A nature lodge and the La Selva biological station are very close to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. La Selva, “The Jungle” in English, was founded in 1963. Nearly 50 universities and museums from all over the world participate in this institution, which is dedicated to researching new ways in which the rain forest and other natural resources in the tropics can be used sensibly without destroying their fragile ecology. The Organization for Tropical Studies supports La Selva’s lecture rooms and research laboratories, and finances the experimental stations.
A day trip to this prestigious biological research station, one of the oldest in the country, is very worthwhile, but must be arranged beforehand. La Selva is first and foremost a research facility and an observation post for the ecological system in the wilderness area surrounding it. Visitors definitely take secondary priority at La Selva. The research facility is located on the road between Puerto Viejo and the Braulio Carillo National Park.
Unlike other regions of Costa Rica, the area around Puerto Viejo does not have a real dry season. It is true that there is less precipitation in the first five months of the year than during the rest of it, but even February, the driest month of the year, gets some 200 mm of rain, which is still about a third of the annual average precipitation for central Europe. December, the wettest month, receives 500 mm of rainfall.
In an area covering 3,500 hectares, biologists have so far identified more that 450 different kinds of trees, 49 sorts of amphibians, 113 different mammals and 400 species of birds.
La Selva has 50 kilometers of wellkept trails available to scientists and visitors alike. It is also possible to spend the night at the research station, but reservations have to be made weeks in advance, because there is a limited capacity of only 60 beds.
Returning to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, it is possible to continue by boat to Barra del Colorado. A dirt track leads from Puerto Viejo to the small settlement of Pavas, where the Rio Toro and Rio Sarapiqui flow together. From there it is possible to charter a private boat and sail down the San Juan River to Barra del Colorado. The Rio Colorado Lodge also offers this service.