Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge is composed of 25,100 acres (102 km2) of wetlands. It’s roughly a two-hour drive from La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano area. It is governed by the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), and situated in the Northern Zone of Costa Rica close to the border with Nicaragua. Over 307 bird species found on the reserve. During the dry season, the wetlands turn into small lagoons, but the wildlife remains diverse. It is impossible to visit Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge without being in awe of Costa Rica’s untouched beauty!
A peaceful and relaxing boat ride on the river is the best way to view the abundance of local wildlife at Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge. There are many companies that specialize is boat tours including the Cano Negro Wildlife Tour. Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge is one of the best areas in Costa Rica to view wildlife and is designated by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance to be of worldwide importance for wetlands conservation. It is a great educational experience as it emphasizes nature-oriented ecotourism in an area teeming with biodiversity and wildlife. The forests and marshlands are critical to wildlife sustainability as they provide shelter to many endangered species. During the dry season, bird watchers will be in their element. The river reduces to small lagoons that provide homes for thousands of birds like storks, roseate spoonbills, ibis, and ducks. Other than native birds as well as migratory birds, you will also see other animals like crocodiles, caimans, iguanas, different species of monkeys like the howler monkeys and spider monkeys, tapirs and many more species. Perhaps you will even see some Jesus Christ Lizards running across the water! Come visit and learn all about this amazing river.
Visit nearby attractions
Cano Negro is close to some of Costa Rica’s most iconic destinations in the Alajuela Province as well as Guanacaste. Pay a visit to the Arenal volcano and take the famous hanging bridges tour, hike in the natural park, relax in the hot springs and swim in La Fortuna Waterfall. La Fortuna is also home to some basic but very affordable accommodation as well as some world-class resorts. The Tenorio Volcano National Park is home to the stunning Rio Celeste – the bluest river you will ever see. If you favor a more off the beaten path destination, why not go to the Miravalles volcano? You can hike to the summit or enjoy the many thermal pools that can be found in the area.
Hop across the border
Since you are so close to the border with Nicaragua, why not travel to it? You would have to travel to the Pacific side of Costa to cross the border at Penas Blancas. If you feel some restraint in your time, you can even take a day tour that introduces you to some of the top destinations in Nicaragua such as the charming Granada and the stunning Masaya Volcano.
Visit between December and March for bird watching: The Costa Rica dry season turns the river in Cano Negro into a collection of lagoons that birds will gather around.
Explore the area: Cano Negro is close to some of Costa Rica’s most iconic destinations. Visit them all!
Practice caution on the boat: Keep your hands and feet inside the boat at all times! Cano Negro isn’t only a popular birding destination, there are also plenty of crocodiles!
If you are traveling to San Jose, keep in mind that you will need to take a 4 hour trip to reach Cano Negro. It would be better to travel from the International Airport of Liberia (LIR) which will cut your travel time in half. You can arrange for private or shared shuttles or rent a car at the airport upon arrival.
Restaurant Hotel de Campo offers a cozy family atmosphere where you can try some local dishes like Gallo Pinto and Casado. Vegetarians are welcome too! The Jabiru Restaurant is named after one of the stunning birds you can spot in the area. This nice, relaxing restaurant will offer you simple but wholesome food.
Where to stay
The Cano Negro Natural Lodge is a beautiful Eco-Lodge located in the charming wilderness of Cano Negro. The lodge is enveloped by tropical flora and fauna. The hotel offers a selection of great nature tours such as a wetlands boat tour, a conservation tour, a bird sanctuary tour and a canoeing tour. The facilities are new and modern and the grounds are covered by a fragrant garden of beautiful tropical plants.