Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge: Costa Rica’s Everglades

Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge Generally home to migratory waterfowl, Costa Rica’s Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge is a 25,000-acre of lowlands found 80 miles North of San Jose in the province of Alajuela.

Given its area of lowlands, the surroundings are more often than not flooded, forming lakes and marshlands ideal for an array of fauna–mostly of the bird species.

There are two things that make this Costa Rican national park particularly interesting. First is that the only way to discover of this wildlife sanctuary is to ride a boat along Rio Frio (Cold River). Second, tourists don’t actually get to go inside the refuge but near enough for an authentic Costa Rican wildlife adventure.



Anhinga-and-fish A number of ecosystems can be witnessed in the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. Mainly a water-based refuge, rainforests, rivers and lakes, fresh water marsh and some pastures surround this haven.


What to Do

Unlike other refuges and national parks in Costa Rica, the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge does not have an established and official hiking trail. It focuses mainly on water tours and explorations since tourists can’t actually get inside the wildlife preserve.


What to See

The Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge promises a myriad of biodiversity and wildlife even if you’re simply seated on a boat. Bird-watching is excellent in this area since it is mostly flocked by migratory waterfowls like roseate spoonbills, storks, black-belly tree ducks only to name a few. The Olivaceous Cormorant is one that makes their nests and stays the year-round inside the reserve.

Other than the multitude of bird species found in the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, the four species of monkeys in Costa Rica can be spotted here. Jesus Christ lizards can also be seen inhabiting this refuge along with three-toed sloths, crocodiles, jaguars and white-tailed deers.

Even if not much activities are offered in this famed reserve of Costa Rica, the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge more than makes up with species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds living in this natural refuge. All these, at the comfort of a boat ride along the calm, steady Rio Frio.


Getting There

San Jose is the general take-off point to get to Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. There are no regular flights that will take you to Caño Negro but there are airstrip and private charters available upon request. If you prefer to drive, the main route is taking the Pan American Highway all the way to the ranger station in Caño Negro village, passing Naranjo, Zarcero all the way to Los Chiles Public transportation such as buses depart from the Terminal Atlantico Norte in San Jose as well.

Tours are available for reservations since exploring this place is more ideal and appreciated by going in groups. Management can do pick-ups in the Arenal hotels nearby. The tour could last for up to four hours in a floating safari.


Place to Stay near the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge:

Rancho Tulipan


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