Nicoya, Monte Alto Nature Reserve
If you've had enough of the heat and dust of Guanacaste you can quickly change into a completely different scenery. A 60 min drive from Samara, or 20 min from Nicoya you will find green mountains with refreshing cool winds.
Monte Alto Reserve near Nicoya
Monte Alto is a nature reserve located 480 - 833 meters above sea level. It belongs to the Nosara Protected Zone which serves the combined purpose of protecting nature and wildlife along with the important water resources of the headwaters of the Rio Nosara. The project was founded in 1992 when the Rio Nosara had lost 90 percent of its original amount of water due to deforestation.
The Orchid Trail
Today the reserve covers 346 hectares of low mountain moist forest which is in transition to humid forest. Rare species like small wildcats roam
the thickets and scientists discovered yet unknown species of plants.
Monte Alto forms part of the "Cuenca" a continuous stretch of protected forest in the mountainous interior of the Nicoya Peninsula. It belongs to the biological corridor of Costa Rica and connects to other nature preserves like the Karen Mogensen Reserve.
A major attraction of Monte Alto is the orchid path which winds 500 m through the forest. The easy-to-walk trail is flanked by trees and posts, festooned with many different orchids displaying intriguing shapes and colors. 67 species of orchids thrive in the Monte Alto mountain reserve.
Small bridges lead over the winding creek which eventually will become the majestic Rio Nosara. You see large blue Morpho butterflies flapping by, watch troops of leaf-cutting ants carrying pieces of flowers and leaves, and sometimes you come across howler monkeys, agutis and coatis. Bird lovers might be interested to know that around 157 different species of birds are found in the reserve.
Besides the orchid trail there are other paths in Monte Alto. One leads to a waterfall, another one to the lookout point of Cerro Romo at 833 meters altitude from where you enjoy panoramic views across the canopy to the Gulf of Nicoya in the east and to the beaches of Samara in the west.
The Reserve's Guest House
Monte Alto offers accommodation in a two-storey log house sourrounded by forest. The 5 rooms on the first floor have bunk beds for up to 4 people, each room has a private bathroom. The second floor is a big area for communal use which opens to the west and gives view into the mountains. Upon prior notice you can get traditional meals, served in the nearby rancho.
Monte Alto is a great destination for nature lovers and eco-tourists who can learn about the intricacies of the jungle on guided tours. It is also well suited for groups and educational activities. A meeting room with audiovisual equipment for 30 people is available.
For more information contact: Miguel Mendez, Tel. (506) 2659 9347,
How to get to Monte Alto:
The reserve offers easy access and is on the way from Nicoya or the Tempisque bridge to
Samara and Carrillo. The road to Monte Alte is on your left, around
500 meters past the village center of Hojancha. From there it's 6 km to the reserve's entrance.
If coming from Samara drive to Carrillo and Santa Marta to Hojancha. For most of the way the road is paved and offers a scenic alternate route to the usually travelled Samara - Nicoya road.