Wilson Botanical Gardens

San Vito, Costa Rica

Text©Beatrice Blake-New Key to Costa Rica

San Vito’s main attraction is undoubtedly Las Cruces Biological Station and Wilson Botanical Gardens, 5.4 kilometers uphill from town on the Villa Neily road. This floral wonderland is fascinating for lay visitors and the botanically inclined alike. Its astonishingly diverse collection was gathered from around the world and designed by the original owners, Robert and Catherine Wilson, with help from the great Brazilian horticulturist Roberto Burle-Marx. The garden is now owned by the Organization of Tropical Studies, a consortium of U.S., Latin American, and Australian universities.

One could spend days on the self-guided tours through the garden’s 25 acres of cultivated sectors—trails are dedicated to heliconias, bamboos, orchids, lilies, gingers, palms, and ferns, to name a few. Nine kilometers of trails in the 632-acre forest reserve offer mountain vistas, overlooks of the rainforest canopy, and hikes to the lovely, rocky pools of the Río Java. The gardens’ bird list of 330 species includes some aquatic species of the nearby San Joaquín marsh.

Day visits cost $24 for a full day, $18 for a half-day; child, student and researcher rates are available. Lodging is in comfortable cabins with balconies (private bath, heated water; $80-$90/person, including meals and a guided walk; children 5-12, $30-$40). Some units are wheelchair accessible. There is library and video room for rainy afternoons. Regular guided tours leave at 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; special birding tours start at 5:45 a.m. You must make reservations before you visit. Recommended.

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phone: (506)2773-4004

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OTS Lodge at Wilson Botanical Gardens

The nearest town is San Vito, 4 km away and Airport San Vito airport is 4.7 km.

Please note that distances for nearby hotels, attractions, activites & other points of interest are in a straight line. Distances by road may be significantly longer!

The exact gps map coordinates of Wilson Botanical Gardens are latitude 8.78541, longitude -82.95826. (exact GPS coordinates are accurate to within a few meters, gps data labeled approximate is within a few hundred meters)