Breathe Through Your Nose … and Other Tips for Exploring the Rainforest

The only tropical rainforest in the U.S. is on the island of Puerto Rico. So, chances are, unless you’ve visited El Yunque National Park, you haven’t experienced this incredible ecosystem. 

Devote a semester, summer, or J-term at CIEE’s Global Institute in Monteverde, and not only will you have the chance to explore this natural wonder, but you’ll be eating, sleeping, studying, and living in it during your stay.

The CIEE Global Institute in Monteverde is nestled in the Cordillera de Tilarán mountain range, some eighty miles from the country’s capital, San Jose and 3,500 feet above sea level. The campus is situated on a 150-acre farm, 60% of which is devoted to conservation. Thirty percent is open area used for food production and just 10% is the main campus. The campus sits right below the world-famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in a premontane wet forest, where students and visitors can hike at their will and get to know the biodiversity of their neighbors.

Some tips for enjoying an afternoon hike …

  • Breathe through your nose. The forest is home to thousands of insect species traveling through the airspace before you. It’s an entomologist’s dream. Be a good conservationist and keep your mouth closed.
  • Bug spray, bug spray, and more bug spray. Did I mention there were insects in the forest? Do yourself a favor and apply a liberal dose of bug spray. Wear a hat and avoid colorful clothing that suggests you are a pollen-filled flower. 
  • Tread lightly and quietly. The wildlife in this area is not used to human activity, so don’t think for a second you’ll be posing with a white-faced capuchin monkey for an Insta-story. You may however catch a memorable sight of a few inhabitants if you abstain from chatter and walk softly.
  • Eyes wide open. From troupes of leaf-eater ants transporting food back to their nest, to morpho butterflies probing flowers for nectar, the forest before you is filled with activity. You simply need to walk slowly and look around. There are nearly 100 mammal species and 400 bird species hoping to welcome you to Monteverde.

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