Natural History Visitors – La Selva

General Information

La Selva has been a pioneer site in education, research, conservation and eco-tourism in Costa Rica since 1953 and was one of the first private protected areas in the country. The station is located in the Caribbean foothills of Costa Rica and comprises 1,600 hectares (3,953 acres) of old growth and new growth tropical wet forest. Species diversity is spectacular, including more than 2,080 varieties of plants, 420 species of trees, 467 species of birds (representing more than 50% of the species in the country), and approximately 700 species of ants.

La Selva is one of the world’s most important sites for tropical ecosystem research. The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) aims to ensure that natural history visitors have a high-quality experience and learn about La Selva and OTS’ mission. OTS also works to guarantee that local people benefit from the ecotourism in Costa Rica.

Knowledgeable bilingual naturalists lead daily nature walks to explore life in the tropical rain forest on 16 km (26 miles) of paved well-maintained trails, some of which are accessible to the physically challenged. Overnight visitors can walk by themselves anytime. It is mandatory that day visitors are accompanied by a guide on one of our daily tours.

Climate

While temperature variation is slight year round, daily temperatures can fluctuate from 19°C (66°F) to 31°C (88°F). The climate is tropical wet with an average annual rainfall of 4 meters (13 feet). Although rain nourishes the forest throughout the year, the rainiest months are July, November, and December.

Species list

If you want to know more about the species list of our Research Stations, please click here.

Location

Zone: Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, Heredia, Costa Rica.
Distance from San José: 80km. Only 1.5 hours driving.
Getting there: Take the Guápiles Highway through Braulio Carrillo National Park. After approximately 35-45 minutes of driving, you will pass over the Río Sucio. Continue for 7 km, turn left following the sign to Puerto Viejo and continue for approximately 30 km more. The La Selva entrance is 3 km south of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí. For public buses, call Transportes Caribeños (Gran Terminal del Caribe), (506) 222-0610, Central Street, between 13th & 15Th ave. Buses leave San José to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí approximately every two hours between 6:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Phones:  San José Office, Tel. + (506) 2524-0607 (ext. 1340), Fax. + (506) 2524-0608
La Selva Reception, Tel. + (506) 2766-6565, Fax. + (506) 2766-6535
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Image gallery

Lodging

We offer cabins equipped with one single bunk bed and one single bed, private bath, fan, and balcony. We also have family houses equipped with a kitchen, two rooms, private bath, and terrace. Other lodging options include dormitory-style rooms with bunk beds and shared baths.

Meals

Meals are served in our family-style dining room with capacity for up to 130 people. Vegetarian food is a daily option, and we can accommodate most dietary restrictions. Requests for take-away meals can also be honored with advanced notice. Please inform us of any dietary restrictions (i.e. vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.) when registering.

Regular Tours

Day visits

Half-day and full-day guided walks are scheduled daily at 8:00 am and 1:30 pm. Bilingual naturalists lead the walks that give a glimpse of the leading-edge research conducted at La Selva as well as the natural history of the tropical rain forest. The maximum group size is 12 people per guide. Each walk is approximately 3 hours in length, principally on cement or wood trails suitable for people of all ages. Some trails are accessible for the physically challenged.

Private Tours

Early Birding Tours

La Selva Research Station is one of the finest places for bird watching in Costa Rica. Our excellent trail system and our knowledgeable naturalist guides lead birdwatchers through a variety of habitats, from dense primary rain forest to open pasture lands. These 2-hour walks are offered at 5:45 am and must be booked in advance when making your reservations or at the front desk (before 5:00 pm).

Night Tours

Lead by our naturalist guides, visitors search for bright shinny eyes while listening to the calls of frogs and the singing of birds. Discover the variety of the night wildlife – birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles – which are also seen in the late afternoon. These 2-hour walks are offered at 7:00 pm and must be booked in advance when making your reservations or at the front desk (before 5:00 pm).

Workshops

Do not forget to ask about our workshops on a variety of different topics with a focus on flora and fauna of the surrounding tropical rain forest.

Boat Tours

Explore the wildlife on a 2-hour boat tour down the Sarapiquí River.

Custom Designed Itineraries

We can help to design a custom day-by-day itinerary based on your wishes and preferences.

Other Services and Amenities

The station has a gift shop, laundry services, and an academic center on site.

Things to take

You should bring all necessary prescription medicines, lightweight and fast drying hiking boots, hot weather clothes, insect repellent, umbrella or rain jacket, flashlight, binoculars, sunscreen, camera and film, extra batteries, and plastic bags to keep film/paper dry. Most of these items are also found on our gift shop.

Recommendations

  • Our dining facilities serve meals according to a schedule. The quantity of food we prepare is based upon the number of people expected to attend to each service. Please provide us with your arrival time so that we can better serve you.

  • For your safety, the use of open-toed shoes or walking barefoot is not permitted within the station or on the trails. Entrance may be prohibited or you may be asked to leave if this rule is not followed.

  • Manipulating species (flora and fauna) without a permit is not allowed in our research stations for both conservation and safety reasons.

  • Children must be accompanied and supervised by a responsible adult at all times.

  • Overnight visitors can walk by themselves at any time on our paved trails. It is mandatory that day visitors are accompanied by a guide on one of our daily tours.

Special Warnings

If you are hypersensitive to insects, bees, or wasps, always carry a sting kit with you. Please walk only on marked trails and remain watchful for snakes, bees, and wasps. If you encounter a snake, back away slowly and allow the snake to move away on its own. Notify a staff member immediately in the event of an emergency.

Nearby Attractions

  • White water rafting Sarapiquí or Pacuare River
  • Chocolate Tour
  • Pineapple Tour
  • Canoe Rides
  • Butterfly Garden
  • Frog and Snake Gardens
  • Horse back riding
  • Canopy and rappelling

Read our Reservations
and Cancellation Policies

Our rooms:

Standard:

 

Family House:

Regular Season
(from December 15, 2018 to April 30, 2019 and June 1 to August 31, 2019)

Standard Room – Full Board

Single occupancy $109
Double occupancy $188
Additional person $70
5-12 years old children $39
Family House – Full Board

Four people $295
Notes: Rates per night in US Dollars, taxes included. Includes: lodging, full room and board, and one regular, guided 3-hour walk per stay 8:00 am or 1:30 pm. The guided walk must be coordinated when making your reservations or at front desk when you check in. The meal schedule is breakfast from 6:00 am to 7:30 am, lunch from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm, and dinner from 6:00 to 7:00 pm. CHECK IN: 3:00 pm, CHECK OUT: 12:30 pm

 

Standard Room – Breakfast only

Single occupancy $76
Double occupancy $130
Additional person $48
5-12 years old children $28
Family House – Breakfast only

Four people $196

 

Notes: Rates per night in US Dollars, taxes included. Includes: lodging, breakfast, and one regular, guided 3-hour walk per stay at 8:00 am or 1:30 pm. The guided walk must be coordinated when making your reservations or at front desk when you check in. Breakfast is served from 6:00 am to 7:30 am. CHECK IN: 3:00 pm, CHECK OUT: 12:30 pm

 


Green Season
(valid for May, September, October, November, Dec 1 to 14, 2019)

Standard Room – Full Board

Single occupancy $92
Double occupancy $158
Additional person $58
5-12 years old children $34
Family House – Full Board

Four people $235

 

Notes: Rates per night in US Dollars, taxes included. Includes: lodging, full board, and one regular 3-hour guided walk per stay. The guided walk is available at either 8:00 am or 1:30 pm and must be coordinated when making your reservations or at the front desk when checking in. The meal schedule is breakfast from 6:00 am to 7:30 am, lunch from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm, and dinner from 6:00 to 7:00 pm. CHECK IN: 3:00 pm, CHECK OUT: 12:30 pm

 

Standard Room – Breakfast only

Single occupancy $63
Double occupancy $108
Additional person $40
5-12 years old children $24
Family House – Breakfast only

Four people $164

 

Notes: Rates per night in US Dollars, taxes included. Includes: Lodging, breakfast, and one regular 3-hour guided walk per stay. The guided walk is available at either 8:00 am or 1:30 pm and must be coordinated when making your reservations or at the front desk when checking in. Breakfast is served from 6:00 am to 7:30 am. CHECK IN: 3:00 pm, CHECK OUT: 12:30 pm

 


Guided walks
(from December 15, 2018 to December 14, 2019)

Regular Short Walk, 1-10 people (3 hrs) $40
Regular Short Walk Children (5-12 years old) $32
Regular Long Walk, 1-10 people (6 hrs) $51
Regular Long Walk Children (5-12 years old) $37
Notes: Rates per person in US Dollars, from 1 to 10 people, taxes included. Please take into consideration that the time of the walk might change according to weather. Available hours are 8:00 am and 1:30 pm. You must arrive 15 minutes early to check in. The regular long walk is divided into three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon.

 

Private Short Walk, 1 person $90
Private Short Walk, 2-10 people $57
Private Long Walk, 1 person $102
Private Long Walk, 2-10 people $68
Notes: Rates per person in US Dollars, taxes included, always according to availability. Please take into consideration that the time of the walk might change according to weather. The regular tours rate for children apply also for private tours.

 

Regular Early Birding, 2-10 people $57
Regular Early Birding, Children 5-12 years old $37
Private Early Birding, 1 person $102
Private Early Birding, 2-10 people $66
Notes: Avifauna of La Selva at 5:45 am for two hours. Rates per person in US Dollars, taxes included, always according to availability. Birding tours must be coordinated when making your reservations or at front desk (before 5:00 pm). The regular early birding tour rate for children applies also to the private tour.

 

Regular Nocturnal Wildlife Walk, 2-10 people $57
Regular Nocturnal Wildlife Walk, children 5-12 years old $37
Private Nocturnal Wildlife Walk, 1 person $102
Private Nocturnal Wildlife Walk, 2-10 people $66
Notes: A night tour to watch the research station wildlife at 7:00 pm for two hours. Rates per person in US Dollars, taxes included, always according to availability. Night tours must be coordinated when making your reservations or at front desk (before 5:00 pm). The regular night walk rate for children applies also the private tour. Remember to bring flashlights; you will meet the guide at the dining hall.

***Rates are subject to change***

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OTS´s commercial activities are handled by ESINTRO, S.A.
For information and reservations: visit.ots@tropicalstudies.org
Costa Rica (506) 2524-0607 (ext. 1340) | Fax (506) 2524-0608
United States (919) 684 5774 | Fax (919) 684 5661

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