Of the numerous natural biological reserves, national parks and Costa Rica wildlife refuge places in Costa Rica, two noteworthy locations stand out:
- Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge
- Carara Biological Reserve
Both are part of our Costa Rica itinerary and are great examples of the kind of biodiversity Costa Rica is renowned for.
Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge
Established in 1984, the 25,000-acre Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, along the Rio Frio River, is the epitome of tropical refuges and can be very humid. Yet this Cano Negro Costa Rica wildlife refuge receives the least amount of rainfall.
Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge is more or less “off the beaten path” and can only be explored via a Rio Frio tour by boat. The Cano Negro region is home to one of Costa Rica’s richest areas for biodiversity. The Wildlife Refuge tour is truly a nature lover’s 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.
The Cano Negro wetlands is in the Alajuela Province in the northern part of Costa Rica and home to thousands of species of birds, butterflies, reptiles, mammals and amphibians, plus hundreds of migratory birds. Tourists find the lora and fauna in this Costa Rica wildlife refuge to be simply incredible. Visit this Costa Rica Guide page for more info on the Cano Negro Wetlands.
Laguna Cano Negro is amply fed during the rainy season by the Rio Frio River and is an ideal place to spot many species of wildlife while on a Rio Frio cruise. Marshes, forests, and grasslands blend together to provide the perfect home to jaguars, tapirs, cougars, peccary, and ocelots. There are also many species of monkeys for which the area is famous. Mantled Howler monkeys, 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 this Costa Rica 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 of Costa Rica, Carara National Park is a hugely popular destination for anyone vacationing in Costa Rica, especially those who love bird watching.
Like the Costa Rica wildlife refuge we just mentioned, 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 many species of Costa Rican monkeys.
Many tourists come to Carara Biological Reserve in Costa Rica to enjoy a jungle 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 for bot Carara National Park and Cana Negro, the most famous Costa Rica wildlife refuge. The driest months are between December and April, but even the driest months can be quite humid under the forest canopy. However, the Tarcoles River cruise is well worth it.
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These are very affordable, fully escorted 9-day tours and include all meals, ground transportation, hotel accommodations, and all activities and gratuities.
To see what others have to say about the Can Negro Costa Rica wildlife refuge experience, refer to the Caravan Costa Rica tour reviews page.
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