Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge

Set in wetlands and surrounding lush forest near the Nicaraguan border, is the Cano Negro Wildlife Reserve. The reserve is often submerged in water due to the surrounding flooding rivers and is difficult to reach. You can meander around the outside of the park to view its beauty and wildlife, however, the best way to view the marvel of nature within the reserve is by a safari boat tour.

Tours will take you along the Rio Frio, which wraps around the canyons and flows gently to the Cano Negro Lake. The boat tours are approximately four hours long, and your guide will proudly educate you about the wildlife, culture and ecology of the region. As flowing trees bend over the waters, you’ll be able to see mammals, reptiles, bird and amphibians. There are spider monkeys, sloths, turtles, caimans and Jesus Christ lizards within the jungles that can often be spotted. Keep a watchful on the waters, and there’s a chance you’ll see the fin of a freshwater shark breaking the water’s surface.

Cano Negro Wildlife RefugeThe Cano Negro Wild Life Reserve is renowned for its collection of migratory birds. With over 200 species resting in its lush trees, the reserve is a birdwatcher’s paradise. The banks of the Rio Frio overflow during the wet season, which occurs from July to November. During this time period, the reserve transforms into a shallow lake. Migrating American birds fly to the reserve as their wintering site. The water level continually falls during the dry season, and only the Rio Frio’s main channel remains. Some birds make their nests and stay year round, like the Olivaceous Cormorant. However, the majority of birds appear during the dry season. These include White Ibis, Wood Stork, Merican Widgeon, Snail Kite, Green Backed Heron, Anhinga and Glossy Ibis. The reserve is the best place to view the Nicaraguan Grackle, whose only habitat is within the Cano Negro Wildlife Reserve. The Nicaraguan Grackle is the largest bird in Central America and falls within the extremely endangered species.

The Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge is a wonder of nature and many tourists flock to view the beauty of the migratory waterfowl in these lush lowlands. The reserve is located in Alajuela Province, which is 80 miles north of San Jose. From San Jose, get on the highway to Alajuela. From there, drive to San Carlos. Follow the signs to Los Chiles. Four miles before you reach Los Chiles, you will see a turn that leads to the new bridge of Cano Negro. The bridge will lead you to the reserve.

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