Monteverde means “green mountain,” and this misty, 26,000-acre oasis is among the most verdant peaks on the planet. Colonized in 1951 by pacifist Quakers, who converted it into a protected cloud forest, it’s home to 100 mammal and over 400 avian species, most famously the resplendent quetzal, the mythological bird that’s also the national symbol of Guatemala.
Monteverde is a true pilgrimage spot for nature lovers. Scientists have discovered its 100-foot canopy to be teeming with 90 percent of the forest’s superabundant life. This means that as you whisk down one of the zip-lines, or stroll along the nearly two miles of hanging bridges, you’ll find exotic trees spreading their foliage to soak up the sun, as well as monkeys, tree frogs, and hummingbirds scurrying in search of berries and nuts.
This Edenic refuge has more to offer than just animals. It’s also home to the world’s most diverse array of orchids—500 in all—as well as stunning epiphytes and bromeliads in the communally run Santa Elena Reserve. When you’ve finished your hike, stop by the Quaker-founded cheese factory for some free samples, or visit the fair-trade coffee co-op for some of the world’s most aromatic joe.
Monteverde is a true sanctuary, a place where nature is revered by all who visit. The Quakers who founded it say it best: “Here we’re all part of the same humanity, the same planet, which we share with the rest of creation.”
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