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Selva Verde Eco-Lodge: A Mission to Save Costa Rica's Rainforests

Costa Rica — our 2024 Campus of the Year — boasts of lush rainforests teeming with wildlife, exotic birds, butterflies and flowers in every vivid color of the rainbow. The people of Costa Rica are fiercely united in saving, reforesting and protecting wildlife habitats. And they do it with a feeling of gratitude and appreciation for the simple joys each day brings, a slower and more content lifestyle they call ‘pura vida’ [PAW-duh VEE-duh]. You’ll hear it wherever you go throughout the country, as a cheerful greeting, a thank you or a farewell. Even without speaking the language, you’ll easily connect with the locals just by smiling and saying “pura vida!”

The Selva Verde Eco-Lodge

In a tropical paradise close to the equator called Sarapiquí, the northern lowlands brim with volcanoes and sparkling rivers flowing into the Caribbean Sea. On A Taste of Costa Rica and other Road Scholar programs, you’ll find Selva Verde, an eco-friendly lodge on a mission to conserve, sustain, reforest and educate. A visit here includes full immersion into the heart of a tropical rainforest, a chance to connect with local families in the surrounding communities and an opportunity to learn about precious microclimates and the species they support. 

During your stay in a Selva Verde cabin, you’ll awaken to the symphony of birdsong, the echo of howler monkeys and the rush of the river. Emerging from your room, you’ll meander a network of covered, elevated walkways through the rainforest, which keeps you dry while protecting the ancient soil beneath you. You’ll feel as if you’re enveloped in an enchanting, otherworldly jungle that beats with the pulse of flapping wings, wildlife chatter and the heady scent of blooming flowers. 

From a treehouse-like deck over morning coffee (locally grown, of course) and juicy-sweet fruit, you’ll begin your day spotting dozens of birds both great and small, bright yellow to bold indigo, feasting on a breakfast of bananas and mangoes.

Sustainability Through Education & Hands-on Experiences

Selva Verde eco-lodge is home base for the non-profit Sarapiquí Conservation Learning Center (SCLC), dedicated to teaching the world about sustainability with a hands-on approach that links local community members and visitors. You’ll meet families who are happy to demonstrate their organic farming methods, sustainability practices and lifestyle. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself in a kitchen helping to prepare tortillas, arepas, marmalade and perhaps even extracting sugar cane. All while learning about the ways in which these families grow and harvest small crops such as black peppercorn, fruit, coffee beans and cacao.

Taking part in some of these home visits (and meeting such precious children) reminds me of the commonalities we all share as humans — connecting through food and laughter, forging friendships, giving and sharing with a generous heart, a love for family and the hope many of us have to be able to pass down what’s ours to our kids.

Selva Verde and the SCLC also support the families whose private rainforest reserves give you numerous opportunities for birding, hiking, rafting and tiptoeing across hanging bridges above the forest canopy. On Road Scholar programs, your visits to places like this help support the families who own them. Which in turn keeps them from having to sell off parcels of their precious rainforests and lands (which more often than not results in the felling of precious trees).

The SCLC also believes in educating children from a young age about conservation and sustainability, and provides English classes, computer proficiency lessons, school supplies and scholarships to those in need. This organization understands that Costa Rican children are the country’s future advocates and wants to provide them with the knowledge it’ll take to protect against advancing climate change.


Selva Verde sits right in the middle of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor and the Costa Rican Bird Route, and it's invested in ensuring a pathway for migratory birds going from Southern Mexico and Belize all the way to Panama (and back). All of which makes for a magical birding paradise. In fact, some birds find their stop in Costa Rica so pleasant, that they decide to stay (can’t say I blame them)!

In a quest to reforest parcels of land that were sold off in the past, Selva Verde continues its mission to protect and provide forested pathways that connect one rainforest to the next. This will ensure the future of biodiversity and continue to give birds a safe place to land along their migratory journey. 

I hope that one day soon you find yourself on a Road Scholar learning adventure to Costa Rica that visits Selva Verde. Perhaps you’ll try my personal favorite, A Taste of Costa Rica. By supporting ecotourism, we help the next generation of Costa Rican children learn to respect and protect the rainforests. Hopefully they’ll grow up to become shining examples of how each and every one of us can do our small part in saving the planet. And to that I say, “Pura Vida!”

Read a daily journal from my visit!