El Congal del Arenal is located in the Arenal area, close to a small town named El Castillo. This reserve is in the Caribbean foothills, right in front of Arenal Lake. The reserve contains part of three different counties; Tilaran, San Ramon, and San Carlos.
How to get there:
El Congal del Arenal Private Reserve does not have an easy access. The simplest way to get there is to take a boat from the Arenal Lake Dam; a direct trip takes about 20 minutes.
There are two ways to get to the Arenal Lake Dam from San Jose and they start out the same way and meet at Fortuna. Take the Interamaricana Highway north-west to the Zarcero-San Ramon cross where a route decision is made:
By Zarcero: take a right turn onto Route 141 that goes through Naranjo to Zarcero, where there is a nice park with animal figures on the trees. Then the road goes down to Cuidad Quesada from which the road is flat and smooth through Arenal, continuing on to Fortuna, a distance of 46 kilometers. The volcano is visible on clear day all the way down the mountain and from Ciudad Quesada.
By San Ramon: instead of turning right to Zarcero, keep going by the Interamericana Highway until turning right towards San Ramon. Once past this small city the road goes through La Tigra and Chachagua, and then to Fortuna. Both ways are the same distance about 150 kilometers.
From Fortuna drive east, like going to the Arenal National Park, but instead of turning to the park keep going a bit farther to the lake. Suddenly you will be driving over the dam with the Arenal Lake on the left.
The closest airport to the Arenal area is the local airport of El Tanque located only 10 kilometers away from La Fortuna. This is a small airport where only domestic flights are allowed. Local airlines have daily flights here.
What to find in El Congal del Arenal Private Reserve:
The reserve offers only basic facilities. This is a natural area that gives tourists the chance to have a real contact with rural Costa Rica and a very untouched forest area. The reserve has restrooms, the chance to refill bottles with potable water, and the main attraction; the trail that goes through different types of vegetation and offers some of the best views of the Arenal Volcano and Lake.
Description of El Congal del Arenal Private Reserve:
The reserve has 814 hectares of protected land that have been carefully cared for more than 38 years. El Congal del Arenal Private Reserve has some grassland, some secondary forest with more than 12 years of natural recovery, and a large area of primary rainforest.
The forest that characterizes the area is Tropical Humid Forest in transition to Very Humid. This forest type contains exuberant flora and fauna including a large number of native species of trees, amphibians, reptiles and mammals, as well many different species of birds.
El Congal del Arenal Private Reserve is known for its beautiful forest area, but also for its panoramic landscapes of Arenal Volcano and Lake due to its elevation of 500 meters to more than 1000 meters above sea level. The range of altitude also creates the possibility for different habitats and types of vegetation.
The La Fortuna region is one of the most visited places in Cost Rica. El Congal del Arenal Private Reserve gives the chance to visit a non-crowded or untouched area. It is a great chance to experience tranquility and enjoy nature.
Birdwatching at El Congal Private Reserve:
Great area for birding many different habitats in short distances, and offers the chance to see some aquatic birds as well in the Arenal Lake , some highlights of the birds reported in El Congal del Arenal Private Reserve:
- Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)
- Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens)
- King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa)
- Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
- White Hawk (Leucopternis albicolis)
- Ornate Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus ornatus)
- Black Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus tyrannus)
- Green Hermit (Phaethornis guy)
- Violet-headed Hummingbird (Klais guimeti)
- Black-crested Coquette (Lophornis helenae)
- Keel-billed Motmot (Electron carinatum)
- Rufous Motmot (Baryphthengus martii)
- White-fronted Nunbird (Monasa morphoeus)
- Great Jacamar (Jacamerops aurens)
- Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Galbula ruficauda)
- Slaty Spinetail (Synallaxis brachyura)
- Brown-billed Scythebill (Campylorhamphus pusillus)
- Barred Antshike (Thamnophilus doliatus)
- Great Antshike (Taraba major)
- Ocelated Antbird (Phaenostictus mcleannani)
- Dull-mantled Antbird (Myrmeciza laemosticta)
- Immaculate Antbird (Myrmeciza zeledonia)
- Black-headed Antthrush (Formizarius nigricapillus)
- Long-tailed Flycatcher (Colonia colonus)
- Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant (Poecilotriccus sylvia)
- Thrushlike Schiffornis (Schiffornis turdina)
- Cinnamon Becard (Pachyramphus cinnamomeus)
- Bare-necked Umbrellabird (Cephalopterus glabricollis)
- White-ruffed Manakin (Corapipo altera)
- Band-backed Wren (Campylorhynchus zonatus)
- Stripe-breasted Wren (Thryothorus thoracicus)
- Bay Wren (Thryothorus nigricapillus)
- Black-throated Wren (Thryothorus atrogularis)
- Song Wren (Cyphorhinus phaeocephalus)
- Nightingale Wren (Microcerculus philomela)
- Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus mexicanus)
- Tropical Parula (Parula pitiayumi)
- Northern Waterthrush (Seiurus noveboracensis)
- Olive-crowned Yellowthroat (Geothlypis semiflava)
- Red-throated Ant-Tanager (Habia fuscicauda)
- Blue-and-gold Tanager (Bangsia arcaei)
- Scarlet-thighed Dacnis (Dacnis venusta)
- Slate-colored Grosbeak (Saltator grossus)
- Chesnut-headed Oropendola (Psarocolius wagleri)
- Tawny-capped Euphonia (Euphonia anneae)