Hotel el Establo
Quaker friendship awaits you in our hotel, set in a private 150 acres farm (50% protected primary forest) adjacent to the Monteverde Reserve.
* 155 Rooms, Tennis, basketball and soccer courts, 2 indoor tempered swimming pools, 2 bars, Gym, Spa, Conference Center, 2 Restaurants, Canopy Tour
The Monteverde Cloudforest Preserve traverses the Tilarán Mountain Range, which is part of the Continental Divide. The area has been most appropriately named Monteverde, "Green Mountain", since that is what travellers find at the end of the hour and 30-minutes ride up a long and steep gravel road that winds up the mountain range due northeast of the Panamerican Highway. The Preserve is a 5,000 hectare wildlife sanctuary, with plentiful tree, bird and insect life.
In 1972, a young graduate student, George Powell, came to Monteverde to conduct research for his doctoral dissertation about birds. Enthralled by the diversity of bird life, he decided to spend time here studying the magnificence of the cloudforest. During this time scientists were marvelling at some of the unique species found in the Preserve, such as the endemic ´golden toad´, now apparently extinct. Powell, among them, was alarmed by the deforestation taking place in the region and the illegal hunting and speculation with untitled lands. His concern turned into an effort to protect the cloudforests and wildlife with the help of the Guacimal Land Company, owner of some of the lands under threat. The Company was looking for ways to get rid of squatters in its land, when Powell came along, and they decided to donate 328 hectares to Powell if he could find an organization with the conditions to properly administer and protect the land.
Powell and his wife joined efforts with Wilford Guindon, a resident member of the pioneer quaker community that had settled in Monteverde in the early 1950s. The initial 328 hectares (820 acres), would thereby become the core of the Monteverde Preserve. Looking for technical assistance and financing, Powell approached the Tropical Science Center, a Costa Rican scientific, non-profit organization. The TSC had established a program to create wildlife preserves with scientific purposes and environmental education in mind. To obtain the support of the organization, Powell became a member and the incipient preserve was assumed by the TSC.
In 1973, the TSC started an international campaign to acquire lands in order to expand and protect the Preserve. Many organizations were eager to help, among them: the Explorers Club of New York, the Philadelphia Conservation Society, the New York Zoological Society, RARE Animal Relief Effort, the World Wildlife fund, the Nature Conservancy, the International Council for Bird Preservation and other persons including philantropist photographer John Dunning. Between 1973 and 1978, donations allowed the TSC to acquire more than 1,100 hectares (2,700 acres). In 1974, 471 individuals (mainly scientists and bird watchers) visited the Preserve.
In 1975 an additional extension of 554 hectares (1,350 acres) was added to the Preserve. Called Bosque Eterno S.A., this area was protected by the Quaker community since the mid 1950s as a hydrological reserve. It became part of the Monteverde Preserve under a 90-year administrative contract. Located in the slopes of the Los Amigos Mountain, it had been bought from the Guacimal land Company by one of the first Quaker farmers, Mr. Hubert Mendenhall. Along with John Campbell, Howard Rockwell, and other Quakers, Mr. Mendenhall helped establish a peace-loving and self-sufficient farming community and the land transferred to the Preserve had been in their custody for over 20 years before they sold it to the Quaker community, who in turn handed it to the Preserve. With this addition, the Preserve increased in size to over 2,000 hectares of land.
Between 1975 and 1980, several important confrontations took place. One of them was over the land rights of neighbors who had taken lands in the Peñas Blancas Valley, east of the Preserve. These were public lands and a part of the cloudforest. In order to protect the cloudforest, the Preserve struggled for over 10 years against these local squatters, finally preventing the construction of a road that would cut right through the Preserve to get to the Valley. The squatters wanted this road in order to be able to extract timber, raise and transport cattle and increase the value of land in the Valley. The beginning of this road is right at the entrance to the Preserve, where an iron gate stands as a symbol of the struggle to preserve the lands in the Peñas Valley. The squatters did manage to cut a dirt road into the forest all the way to a site known as La Ventana through steep and difficult terrain. In the Valley, they managed to deforest small areas where they built their rustic homes and started farms, while hunting all along for subsistence. But, they were often met by the Preserve ranger patrols led by Wilford Guindon, who managed to curtail these activities to a minimum. To this day, Mr. Guindon remains a member of the Preserve´s rangers, and is regarded with utmost respect by neighbors in the region.
The Preserve did not have to contend only with squatters, but also with the Ministry of Education, which also wanted lands in the Preserve (precisely in the Bosque Eterno area) to build a tower for an important national television station. In 1978, the Ministry of Education started to deforest a space in the Los Amigos mountain to build their tower. Once again, thanks to the efforts of Wilford Guindon and other persons, the TSC was able to reach an agreement with the Ministry. The TSC sub-contracted a small piece of land to the Ministry under very strict conservation conditions.
The Preserve was becoming known internationally when in 1977 the British Broadcasting Company (BBC of London) produced a natural history documentary of high quality which included interviews with George Powell and the distinguished Costarrican entomologist Luis Ramirez. The documentary was shown in Europe and the United States of North America and it resulted in an increasing interest and concern for the preservation of rainforests in tropical areas. In 1978 the number of visitors to the Preserve increased to almost 2,000.
During this period, university professors and students from the United States, started the first large-scale research projects in the Preserve. They included mainly the collection and documentation of plants and animals in the Preserve. Other projects included the study of humming birds and the golden toad.
Since the administrative and visitor center could not house the large number of visitors coming to the Preserve, the TSC made plans to build a new field station at the entrance to the Preserve. The initial lack of funds was finally overcome with a grant from The Nature Conservancy. Donations were also received from individuals, and this allowed the construction of La Casona, the lodge at the entrance to the Preserve, in 1979. During the period 1980-86, several people assumed the administration of the Preserve. Wilford Guindon was administrator, later advisor and head of Preserve rangers. Thanks to his efforts, the TSC was able to acquire more land in the Peñas Blancas area.
Also during this period, the TSC advised the government to purchase lands on the forested mountainous range of Tilarán and the Valley of Peñas Blancas, including the Peñas river watershed, in order to convert it into a large national park. But, the government did very little to acquire these lands. Therefor, the TSC tried to purchase the lands with individual donations, but the owners were asking extremely high prices for the land. At the time, the Preserve was fighting against hunters, squatters, the building of a road in the Preserve, and other. In the face of the threat of greater deforestation, the community of Monteverde joined forces in 1986 to create the Conservationist League of Monteverde. The League developed a fundraising campaign abroad to buy lands in the Valley of Peñas Blancas using the name of the Preserve. The titles of the lands acquired would belong to the TSC and the lands would become part of the Preserve. Thus the TSC offered the services of Wilford Guindon and the administrator Geovanny Bello to the League, in order to help with the purchase of lands in the middle and lower watershed of the Peñas Blancas river. The League was able to collect sufficient funds to purchase the lands, and the Preserve assumed their management. During this time, the TSC had to staunchly oppose different mining exploration projects in the Valley.
The number of visitors to the Preserve increased constantly from 471 individuals in 1974 to 3,100 in 1980, 17,500 in 1989, 40,000 in 1991 and 50,000 in 1993. Income generated from entrance and research fees are the budgetary basis for the administration, management, vigilance and environmental education programs. In 1987, the TSC started a patrimonial endowment for the Preserve, with the purpose of building up an amount that would permit the Preserve to continue to offer services in the event that the number of visitors were to diminish. In 1989 the Preserve reached its present size of 5,000 hectares. For additional information, see Preserve Program