La Selva Biological Station is located in the province of Heredia, three kilometers south of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, in the Caribbean lowland of Costa Rica.

How to get there:

From San Jose take Route 32 passing the Braulio Carrillo National Park, and the Zurqui Tunnel. When the descent down the mountain is completed, turn left toward San Clara on Route 4. Next, drive for about 30 kilometers to La Selva Biological Station which is a few kilometers before Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui.

Closest Airport:

The Arenal Airport is about 90 kilometers away from La Selva, but it is a small airport only for local fights. The international airport is located 100 kilometers away; this is the average distance from Alajuela to Sarapiqui.

What to find in La Selva Biological Station:

La Selva Biological Station offers equipped cabins, totally equipped family houses, food services, a gift shop, library, laundry, and an academic center. The station also offers daily natural history tours, bird watching tours, night tours, workshops, lectures, and boat trips in the Sarapiqui River.

Description of La Selva Biological Station:

La Selva Biological Station is situated within tropical and premontane wet forest, with about 73% of its area as primary tropical rain forest. La Selva was originally established in 1954 by Dr. Leslie Holdridge, as a farm dedicated to experimentation on mixed plantations for the improvement of natural resources management. It was purchased in 1968 by the Organization for Tropical Studies and declared a private biological reserve and station. Since then, it has become one of the most important sites in the world for research on tropical rain forests.

The La Selva property has a total area of 1,536 hectares, of which about 55% is covered with primary forest. This forest contains impressive trees, lianas, epiphytes, palms, and many other different species of tropical plants. The remaining areas of the reserve consist of abandoned pastures and plantations in various stages of succession, selectively logged secondary forest, and plots designated for experimental use. The reserve is located in a transition area from the foothills of the Central Volcanic Cordillera to the vast Caribbean Coastal Plain in northeastern Costa Rica. At the northern end of the property the elevation is about 35 meters above sea level, but it quickly gives way to steep hills that reach up to 137 meters elevation at the south. The attitudinal transect connecting La Selva Biological Station to the main body of Braulio Carrillo National Park extends from La Selva to Barva Volcano and includes tropical wet, premontane, lower montane, and montane rainforest ecosystems. 

La Selva Biological Station is located at the confluence of the Puerto Viejo and Sarapiquí Rivers, which meet at the station’s northern border. The preserve is surrounded on three sides by the natural barriers created by these rivers and their tributaries.

Trails at La Selva Biological Station:

There are many different trails at this reserve. It has a trail network of over 57 kilometers that go through all the areas offering the chance to see lots of different habitats and types of vegetation. Visitors are not permitted to enter the reserve without a guide, but daily hikes are offered.

The Tres Rios Trail is a well maintained trail that is paved from start to end and is accessible with a wheel chair. La Selva Biological Station also offers a swamp trail, which is a wood bridge that goes over a flooded area, giving the chance for visitors to see animals and plants that cannot be found else-where in the reserve.

Birdwatching in La Selva Biological Station:

Some of the most emblematic birds of La Selva Biological Station, which is a highly recomended area for birdwatching in Costa Rica:

  • Slaty-breasted Timanou (Crypturellus boucardi)
  • Agami Heron (Agamia agami)
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
  • Green Ibis (Mesenbrinibis cayennensis)
  • White Hawk (Leucopternis albicollis)
  • Common Black-Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus)
  • Crested Eagle (Morphnus guianensis)
  • Slaty-backed Forest-Falcon (Micrastur mirandollei)
  • Sungrebe (Heliornis fulica)
  • Pale-vented Pigeon (Patagioenas cayennensis) 
  • Scaled Pigeon (Patagioenas speciosa)
  • Olive-throated Parakeet (Aratinga nana)
  • Brown-hooded Parrot (Pyrilia haematotis)
  • Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus)
  • Common Potoo (Nyctibius griseus)
  • Blue-chested Hummingbird (Amazilia amabilis)
  • Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer (Chalybura urochrysia)
  • White-tipped Sicklebill (Eutoxeres aquila)
  • Rufous Motmot (Baryphthengus martii)
  • White-fronted Nunbird (Monasa morphoeus)
  • Pied Puffbird (Notharchus tectus)
  • Black-cheeked Woodpecker (Melanerpes pucherani)
  • Cinnamon Woodpecker (Celeus loricatus)
  • Fasciated Antshrike (Cymbilaimus lineatus)
  • Western Slaty-Antshrike (Thamnophilus atrinucha)
  • Streak-crowned Antvireo (Dysithamnus striaticeps)
  • White-flanked Antwren (Myrmotherula axillaris)
  • Thicket Antpitta (Hylopezus dives)
  • Streak-chested Antpitta (Hylopezus perspicillatus)
  • Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher (Todirostrum nigriceps)
  • Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant (Myiornis atricapillus)
  • Tawny-chested Flycatcher (Aphanotriccus capitalis)
  • Snowy Cotinga (Carpodectes nitidus)
  • White-collared Manakin (Manacus candei)
  • Tawny-faced Gnatwren (Microbates cinereiventris)
  • Stripe-breasted Wren (Cantorchilus thoracicus)
  • Black-throated Wren (Pheugopedius atrogularis)
  • Bay Wren (Cantorchilus nigricapillus)
  • Red-throated Ant-Tanager (Habia fuscicauda)
  • Dusky-faced Tanager (Mitrospingus cassinii)
  • Crimson-collared Tanager (Ramphocelus sanguinolentus)
  • Nicaraguan Seed Finch (Oryzoborus nuttingi)
  • Black-headed Saltator (Saltator atriceps)
  • Black-faced Grosbeak (Caryothraustes poliogaster)
  • Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea)

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