Selva Bananito: Ecotourism at its Best

Bordering Costa Rica's largest and most pristine nature reserve, Selva Bananito is part of the same rich ecosystem as the La Amistad International Peace Park. The lodge prides itself on providing first-rate comfort while trying to limit human impact on the environment. It uses no electricity, has solar-heated water and hosts only a small number of visitors at any one time. Selva Bananito also founded the revolutionary Limon Watershed Program; the goal of the program is educate the public and to protect as much of the rain forest vegetation growing along the upper watershed areas in the Province of Limon, which is the main water source of one the countries major cities, Limon.

Limon Watershed Foundation

Selva Bananito founded a non-profit foundation, Fundación Cuencas de Limón, which has become a regional leader on watershed protection and educational programs. The goal of the program is to protect as much of the rain forest vegetation growing along the upper watershed areas in the Province of Limon, which is the main water source of one the countries major cities, Limon. The foundation obtains funding from income generated by Selva Bananito Lodge and private donations. The Limon Watershed program is currently benefiting over 70,000 Costa Ricans. Click here for more information on the Limon Watershed Project.

Along with the watershed education programs, Bananito has also been instrumental in implementing a very strict anti-poaching campaign in the reserve. They are working closely with local police in the campaign, and do a lot of administrative work to make sure poachers are punished for their offense, and preventive work to avert such incidents from re-occurring.

The EcoLodge

Selva Bananito Lodge uses little to no electricity. What makes this location so remarkable is how tastefully and beautifully crafted and maintained the lodge is – bringing them world’s above the "fancy-camping" misgivings. The lodge is very elegant, with large inviting rooms that seem to merge with the jungle surroundings. Electricity is conserved by utilizing lanterns and candles. In addition, Selva Bananito has developed an ingenious way to purify wastewater with bacteria, enzymes, and water lilies. It also uses bio-degradable soaps and composts the bio-degradable waste.

The cabins at Selva Bananito are primarily constructed from second-hand wood. 80% of the hardwood used to build the cabins was obtained from wood discarded by loggers from trees already cut for other purposes. In addition, the location for the cabins, were chosen specifically to occupy regions within the forest that were already altered by human activity. To minimize the impact of tourists on this pristine rain forest environment, the lodge hosts only a small number of visitors at any one time.

Selva Bananito History

Selva Bananito is owned an operated by the Stein family. When the family first moved here, about one third of their 3,000-acre property had already been stripped of its tropical hardwood timber a U.S.-based banana exporter -- the land was then abandoned in the late 1920's. Government permits were in place to selectively harvest the remaining timber. In 1994, after years of agricultural experimentation on the already-cleared portion of their land, the Stein family made the decision to declare 2,000 acres (two-thirds) of their farm as a private biological reserve. Click here for more information on the history of Selva Bananito Lodge and Reserve.

Community Involvement at Selva Bananito

The lodge provides employment for 14 local employees from the rural area. For every job generated by tourism to Selva Bananito, another 4 to 6 secondary jobs develop as a result. The lodge has implemented different watershed education programs. Currently there is an environmental education program for the children in the surrounding rural areas. In 2006 a new program was created to educate adults on water conservation as well. A recent local study showed that 7 out of 10 adults in the Bananito and Banano area thought the water came from the "faucet" -- demonstrating limited understanding of the complex system in place to assure the water quality in the area.

Because of the location, it is impractical to purchased all food and produce from local farmers – most vegetables are simply not grown in the region. However, the lodges do their best to assure that the produce, that is not bought locally, comes from a Costa Rican cooperative. All milk and cheese products for our travelers at Pacuare Nature Reserve and Selva Bananito come from Selva's organic farm. Most fruits are purchased from local farmers in the rural area.

One third of the family land at Selva (415 hectares or 1,000 acres) is used for sustainable agriculture and cattle management. After several years of experimenting with different crops and livestock, today the farm is a reforestation project, organic banana plantation and is used for a cattle-breeding program. Cattle are used for both milk, cheese and beef production. Visitors are welcome to learn a more about the farm during a guided tour.

More on Selva Bananito

Click here for more information on different activities at Selva Bananito. From bird-watching and horseback riding, to nature walks and rappelling down waterfalls, Selva Bananito is sure to please the adventure desires of every traveler.

Traveling with children? Here are a few helpful hints to prepare your children for an adventure into the Costa Rican rainforest.

If you are interested in visiting this extraordinary lodge, Adventure Life's Beaches and Rainforest, Turtles and Rainforest, and our Caribbean Adventure tours all spend significant time exploring Selva Bananito Lodge and Reserve.

Visit the Conselvatur website.