The Nature Preserve

Trails
Waterfalls
Riverfront
Creeks
Flora & Fauna

Access

Access to the 87-acre nature preserve and its trail system with riverfront on the Chirripó Pacífico River, with two creeks, waterfalls, and a natural swimming pool is exclusive to our artists. Guests at the neighboring property, which has only four small guest houses are permitted to access the trails during the hours of 9:00 to 4:00 p.m.

The Reserve

Exuberance & Diversity

With elevations from 1,000 to1,250 mts within the largest forest of its kind in the world, the Talamanca Range, which contains:

  • 5% of all the terrestrial species on Earth
  • 10% of all known bird species
  • 90% of Costa Rica’s total species of plants

Our region is a uniquely biodiverse land bridge where the faunas and floras of North and South America have been able to intermingle and interbreed.

The Chirripó River that runs through Monte Azul originates at Lake Chirripó, a glacial lake located in the Valle de los Lagos, remnant from the last glaciation 25,000 years ago.

Monte Azul Nature Reserve is located at the interface between these mountain forests are protected by several national parks (La Amistad, Chirripó, Barbilla, Tapantí, Los Quetzales) and various forest reserves, within a Conservation International-designated Conservation Hotspot, a WWF Global 200 Eco-region, a WWF/IUCN Centre of Plant Diversity, a Bird Life-designated Endemic Bird Area and overlaps a Ramsar wetland and two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.

Climate

The protected area of the Talamanca range is exposed to both Caribbean and Pacific climatic regimens, which also vary with elevation. Average temperatures range from about 25°C near sea level to -8°C (17° F) on the highest peaks.

The mean annual precipitation varies from 2000mm near the Caribbean coast to 6500mm (256 in) in some high mountain areas, most falling between May and November when the humidity remains high.

At Monte Azul, we are located on the Pacific slope with temperatures that range from the lowest around 11°C (52°F) to 27°C (81°F). Rainfall is around 3800mm (150 inches) per year, compared to Seattle at 36 inches!

In fact, private reserves like Monte Azul and Cloudbridge, for example, are important buffer areas that help extend and protect the range of many species of plants and animals.

Monte Azul forms the further point of an uninterrupted expanse of primary rainforest that stretches north to Tapantí/Los Quetzales and south to La Amistad International Park, which continues well into Panama. The region contains several hundred endemic plant species and one of the last major refuges for threatened fauna.

Birds

World Class Birding on Site

Enjoy an astonishing number of avian inhabitants just steps from your doors, including endemic species to passing migratory birds.

Particularly exceptional is the presence of birds considered difficult to spot by even the most experienced birder, including the Turquoise Cotinga (Cotinga ridwayi) and the White Crested Coquette, are both frequently observed on the property.

Some 600 species of birds are recorded in the Talamanca Forest, with Monte Azul recording over 240 species of birds on our property alone (link). At higher altitudes, it is estimated that there are up to 40 endemic bird species, making this area one of those with the highest levels of endemism in Central America.

Starting in October of 2007, Monte Azul Hotel hired Costa Rica birding experts, Noel Ureña and Luis Sánchez Arguedasto, to perform a year-long study of the bird population on our Nature Preserve.

As a result of the team’s field observations, the Monte Azul birding database includes 241 currently identified species of birds categorized under 41 family groups, among which are found 38 species of latitudinal migrants, 186 resident species, and two species whose populations include both resident and migratory categories.

141 species are considered abundant, 67 as common, and 18 less common. Among outstanding observations are the facts that all five species of Honeycreepers reported in Costa Rica are found at Monte Azul, as are 23 species of Hummingbirds.

Monte Azul is also a short drive from the legendary Skutch Ranch.

Fauna

30% of our species are endemic

Monte Azul is home to a number of highly visible animals such as a local family of Capuchin monkeys and the more elusive Spider monkey, as well as a number of other resident and transitory animals.

It is also home to a large number of White Crested Coquette hummingbirds, which are highly sought after by birdwatchers from around the world. Monte Azul is a valuable biological corridor that connects our property directly to the Chirripó and La Amistad Park, which straddles both Costa Rica and Panama.

An astounding 30% of the species are endemic to the region:

13 out of the 215 species of mammals
15-30 of the 600 species of birds
20 out of the 250 species of reptiles and amphibians
1 out of the 115 species of fish are endemic to the reserve

The Monitoring Centre at the United Nations states that perhaps no other park in the world possesses such a wealth of fauna found in Chirripó/La Amistad.

The area is one of the last refuges for all the felines of Central America:

Jaguar (Panthera onca, puma Felis concolor)
Ocelot (Felis pardalis)
Jaguarundi (Felis yagouaroundi)
Tiger Cat (Felis tigrina)

Flora

90% of Costa Rica’s flora is found here

The species diversity in the Talamanca Mountains is probably unequaled in any other area of equivalent size in the world, according to the United Nations World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Monte Azul’s rich forest land boasts a large number of epiphytes, tree ferns, and bromeliads, as well as over 150 identified tree species. (link)

Also numerous are flowering plants, including many orchids of varying size and bloom, with flowers appearing throughout the year.

The Talamanca range has some 10,000 flowering plants, over 4,000 non-vascular plants, approximately 1,000 fern species, 80% of the country’s mosses, and about 900 lichens.

Levels of endemism are estimated at over 30%. Tropical rainforest has covered the area for 25,000 years.

Of the twelve life zones of Costa Rica, at least nine occur in the region. These include all five altitudinal zones found in the tropics, from lowland tropical to rainforest cloud forest. Monte Azul is located in the lower montane forest altitudinal zone (1,000- 2,500 m).