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Costa Rica
Monday, May 16, 2022

Visit Costa Rica’s Curi-Cancha Wildlife Reserve in Monteverde

Venturing away from the high tourist places can often be rewarding and bring a sense of calm with peaceful, quiet memories and Curi-Cancha Reserve is one of those destinations. Located in the beautifully forested area in the heart of Monteverde this nature reserve takes you away from the noise of the crowds and to the sounds of the birds into a place of solitude and tranquility.

How it became a Reserve

The reserve’s name of Curi-Cancha stems from an Incan phrase of “the temple of the study of flora and fauna” and “golden enclosure” which is perfectly suited for these 205 acres of protected land. In 1997 Curi-Cancha Reserve was officially designated as a wildlife reserve, a Refugio de Vida Silvestre under MINAE protecting the 83 hectares, however, it wasn’t until 2011 that tourists could explore the beauty that lies within these grounds.

Originally the land was comprised of pasture and untouched rainforest during the 1970s and the importance of the conservation of the flora and fauna was recognized and its sustainability was made a priority.

For over 40 years the trees have remained untouched allowing the forest to grow naturally without human interruption and destruction, flourishing, alongside pasture areas sprouting with trees and plant life becoming what is now a great place to connect with nature and wildlife.

Hiking in Curi Cancha

There are 7 kilometers of hiking trails throughout the reserve where half the land is primary forest made up of dense original jungle. Secondary forest which is the regrowth area, making it a bit less thick makes up almost the other half of the reserve. Throughout you will find areas of open pasture from the past days when it was used for the cattle to graze throughout where now fruit plants flower.

As this reserve limits the entry of persons to 50 at a time it reflects in the energy and atmosphere, the calm tranquil walks of only you and the wildlife watching over. You feel your breathing and thoughts slow down to match the serenity surrounding you.

The hiking trails intersect and are made up of several shorter trails that lead to one another allowing you to create your own day of hiking whether you only have time for a shorter exploration or a half-day of submerging yourself into the forest. It is also great for inexperienced hikers or for the less adventurous allowing you the chance to see a bit of nature without the lengthy trails.

If you are out with the family or with younger children it is also the perfect stop since you can design your journey tailored to your energy level and capabilities so you don’t have to miss out on the beauty of this reserve. All trails lead back to one spot and are well maintained including plenty of signage to keep you on track.

Wildlife at the Reserve

The limited entry has allowed the wildlife to feel secure, promoting minimal environmental impacts to the nature reserve and forests. The combination of the natural habits of the dense forest for protection and the open landscape with the fruiting plants make it a great place to search for the wildlife living within. Frequently spotted in Curi-Cancha Reserve are coatis with their foraging snouts, ocelots, agoutis, armadillos, and the nocturnal and long-tongued kinkajous.

As you travel through the trails listen for the noises of the three different species of monkeys you may have a chance to see white-faced capuchins, spider monkeys, and the mantled howlers. Costa Rica’s beloved and newly crowned national symbol sloths sleep in the trees, so look up for the toe-toed sloths.

Curi-Cancha Reserve is well known as one of the best places to see the elusive Resplendent Quetzal with the reputation as a bird watcher’s paradise with over 250 species of birds. Breeding season for Resplendent Quetzals is during the months of March to July and offers you a higher chance of spotting these strikingly beautiful and unique birds. The brilliantly blue-colored honeycreepers, black guans, slate-throated redstarts, keel-billed toucans can all be spotted in this oasis for birds.

The open pasture areas of flowering shrubs and trees create the perfect opportunity for bird watching as they venture out from the dense forests. There are countless hummingbird feeders and flowering hedges to see the delicate looking and stunning hummingbirds of all vibrant colors.

The reserve offers a selection of several different tours if you are looking to be accompanied by an expert guide. These guides can help identify and spot the exciting and fun birds calling this reserve home. Many of the birds can be perched up high in the dense trees and the guides will know where to look allowing you to see them up close and personal through their scopes.

You can also download a bird checklist before you go making your hike a bit of a game and adventure in search of the endless colorful birds throughout as you try to spot chestnut-headed oropendolas, emerald toucanets, violet sabrewings, andyellow-bellied trogons.

Entrance, Location and Tours

Self-guided tours into this biodiverse nature reserve are available from 7 am until 3 pm and is $20 for adults and $12 for children aged 5 to 20, residents are priced at $6 for adults, and children aged 5 to 17 are only $4. There are guided tours at various prices available and if you are looking for something a little different explore the Curi-Cancha Reserve with an evening tour. This adventure is accompanied by a naturalist guide walking the forest at night serenaded by the sounds that come to life after the sun goes down.

Curi-Cancha Reserve is located in Monteverde and is easy to find, it is only 300 meters northeast of Monteverde Cheese Factory. The temperatures in Monteverde are cooler due to the higher elevation with rain even throughout the dry season, however, a bit of magic comes along with this.

As the clouds begin to roll in, creeping slowly into the forest, it transforms into something completely different before your eyes. You feel the misty air approaching as it passes through the forests like an entity of its own and swallows you into what seems like only an enchanted dream, the dream that Curi-Cancha Reserve truly is.

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