+800-451-7111 For USA and Canadian Guests

   506-2761-1800 For Costa Rican Guests

   +352-377-7111 Outside Costa Rica, USA / Canada


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+800-451-7111 For USA and Canadian Guests
+506-2761-1800 For Costa Rican Guests
+352-377-7111 Outside Costa Rica, USA and Canada


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Welcome to Selva Verde



Rainforest Plants Tour



plantsNature trails, Selva Verde LodgeSelva Verde’s Costa Rican Rainforest Plants Tour

Our Rainforest Reserves contain more than 500 acres of primary tropical rainforest and provides habitat protection for plant and wildlife species, such as the Almond Tree and the Great Green Macaw.

Costa Rica is home to 330 species of trees and countless plant species (estimates range from 9,000-10,000 types of vascular plants). Tropical forests are much more diverse than the temperate forests further north. In lowland tropical rainforests, such as surround Selva Verde’s Costa Rica jungle lodge, it is possible to find between 50 and 100 different tree species within a few acres. On a plant tour of the Costa Rican rainforest, you will also find a wide diversity of plants, such as bromeliads, epiphytes and vines. There are approximately 1,500 species of orchids alone.



Almendro 300x190600+ years old tree, Selva Verde LodgeSelva Verde Lodge’s Costa Rica Jungle Giant

Our Costa Rica jungle lodge property is home to an award-winning almond tree. Already a mature tree when the Spanish came to the Americas in the late 1400s, the tree is approximately 600 years old.

This enormous tree stands 54 meters (177 feet) high and 14 meters (46 feet) in circumference and in 2007 was recognized as a natural and national treasure of Costa Rica. It won the 2007 Exceptional Tree award from the INBIO, the National Institute for Biodiversity in Costa Rica.

Almendro trees, or Dipteryx panamensis, are considered guardians of the tropical rainforest and a symbol for the region. They are also a critical part of the endangered Great Green Macaw’s habitat. Our award winning tree should live for another 100 to 200 years.


Corridors - Pathways for Wildlife

Mesoamerican Biological Corridor


Thirty years ago, rainforest stretched from Costa Rica’s Central Valley to the Atlantic coast.  Today this area is a patchwork of small fincas, agricultural plantations, and a handful of rainforest reserves.  Selva Verde is one of those reserves – protecting an important remnant of the forests that once blanketed the area. 

parrot01Great green Macau, Selva Verde LodgeIn order to maintain optimal levels of biodiversity within the reserve, Selva Verde is working with local conservation organizations such as the Sarapiquí Conservation Learning Center and the Centro Cientifico Tropical to create forested pathways between Selva Verde and other preserves in the area.  These pathways, known as biological corridors, will allow rainforest wildlife to migrate more freely and ensure a brighter future for the area’s biodiversity.

Selva Verde’s Rainforest Reserve has been identified as a critical piece of a much larger corridor initiative known as the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC).   The MBC is an international initiative that links critical habitats from southern Mexico to Panama in an effort to conserve biodiversity and promote sustainable development throughout this ecologically fragile region. 

Great Green in Flight1 300x200Great green MacauSelva Verde sits in the middle of the San Juan-La Selva section of the MBC and provides habitat for one of the corridor’s most endangered species – the Great Green Macaw.  Less than 200 of these birds can be found in Costa Rica.  The macaw’s very existence is tied to the Almendro tree – the bird’s preferred nesting and food source.  The wood of the Almendro is also a very desirable building material and has been extensively logged throughout Sarapiquí Valley.  Selva Verde’s reserve protects one of the largest Almendro trees in the region and macaws are frequently seen in and around the preserve. 

Selva Verde is committed to working with local and regional conservation organizations to save Great Green Macaws and the Almendro trees - within our preserve and beyond our boundaries.    Protecting the Great Green Macaw’s habitat also protects habitat needed by many other rainforest birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and plants – ensuring a future for rainforest biodiversity and for Selva Verde. 

For more information and maps of the San Juan-La Selva Biological Corridor VISIT THIS WEBSITE



The Selva Verde Story

a passion to make a difference

Selva Verde exists today because of one woman's desire to make a difference.  As a pioneer in the business of ecotourism, Giovanna Holbrook traveled the world creating unique adventures for avid naturalists.  In 1982, Giovanna arranged an ornithological field study in Costa Rica for the National Aviary.  At the last minute, accommodations for the explorers fell through and they found themselves without a place to stay.  Giovanna raced to Costa Rica to rectify the situation.  A full day drive from San Jose, over barely passable dirt roads, found her deep in the county of Sarapiquí – a place that would forever etch itself upon her heart. 

holbrooks 1982Selva Verde Founder Giovanna Holbrook with her husband,, Juan Holbrook, c. 1986

The Discovery of Selva Verde

During her stay, Giovanna discovered a large tract of old growth forest that was up for sale was facing an uncertain future and may well have been purchased for logging or agricultural purposes. Never one to shy from a challenge, Giovanna placed a deposit on the property then and there on the spot and embarked on an adventure that continues to this day. Selva Verde's early days were full of excitement.  Shortly after purchasing the property, Giovanna discovered squatters staking claim to her land. She enlisted her good friend Dr. Tom Emmel and with the help of a local conservationist, confronted the squatters. After some intense and heated negotiations, a deal was struck. If the squatters agreed to vacate her property, they would be offered jobs once the project was completed.  

Over the next several years, Giovanna continued to travel back and forth between the US and Costa Rica as the dream of Selva Verde began to take shape.  Soon the original house was hosting visiting researchers and plans were underway to build additional guest rooms and a dining hall.  More than 30 years later, Selva Verde is a world renowned eco-lodge committed to advancing the practice of sustainable tourism.

Selva Verde began with one woman's dream of preserving nearly 500 acres of endangered tropical forest and the multitude of species that call it home.  Through her unwavering devotion, Selva Verde is now a premier ecotourism destination, protecting the most accessible rainforest in Costa Rica, and attracting nature enthusiasts from around the globe.

 Giovanna Holbrook - Video Interview


 Photo Gallery - Our Story





Birding at Selva Verde



Keel-billed Toucans, Great Green Macaws, Wood Thrushes, Grey-necked Wood Rails, Sunbitterns and Violet Crowned Woodnymphs are just a few of the birds that inhabit the Selva Verde Rainforest Reserve. For decades, Selva Verde has been a birding hotspot – captivating beginner and expert alike.

Crimson-collared TanagerBirding for Beginners: Join one of our morning or afternoon bird walks and let our naturalist guides introduce you to the amazing world of tropical birds. Experienced birders are more than welcome too!

Birding Checklist: This site-specific bird list will assist both avid “tickers” and beginning birders.

Birding beyond our Borders

Take your birding to a new level and jump on the Costa Rica Bird Route – an innovative tourism project designed to promote habitat conservation throughout the Sarapiquí.

The Costa Rica Bird Route (CRBR) features twelve birding hotspots – including six established biological reserves and six newly created private reserves. Opened in April 2008, it is the first of its kind in Central America. It is organized and managed by the Rainforest Biodiversity Group, with funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Neotropical Migratory Bird Act.



selvaverde small 13Red-legged HoneycreeperSelva Verde is one of the CRBR's portal sites and serves as a base camp with comfortable accommodations, dining facilities, and excellent on-site birding opportunities. From Selva Verde, Bird Route visitors can easily access the newly created remote sites, owned by local community members. Day visits to these remote sites provide visitors with the opportunity to explore brand new, off-the-beaten-path wildlife areas. Local landowners receive economic benefits from your visit which encourages them to preserve natural habitats on their property and throughout the region.

Selva Verde is proud to be a participant in the Costa Rica Bird Route and encourages birders of all levels to jump on board! For more information on the Costa Rica Bird Route, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.



 Birding blogGreen-Honeycreeper


Field Notes: Selva Verde's Birding Blog

Check our BLOG for some great insight into the many different species found at Selva Verde.




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Puma SVL webNew Camera-Trap Station in Action

Many of our guests are well-accustomed to spotting a myriad of birds, insects, reptiles and other species throughout the 500-acre preserve. It is less common, however, to come face-to-face with some of the larger mammals. Now, thanks to Selva Verde’s new camera-trap station, we have visual evidence from images taken on the grounds of Selva Verde, featuring some of the reserve’s more elusive residents.

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Birding at La Selva by Christa Markley

Trip Report: Understanding Costa Rica’s Conservation Success Story

Participants at CRIBC in November learned more about Costa Rica's pioneering ecotourism.


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Amos Bien

Update from the SCLC: Saying goodbye to Amos Bien

On November 19, we bid farewell to a pioneer in sustainable tourism, a founding member of the Sarapiquí Conservation Learning Center Board, and dear friend, Amos Bien. 


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holbrooks 1982 ourstory idx

The Selva Verde Story

Selva Verde began with one woman's dream of preserving nearly 500 acres of endangered tropical forest and the multitude of species that call it home.