Las Cruces Biological Station - Valley view in San Vito / La Amistad,  South Pacific, Costa Rica - Exploring Costa Rica-


Las Cruces Biological Station - Valley view in San Vito / La Amistad, South Pacific, Costa Rica - Exploring Costa Rica-

From Costa Rica: (506) 2771-4582 From U.S.A: 1(650)499-4526 Skype: selva.mar

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Las Cruces Biological Station
Las Cruces Biological Station

Las Cruces Biological Station

Enjoy Costa Rica`s premier botanical garden and Central America`s richest plant collection, in the enchanting and remote southern zone of Costa Rica.

General Information about Las Cruces Biological Station

Las Cruces Biological Station

The Station serves as the principal center in the region for teaching, research, and on-site environmental education. The grounds surrounding the buildings have 8 hectares of cultivated collections and 4 hectares of fallow and experimental plots. While the Coto Brus region has been undergoing conversion to coffee plantations since the mid-50s, there are still extensive patches of forest fragments running along the ridges and bordering streams, including a patchwork of forest remnants extending from Las Cruces along the Paraguas Ridge to the Guaymi Indian Reservation, some 15 kilometers away. Courses and researchers working out of the Station can take advantage of these ready-made experimental sites for studies in conservation biology.


The climate is cool, with temperatures averaging 21°C (70°F) during the day and 15°C (60°F) at night. Elevation is about 1,100 meters (3,600 feet). Rain, generally in intermittent showers, is likely in the afternoons or evenings from April to December. Heaviest rain occurs from September through November.

Las Cruces is located near the Panamanian border on Costa Rica's southern Pacific coastal range (8°47´22 N and 82°58´05 W). A mid- elevation site, the Station's borders extend through an elevational range of 1,100 to 1,400 meters and encompass 254 hectares of premontane rain forest, and 12 hectares that house the famous Robert and Katherine Wilson Botanical Garden.


Discover the richest botanical collection in Central America and learn about the flora and fauna of a mid-elevation forest at this leading research station in southern Costa Rica. Exotic plants, breathtaking birds, and personalized service welcome guests to the Las Cruces Biological Station. Visitors can arrange a guided walk with a resident biologist/naturalist guide , who would lead the visitor through well-maintained, gently sloping trails, enchanting grounds filled with the richness of tropical colors and scents. Palm and bromeliad collections are outstanding, along with heliconias, gingers, bananas, bamboo, and many others. Guests enjoy the Orchid Trail, Tree Fern Hill, and the Hummingbird Garden. The landscaped gardens join 254 hectares (635 acres) of forest, which together contain 1000 species of plants, habitat for 230 species of birds and numerous mammal species, such as sloths, armadillos, white face monkeys, agouties, and olingos, plus 38 species of bats. Visitors have a unique opportunity to experience tropical nature and to learn about it in a place where scientists and students from around the world come to research and study.
Reservations are necessary for the guided walks, which last approximately 2 hours.

Las Cruces is a favorite with birdwatchers, who may see scarlet-thighed dacnis, silver-throated tanagers, violaceous trogons, blue-headed parrots, violet sabrewing hummingbirds, and turquoise cotingas. (look at list of species). We offer walks at 5:30am (Early Birding).

A 1.1 Kilometer (0.7 miles) trail will bring you to the Java River, the source of water to the town of San Vito for many years. The trail goes through advanced second growth forest, and along the well maintained path you will find manakins, forest wrens, falcons, white face monkeys, squirrels, coati-mundis, lizards, butterflies and more.

Night walks can be scheduled after dinner (7:00-7:30pm.). Each walk is approximately 2 hours, looking for the night life in the garden area. The walks are upon request and subject to availability. Anytime of the year is good for the night walks, especially if there is no rain. The best times are around the dark moon of every month.


Making a difference:

In Las Cruces, some of the benefits provided are the hiring of labor and purchasing from local providers, environmental education in local schools, volunteer work in the community, provision of services for other hotels and members of the tourism sector, and how to promote and conserve nature. The OTS has been working for more than 40 years on the conservation of the tropics and biodiversity in Costa Rica, making Las Cruces one of the premier private protected areas in the nation (since 1953).

The scientific contributions made by the OTS and its different stations have helped strengthen knowledge about the natural history of Costa Rica and are an integral part of a national effort to preserve the biodiversity of the country.

Examples of these include the renowned book on Costa Rica Natural History by Daniel Janzen; La Selva Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Rain Forest by Lucinda McDade, Kamalit Bawa, Henrey Hespenheide, and Gary Hartshorn; a recently published book on the Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean Slope by Craig Guyer and Maureen Donnelly; and more than 2,655 scientific publications.


How to get there to Las Cruces Biological Station


Las Cruces Biological Station is located in the Pacific highlands of southern Costa Rica, 287 kilometers (178 miles) south of the capital city of San José. The drive by car from San José takes a minimum of 4.5 hours (without stopping).

From Downtown San Jose, go east toward San Pedro and find the Interamerican Highway South (Route No. 2) Stay on this highway, passing the Cerro de la Muerte (Death Mount) –the highest point on the highway- and then reach San Isidro del General: “the capital of the South”. Pass San Isidro, and after you have passed Buenos Aires drive some 25 kilometers more to find Paso Real, the entrance to the Coto Brus Valley. Take a sharp left turn at the Paso Real sign, crossing the bridge at Río Térraba; San Vito is 46 kilometers after the bridge.

Once in San Vito, take the right side road in front of the city’s park; Las Cruces is some 5 kilometers south of San Vito. Look for the Wilson Garden/Las Cruces Biological Station once you have dropped the last hill.

In San José, buses leave from Empresa TRACOPA (400 m north of the Hospital San Juan de Dios). It is always prudent to purchase your ticket the day before and leave EARLY. Buses depart San José 5:45, 8:15, 11:30 a.m., 2:45 p.m. (direct).

The last bus does not arrive in time for dinner at Las Cruces (You will have to dine in San Vito or make arrangements by phone for your dinner to be left on the dining room). Since Las Cruces’ office hours are 8:00a.m. to 5:00p.m., if you are taking the last bus, be sure to call prior to departure from San José to arrange where your room key and registration forms will be left. You can take taxi from downtown San Vito to Las Cruces (5 kilometers).



Rates at Las Cruces Biological Station

Rates 2009, valid to Dec 14, 2009

 Rates per person, per night

Single $88
Double $83
Additional Person $62
5-12 years children $35

Includes: lodging, three meals, one half day guided walk per stay and taxes.


Selva Mar Tour Operator
Tel:+(506)2771-4582 - Fax:+(506)2771-8841



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  » Facilities Includes
√ Hot Water
√ Laundry Service
√ Internet service at the lobby
√ Restaurant
√ Private bathroom
√ Mountain View
√ Telephone
√ Meeting Facilities
√ Wheel Chair Accessibility
√ Nature Trails

Optional Activities in the South Pacific

-Sport Fishing
-Whales & Dolphins Tour
-Hoseback Riding
-Cowboy for a Day
-Isla del Caño Tour
-Waterfall Rappel
-Scuba Diving


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