This Wildlife Refuge is located in the north part of Costa Rica, close to the Guatuso area’s Alajuela province, which is situated northward to Nicaragua border. The place is in close proximity to the Los Chiles, which is a small town located nearby the refuge. It is 220 kilometers from San Jose. So, you had better select a nearby place to start your trip. 

How to Get There:

It is better to stay overnight in Ciudad Quesada, which is 74 kilometers from San Jose. You can stay in Arenal area too, which is 145 kilometers from the capital. From Ciudad Quesada, take the route 141 and travel 9 kilometers to Florencia. Then, take the route 35 to go to Los Chiles that is 84 kilometers away. However, do not forget to turn left to the new bridge to Caño Negro when the town is almost 6 kilometers to go. 

From Arenal area, take the route 142 on the way to San Jose. Turn left in El Tanque when 8 kilometers from La Fortuna. After a few minutes’ drive, turn right on the big intersection to make it to Muelle, which is only 20 kilometers away. You can recognize the way to Muelle by a big intersection with 4 ways. Turn left and take the route 35 for the next 75 kilometers to Los Chiles and 6 kilometers before Los Chiles, turn left to Caño Negro.

The way to the refuge used to be very tricky because there was no bridge to Cano Negro wildlife Refuge. There is a bridge but taking a boat ride to Los Chiles is a better option.

Closest Airport:

The closest airport to the refuge is located in Los Chiles. It is more of an airstrip. None of the local airlines flies to this airport. Only private charters make it here. The next closest airport is in Arenal.

Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge facilities:

You can find all the necessary facilities in the surrounding areas of the Los Chiles town. You will see boats waiting to take people on the ride through Rio Frio and Caño Negro. The Ranger Station is difficult to access and it does not have the best facilities. So, roaming across the town is a better option.

Description of Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge:

Caño Negro Wildlife refuge, as its name confirms, is an important wild life spot in Costa Rica. It has become an important touristic spot as well because of its natural beauty wildlife variations.

Caño Negro Wildlife refuge is a wetland. The area can be flooded depending on the changes of seasons. Rio Frio has a constant water flow, and it makes this place a special spot. This river and the riverside forests are beautiful in a word.

Many lagoons are created in this area during the time between May to November, the rainy season in Costa Rica. Heavy rainfall floods the area and visitors get the chance to explore these areas by boats. The rainfall reduces drastically from February to April, making the lagoons dry. Many bigger shores, beaches, and mud banks are created this time, making shore birds easier to spot. The birds also conglomerate in big numbers around the small remaining lagoons. It is another reason to visit this refuge. No matter when you go there, you will always see something special. 

Caño Negro Wildlife refuge was established in 1984, as Costa Ricans felt the need to preserve this unique spot. It has an extension of 10000 square hectares. This is the biggest lagoon system on the north part of Costa Rica. In the year 1991, Caño Negro Wildlife refuge became a part of the RAMSAR convention. In the same year, it was also established as an important wetland for the entire world.

The refuge got the recognition because of a big number of resident and migratory birds that use this area as a feeding and resting area. More than 100 different species of migrants come here every year. This place is the habitat of one of the biggest populations of caimans with over 7000 individuals. More 30 species of fresh water fish including the garfish that is considered a living fossil live in the waters here.

More than 300 species of birds, including residents and migrants, can be spotted in the Caño Negro-Rio Frio area. Birdwatchers get the chance of watching a huge variety of birds here. Some of the feature names are:

  • Lesser yellow-headed Vulture (Cathartes burrovianus)
  • Neotropical Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)
  • Fulvous Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna bicolor)
  • American Wigeon (Anas americana)
  • Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
  • Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria)
  • Wood stork (Mycteria americana)
  • Fufescent Tiger-heron (Tigrisoma lineatum)
  • Agami Heron (Agami agami)
  • Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
  •  Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis)
  • Great-breasted Crake (Laterallus albigularis)
  • Yellow-breasted Crake (Porzana flaviventer)
  • Sungrebe (Heliornis fulica)
  • Scaled pigeon (Patagioenas speciosa)
  • Olive-throated Parakeet (Aratinga nana)
  • Great Potoo (Nyctibius grandis)
  • Scaly-breasted Hummingbird (Phaeochrous cuvieri)
  • Black-headed Trogon (Trogon melanocephalus)
  • Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja)ñ
  • Ivory-billed Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus flavigaster)
  • Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet (Ornithion semiflavum)
  • Ruddy-breasted Seedeater (Sporophila schistacea)
  • Nicaraguan Grackle (Quiscalus nicaraguensis)
  • Black-crowned Night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

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