Text by: Marlou Stoltenborg
This blog appeared as a feature article in Dutch in Luxe Costa Rica Reismagazine van REiSREPORT
Part of our job at Edventure Travel is to discover beautiful and unknown destinations, visit them and afterwards share our experiences with other travellers. One of our expeditions lead us towards the Carribean Coast and Bananito Norte, a tiny village surrounded by banana plantations. We will be staying here at one of the most exceptional eco lodges in Costa Rica! At the riverbank we meet with our driver who helps us to load our luggage in the pick-up truck of Selva Bananito, a truly unique ecolodge in Costa Rica. We’re leaving our own car behind, because we won’t need it for the next couple of days. We travel the last few kilometers to the lodge by pick-up truck and the unpaved road takes us along idyllic pastures with grazing cows to the lodge.
Our long journey proves to be worthwhile. Harvey, our guide for the next few days, warmly welcomes us at the lodge and guides us to our charming bungalow. We get unpacked while enjoying great views of the pastures in front of our bungalow and the rainforest behind them. After a tasty lunch in the restaurant, we head out to explore our surroundings, we’re ready for some adventure! The nature around the lodge is stunning and Harvey informs us in more detail about this job. Because of his enthusiastic stories we are soon getting curious and bombarded him with questions.
What impressed us most is the history of this special Eco lodge in Costa Rica. During our candle lit dinner, owner Jürgen shares his remarkable family history with all the guests. The pastures we look out on from our bungalow used to be rainforest. Jürgen´s father bought this gigantic farm in the ’70’s and wanted to chop down all the trees and turn the forest into banana plantations. His kids, influenced by their studies, were convinced this was not a sustainable way of life and would only harm nature. In 1994 they convinced their father to change his plans and start using their land for sustainable tourism. Fortunately, by then some two-thirds of the total property of 2500 ha was still intact primary rainforest.
In the evening, while sitting on our balcony, we muse on this extraordinary story and enjoy a great show of fireflies, right in front of us. A magical ending to our first day….
We are excited to know what activities we can do from the eco lodge and therefore we sign up for all tours. The next morning we get up early and our guide Harvey takes us out on a birdwatching hike; a must in Costa Rica! After breakfast we continue to explore the area, this time on horseback. Along the way we clearly notice the changes in the landscape, going from pasture to reforested areas to primary rainforest. It’s clear how the lodge owners try their best to restore the natural surroundings. Guests can get involved as well by planting trees.
In the afternoon the real adventure starts…We pack our daypack and say goodbye to our comfortable bungalow. Harvey gives us each a pair of rubber boots and takes us into the forest. We spot century old trees, snakes, monkeys and many birds. Our final destination is a covered platform in the middle of the jungle where we will spend the night! The chefs and volunteers from the lodge already started preparing our dinner. Because there’s still some daylight, we take a refreshing dive in a river nearby. Afterwards we enjoy a tasty dinner, play some cards and finally climb into our hammocks for hopefully a good night’s sleep!
Our jungle night was exciting, but we rested well and wake up early and full of energy. After breakfast we continue our tour. Together with various guides we will inspect the surveillance camera’s in the jungle and change their memory cards. Once back at the lodge, all video’s are reviewed. In the past coati’s, monkey’s, anteaters, puma’s and jaguar’s have been caught on film and of course we hope to catch a glimpse of them on ‘our’ video’s as well!
The surveillance camera’s unfortunately are not only there to film the biodiversity in the jungle. Selva Bananito also has to deal with poachers and illegal logging. Therefore, the camera’s are also used for prevention and identification.
Right when we think our stay cannot get any more adventurous, another surprise is waiting for us. Owner Jürgen invites us for a short flight in an open mini helicopter! It’s a great experience to enjoy the jungle from the air and the views all the way up to large waterfalls and the Caribbean Coast are magical. During the flight, Jürgen passionately shares with us their efforts in the field of nature conservation, reforestation and the absolute necessity of all this.
When you stay at Selva Bananito Eco lodge in Costa Rica and participate in the tours offered, you directly contribute to their efforts to maintain the natural surroundings of the lodge. That is sustainable ecotourism. We are really touched and impressed by the passion of the owners and personnel at the lodge that made our stay unforgettable.