Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

Location: North Central

This wilderness area includes a lake and marshlands formed by alluvial sediments. Lake Caño Negro is a seasonal spill-off site of Rio Frio. It covers an area of approximately 800 hectares and it is 3 meters deep. During the dry season, which last from February to May the lake almost dries up completely, leaving behind only a few small pools, secondary channels and an arm of the river itself. The refuge once formed part of Lake Nicaragua.

The variety and wealth of bird life in this area justifies setting it aside as a wildlife refuge. Hundreds of birds can be seen during the dry season lining the sandbanks and perching in some of the trees. Some of the most prevalent species of waterfowl are Anhinga, Roseate Spoon Bill, White Ibis, Northern Jacana (this is a rare species because the nest and the chicks are looked after by the male rather than the female), Wood Stork, Jaribu-which is the largest bird in the area and seriously endangered, Black-Bellied Tree Duck, Cattle Egret, and the Neotropical Cormorant, which is the most abundant species at Caño Negro and the largest colony in Costa Rica.

Some of the endangered mammals and reptiles that live in the refuge are pumas, jaguars, ocelots, tapirs, and caymans. Other resident mammals are howler monkeys, spider monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, collared peccaries, raccoons, Neotropical river otters, two-toed sloths and white-tailed deer. The river and the channels teem with turtles, bull sharks, Caribbean snooks and gar fish, which is considered a living fossil.

Activities in the area: Guided boat tours, bird watching.