Learning to be one with the rain

Authored by:
Ellie Bergstrom

Ellie Bergstrom

Here in Monteverde it rains A LOT!! The plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and viruses that thrive here in the rainforest and cloudforest are very used to the rain, but us humans that aren't from here are simply trying to adapt. Rain falls here every single day, but not always at the same time of day. Sometimes it's a light shower and other times we're surprised with a torrential downpour out of nowhere. It can rain when it's sunny, partly cloudy, or cloudy. So basically, it's a roulette!

Rain pounding down from the sky, gushing off our roofs and down the gutter chains.

Rain is one of the main reasons for such diversity in the rainforests and cloudforests of Monteverde. One of the principal differences between a rainforest and a cloudforest is the type of rain they receive. While a rainforest occurs at lower elevations and typically only experiences vertical precipitation, a cloudforest occurs at higher elevations where water condenses to form clouds. These clouds result in horizontal precipitation, or mist, that is almost constantly present in addition to vertical precipitation.

Forest fungi! These are edible, but we're just here to look

Students have seen numerous new organisms that they've never seen before while exploring these biodiverse rain- and cloudforests, many of which are endemic species, meaning they only occur in a specific region. They've seen tropical fireflies, Morpho butterflies, capuchin monkeys, tarantulas, coatis, various types of fungi, the endemic plant Heliconia monteverdensis, the endemic Three-wattled bellbird.... and the list goes on. One type of organism in particular that was spotted up in the trees while we were zooming through the cloudforest on the ziplines the other day was orchids. Orchids are extremely diverse here and there are a number of species that are endemic to Costa Rica!

Firefly, rainforest style
A coati searching for its next meal

Students have found that activities still go ahead even if it's raining, and they are definitely still fun and worthwhile too. This past weekend while ziplining in Selvatura Park, we flew through some of the most gorgeous rainforest and cloudforest we've ever seen... with rain and wind smacking us in the face! Regardless, we were wailing from laughing so hard. We also collect data in the rain, we hike in the rain, and we admire CIEE Monteverde's cows in the rain!

Lula taking down her group's tree diameter data in the rain


Rachel and Jordyn contemplating which cow they want to milk... in the rain
One of many hikes in the rain


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