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Best Night Tours in Monteverde

a group of people on a night tour in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Best Night Tours in Monteverde in 2021

Several companies offer night tours in Monteverde, Costa Rica. If you search on the web for “best night tour in Monteverde,” you come across several ads from those night tour companies saying that their night tour is the best, but if they all say they are the best, then who really is?

Since this is one of the most frequently asked questions I get, I dove deep into the topic and developed my own study to help bring light to this question. I analyzed over 2,000 online customer reviews, came up with a list of the seven best night tours in the area and compiled my observations on this article. Let’s dive in: 

The following are the best night tours in Monteverde, Costa Rica: 

  • El Refugio Night Walk
  • Don Rodolfo Night Tour
  • El Bosque Night Tour
  • Ficus Trails Night Walk
  • Monteverde Night Tour
  • Night Walk Santamaria
  • Kinkajou Night Walk

Keep scrolling for more information as I break down the pros and cons of each night tour company to determine which one is best for you: 

El Refugio Night Walk

the entrance at El Refugio Night Walk

Reception area at El Refugio Night Walk

Night Tour El Refugio takes place at a wildlife refugee located approximately 25 minutes away from Monteverde. This site has a privileged location in the middle of a biological corridor, which is great for seeing animals. 

Oil Bird spotted at El Refugio Night Walk

El Refugio is one of the few places where the Oil Bird has been spotted in Costa Rica.

You can spot up to five species of mammals, a couple of snakes, a few bird species, and a handful of insects at El Refugio Night Tour, which is why this place is the best night tour to see wildlife in Monteverde, Costa Rica.

I recommend El Refugio Night Walk to those looking to see the widest variety of animals possible in the area. 

Night Tour Don Rodolfo

an owl perched on a tree branch

Owl at Night Tour Don Rodolfo.

Named after his original owner, Night Tour Don Rodolfo is situated about 10 minutes away from Santa Elena on a retreated conservation area named Don Rodolfo. This place, considered a hidden gem, is the least touristy destination for a night tour in Monteverde, Costa Rica.

Don Rodolfo’s Night Tour is a small family business that focuses on just one schedule, every day from 6 pm to 8 pm, and only with groups of no more than six people. The family is passionate about their forest, and they are as knowledgeable as can be on the wildlife present there. The trails are pretty flat, easy to manage, safe, and clean.

I recommend Night Tour Don Rodolfo to families looking for a less touristy, more intimate night tour experience.

El Bosque Night Tour

 

a Toucan at El Bosque Night Tour

A Toucan at El Bosque Night Tour.

El Bosque Night Tour takes place at a small private reserve called El Bosque, right in Monteverde. El Bosque Night Tour is the only night tour that focuses primarily on birdwatching. This site, situated in a young transitional forest between the old cloud forest and the new forest (secondary forest such as farms and developed areas), is ideal for birds to find shelter before ending their day.

You can spot up to twenty species of sleeping birds at El Bosque Night Tour, which is why this site is considered the best night tour for birding in Monteverde, Costa Rica.

I recommend El Bosque Night Tour to birders who want to see the widest variety of sleeping birds in the area.

Ficus Trails Night Walk

a green frog at Ficus Trails Night Tour

Frog at Ficus Trails Night Tour

Ficus Trails Night Tour takes place at a small private reserve called Ficus Trails, about 5 minutes away from the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. This site, situated in a young transitional forest, is very similar to the preserve mentioned above named El Bosque. So, Ficus Trail Night Walk is very similar to El Bosque Night Tour, except you will probably spot fewer bird species and few more mammal species at Ficus Trails.

Monteverde Night Tour

a tarantula spotted at Monteverde Night Tour

A Tarantula at Monteverde Night Tour.

Monteverde Night Tour takes place next to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. The Monteverde Night Tour is the only night tour that takes place in a cloud forest site. This site is an excellent place to experience the cloud forest at night, but it’s not the best to see wildlife. Animals prefer to live at lower altitudes and warmer forests to find food and shelter more quickly before ending their day. 

Night Walk Santamaria

a close up of a snake

A Viper at Night Walk Santamaria

Santamaria Night Walk takes place on a farm situated around 20 minutes from Monteverde. Santamaria is an excellent location for spotting reptiles and amphibians because a small creek goes through the property.

a close up of the parking lot at Night Walk Santamaria, fully packed

Night Walk Santamaria has a large parking lot.

Santamaria is the most commercial night tour in Monteverde, catering to massive amounts of visitors that go there in big groups via tourism buses. The parking lot at Santamaria is large, which makes it a top destination for tourism buses. Local guides report that Santamaria can host up to 100 visitors per night. 

Kinkajou Night Walk 

a cat sitting on top of a green plant

A Kinkajou spotted at Kinkajou Night Walk

Kinkajou Night Walk takes place on a small farm situated 25 minutes away from Monteverde. Kinkajou, as locals call it, is the second most commercial option for night tours in Monteverde. The parking lot is not as big as Santamaria’s, but it easily fits two buses.

Even though Kinkajou is a couple of kilometers away from Santamaria, they share the same creek and the same type of forest, a combination of secondary forest and fruit trees, so you will usually see the same kind of animals on both sites. They also share the same problems with massive tourism revealed by many customers via online reviews. 

Comparison Charts

The following is a quick quality comparison arranged in descending order according to customer ratings from Google and TripAdvisor historical data up to August 27, 2021. Below the charts, you will find the key takeaways based on this study:

 

Reviews on Google
Night Tour Score Reviews
El Refugio 4.7 385
Rodolfo 4.5 19
El Bosque 4.3 3
Santamaria 4.3 279
Kinkajou 4.1 437
Monteverde 4.0 64
Ficus Trails 3.9 40

 

Reviews on TripAdvisor
Night Tour Score Reviews
El Bosque 4.83 23
Ficus Trails 4.57 97
Rodolfo 4.33 6
Monteverde 3.97 266
Santamaria 3.97 197
Kinkajou 3.92 435
El Refugio 2.86 7

By now, you should have a pretty good idea of which night is best for you in Monteverde, Costa Rica, so as a final step, let’s take a look at pricing: 

Prices

The following is a quick pre-tax price comparison arranged in descending order according to price. This price list contains the rates for adults, but you can click on the links to see the prices for kids and residents, usually lower than the regular rates shown on this table.

As a general rule, kids below five years old are often treated as infants, and as such, they don’t need to pay for night tours as long as two adults accompany them, and kids between the ages of 5 and 11 pay a fraction of the price, usually between 50% and 75% of the adult’s rates. Costa Rica’s residents also get a discount.

Discounted rates for kids and residents usually change depending on availability. Transportation also changes depending on availability; sometimes it’s included, other times is not. So I will not include discounts and transportation fees on this table, but you can follow the links to get the most updated information for each night tour.

The links on the table will take you to the landing pages, where you can also check real-time availability, so you can book and get instant confirmation:

 

Night Tour Rates
El Refugio $35
Don Rodolfo $30
Ficus Trails $30
Monteverde $30
Kinkajou $28
El Bosque $25
Santamaria $25

Key Takeaways

Small Groups: Customers prefer small groups. El Bosque Night Tour and Night Tour Don Rodolfo have one thing in common; they only handle small groups of eight people or less, which drives customer satisfaction. On the other hand, Night Walk Santamaria and Kinkajou Night Walk run groups of eight to fifteen people, which causes customer dissatisfaction.

On a night tour with a small group, you see more, and you learn more. On the other hand, on a night tour with a large party, the people on the back of the group might not hear the tour guide, and sometimes they do not see animals that people on the front get to see. More than 30 customers reported this issue, left their tours incredibly disappointed, and rated their experience with a one-star. 

Expectations: It’s important to have realistic expectations. More than half of the low customer ratings were due to customers who were disappointed with the number of animals they saw during their tour. They had false expectations that they were going to see more animals. It’s important to remember that night tours are in the wilderness, not in zoos, so animals are not always easy to see.

On a typical night tour, people should expect to see between one and four mammals such as monkeys and raccoons, a few sleeping birds, a snake or a frog, and several rare insects.

Location: Location is key. Depending on the night tour’s site, you will see more or fewer animals. Monteverde has more than five types of forests and climate zones, and different animals prefer different regions.

As a general rule, animals prefer a combination of young forest and new forest, with a mix of endemic trees and fruit trees. Endemic trees provide shelter, while fruit trees provide food. Animals also prefer lower altitudes because the weather is warmer and so they need less energy to keep their bodies warm. Find a place that integrates endemic trees with fruit trees at low elevations, and that will be most likely be a wildlife paradise.

All night tours featured on this post have at least one of these three key elements, but El Refugio Night Tour has them all. El Refugio has a wide variety of endemic trees and fruit trees, and it’s at a relatively low elevation compared to the rest of the night tour sites in the area, which is probably why they have the largest number of positive customer reviews regarding animals found on their night tour. 

This ends my study on the best night tours in Monteverde, Costa Rica. I hope this information was valuable to you, and it helps you decide which night tour is best for your specific needs.

About the Author

Daniel Lalinde holding a mountain bikeDaniel Lalinde

I am the founder of Monteverde Tours Online. I live in Monteverde, and I love nature, adventure, and Mountain Biking. My partner and I love spending time in the outdoors and dining out in Monteverde. We have more than 30 years of combined experience in the area, and there is no park, no coffee shop, and no restaurant we haven’t tried at least once!

We love helping visitors, connecting them with the different tours and activities to have a memorable experience in Monteverde.

If you need help planning things to do in the area, send us a message, and we will happily assist you! 

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