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All You Need To Know About Selva Bananito Lodge

Visiting Selva Bananito Eco Lodge is the perfect example of what an eco-lodge should be.  The lodge is located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica just south of Limon.  This family run lodge offers an experience like no others.  Selva means “jungle” and bananito mean “little banana”.  Located just outside of the little town of Bananito and right next to La Amistad Reserve is Selva Bananito rated as one of the top eco lodges in the country.

We had the pleasure of staying at this eco lodge and experiencing some of the tours first hand with the owner.  I can see why many Europeans love it here.  If you’re looking for a remote experience with nature and wildlife this is a great place to visit.

The lodge

Selva Bananito Lodge sits in the middle of the jungle.  Nowhere else can you feel this secluded but yet feel comfortable to let go of all modern technology even if it’s for a night or few days.  We had only 1 night but it was an amazing experience I’ll never forget.

After our long drive from Puntarenas we settled into our cabin unpacked a few things before our first dinner in the restaurant.  We sprayed for mosquitos just in case, grabbed our flashlight to walk the short path to the only restaurant on the property.  We had no idea what to expect but were excited to have dinner with total strangers and listen to a pre & post educational session held by the owner himself.

the office

Our accommodations

Our cabin was very comfortable with wood floors, 2 beds with overhead mosquito nets to wrap around, a closet for your belongings, a few blankets for the cooler nights, a bathroom with a huge shower, and the best part was the balcony with hammocks to enjoy the view.

There is no TV’s here so it’s a place to totally disconnect and enjoy the nature around you.  Because it’s an eco-lodge you really need to think of the environment.  Here Selva Bananito has done just that.  They use special biodegradable products in the shower for guests to use.

There is a small table when you enter the cabin providing small candles & matches perfect for when the power goes out.  A flashlight is also supplied which you will need to follow the path to the restaurant.

Selva Bananito has 7 standard cabins & 4 superior cabins each equipped with solar heated water.  Having lived in Costa Rica with cold showers it was certainly appreciated to have hot water.

At night, we remembered the owner mentioning about leaving the door open and listening to the sounds of nature.  It’s pretty amazing to listen to the night sounds of frogs and wake up to birds singing.  Sounds great, right?   But… if you are a little frightened at the crawly things out there you can certainly close the doors.  I was not but, found it was a little cool in the early morning so I wrapped myself in a blanket located in the closet.

Early morning birding tour

Our morning would start early with a birding tour at 5:30am with Allan our tour guide.  After driving most of the day before to have to wake up early for birds, are you crazy?  Yes of course this is all a part of the experience and you don’t want to miss out.  Especially if you only have 1 day like we did.    We entered the restaurant with our eyes have shut.  Coffee was in high demand at this point.  I apparently am grumpy until I’ve had my coffee or several so I am total.    I live on it!  Of course, that is true.  We are after all in the best country who grows amazing coffee.  We enjoyed a fresh cup of coffee with some fresh fruit to tie us over til breakfast.

We put on our rubber boots provided by the lodge after our quick coffee and pre-breakfast to hike the path with Allan.  I was excited to see birds especially toucans for this would be the first time for my friend.  We managed to see some birds, but not the toucans I had hoped.  Usually they like the cooler weather.   I’ve heard them many times so I know the sound they make.

The restaurant

There is only 1 main restaurant on the property serving up simple but delicious dishes for its guests.  There are lots of tables all made of wood, a bar area where you can recharge your phones, and nice clean washrooms just behind the bar.

We sat at a long table with all the other guests.  Dinner was going to be by candlelight.  A nice intimate touch I thought.  We were the only Canadians in the group.

The waitress staff served us delicious unsweetened juice, bowls of salad, and a main plate of meat, potatoes, and vegetables.  We could help ourselves to more if needed.  They also had a coconut with a little spike of alcohol from the bar if you so desired.  The lodge offers different meals even for vegetarians.  Selva Bananito tries to incorporate different types of meals to appeal to all guests.

early breakfast

How to get to Selva Bananito

Driving to the eco lodge

From Limon you can take route 36 heading south.  Be prepare for some rough roads.

Travel Tip:  We suggest a 4×4 would be a great option as this is a remote location.  During rainy season which is most of the year on the Caribbean side it rains a lot and you don’t want to get stuck.

If you prefer not to cross the river with your vehicle you can call ahead.  They will send staff to pick you up at this point and bring you to the lodge.

Things to do at the lodge

Horseback riding

Horseback riding is always fun in Costa Rica, but Selva Bananito has wonderful horses to take you through the banana plantation, across small streams, and provide a great riding experience.

We had the great opportunity to ride on two beautiful horses with the owner on the property.  I can’t tell you what it meant to us.  He truly loves his eco lodge, animals, and a country he and his sister grew up in.

We rode through a lot of the property stopping every now and then to observe the beautiful countryside with cows grazing off in the near distance.

During our stop at one of the cabins rented by a local we heard stories from the owner about his family arriving in Costa Rica making this remote location their home.

Gyro plane ride

After breakfast my driver came to taking me to the landing strip.  This was my first experience flying in a gyro plane.  My friend came along as she was going to be the photographer for the take off.

I was nervous of course but couldn’t deny the opportunity it may never happen again.  The takeoff was ok.    I seem to get over the nervousness quickly and enjoy the experience.  My headset sound was low so it needed an adjustment.  On the side of the helmet is a dial to adjust the volume.   The owner explained what parts of the property I was seeing down below and pointed out where the La Amistad Reserve was, the waterfalls, and the overnight camping location.   What’s amazing about taking this tour is the views of the reserve forest where wildcats have been spotted on their cameras.

We flew for about 20 minutes but they offer more options and go as far as the coastal area.  The landing was so smooth better than an airplane.  This is something I would definitely recommend doing if you have the chance.

Read more about the overnight camping experience.

landing strip at selva bananito eco lodge

This is the landing strip at Selva Bananito Eco Lodge.  What a view from the gyro plane!  I was speechless for a moment.

Here I am doing what I do best, explaining my experience to a couple who were awaiting their first camping in the middle of the reserve experience.  We heard about their upcoming experience and didn’t want to spoil it.  I so admire these people!  They truly experience life!

This was a great experience to have the opportunity to soar above the reserve where the wildcats roam and ride in my first ever gyro plane.  I am so lucky and grateful for the experience to tell the story.

More activities

  • hiking
  • bird watching
  • plant a tree
  • tree climbing
  • zip lining

cows grazing in the pasture

Volunteering

If you love to volunteer and help plant trees to improve our forests read more here.  Many students have come to this location over the years planting trees.  We could see how this was making a difference.  In only 5 years we could see the bare land starting to be taken over by forest again.  This helps our planet but also the wildlife which Costa Rica is known for.  A lot of areas have seen a decrease in animals due to the de-forestation in the country.  We need to bring this back.

Tree climbing

The owner escorted us on a hiking path to a small river.  This is where you can climb a giant tree.  As I photographed the location I spotted a blue morph butterfly.  This is so amazing!  I have seen them at La Paz but never out in nature.  It reminded me of the movie The Blue Butterfly and how a boy’s dreams was to catch one.  Here I was, right here standing in the middle of the river as it passed me by.  That was a great feeling!

Tips for Traveling to Selva Bananito

  • bring bugspray
  • long pants for horseback riding
  • closed toe shoes for tree climbing or zip lining

We want to thank Selva Bananito & staff for our wonderful staying at their eco-lodge all the tours, and knowledge learned so we can now share it with others.

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About the Author:

Laurie Johnson is travel writer, agent, and founder of Pura Vida Vacations. She finds her inspirations from travelling of the beaten path, meeting the locals, and sharing her travel stories, reviews, and tips with her readers.

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