Hands down, the best and most memorable thing we did in Monteverde Cloud Forest was visiting Selvatura Park.
It was such a fun day, full of adventure. You know, right down my alley.
We simply booked a trip to the Monteverde hanging bridges at $30 for the two of us. I’ve been to the Canopy Walkway in Taman Negara (Malaysia) years ago, which was super fun, so I reckoned this would be exciting, too.
Spoiler alert: it was!
Table of Contents
What is Selvatura Park?
Selvatura Park is an adventure eco-park inside Monteverde.
The forest here is more mossy and mystical than Monteverde cloud forest, so I definitely liked this better. Plus, it’s also the place to find adventures in all forms.
There’s a paved trail with signs through the forest, so getting lost isn’t really an option. Walking between the trees, just listening to the crickets, exotic birds making unfamiliar chirps, and trees creaking as the wind pushed them back and forth, is quite tranquillising. However, it would be a lie to say that it isn’t a bit spine-chilling too, especially on the densely vegetated stretches.
The last part of the trail looks like something taken right out of Predator. Sounds are more intense, jungle more dense and the fog sneaks in and encloses the trees in walls of whiteness. My arachnophobia, that I had pretty much managed to overcome, suddenly worsened when we walked that stretch, and I feared tarantulas lurking everywhere on those treacherous trees.
But surprise, surprise, we managed to get out without being jumped or seeing an even remotely scary animal.
Read next: What to expect from a Monteverde night tour
Entrance fees to Selvatura Park
There’s a lot of different activities in Selvatura Park. Most of them are adventure-packed, like the hanging bridges, zip lining or the Tarzan swing. But the park also has a humming bird garden, butterfly garden, a reptile and amphibian exhibit and a sloth sanitarium.
You can choose to either buy tickets for specific activities or book a day pass. After this section, I’ve described the activities so you can read more about them.
The day packages:
There are several passes to choose from when you visit. You can buy the passes on arrival, but during the high season (Dec-April and July), you’ll need to book ahead to be guaranteed entrance. You can read more here.
All day pack (Adults: $169 / Children: $141):
Canopy Tour + Treetop Walkways + Ecological Awareness Center + Butterfly Garden + Hummingbird Garden + Reptile and Amphibian Exhibition + lunch
Platinum pack (Adults: $135 / Children: $107):
Canopy Tour + Hanging Bridges+ Butterfly Garden + Hummingbird Garden + Lunch
Black Diamond pack (Adults: $112 / Children: $84):
Canopy Tour + Hanging Bridges + Butterfly Garden + Hummingbird Garden
Diamond pack (Adults: $106 / Children: $78):
Canopy Tour + Hanging Bridges + Butterfly Garden
Gold pack (Adults: $89 / Children: $61):
Zipline and non-guided hanging bridges
Silver pack (Adults: $80 / Children: $68.5):
Hanging Bridges + Butterfly Garden + Hummingbird Garden + Lunch
Bronze pack (Adults: $73 / Children: $56.5):
Canopy Tour + Butterfly Garden + Hummingbird Garden
Wooden pack (Adults: $57 / Children: $45):
Hanging Bridges + Butterfly Garden + Hummingbird Garden
Hanging bridges Monteverde
The highlight of Selvatura Park (for us at least) was the hanging bridges Monteverde.
The walkway system consists of eight hanging bridges connected by trails that cover 3km. The bridges vary from 50m to 170m and are suspended at heights ranging from 12m to 60m. This bridge system is the widest and sturdiest in Costa Rica, and it was an amazing experience.
We went there super early in the morning, which meant we had them almost all to ourselves. Plus, at that time of day, animals are just waking up and extra active. You probably won’t see a lot of animals because the forest is so dense and large, but you can spot monkeys (we did), sloths and hummingbirds.
The walk took us between 2 and 2,5 hours with lots of stops included, where we saw birds and plant life.
Best ziplining in Costa Rica
Another highlight is the Selvatura zipline, which is known as the best ziplining in Costa Rica.
A canopy tour consists of 13 cables, 15 platforms, 1 tarzan swing and a 1 km long cable that you can upgrade to Superman.
You know, the cloud forest of Monteverde basically invented ziplining, and it has to be the most adventurous way to experience the forest. You’ll fly in a professional harness through the treetops of Monteverde. And if you’re a real adrenaline junkie, you can also try the Tarzan Swing, a high security rope swing.
Ziplining is an activity you can do with your whole family (even the smallest kids, too). Expect to pay around $86 USD per person, and the trip will take a couple of hours.
The hummingbird garden
The hummingbird garden is home to no less than 14 different species and more than 100 vibrant hummingbirds. This is really great for nature photographers, and you can get up close to photograph or just watch them.
If you’ve ever tried photographing a hummingbird, you know it’s more or less mission impossible. Or at least that’s what it feels like if you’re not set up properly. In this post, I’m sharing some quick tips on how to photograph hummingbirds, which includes having a tripod and a lot of patience.
Selvatura Park has a huge butterfly garden with over 30 different species. You can take a guided tour or take you own tour through the garden where you can see caterpillars and cocoons.
I went to a butterfly garden in Bali where a guide showed me around and I saw little butterflies get hatched. It was a special experience, so it might be a good idea with a guide.
Reptile and Amphibian exhibit
The Selvatura Park Reptile and Amphibian Exhibition includes lizards, geckos, frogs, snakes and other kinds of reptiles and amphibians from more than 30 different species throughout Costa Rica. It’s the only exhibition of both reptiles and amphibians together in the area.
If you join a tour, you’ll learn about serpents, frogs and toads, including their differences and role inside each ecosystem.
This museum holds one of the largest private insect collections in the world and includes more than one million specimens. The exhibition, by Dr. Richard Whitten, is called the “Jewels of the rain forest” insect exhibition.
The Sloth sanctuary is new, so we sadly didn’t visit when we were in Selvatura Park.
It’s home to 20 sloths (two-toed and three-toed sloths) that live in Costa Rica. All of them have been saved from poaching, habitat destruction, orphanage, illness and accidents that prevent them from living in their natural habitat.
On a guided tour through the sloth sanctuary, you’ll learn about their mission and how they help make life better for these rescued sloths. It takes about 45 minutes.
How to get there
We went with a shuttle bus from our hostel in Santa Elena, but you can also drive there yourself if you have a car. There’s no public transport to Selvatura Park.
By shuttle: If you’ve booked a zipline or canopy tour, or a hanging bridges hike, Selvatura Park will pick you up at your hotel for free. Otherwise, it costs $7.50 per person. Find more info here.
By car: The road is unpaved with potholes, so it’s best if you’re driving a 4×4. Selvatura Park is 15-20 minutes drive from Santa Elena town.
Tips for visiting
- Hours: Selvatura Park is open everyday from 7 AM to 4 PM
- Location: Selvatura Park is 6.7 km from Santa Elena town in Monteverde (15-20 minute drive)
- How much time to spend: A whole day, easily
- When to visit: It’s best to arrive in the morning to avoid crowds and for the most pleasant temperatures
What to pack and wear
- Long pants and long-sleeved tee/zip jacket
- Insect repellent
- Water and snacks
- Hiking shoes – No flip flops if you’re zip lining
- Rain gear
- A jacket
Pro tip: Make sure to tuck your pants into your socks to prevent insects, leeches or worse from biting. For an extra layer of protection, spray some mosquito repellant on your socks. I always do that when I hike, and it works.
Going to Selvatura Park? Ask me anything in the comments!