Getting Here and Around in Monteverde and Santa Elena

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Getting Here and Around

Getting here means negotiating some of the country's legendarily rough roads, but don't let that deter you from a visit. Years of promises to pave the way up here have collided with politics and scarce funds, but many residents remain just as happy to keep Monteverde out of the reach of tour buses and day-trippers. ("Do we really want this to be a shore excursion for cruise ships?" some residents ask.) Your own vehicle gives you the greatest flexibility, but a burgeoning number of shuttle-van services connect Monteverde with San José and other tourist destinations throughout the country.

If your bones can take it, a very rough track leads from Tilarán via Cabeceras to Santa Elena, near the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, doing away with the need to cut across to the Pan-American Highway. You need a 4WD vehicle, and you should inquire locally about the current condition of the road. The views of Nicoya Peninsula, Lake Arenal, and Arenal Volcano reward those willing to bump around a bit. Note, too, that you don't really save much time—on a good day it takes about 2½ hours as opposed to the 3 required via Cañas and Río Lagarto on the highway.

Gray Line has daily shuttle bus service between San José, La Fortuna, and Arenal ($44), and Monteverde ($44). Interbus also connects San José with La Fortuna and Monteverde (each $45) daily, with connections from here to a few of the North Pacific beaches.

Desafío Adventures provides a fast, popular three-hour transfer between Monteverde and La Fortuna. The taxi-boat-taxi service costs $29 one-way.

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