Though you can see plenty of wildlife during the day in Monteverde, the cloud forest buzzes to life when the sun goes down since many of the animals are nocturnal. So if you want to see more wildlife, you have to take a night walk in Monteverde. This is an excellent activity for all ages, especially if you have young ones who love creepy crawleys!
I recently went on a Monteverde night walk with Three Brothers Tours at Finca Santa Maria and highly enjoyed it. We strolled through the private reserve for 2 hours in search of animals and for my first proper night walk in Costa Rica, it was very unique experience and I’d recommend it to anyone.
Here are some photos of the wildlife I saw on the walk. Though I have seen a couple of them during the day before, the rest I haven’t and was a treat to see. Our guide, Elberth was extremely informative and really helpful when it came to taking pictures. He knew exactly how much light to give and how far to stand which is very nice since taking pictures in the dark is a bit tricky!
Animals Seen on the Monteverde Night Walk: Finca Santa Maria
Did you know that only 2 toed sloths live in Monteverde? 3 toed sloths don’t live up in the cloud forests since they don’t have enough fur to stay warm.
We also saw Click bugs, several different types of Katydids and other sleeping birds.
Thoughts About the Monteverde Night Walk
My group was small (5 people) so it felt very personal and we got excellent attention from Elberth. Though the reserve is quite closed (it’s on 10 hectares but we only walked maybe 2 kilometers), we still saw a handful of wildlife.
It was pretty crowded though I have to say. I went in the middle of March, high season in Monteverde and there were at least 5 other groups doing the same night walk on the same trails. When we saw the sloth, there must have been at least 30 people crowded underneath, shining their flashlights and trying to take pictures. We didn’t really run into the other groups except when we saw the sloth.
As for our guide, Elberth was awesome (and I’ve been on many guided nature walks). He was very good at instructing us where to walk and stand to see the animals and helped us take pictures. He even took pictures for one girl who was too scared to get close to the tarantula.
We didn’t get to see as many insects since I went in the peak of dry season. Rainy season has a lot more insects. Read more about Costa Rica weather.
There are a bunch of Monteverde night walks. I thought the Finca Santa Maria was fairly good but I have heard that Curi-Cancha night walk is the best out of all of them since it’s more open. But the key is getting a good guide. I heard from some other visitors that they didn’t have a very enthusiastic or informative guide so they didn’t enjoy it as much since they wanted to learn about the creatures they saw.
I was hoping to see a kinkajou but I was still very happy with what we saw. I think many people get disappointed by night walks because they assume it’s like a zoo but come on, it’s nature! I overheard people talking about how disappointed they were that they didn’t see any jungle cats and that the sloth we saw was up in a tree, not on the ground, which is absolutely ridiculous. You’re walking in the forest at night, did they really think that the animals were just going to walk up to us? Plus Monteverde is enormous – we were told that a jaguar was photographed for the very first time in Monteverde a year or two ago so seeing jungle cats on a busy finca is very super duper highly unlikely.
Wildlife is gonna do what it’s gonna do and the guides have no control over that nor should they.
Information and Tips for Going on a Night Tour in Monteverde
- 2 hour walk
- $25 per person including transportation
- Wear closed toed shoes and long pants. Though the trials at Finca Santa Maria are well maintained, it’s the forest so you’ll still brush up against branches and trees.
- Wear a jacket. It gets quite cool in Monteverde, down to the 60’s. Read more tips for Monteverde here.
- Since you do walk for 2 hours, it’s not recommended for those who have issues walking for long periods of time.
- Bug repellent isn’t necessary if you’re going to wear long pants and a jacket. If you have shorts or a t shirt, I do recommend putting some on.
- The guides have flashlights for everyone but you can bring your own if you like as the ones provided are not the strongest. Someone in my group had a headlamp which I thought was really useful.
- Always follow your guide’s instructions, don’t walk off the trail or touch the trees or bushes. You never know what could be hiding in there!
- Do not use flash on your camera unless instructed by your guide.
- I used my 24-105 mm lens for most of the pictures but for the sloth, I used my 100-400 mm lens since it was up in the tree. I saw some people just using their phone which worked for most of the animals except the sloth. The guides shine the light so you don’t need to use flash (unless permitted).
- Macro mode is very useful if you have a point and shoot.
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Read about other things to do in Monteverde!
Sky Adventures (zipline, hanging bridges, aerial tram)
Selvatura Park (Zipline, hanging bridges, insect and hummingbird garden)
Or about other wildlife watching activities in Costa Rica!