Situated in the Tilarán mountain range, Santa Elena is a very distinctive community: a mix of rural area and developing city, of paved streets and gravel roads. At an altitude of 1,330 meters, the town enjoys cool temperatures; its irregular topography makes for pleasant scenery.
The Monteverde Butterfly Garden – known locally as the Mariposario – is one of Monteverde’s most visited attractions. Situated in Cerro Plano, which lies between the town of Santa Elena and the Monteverde Reserve, the Butterfly Garden is comprised of four climate-controlled butterfly gardens, a medicinal plant garden, a biodiversity center, and a live leafcutter ant colony. Here visitors can observe some of the most fascinating and beautiful insects in all of the tropics.
Carretera a Reserva de Monteverde, Monte Verde, Costa Rica
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a private, non-profit reserve administered by the Tropical Science Center. It spans six distinct ecological zones and helps to protect birds and butterflies, mammals, insects, and thousands of species of plants. A home to the famed Resplendent Quetzal, this reserve is especially popular with birders.
Volcán Arenal, Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal, Costa Rica
Arenal was just another dormant volcano from about AD 1500 until 29 July 29 1968, when something snapped. Huge explosions triggered lava flows that destroyed three villages, killing about 80 people and 45,000 cattle. Although it occasionally quieted down for a few weeks or even months, Arenal produced menacing ash columns, massive explosions and streams of glowing molten rock almost daily from 1968 until it all quite abruptly ended in 2010.
The league was created in 1986 by a group of local and international scientists whose aim was to protect the area of forest surrounding the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. In 1987, the MCL embarked on an innovative land acquisition program, in which money that was raised by Swedish schoolchildren went to buy and protect threatened land. Since then, the league has worked with other organizations in more than 40 countries to help form what is now Costa Rica’s largest private reserve, The Children’s Eternal Rainforest (El Bosque Eterno de los Niños).
The Children’s Eternal Rainforest straddles the Continental Divide, encompassing 55,600 acres (22,500 ha) of virgin and secondary forest, as well as several reforestation areas.