaves the reserve at a similar time, the last one at 4:00PM. Price is $1 one way.

C) Taxi service from the center of Santa Elena, or making a call from your hotel to the taxi central (TEL: 2-645-6666).

D) Or booking a guided tour with transportation included, from and to your hotel (the tour last around 4 hours).


Entrance fee

Adults: $12.00
Students: $6.00
Children under 8 years are free.

Guided tour
$32 adults and $27 children (departure at 7:30AM and return at 11:30AM).


Useful tips

- Take at least one guided tour with a professional guide. It's difficult to appreciate the wildlife that hides in the forest and you would not like to miss beautiful animals, plants and the opportunity to listen to some of their stories.
- Take hiking shoes, long pants, a windbreaker or jacket.
- Be ready to take pictures.
- Binoculars are also very helpful.
- Mosquito Repellent is a MUST.



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1 Response to "Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve" | Add a comment
  • Tatiana Cerdas said: October 04, 2011 (Costa Rica)

    Buenas tardes

    Favor informarme sobre la caminata nocturna, cual es el sendero, la distancia, que incluye, precio rack por persona.

    Muchas gracias & saludos!

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