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“2nd visit, noisy & hot, but still magical scenery, plants, and wildlife” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Selva Verde Lodge

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Selva Verde Lodge
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Sarapiqui
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Berkeley, California
Level Contributor
21 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“2nd visit, noisy & hot, but still magical scenery, plants, and wildlife”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 28, 2011

This was my second time at the Lodge (+ a trip 25 years ago stayed at La Selva Biological Station). I came with a friend who is only partially interested in birds and generally a light sleeper. I suppose this lodge is not for everyone, but if you love birds, tropical flowers, frogs, etc and are a bit flexible, it is terrific, and my friend and I look forward to when we can come back again.

As noted elsewhere, there is no air conditioning and it is hot & humid. It is the tropics. You are part of it. A bit uncomfortable, but certainly not terrible, and I suspect the right choice. We already create a big enough carbon footprint without A/C. It is also noisy. The road right in front of the lodge apparently is on the main route from the coast to Nicarauga and the trucks seem to exercise their air brakes in front of the lodge all night. Bring ear plugs. And then there is the roar of the howler monkeys very early in the morning, and right over our cabins. About as loud as the trucks, but a joy to hear!

OK, that's all the bad stuff. The rooms were quite comfortable. The grounds are lovely. The buffet food upstairs was fresh, local, and quite wonderful. We looked at the more expensive a la carte food downstairs, but were not tempted. The cooks and serving people were exceptionally friendly and quite proud of their food, deservedly so. We thoroughly enjoyed the meals, expressed this repeatedly to the staff who were very grateful.

As far as wildlife, the lodge has more than a dozen? feeders along the covered paths, and there was activity at different feeders all during the day. You could sit in the dining room with your cup of coffee and rack up a very impressive bird list with fellow birders helping you on the tricky identifications. I understand and agree with the Lodge's decision to allow folks to go on their land across the river only with a guide. I have come across venomous snakes frequently in CR, and caution is definitely called for with respect to tourists unfamiliar with the local snakes. (Two weeks later on the west coast we came within 15 feet of a fer de lance snake lying next to the trail who was so camouflaged that one never would have seen if the guide had not pointed it out. The snake had bitten, and apparently killed a local the previous day.)

The lowlands are not the place to see hummingbirds in CR, but the Lodge had two species of Hermit hummingbirds which were huge and spectacular. In our 2 1/2 week trip birding in Costa Rica, it was one of the very best places we stayed at for birding.

By all means have them book you in advance a guided tour at the La Selva Biological Station. Any place that got 583? species on their Christmas Count is going to have some new birds for your list/camera! Also we thoroughly enjoyed the river trip on the Sarapiqui (?) River past the Biological Station - caimans, Basilisk lizards, Tiger Bitterns, Anhinga, Sungrebe, etc.

I want to comment on the staff who were consistently very, very helpful, patient and friendly. BEFORE I got to the Lodge, I had had $4,000 of camera equipment stolen out of our car in Fortuna (near Arenal) while we were having lunch (and thought we were watching the car adequately). Theft can happen anywhere. The Lodge staff helped us call the police and translate for us. A local photography instructor helped enormously in finding a replacement camera for me. It was all insured, so it ended up being a lesson on both how badly people can behave and how very nice they can be.

After checking out, we drove into town to fill up on fuel. Unfortunately, the new, young employee at the service station put gasoline in our diesel rented SUV. We drove back into town before the SUV died. We saw a Selva Verde Lodge van and asked if they could help. The next thing we know, the manager of the Lodge came into town, arranged to have a friend tow the SUV back to the service station, and talked at length to the owner to make sure that the fix (draining the gas tank, removing the gas tank, new fuel filter, 2 hours of labor) was all done immediately and at no cost to us. This was so above and beyond the call of duty to guests who had already checked out, but typical of the helpfulness of the staff at the lodge and Costa Ricans generally. How can you not love a place that handles accidents with such grace and kindness.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Travel2take_photos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (146)
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English first
Princeton, New Jersey
Level Contributor
18 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 22, 2011

I will preface that my wife and I are travelling birders in our late 20s and we spent 3 days out of a 14 day trip in Costa Rica at Selva Verde. This was my first trip outside of the US and the 2nd for my wife (she spent several months in Panama in 2008).

As far as birding goes, if you are a serious birder DO NOT stay at Selva Verde. The specie diversity on site is very low and you have to pay extra to even enter the primary forest, which we did not do. My suggestion is to stay at La Selva Biological Station if you are looking to see as many species possible in the Caribbean lowlands.

As for the lodge itself. Selva Verde was the last lodge we stayed at in Costa Rica and the only one that offered a safe in the room. Over the course of the trip we had grown accustomed to leaving our optics and cameras in the room when we went for dinner.

Well this proved to be an absolutely horrible move here. The very first night of our stay our room was broken into while we were at dinner (the robber ripped off a wooden shutter on the exterior of the room and kicked in a locked shutter that was inside the room). We had over $6k worth of optics and gear stolen...

We were given a room in a more remote area of the lodge and were the only ones in our block of four rooms. After checking in we walked around and did some birding and photography. Prior to leaving for dinner we noticed a couple people walking around the block of rooms which we were the only ones staying in. So I'm fairly convinced the robbery was an inside job of some sort. Someone had seen us with our equipment, surveyed the room we were staying in and broke in when we left.

The owner of the lodge happened to be paying a visit while this incident occurred (she usually is in Florida). She was very kind to us and even attempted to get our stuff back, although it proved unsuccessful. We were offered a free week to come back to the lodge if we want..

I know it's partly our fault for the loss of our stuff but I just wanted to let people know to be cautious while staying at this lodge. We had meet other people staying at the lodge that were leaving there valuables in their rooms and not using their safes, just as we were.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Isocyanide
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SelvaVerde, Guest Relations Manager at Selva Verde Lodge, responded to this review, July 26, 2011
Thank you for writing a review of your experiences at Selva Verde. We value and learn from the feedback of our guests.

As we have tried to convey, we are very very sorry that your room was broken into, and every possible attempt was made to locate your stolen items by the owner, who was indefatigable in her efforts to find any information at all about the theft. An “inside job” was ruled out after a thorough investigation of the entire lodge staff, and since this isolated incident occurred, security has been increased on the grounds of the lodge. We are making every effort to ensure that this will not ever be repeated at Selva Verde.

The safes in the rooms at Selva Verde, and in very many lodges and hotels around the world, are provided as a courtesy and a precaution so that valuables can be stored with extra security. We recommend use of the safes to store passports, jewelry, and expensive electronics/equipment. Again, we are truly sorry for your loss.

Entrance to the primary forest being restricted to guided only visits is for the safety of our guests. The trails are not well marked, and several years ago a search party had to go out to locate guests who become lost. They were safely found, but this is not something we would like to have happen again. Additionally, the forest is inhabited by poisonous snakes and other potentially dangerous wildlife, so for the safety of everyone we employ local naturalist guides who are very familiar with the forest to accompany and guide our guests.

Many of the same species found in La Selva can be seen at Selva Verde. However, as La Selva is connected to the Braulio Carrillo National Forest, there are greater variations and concentrations of some species there. As a research station, La Selva offers services that we do not. Conversely, as an ecolodge, Selva Verde offers many amenities and comforts that La Selva does not, and we offer tours to La Selva for our guests at Selva Verde.

Again, we thank you for your review, and are deeply sorry that your experience with us was so unfairly ruined. We have fully acknowledged our responsibility in this matter, and have taken measures to secure the lodge and our guests from any future theft
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 18, 2011

I stayed here 8 years ago and couldn't wait to come back. Back then it was a bird-watcher's paradise, keen birders would come from all over the world from all walks of life. Guided walks in the forests were 100% bird focused and you'd spend most of the time looking upward (I remember bumping into the person in front of me numerous times!).

Since then they appear to have changed their target customer to US teenage school trips. When we stayed the place seemed to be teaming with kids and no peace and quiet could be found anywhere. During our "bird tour" I think we saw a total of about 5 different species and spent 90% of the time looking at bugs on the forest floor.

Of the four tours that we booked, we were told that one was fully booked shortly before it was due to start (we had raced back from Poas to make sure we were back in time), and the other we were told at the last minute that they could not get hold of the guy who ran the tour and therefore it was not available. So... we spent two nights at Selve Verde and quite a bit of that time was wasted.

Yes, the hotel is in a beautiful setting and the staff are very friendly and try to be helpful - once it was a wonderful place to stay. But now, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, screaming kids, food which is no better than a school canteen (they do have an a la'carte restaurant as well as the canteen now but half of the menu was not available), and in my opinion the cleanliness of the rooms was very poor (the bed cover and valance didn't look as though it had been cleaned in a long time).

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Lisa_Biddlecombe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SelvaVerde, Guest Relations Manager at Selva Verde Lodge, responded to this review, July 25, 2011
Thank you for taking the time to write a review of your experience at Selva Verde. We highly value the input of our guests, and as we strive to ensure that each guest leaves with fond memories of their visit to the lodge, we are disappointed to hear that your last visit did not meet your expectations.



Birding is still amazing at Selva Verde, particularly during the peak migration season of November –March, while tropical resident species such as toucans, trogons, parrots, and mot mots delight guests with excellent birding year round. It is unfortunate that you were unable to see more birds on the morning of your hike, and I will pass your comments on to our naturalist guides.



The children were part of a school group, and there are several every year that come to Costa Rica and to Selva Verde from the U.S. and Canada to study biology, ecology, conservation, and other natural sciences. We are very pleased to partake in the education of the youth who will one day be faced with the responsibilities of caring for our planet – and during their visits they participate in invaluable community service and reforestation projects which benefit the entire Sarapiqui community. There are times of the year when there are fewer or no student groups visiting the lodge. Peak school group visits are in June and July, and in March/April. I would suggest joining us at another time of year, if we are able to welcome you back to Selva Verde one day.



Regarding the tours, we generally recommend that all activities be reserved well in advance, particularly those off site, which are operated by local outfitters, and especially during the high season. We strive for excellence in all our offerings, and apologize that we were unable to secure the tours that were unavailable to you.



There is staff available at the reception desk until 10 pm each day, and we would greatly appreciate the opportunity to alleviate any concerns about the quality of your room, meals, or any other matter right away, so that we may endeavor to make your stay one that exceeds your expectations.



Again, thank you for your feedback. I have made certain that all of your concerns have been acknowledged by the entire staff here at Selva Verde.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Summit, NJ
Level Contributor
29 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 9, 2011

My friends, family and I enjoyed our stay. It's a beautiful location and everything is amazingly clean and my room was bug-free. The covered walkways make walking around in the rain very pleasant. I would recommend this to anyone whose primary goal is to be close to nature. The staff was helpful and responsive.

This is not really a place to go to relax. The howler monkeys and roosters make lots of noise so be prepared to awaken by dawn.

The rooms are not sound-proof. You can hear everything that goes on in the next room so this is not a great place for romance. Keep in mind that the rooms and public areas are not air conditioned and the area is very humid. Anything that gets wet, will stay that way.

The biggest problem we had was with the reservations and accounting. Asking us to fax a copy of a credit card and ID felt like an unnecessary burden. We thought we had reservations, but then it turned out that we didn't. When we checked out, not only was the bill confusing, but we were double-charged for dinner. Since we were with a group that included unrelated people sharing rooms, it would have been a lot easier if drinks and excursions could be paid for individually rather than having everything charged to the room with nothing to distinguish the different roommates. Trying to sort things out between guests was difficult for both the staff and the guests. (Who had how many drinks in the past 3 days?)

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Carol_C-NJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SelvaVerde, Guest Relations Manager at Selva Verde Lodge, responded to this review, July 25, 2011
Thank you very much for your review. We appreciate that you took the time to share about your experience at Selva Verde, and I are happy that you enjoyed your stay with us.

The reservation system used for your group was not our standard method. Because you were part of an event that had special arrangements to pay at the end of your stay, the documentation of credit was what they took up front. Normally, our guests pay for their room ahead of time, and are billed for extra services at the end of the stay. It does sound as though the billing for your stay became confusing and I apologize. It is never our intention to overcharge our guests, so if you believe you were charged twice for your dinner, please contact me at jess@selvaverde.com and I will be happy to work with you to resolve this issue.

Again, thank you for your feedback, and I hope to hear from you soon.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Andover, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
56 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 7, 2011

We booked this lodge as we are keen birders. As such, we'd heard this would be one of the most productive areas to stay on our trip. We tend to get up pre-dawn and go to bed really early (around 8pm) as a full day's birding is fairly exhausting in tropical climates. We were disappointed to find our room was very close to a major highway and,along with the howler monkeys we could hear trucks rumbling past in the night. I guess my advice would be to always check Google Earth before booking a tranquil spot. The rooms were fairly spartan, but as advertised so they were fine and had decent showers and a hairdryer (although you really don't need one in the tropics - it's a waste of time). Another downside (which we had thought was a plus on booking) was the open window arrangement with mosquito mesh covering. We had expected to fall asleep hearing the river (you can't unless you specifically book a riverside bungalow - which we were told weren't as good by our agent - we now think it's because the lodge was only half full and the wanted to keep all the guests in one area) and the geckos. Instead we were kept awake late into the night by late night guests from adjoining rooms chatting outside our room.

That aside, the Sarapiqui River is beautiful and we had some great birds. The food was good and you have a choice of a la carte and a buffet. In fact, we didn't have a bad meal in Costa Rica (but be advised that restaurant food is very pricey). There are rocking chairs outside your room and a hammock. Plenty of iguanas to marvel at. The suspension bridge is fun, but to visit the rainforest on the other side you have to be with a paid guide.

I recommend the boat trip (bookable at time of booking). We saw sungrebe and green ibis to name only two.

I would come back here (now I know what to expect) with the kids.

Room Tip: If you want quiet request a river bungalow
See more room tips
  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Mattskarin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SelvaVerde, Guest Relations Manager at Selva Verde Lodge, responded to this review, May 24, 2011
I would just like to clarify that the bungalows are not near the river, but across the road and uphill from the botanical garden. They are quiet and set well back from the road, but they are also quite far from the river. We do not have river bungalows. If you would like to stay by the river you must request a room in the river lodge, and please specify that you would like to be near the river. We will do our best to honor your request. Thank you for your review!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 1, 2011

We stayed here in late April 2011. I have two boys (ages 12 & 15). The rooms are nice with each having a hammock outside the room. The location is amazing. Lots of birds, monkeys, lizards, etc. However, try and request a room by the river - we were overlooking the pool which as noisy in the evenings (pool noise) but really irritating when they used a power hose to clean the pool area at 7 am. Do not stay in the bungalows. We went to take a look - it is quite a hike from the lodge, and is very hot and sticky. The rooms at the main lodge are just fine - quite large actually. The food was good/average but there are large tour groups that stay here so try and avoid eating when they have just descended on the dining room. We also ate in the restaurant downstairs and it was very good. We swam in the river, took a rafting trip, lounged by the river in the evenings and overall had a very nice time. There was a lack of towels for the pool but I think that was because a very large group of students (over 100) had just arrived at the lodge. However, it was so warm that a towel was really not necessary. During the day the lodge clears out (the big tours go on day trips) so it is kind of fun to have the place almost to yourself. My boys enjoyed hiking around and swimming in the pool. This is not a super high end hotel (no fruity welcome drinks, or plush pillows) but it was quite comfortable and in a great location. I also thought the staff was very nice and extremely helpful.

Room Tip: Ask to stay by the river
See more room tips
  • Stayed April 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank KathleenB05
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
72 reviews
66 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 29, 2011

This hotel is in a superb location in the middle of a rain forest. The rooms are excellent with their own hammocks and there is a nice swimming pool plus grounds to roam in. Unfortunately the management let the whole place down. Other hotels in Costa Rica welcomed us with a delicious drink. Here the main welcome seemed to be to emphasise that there was a fine of $57 if we lost our room key. Extras and in particular the restaurant were all very expensive, and there were no towels at the pool despite reception staff insisting that there were.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Englishguy49
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Selva Verde Lodge

Property: Selva Verde Lodge
Address: | 9 Kms from Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, 553069, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Heredia > Sarapiqui
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Ski-In / Ski-Out Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Sarapiqui
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Selva Verde Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 58
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Selva Verde is more than a lodge and more than a rainforest reserve. It is your gateway into a magical world of towering Almendro trees, Mantled Howler Monkeys, and Keel Billed Toucans. Immerse yourself in tropical nature as you hike through deep green forest or reflect quietly in a comfortable hammock. Discover something new as you encounter Selva Verde's amazing wildlife and vibrant people. Rekindle your sense of wonder and experience the out-of-the-ordinary. Experience Selva Verde! Located just 2 hours from San Jose, Selva Verde provides easy access to the wonders of the rainforest. For over 30 years, we have been a haven for nature enthusiasts from around the world. Our abundant biodiversity, comfortable rainforest lodge, and exciting activities are ideal for adventure seekers, bird and wildlife watchers, students, and families. Come explore Selva Verde's 500 acres of vibrant tropical nature in the heart of Costa Rica's Sarapiqui Canton. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Selva Verde Hotel Sarapiqui
Selva Verde Lodge Costa Rica/Sarapiqui

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