With no signs or markings on the road to indicate the trailhead, most people discover el arbol hueco through word of mouth. It’s a few meters off the road and easy to find when you know what you’re looking for, mostly because it stands out from the other vegetation in the forest.
This magical “hollow tree” (in reality a series of ficus trees that have zigzagged together over the years) is located right off a small road on the outskirts of Santa Elena, in Monteverde, Costa Rica. With a hollow interior and easy to grip “branches,” you can easily climb to the top and imagine yourself as a character from Fern Gully or Avatar.
Get close to the tree, and you’ll see its hollow interior is perfect for climbing and can fit two to three people at once. The top does get narrow and you don’t want to be maneuvering around a traffic jam so high up, so it’s best to take turns and allow one person to climb at a time.
While it may feel a bit scary to be up so high, the climb itself is almost like going up a ladder, and being encircled by the tree does give a sense of protection and comfort. But don’t be fooled into a false sense of security—there are no harnesses or safety equipment available, so be careful!
Know Before You Go
You can walk to the main access road from your hotel, but it'll be a bit of a hike up the hill to reach the entrance to the trail. Otherwise you can take a taxi. The entrance is unmarked, but there's a small inlet where you can park your car close to the fork in the road and you'll recognize the start of the trail. About 82 feet (25 meters) from the road you'll come across the tree.
As of January 2019, there was nobody charging an entrance fee so this activity is gratis!