Ecotourism – Salva Bananito Lodge

Ecotourism is an alternative to traditional tourism in which the business must place emphasis on the conservation of the environment and local ecosystem while benefiting the native community and local economy of Costa Rica. Typically, most big tourism companies take away from the local benefits of the community. So, in this blog post, I will be talking about an Ecotourism Hotel that I had the chance to stay at with one of my classes – The Selva Bananito Lodge.

The Selva Bananito Lodge is a prime example of sustainable ecotourism along with nature and adventure tourism. This lodge has definitely owned it’s level 5 Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) rating through placing importance on sustainability and community involvement (the CST is the Costa Rican Certification for Sustainability). Each of its cabins is like a self-sufficient cell creating a whole self-sustainable organism. This paper contains information that I learned about the trip and my own personal reflection.

The Selva Banito is located in the upper Bananito River Watershed, in the Province of Limon, Costa Rica and is found between the Caribbean and the Talamanca Mountains It’s main focus is Ecotourism along with nature and adventure tourism. I was very impressed with the lodge and how it placed a high emphasis on being sustainable. I also found it quite ironic how the land was once used as a banana plantation from the United Fruit Company and then used for logging right before it because an ecotourism lodge and a corridor to the national park (La Amistad). As we learned, Selva Bananito is not just a nature tourism site, because it implements all aspects of sustainable tourism as well; it not only considers nature, but, focuses on its environmental impact and it’s social and economical impact on the surrounding communities.


I found it extremely interesting that over 80% of all precious woods are obtained from waste woods or salvaged woods from the 2000 acres that the family owns and that the wood was brought to the construction area via water buffalo. Their roofs are made from recycled banana bag material, too. In addition, the construction site was built in a predisturbed area from when the land was owned by the United Fruit Company. They heat water with solar energy and their lights run off of solar panels as well. Selva Bananito uses biodegradable soaps in order to compost waste more efficiently by purifying the waste water with bacteria, enzymes, and water lilies. It is inspiring that the lodge recycles plastic bottles, aluminum and glass, and will take the extra trip to San Jose to do so when necessary. The lodge also tries to counterbalance most of the pollution generated by travel as well.

To offset the carbon produced by plane or car to get to the lodge, Selva Bananito offers the opportunity to plant trees as part of their reforestation program. The lodge grows plants native saplings in areas that were previously disturbed by the logging business they had in the past. They also work with two organizations where you can pay for emissions sequestration to make up for the carbon you displacing into the atmosphere. When a guest pays a company they receive a certificate; the certificate can be shown to Selva Bananito and a guest can receive a free tour. The tours that are offered are beginner and advanced hikes, horseback riding, canopy tours, waterfall tours, bird watching, and tree climbing. I really liked the horseback riding; it has been a while since I have ridden. Costa Rica is definitely a better place to ride horseback that the United States because In America, people are always concerned about tourists “breaking” their horses. Thus, my horseback riding experience in Costa Rica is better than it has in the states. I also enjoyed the hike and being able to see the poison dart frogs up close and to see the vine canopy; it is really amazing to see how big plants grow when a forest remains untouched. Still, these are only the environmental components to the Eco lodge.

One of the Lodge's Cabins.

One of the Lodge’s Cabins.

Selva Bananito places a big focus on the cultural and economic impact that they have on their community. All employees are from nearby communities and the bi-lingual guides are from rural areas of Limón. A substantial amount of shopping is done at local stores while supporting local schools and community activities. They really try to incorporate the locals as much as possible. The family also supports a local non-profit NGO that has a focus on water conservation. Fundación Cuencas de Limón has become a regional leader on watershed protection and educational programs and the program gains some of its funding from income generated by the lodge and private donors. I remember the owners granddaughter telling us about how the organization has taught the people of Limon where their water comes from and the importance of protecting the local watersheds.

The Selva Bananito lodge has rightful earned its five leaves from the CST. The lodge covers all points of sustainable tourism: the environment, the local culture, and the local economy. The workers have a passion for what they do and guests can tell that the lodge really wanted to invest in ecotourism by trying to cover all aspects of sustainability. I would recommend that anyone traveling to Costa Rica should stay in this Hotel because it’s secluded, comfortable, and has a great feel overall.

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