Costa Rica’s Northern Wetlands

(Editor’s Note – This original post from February 2010 has been updated to reflect current tour activities.)

Out of the numerous reserves, national parks and wildlife refuges in Costa Rica two noteworthy locations stand out. They are namely Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge and Carara Biological Reserve.

Both are great examples of the kind of biological diversity Costa Rica is renowned for.

Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge

Established in 1984, the 25,000 acre Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge along the Rio Frio can be very humid, yet this area of Costa Rica receives the least amount of rainfall.

Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge is more or less “off the beaten path” and can only be explored by boat, yet the Cano Negro region is home to one of Costa Rica’s richest areas for biodiversity. A Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge tour is truly a nature lovers tour where visitors can view up close (and in their natural surroundings) exotic Costa Rican wildlife such as caimans, three-toed sloths, turtles, water walking lizards, unique tropical birds and many species of playful mischievous monkeys.

Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge is a wetland in the Alajuela Province in the northern part of Costa Rica and home to thousands of species of birds, butterflies, reptiles, mammals and amphibians. Tourists find the flora and fauna here to be simply incredible.

Lake Cano Negro, which is amply fed during the rainy season by the Frio River, is an ideal place to spot many of the inhabitants here. Marshes, forests and grasslands blend together to provide the perfect home to jaguars, tapirs, cougars, peccary and ocelots in addition to the many species of monkeys for which the area is famous. Mantled Howler, Geoffrey’s Spider Monkey and the White Headed Capuchin are notable among these.

During the summer rainy season, the Rio Frio overflows its banks flooding the majority of the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge. As the waters recede during the dryer season many small ponds and lagoons are created providing the ideal home for a great number of migratory birds such as spoonbills, ibis, ducks, cormorants and a wide variety of storks and anhinga. Notable migratory waterfowl include the Nicaragua Crackle, Snail Kite, Whistling Duck, Green Backed Hero and the Blue Winged Teal.

Carara Biological Reserve

Located just 30 miles from San Jose, the capital, Carara National Park is a hugely popular destination for anyone vacationing in Costa Rica.

Bird watchers love Carara National Park, especially since the area is dryer than most Costa Rica rainforests. The forest here is more open, making it easier to spot rare birds and other indigenous wildlife including keel-billed toucans and boat-billed herons plus two-toed sloths, armadillos, frogs, and monkeys.

Many tourists come to Carara Biological Reserve to enjoy a river cruise along the Tarcoles River, where it is also not uncommon to spot many river crocodiles or the rare and endangered Scarlet Macaw.

August through to October is the considered the wet season in Carara National Park and the driest months are between December and April, but even the driest months can be quite humid under the forest canopy.

All Inclusive Costa Rica Tours by Caravan

Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge and Carara Biological Reserve are included as part of Caravan Tours’ all inclusive Costa Rica Tours. These are very affordable, fully escorted 10-day tours starting at just $995; an exceptionally price.

Visit Caravan’s Costa Rica tours reviews page to read what others have said about Cano Negro, Carara National Park, and Caravan’s all inclusive Costa Rica tours.