Voted one of the "Seven Wonders of Costa Rica" by the Costa Rican newspaper La Nación, Monteverde attracts over a quarter of a million tourists each year. The town, in the province of Puntarenas, was inhabited by the Clovis Native Americans as early as 3000 BC but is today known better as a Quaker settlement.

The area - as well as its deservedly main attraction, the Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde (the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve) - is also known for being very difficult to reach. In good weather, it's a three-hour drive with a 4x4 along the dirt road from Tilaran. But the slog is worth every minute - and every pothole.

The star of Monteverde is the male quetzal, a bird whose two tail feathers can measure up to two feet in length. Sightings are rare, but the most likely time to spot one is February to April in the morning hours. The cloud forest also touts the largest number of orchids on Earth.

Accommodation is varied to suit anyone's budget, from backpacker hostels to romantic cabins in the forest to modern tourist hotels.

When you come back from swinging from the trees in the cloud forest on Monteverde's Canopy Tour, check out the art galleries. At Atmosphera Art Gallery you'll find wood sculptures by some of Costa Rica's most respected artists.

Introduction supplied by Christopher Allen