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How much time for Monteverde Reserve?

newport, ky
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How much time for Monteverde Reserve?

How much time should I allow to spend in the Monteverde Reserve? I plan on taking a guided tour which lasts about 3 hours through CCT. Should I allow myself more time before or after the tour to see more of the reserve?

Pensacola, Florida
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1. Re: How much time for Monteverde Reserve?

Allow another hour or so to look around on your own...

lots to see...

Early AM or late afternoon best times to spot wildlife

Texas
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for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
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2. Re: How much time for Monteverde Reserve?

Agree with gwo; we probably spent about another hour there on our own. Found a snack bar with excellent fresh fruit smoothies there and just relaxed and walked around. The guided tour we took was pretty extensive.

Toronto
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3. Re: How much time for Monteverde Reserve?

my suggestion differs from the first two.

depends what you want out of Monteverde.

we spent 3 full days there.

we did two morning guided tours (3 hrs each) and then roamed a bit on our own. so that was a 7 AM start.

we would then have a latte at the coffee shop (EXCELLENT lattes and buy some beans as gifts).

we'd drive back to Monteverde town and have lunch and Morphos. after lunch, back to the cloud forest for a few more hours of walking.

you can wander slowly on your own and look at all of the amazing flowers and plants and try to find the birds and animals. we stumbled upon a few white faced monkeys eating from a tree above us and watched them for 15 or so minutes. if you enjoy walking, nature, flowers and animals and want a peaceful day, i suggest an entire day there.

most guided tours (and i suggest you get a guided tour because you won't be able to spot anything on your own for the first little while) stay near the front of the park and show you the quetzal and tucanese.

Texas
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for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
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4. Re: How much time for Monteverde Reserve?

If you do a guided tour, make sure you get a guide that is compatible with your style. We had a very hardcore guide that was strict about protecting nature, and a girl in our group ended up storming off because she saw other guides doing things that ours refused to do. It made it a little awkward. She was just not a good fit for our guide. The guide ahead of us put a stick into a tarantula hole to pull the tarantula out for photos. Our guide thought that was terrible and refused to do it, and it infuriated her. He also refused to let us use flash photography because it's disruptive to the animals. She literally just marched off, and her poor husband was stuck with us! That being said, we saw howlers, quetzals, a sloth, coatis, and a lot of beautiful birds, as well as some cool plant life like orchids. We missed the hummingbird area which I've since read about. Would have liked to have seen it.

North San Francisco...
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5. Re: How much time for Monteverde Reserve?

volcanogirl,

Any suggestions on how to pick a guide that is compatible? A particular company? I haven't prebooked anything in MV yet and have wanted to wait until we are there. I know it's a busy time (1/2-1/5/10), but just haven't felt sure how to proceed.

Thanks

San Jose, Costa Rica
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6. Re: How much time for Monteverde Reserve?

Monteverde is a magic place...some people love it some hate it...I will maybe stay no more than 2 nights...but some people can stay for ever...just go there and see and feel the area...then stay as long as you may like!

The same situation with guides... hard to reccomend one in special...

roadadvisor

Just buckle up and enjoy the ride in PARADISE!

Texas
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for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
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7. Re: How much time for Monteverde Reserve?

We got the guide recommendation from our hotel. I think if you tell them what you're looking for, they could find someone for you. It is a pretty area.

Toronto
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8. Re: How much time for Monteverde Reserve?

sounds like your guide was not a good fit for the reserve.

some people claim that flash photography startles animals, can kill them or prevent bird eggs from hatching. i'm not a zoologist, so i cannot verify that.

think of it this way: if you are doing any activity that you think would be harmful if replicated 20 times a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, then its bad. shoving a stick into a tarantula hole to pull one out - i assume there are only a few tarantula holes along the main trail. if this is being done non-stop, its stupid. once a month? i can understand.

our guide was pulling off leaves and squishing berries and stuff. made us feel uncomfy. if every guide did that, there would literally be nothing left (his name was Andrea, i think. has damaged fingers on his hand. he is very anti-other guides).

how do you choose a guide? well, its kind of hard. you go to the cloudforest in the morning and the guides are there. or you can pay more and have a non-park guide guide you (not recommended)

Texas
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for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
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9. Re: How much time for Monteverde Reserve?

Our guide was the good guide, the one protecting nature - I'm supportive of that, so I was okay with going along with the rules he enforced. First time I ever felt sorry for a tarantula.

Monteverde Costa...
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10. Re: How much time for Monteverde Reserve?

Lots of good advice already on the post. I will just throw in my two cents worth as a hotel owner here and big advocate of getting a guide at the Monteverde Reserve.

Why? Because as mentioned you then find out about how the cloud forest lives which is interesting. Also as mentioned you have a much better chance of seeing birds and animals and the guide has a scope which you can take pictures through.

I am talking here about the Monteverde Reserve specifically. Yeah the guidebooks say it is full of people etc so go to Santa Elena instead.

Well maybe there are more people at Monteverde because people see more there?

I believe the latter.

Most visitors here have time only for one reserve. If you can stay longer then by all means go to the Santa Elena reserve as well. The Santa Elena reserve is also good however people in general see more at Monteverde. The Quetzals are moving in right now also and most people going with a guide will have a good chance to see one now till April.

So anyway the way it works is that there is an authorised group of guides at the MV reserve. They are all experienced and good. No other guides can guide there without special permission. They have an association.

There are two options for a guide at the MV reserve. Call CCT the actual reserve. They run tours with guides. The way it works is that guides are required to take turns and run these tours for the reserve. Before they were compensated for this. Last year the reserve changed the rules and required the guides to do these tours (The reserve gets the money) for FREE. Yeah any tips they get but they are not compensated. Not even for gas to get out there on the days they need to do these tours.

So that is one option and doing this then please remember the guide is not making anything on this unless you tip them. Also in this case you will have a good chance of a full group which can be up to about 12 people maximum. The reserve keeps filling these tours till the max number of people.

So the other option is to get one of these same guides on the other days when they can do tours on their own and then you may be able to find a guide more to your liking. The guides like any group of people have different personalities etc. Some are great jokers where appropriate and some more serious. But all know their stuff.

When you go with a guide on their regular working days you have the advantage of knowing that the guide keeps the majority of the fee and any tips. They do have to I believe still pay the reserve a dollar or two for each person for the right to guide there.

There are two ways to look at this of course and anyone believing that that reserve itself should require the guides to work for almost nothing on these tours well then fine.

I personally do not think it is fair but that is my opinion only (although I think the guides agree with me).

I believe that having a great group of experienced guides is an advantage to the reserve and that they should fairly compensate the guides for their time and that they should realize that this group of guides helps promote the reserve and thus makes the reserve more income. Well ok that is my opinion after working with guides and guests for years.

None of the guides that I know at the MV reserve would ever bother animals or any living thing or the forest. My guess is any reference to damage or bothering any living thing was not at the MV reserve.

Ok so anyway how do you get a guide?

Ask at your hotel either before or when you arrive. Ask them for a semi private tour direct with a guide. Not the tour the reserve does. Unless of course you want to help the reserve directly then have them call the CCT and get on one of their tours. Remember though in that case the guide is not making anything other than any tips you or others may offer.

Ok the hotel can call a guide directly based on your interests. Most people just want the basic general tour in which case any guide they work with and know should be fine. Others may be interested more in birds and then in that case there are other options such as a special birding tour or a private tour. I won’t get into that here but there are other options.

Another big advantage of getting a guide directly is that you have a much better chance then of having a smaller group or if lucky a private tour for the lower semi private tour which is what they call the basic 3 – 3.5 hour tour.

So if the hotel does not know a guide then the guide association has a direct number to call where they can assign a guide for the next day (or possibly hook you up with a birding tour). Also the best time to do it is to start at 7:30Am approx which is the best time for bird activity etc.

The guide’s association number is 2645-6282. Or 2645-7039.

The prices for the basic tour are the same. $17.00 per person as of this year. In either case you will pay the reserve entrance fee also. That is also $17.00 except for Kids or students WITH ID. Then it is $9.00. If you have student IDs or even staff IDs and work at a school or university bring your IDs with you to Costa Rica. You can save money on lots of things. There are no student discounts however for the guides.

The reserve accepts credit cards or cash. If you do a non reserve tour the guide would need to be paid in cash. Tipping is optional but very much appreciated.

Also if you have no vehicle. Ask at the hotel about buses but I think the best way to go is with a local shuttle service that would pick you up at your hotel around 7:00AM and get you to the reserve to meet the guide. They can bring you back as well if you tell them to be there when the tour ends. This shuttle service is $3.00 per person. Their phone number is 2645-6117 or 8377-9385. They only speak Spanish so you can have the hotel call them to set it up. A cab runs up to $10.00 or so if you prefer that or have a large group. If you have a large group you can call the shuttle service too and arrange something. I like supporting them as it is a great service for guests.

Also there is a great shuttle service to the Santa Elena reserve also. That number is 2645-6332 or 8373-5226. That service to Santa Elena is much better than the bus. If you get bus tickets to the Santa Elena reserve you DO NOT have to buy the entrance fee from the people selling the bus tickets. Tell them you just need the bus ticket as you already have the entrance fee. Then buy the entrance fee at the reserve and the reserve then keeps the entire fee.

Sorry about making this so long but there is a lot of info involved. I have no vested interest in guides other than desiring that people enjoy Monteverde. I am not a guide but I can say that the guides are a great resource that we have here in Monteverde and I just think that people will find that this will be your best value here and also the best activity here to really get to know the cloud forest.

I also believe that the guides really are not getting rich on this. There are months when they have almost no customers and have to live off of money saved. I tried to calculate this once and I figure if a guide made $20,000 US a year it would mean he-she was working almost every day, which is just not possible.

If your hotel tries to discourage you on this then my advice is that they are trying to make money off of getting you to do something else. The guides and the reserve don’t pay commission so a hotel or eager front desk person may want to steer you towards something else.

Heaven forbid right?

Once again the Quetzals are showing up here in Monteverde right now. Why not show up yourself and say hi to them?

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