The magnificent Montecristo Cloud Forest is located in the Montecristo-El Trifinio National Park, about a 4 hour drive from San Salvador. The area marks the point where the borders of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras meet. At an altitude of about 7000 feet, with plenty of rain, the forest has a number of micro-climates and a great diversity of flora and wildlife, including ferns, orchids, mosses, spider monkeys, anteaters, toucans, striped owls and more. Pine-oak forest was by far the most diverse habitat, although bird density was highest in cloud forest. Cypress plantations had intermediate diversity, but lowest bird density, and fewer resident species than the other habitats. Many species at the park are habitat specialists restricted to cloud forest or pine-oak forest. Ten bird species in El Salvador are restricted to Montecristo National Park, and five of these to the cloud forest. Fifty-two percent (118 species) of the park’s bird species are threatened in El Salvador, including 22% (53 species) that are endangered at the national level. Of 18 regionally-endemic birds (restricted to northern Central America) reported from El Salvador, 15 are reported from Montecristo, and three are not found anywhere else in El Salvador. Compared to the larger El Triunfo cloud forest in Chiapas, Mexico, Montecristo’s cloud forest has about 90% as many resident species, and includes three species not reported at El Triunfo. Five new species of birds are reported for the El Salvador national bird list.
It is said by locals in and around Montecristo, that if one steals a piece of the nature there, that it will disappear by the time the forest is exited. Montecristo is known to some of the natives as lovely and enchanted.