The community of Monteverde has developed around the highest values of conservation and sustainable use of the natural resources for agriculture and ecotourism. Located in the highlands of the Tilaran Mountain Range, the town of Santa Elena is the most important tourist center.
Small and medium size hotels and lodges serve as the control base for nature lovers, scientists and families who come here to discover the secrets of Costa Rica’s tropical cloud forest.
The lush vegetation, dense fog and continuous light rainfall give the place a mystical and exciting atmosphere, which dares its visitors to let go and be taken by the charm of this sacred place. Here you will find exceptional flora and creatures not found anywhere else in the world.
Santa Elena is not like very other rural town, its center no bigger than a few blocks, always has something charming to offer. Aside from the basic services such as a supermarket, a pharmacy, ATMs, there are several unique cafeterias, sodas, bookstores and souvenir shops stocked with unique handmade gifts and crafts from local artists.
Fresh water springs, cascades, long paths leading through a virgin jungle and the sight of such exotic species unique to the trees of Monteverde (like to Quetzal bird) are just a few of the elements that attract nature lovers to this area.
While the rest of the country natural reserves and national parks are managed by the government, the largest section of Monteverde’s cloud forest is owned and by private groups, cooperatives and companies. However the natural reserve conservation model carried out by groups such as the Montever Cloud Forest, the Children Eternal Forest and Bosque Eterno have proved to be highly successful in resource conservations and the development of scientific knowledge.
Papaya – Carica papaya
Native to the American tropics, this is an exceptional fruit to try during your Costa Rica vacation!
It has a great flavor and nutritional qualities; the papaya is an important source of vitamins A, B, G and C and is excellent for the digestion. The most common papaya in Costa Rica is called “papaya criolla” which is large, with a yellow to intense orange pulp, and its flavor may vary from very sweet to a slightly insipid flavor and may vary in shape. People tend to prefer the elongated ones, with firm consistency, called “cachos” in Costa Rica. The small “Hawaiian papaya” has been grown recently for exports and the crossbreeding with the “criolla” has created a mixed type. The papain, a proteolithic enzyme used as a meat tenderizer is obtained from the green, unripe papaya. When pieces of pulp or peelings from a papaya (preferably green) are placed on the meat for a few minutes, it will help to make it tender!
Location: Southern side of the Osa Peninsula
The park protects major habitats including a montane forest, which covers more than half the park; a cloud forest, located in the highest region, richly populated by oaks and tree ferns; swamp forests, flooded practically all year-round; a holillo forest, predominated by palms; a mangrove swamp located on the estuaries of the Llorona, Corcovado and Sirena rivers; and a freshwater herbaceous swamp.
The park is home to some 500 species of trees, equivalent to a quarter of all the tree species in Costa Rica. Some of the larger trees include the Purple Heart, poponjoche, nargusta, banak, cow tree, espave and crabwood.
It protects several endangered species including cats and large reptiles. Moreover, it is home to several species of birds, which are either endemic or whose distribution is very restricted.
There are 140 species of mammals, 367 birds, 117 amphibians and reptiles, 40 types of freshwater fish, and there is an estimated of about 6,000 types of insects.
It is common to see large herds of white-lipped peccary, as well as troops of howler and spider monkeys. The park is a sanctuary to the largest population of scarlet macaws in the country.
Other species of birds found here are the king vulture, white hawk, short-billed pigeon, tovi parakeet and bronze-tailed sicklebill.
Costa Rica is known for its civilized way of life. It is no exaggeration to call the country an oasis of peace. This a fundamental part of the Costa Rican character.
Costa Rica is the seat of the University for Peace as well as the Inter American Court of Human Rights. This fact empathizes the trust placed in the country´s political and social stability by the international community. Costa Ricans are characterized by three distinct cultural life styles that of the peasants and farmers of the Central Valley, of the inhabitants of the plains of Guanacaste and of the Caribbeans of the Province of Limón. Their ethnic origins are a mixture, being a blend of the native inhabitants of the area (although to a lesser extent than in other Central American countries), of the Spanish colonists and of Afro-Caribbean immigrants which began entering as of the last century.
The Costa Rica is both friendly and hospitable, the obvious product of his freedom. Costa Rica is one of the oldest democracies in America, as well as being a free and independent republic. Its inhabitants not only enjoy complete political stability, but also their nation´s long-standing commitment to democratic freedom.
Peace is the most precious possession of Costa Rica´s people. The country abolished its army in 1949, the police force is sufficient to protect the citizens. Costa Rica was twice nominated to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and this was awarded in 1987, to the incumbent President of the Republic, Dr. Oscar Arias. This award was a truly merited recognition of the Costa Rican way of life.
The social impact of this democratic tradition is easily seen. In 1869 a compulsory public education system was established, one that involves public institutions at all levels. In this, the government supplies the necessary funds for medical and educational programs; both services having achieved outstanding success. Due to the educational efforts, 98% of the adult population is literate. Medical services, especially in the area of preventive medicine, have reached high levels of achievement in both rural and urban areas. Life expectancy is between 72-75 years of age, an excellent average for Latin America.