Taking a night tour in Monteverde is the best way to see the nocturnal Costa Rica wildlife. Since 80% of Monteverde’s wildlife comes out at night, going on a Monteverde night walk is among the best things to do in Monteverde.
Explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest with the guidance of a knowledgeable tracker to show you all of the critters you usually wouldn’t see. Plus, walking through the cloud forest at night is a beautiful experience in and of itself.
Meander the trails with nothing but the sound of Cicadas, and the rustling of animals in the Monteverde canopy. Gaze up at the stars in the inky black sky. This is the magic of the cloud forest at night. Of course, spotting a two-toed sloth, a pit viper, or a colourful bird is always a huge plus!
This detailed guide to one of the best Monteverde night tours will give you the low down on what to expect, pricing, what you’ll see and more!
I recommend this Monteverde Night Tour
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The mountainous region of Monteverde Costa Rica is located at the northernmost edge of the Puntarenas Province and where the Guanacaste, Alajuela and Puntarenas provinces converge. A distance of 72 miles (115km) from La Fortuna, 75 miles (120km) from the Liberia Airport and 87 miles (140km) from the capital of San Jose.
At the core of the Monteverde region, situated in the Cordillera de Tilaran mountain range, you will find the town of Santa Elena, the main hub for where to stay in Monteverde. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve lies east of the town.
If you are up for some of the best ziplining and hanging bridges Monteverde has to offer, head to Selvatura Adventure Park on your trip to this region, one of my favourite Monteverde things to do. Monteverde is also the second destination along this 10 days in Costa Rica itinerary.
Recommended Night Tour in Monteverde
I recommend taking this night tour in Monteverde
Take a walk through the Monteverde cloud forest with Johnny, your friendly and knowledgeable guide. With a plethora of information on all of the Monteverde creatures and a ton of passion to boot, Johnny will show you everything the Monteverde rainforest has to offer while telling jokes and keeping your kids entertained (if you have any).
Groups are limited to 8 people, so you get the most personalized experience out of one of the top night tours Monteverde offers.
Monteverde Night Tour Location
The Monteverde night tour takes place at the Wildlife Refuge Monteverde, a 1.25 mile (2km) walk or 5-minute drive north of Santa Elena Monteverde town centre in Monteverde Park.
Click on this Monteverde Costa Rica map to be taken to an interactive version of Google Maps where you can plan your ideal route to take the best night tour Monteverde offers. Alternatively, read on about the best ways to get to your night walk Monteverde.
How to Get to the Monteverde
By Rental Car
You can reach the night tour in Monteverde within a 5-minute drive by rental car.
I use Discover Cars for all of my car rentals within Costa Rica and around the world. I like that Discover Cars compares local and international companies to find you the best deal. And since exploring Monteverde is best done by rental car, reserve early!
NOTE | Monteverde region and the town of Santa Elena have no rental car companies. So make sure to pick up your rental car in San Jose, Liberia or La Fortuna.
Enter ‘Wildlife Refuge Monteverde’ into Google Maps (or Waze) to find the best route to get there. Otherwise, follow Route 606 heading north out of Santa Elena town centre for 1.25 miles (2km) and then turn right at La Casita De Edwin onto C. Los Camachos. Follow the signs for the short distance to the Monteverde night tour.
TIP | A 4×4 vehicle is not required to make this trip, although I would recommend a rental car with high clearance.
If you do not have access to a rental car, you can visit the Monteverde night hike via taxi. Take a taxi from the official Santa Elena taxi stand, or ask your hotel reception to call a taxi for hotel pickup. The minimum cost is $1.5 USD and most trips range from $2-15 USD within Monteverde and the cloud forests region. Taxi fares are only accepted in cash.
NOTE | Santa Elena town offers two types of taxis, the official red taxis and the pirate taxis. Both are safe to take, just make sure to ask to finalize the price before getting in.
The best night tour Monteverde offers can be reached on foot from Santa Elena town centre. The distance is approximately 1 mile (1.8km) and takes you over varied terrain along the main road. Expect uphill and downhill sections on this 30-minute walk.
I recommend taking a taxi back to your hotel after your Monteverde hiking at night, which you can arrange with Johnny. Walking along the main roads at night can be considered dangerous due to poor lighting.
Night Tour in Monteverde Pricing
The Monteverde Rainforest Night Walk entrance fee is $23 USD per person.
Upon research of other Monteverde tours companies, this comes in as one of the more economical Monteverde activities offered in terms of night walk options.
Monteverde Night Tour Hours
The Monteverde Night Tour hours are offered in timeslots of 5:30PM and 8PM.
The night walk tour Monteverde runs daily all year round making it one of the top accessible Monteverde Costa Rica things to do.
The duration of the Monteverde Night Tour is 2 hours.
Best Time to Go on a Night Tour
Time of Year
Monteverde can be visited all year round but experiences the highest heat (around 32°C) in the summer months between June and August and the most rain in September through December. But because the Monteverde region is essentially a large living and breathing rainforest, you will experience rainfall all year round.
NOTE | The pathways on your Monteverde night walk will be dirt, so make sure to bring sturdy shoes you don’t mind getting dirty when it rains.
The high season in Monteverde is January through March with the height of tourism settling in the month of January each year.
I visited in mid-March, and while it was busy and rained off and on for most of my one-week visit, it didn’t dampen my experience whatsoever.
Time of Day
Yes, of course, the Monteverde night tour has to be taken at night, but there are two timeslots to choose from. The 5:30PM timeslot is best for families with younger kids that may be afraid of wandering around the rainforest in the dark.
When taking the night tour in Monteverde in this timeslot, you will enjoy dusk lighting and sunset between 5:30PM and 6:15PM depending on the month you visit. It will be pitch dark by the time the night walk ends.
The 8:30PM timeslot ensures your entire Monteverde night walk is carried out in complete darkness.
Monteverde Night Tour Wildlife
Okay, now that I’ve covered all the practical information about the night tour in Monteverde, here is what to expect in terms of Monteverde wildlife, since that’s the whole point of the tour!
A general note about spotting wildlife in Monteverde, or anywhere in Costa Rica for that matter, is that wildlife sightings are not guaranteed.
While seeing a sloth or kinkajou on your tour might be your top priority, these spottings are rare because the Monteverde cloud forest is not the ideal natural habitat for these animals. Since Monteverde is located at a higher elevation, the nighttime can become too cold for these animals. You are more likely to spot a sloth on your visit to neighbouring La Fortuna.
Spotting Monteverde animals like the white-nosed Coati (a member of the raccoon family) and the Agouti, are more common.
But, with that said, 80% of Monteverde’s mammals are nocturnal, so taking a night tour in Monteverde is the best way to see them!
The majority of what you will see along your Monteverde night tour is of the amphibian and insect variety.
Arachnids on the Monteverde Night Tour
Orange Kneed Tarantula
Spotting a tarantula along your night walk is very common and will likely be one of the first things you do on your night walk in the Monteverde forest. Tunnelled into the side of the dirt hill, you will see the thick hairy legs of a tarantula deep within.
I think it’s important to note that tarantulas are not poisonous, something that we’ve been led to believe through various popular movies.
If accidentally touched or bitten by a tarantula (which is unlikely to happen), your skin will become red, swollen and itchy, but that will be the extent of it. Generally speaking, humans are considered a threat to a tarantula, so just keep your distance and you will be completely fine.
Spotting a scorpion is another common sighting on your night walk Monteverde. We spotted a scorpion on the way back from the forest to our car. Our guide said “want to see something cool?” and shone a black light at the scorpion. It turned a neon green colour! And the guide actually picked it up (not advisable).
While there are dangerous species of scorpions in the world, Costa Rica scorpions provide no threat of danger and are considered not poisonous. But please, don’t pick up a scorpion willy-nilly along your travels in Costa Rica.
Amphibians on the Night Tour in Monteverde
A stop to check out a pond or small water body along your Monteverde night tour is likely. While this may be where you see a frog, the frogs I saw along my tour were in the greenery along the trail. I was lucky enough to see the elusive Glass Frog.
When you shine a light under it, it’s nearly translucent! This is to protect themselves from other wildlife and acts as the ultimate camouflage.
The Milk Frog is a common Costa Rica amphibian found in the Monteverde rain forest. About the size of a small child’s fist, the Milk Frog is named after the sticky white substance they secrete when threatened. This substance is considered poisonous to potential predators. Don’t touch it!
Other frogs you may see on your night tour in the Monteverde reserve are the rufous-eyed brook frog, red-eyed tree frog, poison arrow frog, marine toad, cane toad and leopard frog.
Reptiles on the Monteverde Night Tour
Side-striped Pit Viper
As we walked the dirt paths through the atmospheric Monteverde cloud forest at night, we came across a green side-striped pit viper tangled into some nearby branches. We ended up getting pretty close to the little guy, which was fascinating and exhilarating all at once.
Side-striped pit vipers (or green palm vipers) call the mountains of Costa Rica and western Panama home and are indeed venomous. While fatalities are rare, bites are serious.
Blue-eyed Anole Lizard
The Blue-eyed Anole lizard is a long-legged slender lizard that has the ability to lighten the colour of its body quite substantially, with red and orange tones indicating a change in mood. I gazed into the spectacularly deep but electric blue eyes of this lizard and it was like looking into a galaxy of stars. So cool!
Insects on the Monteverde Night Walk
The Moss Mantis was one of the most interesting things we saw on our Monteverde night tour. While passing a large moss-covered stump, our guide did a magic trick with his hand to reveal a Moss Mantis resting on the stump. It looked exactly like the moss growing on the stump! A very effective camouflage. Just fascinating.
As part of the praying mantis family, the Moss Mantis has a triangular head with bulging eyes supported on a workable neck. Larger forearms are formed for better catching and gripping of prey. The Moss Mantis can eat crickets, moths, flies, caterpillars, beetles and a plethora of other insects.
Other insects you can see on the Night Tour in Monteverde are leaf-mimick katydids, stick insects, beetles, leaf-cutter ants, grasshoppers and moths.
Other wildlife on the Monteverde Night Tour
Spotting a sloth in Costa Rica is a must-have experience, but I think it’s important to note that Monteverde is not the best place to see a Costa Rica sloth. This isn’t their native grounds, so a trip through the rainforest in La Fortuna is a better bet.
You may also be able to see mammals like the grey fox, Agouti, white-nosed Coati, Armadillo, Porcupine and colourful birds like the Motmot, Toucanet and various hummingbirds (likely to be sleeping).
Orchids on the Monteverde Night Tour
You might not think of flora and fauna when considering a Monteverde night walk, but some of the most beautiful orchids can be found in the hills of the Monteverde region. If orchids are of interest to you, make sure to tell your guide and they will make extra effort to spot a few spectacular species for you on your hike through the Monteverde reserve.
What to Wear on Monteverde
Once the sun hits the horizon, the rainforests in the Monteverde region can cool down significantly. This happens all year round, so make sure to dress in layers for your night tour in Monteverde.
I recommend wearing a pair of long athletic pants, and tall socks to cover your ankles with either a t-shirt or long-sleeve shirt under a light windbreaker or rain jacket.
Since you will be hiking through the Monteverde cloud forest, make sure to bring sturdy close-toed shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Since rainfall is common, it is reasonable to expect the trails to get a little muddy.
What to Bring to the Night Tour
Most Monteverde night tours (including this one) will provide you with a small hand-held flashlight for illuminating the many creatures you will see in the rainforest.
In some cases, these flashlights are pretty weak in terms of light, so if you are eager to spot wildlife and see all of its detail, I would recommend bringing your own headlamp.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Lodging
Okay, let’s take a look at where to stay in Monteverde, Costa Rica. The town of Santa Elena and the surrounding hills are the best base for your adventures in the Monteverde region and offer something for everyone. You can expect quaint rainforest cabins to luxury resorts nestled in the hills.
No matter where you stay in Monteverde, you can reach the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve within a 15-20 minute drive.
Travel Insurance for Monteverde
Monteverde Costa Rica is known for nature adventures, and with that, comes the risk of fall, injury or accident. Don’t be left with huge hospital bills and protect yourself with the right travel insurance.
Travel insurance is one of those things I hope you never have to use. But in case you do, you’ll want reliable insurance on your side. Plus, it’s such a small cost for peace of mind. Please, don’t leave home without it!
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Final Thoughts on the Monteverde Night Tour
Taking a night tour in Monteverde is one of the best things to do in Monteverde. A night walk rounds out a Monteverde experience really well and allows you to see 80% more wildlife!
Walking amongst the cloud forest with the sounds of Costa Rica wildlife, the swaying rainforest canopy and the starry night sky above is a quintessential activity on your Costa Rica itinerary.