References, testimonials & press
- TRIP ADVISOR , SELVA BANANITO LODGE: Traveler Reviews
- Selva Bananito Lodge. REVISTA "CONOCIENDO COSTA RICA" ESPECIAL CARIBE (Setiembre, 2010)
- Selva Bananito Lodge Walks the "Green" Talk . by Steve Mack, The Tico Times (January22, 2010)
- FOOTPRINT Costa Rica (by Peter Hutchinson / 2nd edition)
- The Best Ecolodges & Wilderness Resorts (www.frommers.com)
- TOP TEN HOTELS POLYGLOTT , APA GUIDE, Costa Rica
- COSTA RICA TRAVEL KNOW HOW.
- Times on line: eight best ecolodges in Costa Rica
- A MUSICAL IN THE TROPICAL NIGHT
- SELVA BANANITO LODGE: AT THE FOOT OF THE WATER MOUNTAINS GEO SAISON, The Travel Magazine , October 2003
- PRESERVATION EFFORT NETS One of 10 Best Eco-Lodges in The World
- THE WORLD'S Ten Best Eco-Lodges. (Power Point Presentation) By Natasha Singer, Outside (March Edition, 2003)
South to Cahuita
South to Cahuita
Highway 36 begins its coastal journey south to Cahuita just west of Limon. A thin line of palms breaks the view of the beautiful beaches which hide dangerous currents found down the stretch of coastline north of Cahuita.
Hidden in the mountains is the incredible ecotourist destination of Selva Bananito Lodge, and further down the road is Aviarios del Caribe animal reserve. (See page 390)
South to Cahuita p. 383
Selva Bananito Lodge and Reserve, head inland on the challenging road at Bananito, T/F 2253 8118, www.selvabananito.com.
A family-run rainforest lodge that is probably winner of the ´Most difficult Lodge to Reach´ award, Selva Bananito is beautifully remote, close to Cerro Muchilla on the border of La Amistad Biosphere Reserve. It is also ecologically very considerate as the Stein family is committed to low-environmental impact living and sustainable farming, and use funding from tourism to help maintain their conservation projects. More than a holiday stop, it is a place for body, mind and soul. 11 exquisite cabins are made from earthquake- salvaged hardwoods. Tiled bathrooms with solar heated water, lead from terracotta-tiled rooms with a balcony complete with hammock, opening onto spectacular views of the mountains. Without electricity, the evenings are lit by candles and the days start with the sun and the dawn chorus from the surrounding rainforest. Meals cater for vegetarians and non – vegetarians taking influences from the highlands and the Caribbean. Beyond tree-hugging calmness, you can also enjoy some serious activities it you are up to it: tree climbing and rappelling, mountain biking, hiking, waterfall swimming, horse riding or the more sedate pleasures of bird-watching and simply enjoying the gardens. Getting here can be amusing and involves crossing 4 rivers – 4-wheel drive is essenti
Selva Bananito Lodge
POLYGLOTT, APA GIUDE, Costa Rica
Top 10 Hotels, page 266
At Bananito Sur, Caribbean coast, Tel. 00506 - 253-8118, Fax 280-0820,
Conselva racsa.co.cr, www.selvabananito.com, **** (Inc. VP.)
Location-Directions: 17 km south of Puerto Limon, turn right to Bananito Sur (5km), from there signposted access (about 1 hour's piste)
No comfort without electricity? Here you will learn better:
Thanks to solar energy, the attractive bungalows offer a warm shower and at night gas lanterns light the way to the restaurant, where a candlelight dinner awaits. During the day you can hike through the private reserve, which is only accessible to house guests, which borders on the La Amistad biosphere reserve - the largest nature reserve in Central America. In addition, horses and mountain bikes are available, and an overgrown heliconia garden invites you to linger. Adventure seekers can practice tree climbing. And then there would be the hammock on the bungalow terrace with a view of the Cordillera de Talamanca.
PRIVATE RESERVE SELVA BANANITO
Travel Know How Costa Rica
South Caribbean Coast, page 307
Private reserve Selva Bananito
area 850 ha (primary forest), height approx. 120 - 450 m, Info: Conselvatur, San Jose
Tel. 253-8118, (German-speaking), Fax 2800820, in D.Tel. 0861-165906, Fax 0861-1666872, conselva racsa.co.cr., Admission accommodation:
See below (pre-registration only), Directions: via B ananito Sur, from there
all-wheel drive required.
This new private reserve under German management extends on the eastern slope of the Cordillera De Talamanca and borders the Parque Internacional La Amistad - making it part of the largest nature reserve in Central America. The source region of the Rio Bananito, which supplies the drinking water for Puerto Limon, is a WET HABITAT with many rivers and waterfalls. In addition to numerous bird species, tapirs, pakas, armadillos, raccoons, skunks, possums, sloths and peccaries, even ocelots and jaguarundis have been spotted in the thicket of the rainforest. There are several hiking trails available for visitors to the lodge (due to the long journey, a day's visit makes little sense), but most of them are not paved - so a local guide is required. Other ACTIVITIES are riding excursions, Mountain bike tours, tree climbing and agricultural exploration tours on the attached finca. By the way: around 10% of the income is used for a foundation in order to monitor and limit legal and illegal deforestation in this area.
Selva Bananito Lodge (Tel. 2844278): 11 well-tended wooden houses with veranda (hammocks), beautifully tiled bathroom, no electricity, solar system, maximum 22 guests, good restaurant with a beautiful view, local cuisine, prices: $ 120, 200, 258 (FB), Package 3 days - 2 nights, from - to San Jose, (FB incl. 3 tours) $ 300.- pp in a double room, $ 340.- in a single room, no KK.
Eight best ecolodges in Costa Rica
Caribbean: Selva Bananito
The Stein family made a moral decision to leave 850 hectares of their family farm untouched, and to build a lodge (predominantly out of wood discarded by loggers) as alternative source of income. They demonstrate how environmentally-sound ecotourism can and should be done, restricting the number of guests, eschewing electricity, harnessing solar energy to heat water, using bio-degradable soaps, composting, recycling glass and plastics, and purifying water using bacteria, enzymes, and water lilies.
They established Fundación Cuencas de Limón, to boot, a nonprofit organization dedicated to watershed protection and educational programs, and offset carbon emissions produced by your air travel by planting trees. Just as importantly, with its trails, rivers, cabins in stilts and views across to the Cerro Muchilla and Amistad Biosphere Reserve, the Steins have created in Selva Bananito, a place sufficiently sublime as to convert even a casual visitor into a fervent ecologist. There is much here to keep twitchers happy, but it is best enjoyed by those with a spirit of adventure. Not only are 8-hour jungle hikes involving 60 river crossings and rappelling down an 80-ft waterfall, galloping horse rides and tree climbing on the activities menu, but the journey from San Jose, particularly during the rainy season can be a little, ahem, challenging.
www.selvabananito.com. 3 days / 2 nights packages includes transfers from San José, 3 meals, introductory tree-climbing, waterfall tour and horseback ride at $355-$375 pp (valid until Nov 30 2007. Self-drive deduct $45 pp)
Selva Bananito Lodge - living in the rainforest
A MUSICAL IN THE TROPICAL NIGHT
DESTINATION , Swiss travel and news magazine, winter / spring 2005/2006 , pages 102 - 104
Anyone who paves their way through the tropical rainforest for the first time will feel the atmosphere of a new world with all their psychological and physical sensors. This may be a shock of happiness, as experienced by a mountaineer who stands on the summit of a four-thousand-meter peak for the first time or as with a diver who has managed to dive into the endless depths of the wondrous world of a coral reef. All three of them, the explorer in the rainforest, the mountaineer above the clouds and the diver in the depths of the ocean have one thing in common: because they have left their ancestral environment and entered a sphere with new, unfamiliar living conditions, they experience a tingling, adventurous one Challenge. This is paired with a limitless experience of nature,
Nobody will forget how he sat at night on the terrace of his cabin at the Selva Bananito Lodge in the middle of the tropical rainforest of Costa Rica and let the spectacle of the tropical night take place: the backdrop of the foothills of the Cordillera de Talamanca stands out sharply against the looming ones Thunderclouds. Again and again they shine in dull red when the lightning discharges in them. The rising and falling singsong of the crickets, cicadas and insects orchestrated a true-to-life musical in the treetops, to which thousands of glowworms, dancing through the air with their bright light trails, project a ballet fireworks into the black of the tropical night. The smells of moss, mold and moisture, the scents of orchids,
Dream and reality mix in the semi-darkness of the tropical night and give the viewer of the natural spectacle the pleasant feeling of lightness of being.
The Selva Bananito Lodge, a unique starting point for exploring the tropical rainforest, offers its guests peace and quiet, direct contact with nature and the opportunity to explore the rainforest on the touch of a towel and learn interesting facts about it. It is located on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica at the foot of Cerro Muchila in the province of Limón. The facility can be reached in an hour and a half in a four-wheel drive vehicle over a bumpy dirt road in a south-westerly direction from the provincial town of Limón. When there is heavy rain, horses are used. The Cerro Muchila is the easternmost protrusion of the Cordillera de Matama and thus belongs to Costa Rica's southernmost mountain range of the Cordillera de Talamanca, which is part of the Costa Rican - Panamanian Biosphere Reserve "
La Amistad ”is. This connected protected area consists mainly of the international park “La Amistad” and various adjoining reserves, which together make up an area in the order of the cantons of Graubuenden and Ticino. This strip of green, which stretches Costa Rica from east to west, is one of the least explored areas of the country.
NO LIGHT, NO TELEPHONE, BUT CALM AND ROMANTIC
The Selva Bananito Lodge (www. Selvabananito.com) is a family business, one third of which is used by the Stein immigrant family. The lodge itself is run by the second generation, siblings Juergen and Sofia Stein. The bungalows are in a loosened deciduous forest on a hill. On one side the Bananito River meanders through its valley with pastures, plantations and afforestation of the farm. Here you can observe a diverse range of birds. On the other hand, the view from the terraces of the bungalows sweeps over the Muchila mountain range and the “La Amistad” biosphere. The bungalows are built on stilts in the Caribbean style. This helps to curb influences close to the ground such as moisture and insects. The main path downhill from the bungalows leads directly to the “Rancho”, the main house. In the upper part, visitors enter a dining room open on all four sides, a small bar and a library. From the lower part of the “Rancho” cheerful laughter penetrates from the kitchen, where hard-working hands prepare tasty local meals.
The candlelight dinners are particularly romantic. In the Selva Bananito Lodge there is neither electricity nor telephone, but all the more romance and tranquility. Bungalows and “ranchos” are built exclusively from natural, untreated materials from the area. The complex is one of the few lodges that actively contribute to the protection of nature. At no time is the number of tourists allowed to visit the reserve exceeded. The Stein family also runs a non-profit foundation, the Fundación Cuencas de Limón, which plays a leading role in the region for the protection of the catchment areas of the tropical rainforest and in the implementation of ecological education programs. Guests can access the lodge ride horses,
Experience value : *****
Price / performance: *****
SELVA BANANITO LODGE: AT THE FOOT OF THE WATER MOUNTAINS
GEO SAISON, the travel magazine, October 2003, www.geo-saison.de, page 38 - 41.
- COSTA RICA: A GUEST TO THE WONDERS OF NATURE—
Our way leads through the river bed. There are no other ways here. The Río Bananito does not have much water, but it is enough for wet feet. Every few meters we have to switch to the other side, the water smacking our trekking shoes.
“The tour”, announced Juergen Stein, boss and owner of the lodge, will be long and exhausting - but also exciting and instructive. Six kilometers through the rainforest, i.e. through the river. Then a climbing over two steep ridges. The goal is a waterfall in the middle of the jungle. We rappel through it. Then it goes all the way back. Our guide is called Victor. “Earlier,” he says, “we pulled such fish out of the river”. To do this, he holds his hands a good half a meter apart. “They've been gone since the earthquake”.
He means the last big earthquake in 1991. “There were landslides, the slopes are eroded, the special microclimate that many valleys have here has changed. “The region has become drier - including the rainforest.
Preserving this rainforest is the purpose of Selva Bananito Lodge. The Río Bananito provides drinking and fresh water for tens of thousands on the coast of Limón. “If we don't preserve this forest,” says Juergen Stein imploringly, “not a single drop of water will reach the bottom in 50 years. “The private reserve of Selva Bananito covers 850 hectares. It borders directly on the huge, one million hectare biosphere reserve “La Amistad”, a national park that extends as far as Panama.
At the waterfall, one after the other, we get a harness strapped on, a helmet put on _ and we shimmy down the rope. The water falls 30 meters over smoothly polished rocks. Nobody thinks about wet feet anymore: We are wet from top to bottom. With hot rice with a spicy sauce, this is quickly forgotten. All came down safely. All of them manage to walk back. Although, as Victor puts it: "towards the end the stones in the river bed become increasingly pointed."
Juergen Stein has done something amazing in his lodge: the greatest possible comfort without electricity. Each cabina has a spacious shower. The water is warmed up by the sun - and you really appreciate that after a long day tour. As soon as the tropical night falls after 6 p.m., hundreds of candles, gas lights and torches light up the area - creating a jungle romance like in a Tarzan film.
INFO: Selva Bananito Lodge, Tel.Fax 00506-2538118 DR
/ VP (cabina for two) $ 200.-, inc. Of all activities. Package: 3 days, ikn kl. Transport to and from San José, $ 300.- / person
On offer: various jungle tours on foot and on horseback. The lodge also has a platform in the canopy of the rainforest, 30 meters high.
PRESERVATION EFFORT NETS ONE OF 10 BEST ECO-LODGES IN THE WORLD
Rudi Stein’s children knew they had to come up with an alternative. The pristine rainforest that had been in their family for decades was in jeopardy.
Their father, a German expatriate who began homesteading 2,000 acres in a remote area of Costa Rica in the 1970s, renewed his logging permit every year. That meant he could cut down trees on 2/3 of the property that today is conserved as the Selva Bananito Preserve.
“My sisters and I saw the urgency to convince our father not to make use of the logging permit,” says Jurgen Stein, who owns Selva Bananito Lodge with his sisters, Karin and Sofia. “We came up with the idea of building an eco-lodge as an instrument to help reduce the economic pressure on our father.”
It was important to Jurgen and his sisters to preserve the beauty of the land, to harvest it without destroying it, to be true to the love and respect of nature that their parents instilled in them.
The property, which is located near Porto Limon and borders La Amistad International Park on Costa Rica’s eastern coast, gained increasing environmental importance after a devastating earthquake in April of 1991. The Bananito River, which runs through the Steins’ property, became the most important water supplier to the area because it was the first watershed to become clear after landslides from the earthquake severely impacted area rivers.
“Roughly at the same time we started our operation, the Costa Rican government decided to use the Bananito River as the source of 85 percent of the potable water supplied to the harbor city of Limon and countless adjacent communities,” Stein says. “Our reserve was the most important direct water catchment area for the Bananito River, so it rendered our tourism effort of great importance.”
The Steins’ first efforts at ecotourism met unanticipated challenges. They initially targeted German-speaking markets in Europe as their potential guests. Unfortunately, a German tourist was kidnapped from a lodge near the Nicaraguan border on January 1, 1996, and that temporarily dashed hopes for attracting Germans to the country. “It was not until two years later that we were able to recuperate from this unforeseen situation by targeting the North American market,” Stein says.
Building an eco-lodge and getting the word out about their commitment to rainforest conservation through tourism has taken hard work, sacrifice and perseverance. “In order to become known, one needs to market and spend resources, something that we were really not able to do during our first years of existence,” Stein says.
But their passion and optimism and patience have paid off. Outside magazine recently declared the Selva Bananito Lodge one of the “top 10 eco-lodges in the world.” Their conservation efforts clearly impressed the magazine editors. The 11 cabins on their property are made of abandoned mahogany logs that they dragged out of the forest with the help of water buffaloes. They use candle light in the cabins but plan to provide some of the units with electricity from solar energy in the future. In addition, they heat their water with solar energy and use photovoltaic panels to supply electricity for batteries that provide light in the kitchen and power for their communication systems.
Selva Bananito was also considered a top eco-lodge because it specializes in nature and adventure-oriented activities. Guests can hike into a rainforest inhabited by more than 300 bird species; tour or rappel waterfalls; climb into the crown of a gigantic ceiba tree; and take canopy walks where they can see epiphytes at eye-level.
“We are located in a natural cathedral which offers an indescribable tranquility and peace,” Stein says. “There’s no better place to experience this sensation than being immersed in the jungle -- or from the comfort of your own hammock on your veranda. Actually, the latter is our best activity: hammocking.”
Guests typically come from the United States, Canada and Western Europe. The Steins host guests of all ages, from the just-married to the retired traveler and even high-school and university students.
“We often hear that the experience of our guests became the highlight of their trip to Costa Rica,” he says. “We feel rewarded when guests confirm the importance of our concept, and we are particularly rewarded when we achieve through our educational programs a heightened awareness of the environment in students who visit us.”
THREAT OF OVER-DEVELOPMENT
Stein is keenly aware that Costa Rica is a worldwide leader in ecotourism. He is concerned, however, that official authorities may be more interested in larger scale investments over true eco-projects. “I personally believe that the noticeable over-development of three major traditional eco-destinations, like Manuel Antonio, Tortuguero and Monteverde, not only point to the expansion of eco-tourism, but also to the lack of apparent and coherent coordination of this activity,” he says. “It may be a great threat to our reputation as an eco-destination.”
He and his sisters will continue their mission of rain forest conservation through tourism in spite of possible over-development in other areas. Their goal is eventually to have 15 cabins. But, just as importantly, they want to induce area poachers to become park rangers. “In that way, they would become the hunters of the hunters, ensuring that there will be no more poaching or illegal logging in areas adjacent to Selva Bananito Preserve and the bordering La Amistad International Park,” Stein says.
The Steins will also continue their practice of donating 10 percent of their income to a watershed conservation foundation that is dedicated to rainforest preservation and community education and development.
While Stein believes that Selva Bananito Lodge is still a well kept secret, Outside magazine’s designation is bringing more attention to the eco-lodge. “At first I didn’t fully grasp the magnitude or the weight of this distinction,” he says. “Eventually I was overwhelmed with the great responsibility implicit in this statement.
“It is very rewarding to have been chosen one of the 10 best but also very motivating to keep up the good work to ensure that we are on the correct path by contributing our little grain of sand to a better world.”
THE TOP TEN ECO-LODGES IN THE WORLD
Selva Bananito Lodge: Dreamtime and Fireflies in Central America
German Expatriate Rudi Stein began homesteading this remote 2000-acre properly near Porto Limón and Cahuita National Park, on the eastern coast of Costa Rica, in the 1970s. But when he wanted to start logging some of the rainforest that abuts the Bananito River, his kids intervened.
“We wanted to help my dad find an alternative to logging, so we built the lodge instead of letting him cut trees,” says Rudi’s daughter, Sofia, who owns and runs Selva Bananito with her brother, Jürgen. “The cabins are made out of abandoned mahogany logs that we dragged out of the woods using water buffaloes”.
The hotel, which consists of 11 cabins and a main building-all built on stilts-has serious ecobona fides: It uses oil lamps and candles instead of electric lights, relies on solar-heated water, recycles gray water via water lilies and hyacinths, according to native methods, and stocks organic soaps and shampoos made by a local cooperative. Additionally, the Stein family donates 10 percent of the lodge’s income to a nonprofit conservation foundation.
But don’t get bogged down in the green litany: The lodge borders the 2.5-million-acre La Amistad Biosphere Reserve, the largest protected ecosystem in Central America, providing ample exploratory elbow room. Adrenaline junkies can rappel down 100-foot waterfalls and learn how to climb giant ceiba trees using ascenders and harnesses, while the less adventurous can hang out-binocs in hand – on the lodge’s 100-foot viewing platform and scan the mahogany canopy toucans, crested hawk eagles, and red-lored parrots.
As the day winds down, guest soak up the evening light from the hammocks crisscrossing their casita decks. “At night, there are so many fireflies blinking on and off” Sofia says, “that visitors say our place seems like eternal Christmas” CONTACT: Selva Bananito, 011-506-253-8118, www.selvabananito.com. COST: $100 per person per night, double occupancy, which includes three meals a day, plus taxes. For visitors who stay for three days or more, the fee also includes a free guided rainforest hike and a tree-climbing intro session.
Why Costa Rica is a true vacation paradise
Protect the environment? Sure. But to forego the exotic destination? The example of Costa Rica shows that tourism can be sustainable and ecological if it is consistently promoted. And it pays off twice over: because the country's magnificent nature is particularly worth seeing and protecting.
Unusual sounds startled me. A mixture of barking, grunting, and human screaming, coming closer and closer. It is still pitch dark, I see only with my ears. These are the sounds of mantled howler monkeys, which can communicate with each other for miles before dawn and acoustically mark their territory.
von Till Bartels