The Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge is part of the Arenal Huetar Norte Conservation Area! Yes, a rather big name, for a big park, measuring no less than 100 square kilometers! It is located in the northern part of Costa Rica, in the Province of Alajuela, close to the Nicaraguan border. The Cano Negro Wildlife Reserve is one of the best refuges in Costa Rica, but it is a little difficult to reach so it doesn’t get as many visitors as some other more accessible parks. Some people do it as a day trip from Arenal, or La Fortuna.
Cano Negro is pure wetland; many people compare it to the Florida Everglades. It is possible to do the tour alone, but guides can make the trip more exciting and they know the whole area so well, have a sharp eye for details and years of experience. Beware! Some of these day trips offered, for example from La Fortuna, claiming to give you a good deal, will never take you to the actual reserve. You’d get a boat trip on the Rio Frio from Los Chiles and never make it to the Refuge. The only way to DO it is to go to Cano Negro village and to take the boat from there.
Pumas, Jaguars, Ocelots, Marguays, Tapirs and Peccaries, caimans and gigantic crocodiles, as well as various species of monkeys like the Howler monkey, the Spider Monkey and the Capuchin all take refuge in the marshes and grasslands. During the green season, the whole area changes into marshes and is covered by a shallow lake that attracts the migratory birds of Northern America.
A complete metamorphosis takes place from November to April, which is the dry season, and very soon the Rio Frio is the only source of water around! During this period, the birds still present include The Black Necked Stilt, The Wood Stork, the Snail Kite, the White Ibis, the Green Backed Heron, various varieties of ducks, just to mention a few! The Nicaraguan Grackle is a popular bird many bird watchers look for in Cano Negro, as this is the only place where you will find it in Costa Rica.
Fishing is also possible during the rainy season. Information is available at the entrance of the park in Cano Negro village. Boats play a big part in the exploration of the park, as are they are the main means of transportation. It is possible to go hiking or horse riding in the height of the dry season maybe, but this is limited.
The grand tour to visit Cano Negro starts on the Rio Frio; the trip itself is more than half the fun, as you will see all sorts of fish, crocodiles and many many birds, going through tunnels and canyons of trees and tropical forest. Fresh water sharks have been spotted in these waters; watch out for the little fins sticking out!
Cano Negro is listed as being the 4th most important wetlands in the world in regard to its ecosystems and biological variety. It was declared to be a site of international importance for the nesting of migratory birds, and in 1991, it was officially added to the Ramsar List of Wetlands. Nature lovers and scientists come to visit it from all over the world. It was also named the Heart of the International Biological Reserve in 2007, giving it the protection of Unesco.
“Photo Safaris” are very popular in Cano Negro, and indeed such trips can be planned in advance through various travel agencies. You just need Cano Negro, yourself and a video camera!
There are few hotels in the Cano Negro village, including the Cano Negro Natural Lodge, complete with air-conditioning and a swimming pool, rustic lodges and cabinas, as well as camping grounds. The Cano Negro Natural Lodge is the best place to eat, but there are a small variety of restaurants in the village. The locals are very humble and any money spent will be greatly appreciated!
The park is opened from 7:30am to 4:30pm. Adults up to 12 pay a fee of $55, children from 7 to 11 and accompanied by two adults pay $27 each and younger ones under 5 are free.
- La Fortuna Hotspots
- La Fortuna Town Information
- Arenal Hotspots
- Arenal Tours and Activities
- Arenal Volcano
- La Fortuna Restaurants
- Arenal Restaurants
Filed under: Arenal on June 11th, 2008