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Cloud Forests of Costa Rica

Published: Friday, 01 May 2015

the highest concentration of orchid species in the world, with over 500 varieties. 

It is so named because the jungle retains clouds in its canopy that help keep plants moist. In Monteverde, you can explore the cloud forest through pathways in the tops of trees, ziplines, horseback, or hiking. 

Monteverde Cloud Forest is home of the famous Quetzal bird, and a key habitat for migrating birds from both North and South America. There are many beautiful frogs and butterfly species, as well as unique mammals such as the paca, a gentle spotted mammal, spreads seeds and helps maintain diversity. 

The 26,000 acre reserve was almost lost to development, until scientists, amazed at the rich diversity, asked the local Quakers to protect the land. Over the years, land was added to the park and to others in the area. 

Monteverde has a rich culture of largely self-reliant farmers, artists, and scientists. The cloud forest is a big part of the lives of the people there. 

Monteverde Institute continues the tradition of educating people about the importance of biodiversity and of cloud forests - these forests absorb huge amount of CO2 and provide many "services" to other areas of Costa Rica. At the top of the Continental Divide, weather is mild and comfortable year around. The institute also works with local people to encourage economic freedoms; it's quite an interesting organization. 

Monteverde Institute sees the value of permaculture in continuing to protect these pristine forests. With permauculture design, the people who live in the area can experience abundance, health, and choices, while protecting these rich ecosystems. It's definitely a win-win situation. 

The area is an interesting mix of modern and traditional with modern conveniences but yet with many people living a very simple life. Costa Rica is one of the safest places to travel in the Americas, one of the friendliest and one of the most beautiful. 

A common Costa Rican greeting is "Pura Vida" meaning Pure Life. The deeper meaning is "Life is wonderful - enjoy it!" This is the attitude throughout Costa Rica, so come and check it out, and partake in Pura Vida! 

This is going to be a very, very special experience - we hope to see you there! Please check out more course information here:

Indigenous history of Costa Rica


Costa Rica has been inhabited for at least 10,000 years by a number of indigenous cultures. 

There is evidence of Olmec and Nathual influence and some of the ruins include sophisticated aqueducts and other structures. 

Medicine was sophisticated as well, with thousands of remedies derived from native plant combinations. Studies are now providing evidence that many of these remedies do treat various conditions.  We will explore some of these plants during the the PDC.

When Europeans came, many natives fled or died from small pox, and African slaves were imported for labor, similar to other areas in the Americas.

One thing that distinguishes Costa Rica is its recent legacy of peace, and democracy. 

Costa Rica has continued this tradition beyond its borders by successfully working to bring more stability to its neighbors as well. This also, is worth exploring. What kind of culture breeds the success of peace? We think that Monteverde is a good place to explore that question.