What Is a Cloud Forest and Where Can You See One?

They might sound like something from a storybook, but cloud forests are a very real thing. How can you experience this cloud magic for yourself? Let’s explore what a cloud forest is and where in the world you can find them:

What Is a Cloud Forest?

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Though “cloud forest” is perhaps the most common term, these unique areas are also referred to as water forests or even elfin woodlands.

A cloud forest typically occurs in a tropical or subtropical climate. They’re most likely found on mountain passes or saddles, as moisture is easily retained in these areas. A cloud forest creates a low level canopy-like cover of clouds. It could be seasonal, or it could be constant. If you consult the International Cloud Atlas (yes, it exists), this phenomenon is referred to as “silvagenitus."

The hazy humidity of cloud forests usually goes hand in hand with mossy areas full of green vegetation, which only adds to the fairy-tale effect.

Where Can You Find a Cloud Forest?

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Ready to seek out a cloud forest? Here are some spots around the world to find them:

Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary, Hawaii

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Located on the North Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary has been offering tours since 1984. In this unique cloud forest, you’ll uncover some unique sights. The plant life is green, vibrant, and alive, with hundreds of exotic ferns, palms, and flowers. You’re also likely to see some beautiful butterflies and plenty of exotic birds.

The Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary has a well-curated website where you can learn about cloud forests and plan your visit.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica

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If you’re looking for an otherworldly setting where you can witness some incredible nature in Costa Rica, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is the ultimate one-stop shop.

Located in Monteverde, this Cloud Reserve promises that you can see about half the flora and fauna species that exist in Costa Rica in one place. On your tour, you might spot creatures such as jaguars, ocelots, three-wattled bellbirds, bare-necked umbrellabirds, and quetzals. Have you even heard of some of those animals?

This gorgeous cloud reserve is filled with vines, mosses, ferns, and vibrant orchids, making for beautiful, tranquil and ambient settings. It’s a popular attraction in the area, and tours are offered daily.

Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Reserve, Panama

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It’s a trek to get to this reserve, which is at the base of Mount Totumas in Panama, not far from the Costa Rica border. But it’s worth the effort. Once you get there, tranquil accommodations make it easy to spend a few days in a forest made of clouds.

Well-marked trails make it easy to explore the forest, which is teeming with animals. You’ll also find some incredible orchids and plant life along the way. The owners of the area’s lodges are committed to sharing the majesty of this unique area with visitors, and you’re bound to be wowed by the sights.

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