Curi-Cancha Reserve: Avoiding the Crowds in Monteverde

Last Updated: May 2, 2024

Even though Monteverde is a remote destination, hundreds of thousands of tourists still visit each year. In fact, during the height of the dry season, its parks and reserves can become quite crowded, often with busloads of people filling the trails. These crowds can certainly take away from the cloud forest experience. But don’t worry, there are quieter options. One is the Curi-Cancha Reserve. This private reserve limits the number of people to just 50 at one time. In this post, we’ll cover the Curi-Cancha Reserve and share our experience hiking and birdwatching there. We’ll also tell you how you can book a tour.

Curi Cancha Reserve - Avoiding the Crowds in Monteverde

About Curi-Cancha Reserve

The Curi-Cancha Reserve is a relatively small preservation of 205 acres (83 hectares). It has about 3.25 miles (5.2 km) of trails that cut through a portion of the property.

The reserve sits at some of the highest elevations in Monteverde, between 4,750 and 5,300 feet (1,450 and 1,615 meters). About half of the land is primary forest and the other half is secondary forest. There are also some cleared areas with flowering and fruiting plants. All combined, this diversity of habitats makes Curi Cancha an excellent place for bird and wildlife viewing.

As we mentioned above, one of the best things about Curi Cancha is that it limits the number of visitors to 50 at once. This not only makes your experience on the trails more enjoyable, but also helps to not impact the ecosystem.

Less people also means that it is easier to spot wildlife. Even with the limits, though, sometimes groups do visit the reserve. On our hike, we briefly passed a party of about 15.  


The Curi-Cancha Reserve has a network of nine short trails. The longest is only about 1 mile (1.5 km), but since the trails lead into one another, you can combine several and hike for about a half day.

Sign Entrance Curi Cancha Reserve
Entrance to the reserve. Note the Oropendola bird nest on the right.

There are also many cut-through paths that allow you to quickly go from one area to the next without having to hike the whole trail. This makes it ideal for families with young kids or hikers who may get tired part way through.

Here is a picture of the trail map.

Trail Map Curi Cancha
Trail Map

Overall, the conditions throughout Curi Cancha are easy to moderate, and the trails are very well maintained. On a few of the farther-reaching trails, there are some short sections that are a bit more steep and slippery, but nothing too treacherous.

The climate on the trails also differs. Sometimes you will be hiking through thick forest where it is darker, damper, and feels cooler. At other times, you will pass through open areas or gardens where the sun is shining, making it a bit hot. For this reason, we recommend wearing layers and having a light rain jacket in case of rain. See our Planning Your Visit section, below, for more tips on what to bring. 

Curi Cancha Reserve - Avoiding the Crowds in Monteverde
Curi Cancha has open areas like this as well as thick forest

Guided Tour vs. Self-Guided Tour

We recommend getting a guide to see the most, since it can be hard to spot wildlife in the dense cover. Birds, especially, tend to be high up in the canopy of mature trees and out of sight.

Guides are a good resource because they know where to look and also have powerful scopes so that you can see an animal that is far away. In addition, a good guide is extremely knowledgeable about the flora and fauna and will teach you something new no matter your knowledge-base.

See our Planning Your Visit section, below, for more information on guided tours.

Group on a tour Curi Cancha

If you’re mostly interested in experiencing the beauty of the cloud forest and less concerned with spotting wildlife, you could do the reserve self-guided. This is what we decided to do on a recent visit since we have been hiking in Monteverde several times over the years.

When you arrive at Curi Cancha, the person at reception will give you a map and help you choose the best route for your particular group. We had our son with us, who was five months old at the time, so they helped us choose a combination of trails that would take a few hours max. You can also mention to them if you are hoping to see anything in particular, like the Resplendent Quetzal, a highly sought-after bird with beautiful tail feathers.

What You’ll See

From a wildlife-viewing point of view, the fact that Curi Cancha has a diversity of habitats is key. That’s because many species prefer transition zones and forest edges. This allows them to stay hidden in the thicker forest at times and go gather food from the open areas when it is safe.

To further enhance these habitats, the staff at Curi Cancha has strategically planted many flowering and fruiting plants in the open areas. Near the cross section of several trails, for example, is a garden and then a long tunnel of thicket that you can walk through.

Forest Tunnel Curi Cancha
We saw a lot of birds along this natural tunnel

In the short time that we spent in the areas, we identified about 15 different bird species. Some of the more interesting kinds we saw included the White-eared Ground Sparrow, Slate-throated Redstart, and Chestnut-capped Brush-finch. There were also lots of hummingbirds visiting the gardens, including some Costa Rica endemics like the Coppery-headed Emerald and Magenta-throated Woodstar. If you are a birder, you’ll be happy to know that about 250 species of birds have been identified in the reserve.  

Redstart Curi Cancha Reserve
The Slate-throated Redstart

In the more heavily forested sections of Curi Cancha, we didn’t see nearly as many birds, but we did see a few cool ones. Those included the Long-tailed Manakin, Emerald Toucanet, Three-waddled Bell Bird, and a Black Guan. 

Black Guan birding Curi Cancha
Black Guan

We saw more wildlife in these sections, though. Some highlights were agouti (small rodent-like animals), variegated squirrels, and a troop of white-faced monkeys.  

Monkey Curi Cancha Reserve
A white-faced monkey we spotted through the thick forest

The flora along the trails is also magnificent, especially in those virgin areas of primary forest. Looking up through the tall canopy and seeing how much life is growing on each tree is just outstanding. It’s really what the cloud forest is all about.

Views Curi Cancha
Gorgeous cloud forest views

Planning Your Visit to Curi-Cancha Reserve

Self-Guided Tour

Reservations: Because Curi Cancha limits the number of people that can enter at one time, we recommend contacting them to make a reservation even for self-guided tours. At certain times of year like the rainy season (May through end of November), this may not be necessary, but it is worth checking if you only have a few days in Monteverde.

Cost: Admission is $20 adults, $12 children/young adults ages 5-20, free for children under 5.  

Hours: Curi Cancha is open daily from 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Guided Tour

If you’d like help booking a guided tour at Curi Cancha, we work with a small company in Monteverde with excellent bilingual, certified naturalist guides. Please use the booking link below. You won’t pay until the reservation is confirmed, and we’ll email you as part of the process. Booking through us costs the same and helps support our website!

Cost of Private Tour: $62 per person + 13% tax. You pay the entrance fee separately ($20 pp adults and $12 pp students). Free for children 5 and under.

Offered: 7:30 a.m.

Duration: 3 hours (approximate) 

Includes: Certified, bilingual naturalist guide with spotting scope. *Transportation available for an additional charge. 

Ficus tree Curi Cancha
A huge ficus tree along the trail

What to Wear/Bring

IMPORTANT: A copy of your passport, driver’s license, or other valid picture ID is required to enter Curi Cancha.

Dress in layers. We recommend lightweight long pants and a long-sleeved shirt with a lighter shirt underneath.

Bring a raincoat as it rains frequently in the cloud forest.

For footwear, hiking boots or sturdy sneakers with good grips are best.

If you have a camera that you don’t want to get wet, either pack a plastic bag to wrap around it or use a rain cover. Backpack covers are also a good idea to have on hand.

If you’re interested in birding, you can rent binoculars through Curi Cancha for $10 a day. If you would rather have your own, lightweight ones are good for travel, but for the best performance, you’ll need something heavier. We really like our Steiners because they perform well and are rainproof, which is important for Costa Rica.


From downtown Santa Elena, take the main road leading to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Immediately before the Monteverde Cheese Factory, take a left and follow the dirt road for a few minutes to Curi Cancha.  

Here is a link to the exact location on Google Maps.


We have hiked most of the reserves in Monteverde and each one has been a different experience. The Curi-Cancha Reserve was definitely superior to others as far as bird and wildlife watching. And, with less crowds, the overall experience was really enjoyable.

Have a question about Curi Cancha or want to share your experience visiting? Leave us a comment below.

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Last Updated: May 2, 2024

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