There is a wide range of food and lodging facilities available at Monteverde, Santa Elena and the reserve. Monteverde is located 172 kms. northwest of San José. The route: San José- 133 kms Río Lagarto Bridge-39 kms. Pita-Altos Fernández-Guacimal-Cedros-Santa Elena-Cerro Plano-Monteverde-Reserve Headquarters.
A steep road winds in and around the hills, ridges and deep valleys of the Tilarán Mountain Range, also known as the Sierra Minera, providing access to the yellowish grasslands dotted with some of the few existing stands of tropical dry forest.
The forest is composed of mangoes, espaves, mayflowers with purple bloom, coyol palms, bastard cedars, gumbo-limbos, and wild cotton. As the altitude inreases the vegetation becomes more stunted and twisted, evidence of the fierce winds that blow in this area. At the summit of Guacimal the road is cloaked with banks of fog and misting rain, even during the dry season, but the cloud forest of the biological reserve only begins after the village of Monteverde. It forms part of the Arenal Conservation Area and consists of 11,931 hectares of rainforest divided between the Caribbean and Pacific sides of the Tilarán Mountain Range. This wilderness area was created to protect the waterways and the flora and fauna of the region, and to carry out scientific research, such as programmes of environmental education.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve is a private property under management by the Tropical Science Center, a non profit organisation of scientific reserch and education, with headquarters in San José. The scientists George and Harriet Powell and the Quaker Wilford Guidon, all of whom were concerned with the impact of colonisation on the cloud forests, foundet the reserve in 1972 to provide a refuge for the local wildlife.
Identification has been made in the region of 400 species of birds, including the resplendent quetzal, 490 species of butterflies, 100 species of mammals, some of which, such as the tapir, jaguar, ocelot, are threatened with extinction, 2,500 species of plants, among which there are 300 species of orchids that mailnly flower in march, and 200 species of ferns. This biological wealth is distributed over a range of 760 meters above sea level on the Caribbean slopes to 1,719 meters at the summit.
The village of Monteverde located to the south of the cloud forest, was built at the beginning of 1950, by a Quaker community that had come to Costa Rica in response to its pacifist ways and its commitment to disarmament. The Quakers settled in the region and began to produce milk and fine cheeses. As time went on, they foundet a company in which today, 80% of the stockholders are Costa Ricans.
The Monteverde Conservationist Leage also works at Monteverde. This non-profit organisation is concerned with purchasing land for reforestation, research, nature conversation and environmental education. The Children's Rainforest and the Eternal Forest were established within this context. The land was purchased by donations made by children, most of whom were Swedish.
The biological reserve is famous because of the golden toad, an endemic species that is deaf and dumb and lives on the continental divide. The males are a striking bright orange color and the baby toads can bee seen from the end of April to the beginning of June.