Regions: Northern Region: Caño Negro

If you move North, 2.48 miles before the Nicaraguan border, the wondrous and remote Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge awaits. The refuge is in the low-lying northern plains, just two hours from La Fortuna, and is considered to be one of Costa Rica’s richest humid areas in biological diversity. This is a tropical everglade filled with wildlife of all sorts.

The center of life here revolves around a 2.000 acre lake, also named Caño Negro. It receives its water from the adjacent Rio Frio (Cold River), and plays an extremely important role in maintaining environmental quality in the Northern part of the country.

During the area’s dry season, the refuge can be accessed by a road through Los Chiles or Upala, and they’re in good condition. Caño Negro lake does a disappearing act during the dry season but is quick to come back once the rain stars.

Traveling during the wet season requires boats. At the height of the dry season, there are a few hiking and trails exposed, but most of the time the only way to explore Caño Negro is by boat.

Eyes wide open

Boat tours along the river and through the lake are the perfect way to observe animals like white cranes and ducks that abound in the shallow waters. Aside from the wide variety of resident and migratory birds, it’s also possible to see three different monkey species (howler, spider, and white-faced monkeys), iguanas, sloths, turtles and caymans. There’s no doubt that Caño Negro is perfect for watching nature.

Several plant and animal species that can be found here are unique or are unique or endangered. This makes the refuge a place of national and international interest. In 1991 it was named ”Wetlands of International Importance”.

If it is birds you’re longing to see, Caño Negro is where you should be. Some birds are residents in the area and it is possible to see hundreds of them, especially during the dry season. The reserve protects the largest colony of cormorants in Costa Rica, and the only permanent colony of Nicaraguan grackle.

Some of the other species are anhinga or snake bird; wood storks; and the endangered jabirus, the largest bird in Central America. There’s also the glossy ibis; black-necked stilt; American widgeon; Northern shoveler; white ibis; black-bellied whistling-duck; snail kite; greenbacked heron; the bright pink roseate spoonbill; and the blue-winged teal.

A word of advice: The best way to visit Caño Negro is to get in contact with a tour operator that knows the area well. They will not only provide transportation, but also valuable information about the creatures you will see along the way.

Costa Rica Travel: Travel Information & Tips

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