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“Great place!”

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La Selva Biological Station
Certificate of Excellence
Oregon
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Great place!”
Reviewed 21 January 2014

We spent two nights here and found the staff, lodging and trails to be great. The kilometer path to our room was a pleasant walk where we often found interesting birds to see. The room was large, clean, with hot water and a nice little balcony. We found the food to be okay - some meals better than others but always enough to eat. If you're looking for a place to observe nature, this is the place for you. It's not cheap but the funds, I assume, help support this important biological station.

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Sheryl20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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110 reviews from our community

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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (18)
Date | Rating
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  • English first
  • French first
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  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
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English first
Kent, England
Level Contributor
94 reviews
50 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 103 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 January 2014 via mobile

We didn't stay here but chose to stay at a lodge in Sarapiqui and just had an excursion here. MAKE SURE YOU WEAR PROPER SHOES NOT OPEN TOED SANDALS. as you can guess - we arrived for the 05:45 tour wearing open toed sandals and thought we weren't going to be allowed in. Thankfully the guide took pity on us and allowed us to enter but we had to stick to the better constructed trails more suited to our footwear. We still saw loads of birds and the guide was very knowledgeable and he pointed out so many different birds we lost count.
A great place to go if you're into birdlife - wouldn't have suited us to stay there though as it sounds a little too basic for what we prefer but each to their own

Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank Duffer56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 January 2014

Not a flash hotel experience but that's not what we were looking for! The cabins were adequate (with kitchen) but couldn't be called luxurious. Good for university groups.
The wildlife was great and we saw lots of birds (toucans were the best), sloths, iguanas, turtles, peccaries ect.
We were freezing that night. We only had sheets and it was an unusually cold night.

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Kate M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Isidro de El General, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
43 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 December 2013

La Selva has been one of our favorite places for many years. This trip did not disappoint. On two occasions this time we saw several great green macaws flying overhead . What a wonderful sighting as they have lost so much of their habitat and food sources. It has been a dream of mine to see them recover and become abundant again. .Our guide was Joel. He has been with La selva for many years and has shown me many of my first views of some very special birds. He is very knowledgeable about the area as a whole.

We did stay in the cabins at La selva this time. Very comfortable but basic. Beds were not great but for a night or two okay. The suicide shower was actually my favorite part. Wonderful pressure and wonderful hot water. There is a guard on duty right by the cabins wich was a comfort as they are not near the main part of the reserve. This is one downside of the cabins as it a bit of a distance to get to the dining room. We had a driver with a van but It would have been a dark walk back to the cabins after dinner.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank CostaRicaTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 October 2013

This review covers two guided rainforest walks we took at La Selva, and not the accomodations. (We stayed at Selva Verde.)

Our two walks at La Selva were our favorite rainforest walks in Costa Rica. We saw a greater variety of wildlife in each of our two morning walks here than we saw anywhere else. A partial list includes: toucans, parrots, oropendola, blue morpho butterflies, a cuatro ventanas moth, leaf-cutter ants, poison dart frogs, capuchin monkeys, peccaries, sleeping bats, and a pit viper. Both guides were outstanding. They gave us great close-up views with their spotting scopes and taught us about the magnificent animals, plants, flowers and trees (too many to mention). Although we went in February (the busy season) there were few people on the trails and it was extremely peaceful.

La Selva offers two different kinds of guided walks. On birding walks, which are offered at 5:45 a.m., you walk mainly in the more "manicured" area by the reception area and the river. On natural history walks, which are offered a little later in the morning, you walk on trails in the rainforest proper. When you make your reservation, be sure to specify which kind of tour you want. (We didn't, and on our first walk it took us a little time to straighten this out with our guide.)

A magical, amazing place!

  • Stayed February 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Shad2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Guildford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
104 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 September 2013

We did a 2 and a half hour tour from our nearby hotel. The naturalist guide was very informative and showed us many birds and animals in this short walk through the primary and secondary forests bordering on the Braulio Carillo National Park. The research station is well laid out and close to the forest. The guide, who spoke very good English carried a tripod mounted telescope so that we could clearly see some of the birds, flora and other wild life that we could not get close to. There were only 6 of us in the group and we therefore got good attention and information during the tour. He was exceedingly good at spotting the birds in the very lush forest canopy. We saw a wide range of epiphites, trees, flowering plants, and animals including iguanas, lizards, peccaries, sloths, fish, frogs and an armadillo. For bird spotters it was magnificent with an unimaginable range of species to be seen in just a short walk from the station.

Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank Basil M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Miami, FL
Level Contributor
58 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 July 2013

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.

Room Tip: Zampopa and the neighboring "new wings" of building are 1km away from the dining hall/admi...
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  • Stayed June 2013, travelled solo
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Helpful?
4 Thank Palmisto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about La Selva Biological Station

Property: La Selva Biological Station
Address: Highway 4, 41001, Costa Rica
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Heredia > Sarapiqui
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 19 Speciality Lodging in Sarapiqui
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:2.5 star — La Selva Biological Station 2.5*
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Also Known As:
La Selva Biological Station Costa Rica/Sarapiqui

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