Wilson Botanical Gardens

Wilson Botanical Gardens at the Las Cruces Biological Station
Wilson Botanical Gardens at the Las Cruces Biological Station

Eco-tourism is becoming an increasingly popular activity in Costa Rica, as many travelers want to simply enjoy their beautiful natural surroundings and the diverse wildlife population.

For those looking to enjoy eco-tourism in Costa Rica, a walk through Wilson Botanical Gardens can be an exciting, educational experience.

When it Started

Back in 1963 by Robert and Catherine Wilson, control of Wilson Botanical Gardens has since been transferred to the Organization for Tropical Studies. With more than 1,000 species of plant on the site, the gardens are used for a variety of purposes, including as a training ground for scientists and as an educational program for the public.

In addition to preserving endangered species, research programs on conservation, sustainable development, agroecology and reforestation are conducted at Wilson Botanical Gardens.

Walking Trails

The gardens also offer several terrific walks, which allow tourists to take in the beautiful surroundings while learning the scientific names for every tree and flower one could possibly encounter at a national park in Costa Rica.

Color-coded signs will lead travelers along these extremely well-kept paths, including the Heliconia loop, the tree fern hill trail and the bamboo forest. One of the most impressive sites in the gardens is the palm tree collection, which includes more than 700 species from around the world.

Guided walks are also a terrific opportunity for tourists visiting Wilson Botanical Gardens, and reservations should be made in advance. One can also pick up a trail guide, which describes exactly what can be seen at each location throughout the gardens.

For more adventurous travelers, an exciting 1.5 kilometer trail winds through the primary forest bordering the gardens. Visitors are also encouraged to spend a night by joining a nocturnal tour through the gardens or one of the early morning aviation journeys.

Educational Value

Due to its remarkable educational value, Wilson Botanical Gardens is the perfect place to make an early stop on one's Costa Rican vacation. By spending some time learning about the landscape, travelers will be better served during future trips to national parks, wildlife refuges and other ecological sites throughout the country.

Where it is Located

Everything at the gardens is clearly labeled and the guides are well-trained to answer any questions travelers may have about the plants and animals on site. The Wilson Botanical Gardens is at 1,200 meters above sea level along a spur of the Fila Cruces Pacific Coastal Range in 6 km south of San Vito in southern Costa Rica. It is approximatly 300 km by from the capital San José, and is 10 km from the Panamanian border.