La Selva Packing List

In June 2012 I took a two week long OTS course in Beetle Systematics at La Selva Biological Station. I had never done any kind of tropical terrestrial fieldwork before, and was concerned with what to bring. La Selva is an extremely busy field station, but I was unable to find a “What to Bring” list posted anywhere online. For others in this position, here’s my take on it.

La Selva has exceptional facilities- better than any other field station I have visited. The internet is fairly snappy, with wifi in every building. The trails through the forest are very well maintained, and many are even paved. There are multiple washers and dryers on site, which were free when I visited. There is a gift shop, which sells everything from souvenirs, ice cream, and postcards to field guides, mosquito repellent, and laundry detergent. If you like to travel lightly, like I do, this is paradise.

There appear to be two schools of thought on how to dress. I am of the school that a $3 long-sleeve cotton button-front shirt from the thrift store is every bit as good as a $70 hi-tech dri-max(R) blend shirt with zippable armpits from Patagonia. Perhaps this stuff does something amazing, but I am happily at peace with the fact that in the tropics, I am going to get wet, dirty, and torn up, and so are my clothes. For the fieldwork we were doing, I was comfortable wearing boots, wool socks, shorts, and a long sleeve button front shirt.

We were working primarily on well maintained trails, on the forest floor where there is often little sunlight. We were not out in scorching grasslands or bushwhacking with a machete through waist deep water.

A handy-dandy printable PDF of my list is posted here.

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