This is a working field station in one of CR's most biodiverse regions, so ecotourists: know what you're getting into. It's hot, humid like you've never seen in the US/Europe but so rich that the positives outweighed the few but significant negatives for me.
Positive notes: In twenty trips for wildlife and landscape photography, I've rarely ever seen so much in four days as at La Selva, probably bc of its rich history of land preservation for ecological research (closeup observations of family groups of peccaries were unforgettable); the old growth forest is the most magnificent I've seen outside of Corcovado NP; the trail system is exceptional and well marked. But ALL the trails, esp the "knots' between the Labs and the River Station need to be on the trail map they give visitors. I spent a lot of time orienteering the first day just to get my bearings. I suggest putting this trail map online as a PDF file for everyone. I requested such and got it in advance by email to make multiple copies to bring. I liked the free access to washer/dryer - very useful for drying soaked clothing.
Negative notes; I was never told that my room was 1km away from the dining hall/Admin center of the station and that I needed a flashlight just to walk to/from at night for meals. Fortunately, I always travel with a headlamp but the fact that it was such a trek just to eat made scheduling my daily outings problematic. I went out on the trails after breakfast, skipped lunch bc of the trail distances, returned to the dining area close to sunset, ate dinner and walked home. For $95/night incl 3 meals and despite the location of the Station in some of CR's richest agricultural land, the food was terrible. No toast or bread or eggs at 3 of 4 breakfasts; no fresh fruit on 2 of 4 breakfasts; lunches and dinners were bland; desserts were miniscule. There were a couple of nice vegetarian options for me, however. Quantity of food was tightly controlled and if you weren't in line when the meal began, you got scraps within 30 minutes. The lack of fresh fruit and even the barest of imagination in the menu was very disappointing. Food prep and service was industrial quality at its worst. Someone needs to instruct the staff and researchers about bike etiquette. Twice I was almost hit on the trails by bikers rounding blind curves and me on the trail shooting with a tripod. I was nearly run down from behind near the Labs by the same researcher who shouted at me from about 3 feet away to get out of the way. No excuse me's; no bells. Someone's gonna get hurt if they haven't already. Similarly, someone from OTS needs to do a better job of instructing the high school groups (and sadly, their teachers too!) with basic trail etiquette such as lowering your voice on the trail, not purposely rocking the hanging bridge (!) while others are on it; not shouting/screaming at 10pm in the Zampopa accommodations.
Would I go back? I think so, but my experience at La Selva was very different from the one at the OTS/Las Cruces Field Station. The lack of hospitality (I felt like OTS was just taking my money - particularly a strange feeling because my wife and I have been long-time financial supporters of OTS) as expressed in the dining area was a disappointment. A benefit of the station is that all the grad students I spoke with were very friendly and happy to talk about (and even show me) their research. I learned a lot that I'll share with my own college ecology students.
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire and Hotels.com so you can book your La Selva Biological Station reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- La Selva Biological Station Costa Rica/Sarapiqui