MISSING (Spring 2009) !! Ramphastos Paradise Lette  LbNA # 5265 (ARCHIVED)

Placed DateAug 10 2003
CountyCosta Rica
LocationPuetro Viejo de Sarapiquí, CSR
Planted ByRachel and Charlie    
Found By
Last Found
Hike Distance?

Location: Provencia de Heredia Costa Rica, La Selva Biological Station

Estimated time: 25 min

Necessities: Boots (preferably rubber), compass, letterboxing supplies (rubber stamp of your own, ink pad [if you have one] notebook or paper), camera and binoculars? If you don't have a stamp, you can just sign in a make a doodle. That's what some of the researchers have done.

This letterbox is located at the La Selva Biological Station, a research station owned by the Organization for Tropical Studies. You can stay here for a day or over night or longer for a spectacular look at this Mesoamerican Tropical Rainforest. Excellent tours are available, and you should call ahead to make reservations. You are discouraged from just stopping by. For more information on visiting La Selva, visit the OTS web site at www.ots.duke.edu.

WARNING: There are many dangers in these forests, including extremely venomous snakes. Be very careful and walk slowly. Look around every buttress before you continue walking, because snakes especially like to curl up in a buttress. Also beware of bala (bullet) ants who tend to crawl up and down trees a fair bit. If you must put your hand on a tree trunk, LOOK FIRST. Under no circumstance should you find yourself anywhere out at night without a good flashlight. Snakes can be ANYWHERE, even around buildings. Tall rubber boots are strongly advised, but hiking boots are alright for this short hike. DO NOT WEAR SANDALS in the forest or on trails, even cement trails. This hike is on cement trails and is wheel-chair accessible.


Having arrived at La Selva, to get to the correct trail, you must cross the large suspension bridge leading over the Puerto Viejo River. Follow this trail to the left and around what researchers here refer to as the "lab clearing." Please do not walk near the residential cabins.

Walk along this path past several research office buildings until you come to a trail leading off to the left that says "Arboleda" which means Arboretum. This trail is due east from the large 2 story laboratory on your right. Follow this trail into the forest.

Continue to follow signs to the Arboleda. At the first intersection you come to, follow the sign towards the right to the Arboleda, Do not go left towards Estación del Río. This trail is called the Surá and it is named for a large, buttressed tree whose scientific name is Terminalia oblonga. These trees are especially common near streams and rivers. The stream on your left is also called the Surá.

At the Surá thrail marker for 50 meters, look to the right of the trail for some old cacao trees. These are reminders that this area next to the Surá river used to be a cacao plantation. You can almost smell chocolate on an especially hot day.

13 paces before Surá 150 (you might have to go to the marker and walk backwards) there is a good example of a Surá tree on the right. Another one is 45 paces past Surá 150, also on the right.

Continue walking along this trail until you come to a small bridge. Cross the bridge and enter the Holdridge Arboretum. established in 1968 after the cacao plantation was abandoned. Here, the understory was cleared, but canopy trees were left intact. The understory is still regularly cleared and many trees are labelled for easy identification. You are now at Surá 400.

Stay to your left at the trail junction and continue on the cement path until you reach Surá 500. You will pass a small palm grove on your right. As you walk, keep an eye out for birds and monkeys high up in the canopy (but don’t forget to look for snakes). Animals love this part of the forest because they have easy access to lots of fruits.

When you get to the Surá 500 sign, find north and look for a tall palm on stilts which the researchers call the "walking palm." The scientific name of this tree is Socratea exorrhiza. It always has an open cone of stilt roots with small spines on them.

Go to this tree. It is about ten meters north of the trail. The letterbox is hidden within the stilts. The tree has some pretty nasty spines on the stilts, so be really careful when removing the box. Again, watch out for bala ants (bullet ants) and snakes that may be hiding in buttresses or in the wood pile right near by. There is a socretea seed inside, that you can look at, but please put it back in the box.

After stamping up, replace the box a in a spot where it can not be seen from the trail. Guess which animal eats these fruits and disperses the seeds on the wing! When seeds fall to the ground, peccaries love to each them. On our way to place this letterbox, we saw 6 peccaries munching away on Socratea seeds without a care in the world.

Enjoy a moment of rest in the nearby gazebo, or continue on to view the rest of the Arboretum. Relish your time here at La Selva. It is a very special place, and one of the few relatively undisturbed rainforests left in this region. We hope the rest of you time in Costa Rica is pleasant.

If you enjoyed letterboxing and want to look for more letterboxes in the US and other countries, go to www.letterboxing.org for more information.