The SINAC (National System of Conservation Areas) created the category of Absolute Reserve or Biological Reserve to protect unaltered areas, with extremely vulnerable ecosystems. In these reserves, the natural process occur with minimal human intervention; only research and educational activities are allowed.
The most visited Reserve is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is private and thus isn't considered a reserve in the truest sense.
Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde
This private nature reserve was established in 1972 and covers approximately 17,000 hectares (42,000 acres) of mountanuous cloud forest. It contains six life zones and is situated just east of the town of Monteverde in the Puntarenas Province. This area is famous for having approximately 500 species of orchid. Many other species of all sorts are found here in abundance: 400+ birds; approximately 500 types of butterlies, 100 species of mammal; and over 100 types of amphibians and reptiles.
Visitors often enjoy the wildlife via canopy bridges, ladders, ropes, pulley, suspended platforms along its hiking trails. Many also enjoy viewing the animal life housed in the zoological establishments such as serpentariums, butterfly gardens, insect museums and hummingbird galleries.
Monteverde is also known for its dairy products. This tradition dates back to when the region was settled by Quakers. Accordingly, Monteverde produces a large variety of cheeses countrywide. If you pass through Monteverde, you should visit the Cheese Factory (La Lecheria).
Adjacent to the park you find:
- Bosque Eterno de los Niños Conservation Area funded by children, families and schools from all over the world. The Bosque Eterno is the largest preserve in the area and covers app. 22,000 hectares (55,500 acres) but is continuously growing. A section of this preserve is called Bajo del Tigre and is well known for birdwatching and night hiking tours.
- Reserva Santa Elena is past the settlement of Santa Elena and to the north of Monteverde. From Reserva Santa Elena, one can enjoy spectacular views of the famous Arenal Volcano.
Cabo Blanco Absolute Reserve
This was the first protected area of the country, established in 1963 even before the creation of the National Park Service (now, SINAC). This reserve was created due to the efforts of Olof Wessberg, a Swedish man who made it his mission to protect the forest in the vicinity of his land. The reserve protects humid forest and beach areas, and is the area with the most rain in the Nicoya Peninsula. Despite the heavy rainfall, the vegetation is similar to the Santa Rosa National Park (which is dry forest), with predominance of evergreen species.
Despite the small size of the reserve, several species can be found here including: deers, peccaries, howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, raccoons, coyotes, ant-eater, herons, manakins, woodpeckers, parrots, curassow, and many species of frogs and snakes.
One of the most amazing phenomena in the reserve are the large populations of crabs that are not associated to the beach but to the land. These crabs engage in massive migrations from the land to the beach to reproduce, lay eggs, and then return to the land.
There is a Biological Station (San Miguel Biological Station) that was developed to promote and support teaching, research, and environmental education. Altough the reserve is mainly for research purposes, you can visit the place or the nearby beaches of Mal Pais, Montezuma and Santa Teresa.
Other biological reserves are:
Alberto Manuel Brenes Biological Reserve
Cerro Las Vueltas Biological Reserve
Source: SINAC Boza, M. 1981. Los Parques Nacionales de Costa Rica. Incafo. 310 p.