Not to be confused with Selva Verde Lodge in Chilamate, Estación Biológica La Selva is a working biological research station equipped with laboratories, experimental plots, a herbarium and an extensive library. The station is usually teeming with scientists and students researching the nearby private reserve. La Selva does welcome drop-ins, though it’s best to phone ahead and reserve your accommodations. Rooms are simple but comfortable, and rates include meals and guided hikes.
La Selva is operated by the Organization for Tropical Studies, a consortium founded in 1963 to provide leadership in the education, research and wise use of tropical natural resources. Twice a year OTS offers a grueling eight-week course open mainly to graduate students of ecology, along with various other courses and field trips that you can apply for.
The area protected by La Selva is 16 sq km of premontane wet tropical rainforest, much of which is undisturbed. It’s bordered to the south by the 476-sq-km Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo, creating a protected area large enough to support a great diversity of life. More than 886 bird species have been recorded here, as well as 120 mammal species (including 70 species of bat), 1850 species of vascular plant (especially from the orchid, philodendron, coffee and legume families) and thousands of insect species – with 500 types of ant alone.