Caño Negro: Birds, Water and People

The Caño Negro Mixed National Wildlife Refuge (RNVSMCN), because of its management category, has the particularity of having the community immersed in the Protected Wild Area (ASP by its Spanish acronym of Área Silvestre Protegida), together with a strong cultural and subsistence link to natural resources Produced by this rich ecosystem.

The area of Caño Negro is located in the north of the country, in the province of Alajuela. It forms part of the Plain of the Guatusos, whose name comes from the indigenous Malekus populations that have inhabited there for almost 4 thousand years. Currently, they are found in the Maleku Indian Reservation, and they inhabit 3 palenques or settlements: Margarita, Tonjibe and El Sol.

They still retain much of their culture and traditions as their Maleku language. In addition, they seek to make it known to other people, so that national and international tourists can visit this Reserve to live in their homes, eat their traditional dishes and know their lifestyle.
The Malekus are also known as Guatusos, hence the name of the plain.

This area is home to the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, which protects the third largest wetland in the world, declared by the Ramsar Convention. A wide variety of species of flora and fauna, including those in danger of extinction, live here. There are endemic species, as well as for human consumption.

Inside the Refugio is the Caño Negro Lagoon, 3 meters deep and 1,976 acre (800 hectares) long. The lagoon is made up of fresh water from Frío and Monica Rivers. During the dry season almost all of its water evaporates.

Nearby are the towns of Upala on the west side and Los Chiles on the east, where you can find facilities such as restaurants, cabins, pharmacy, banks, among others.
The community of Caño Negro is one of the main destinations for ecotourism in the North Zone of Costa Rica North area, both for national tourism and for international tourism.

It is a community that arises thanks to the activities developed by families from the Nicaraguan territory. Currently, its economy is based on agriculture, livestock and tourism. 

By being located in the lower basin of the river and flooded areas the ecosystems of the wetland are favored, which is availed by the people, who have developed different ventures to provide tourist services to visitors.
​Lagoon and channel system: Includes the lagoons located inside the Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge, and other lagoons and small lagoons where the vegetation is dominated by swamps with herbaceous, palms (yolillo) and "marillales", with characteristics of the wetland.

Small Lagoons and Water Streams within the forest: The forests of this area are very particular, since they present plant species from both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. There are Small Lagoons  (Lagunetas) and water streams in the forest, which are remains of the old channel of the cold river. The bird species found there are different from those frequented by open lagoons.

Private farms: Some farms offer horseback riding and guided hikes on a sporadic basis.

Bird watching, flora and fauna: Caño Negro has a number of conditions that make it special in terms of bird diversity. With influence from both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, it has species from both areas, plus migratory species that stop in the wetland. In addition, you can observe species of flora and fauna, such as: mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish.

Nature: The tourist can make use of an elevated path of 2,625 ft (800 m), which will allow his / her to appreciate groups of birds in the lagoons. In addition, he/she can enjoy an aerial view of the wetland, once he/she enters the observation tower, which is located near three bodies of water: Río Frío River, La Capilla laggon, and the largest, which is the Caño Negro lagoon (Llano Grande). These can be appreciated to 59 ft (18 m) of height, with the possibility of observing the volcanoes of Guanacaste Mountain Range, as they are: Orosí, Cacao, Rincón de la Vieja, Miravalles, Tenorio and the majestic Arenal Volcano on a clear day.

Sport Fishing: You can choose for a sport fishing tour, recreational or specialized tour, accompanied by a local guide, where you will have the possibility to fish species such as guapote (Parachromis managuensis), mojarra (Gerreidae), tilapia (oreochromis nicoticus), Barbudo (Rhandia sp) and snorer (Pomadasydae), while in specialized fishing, we work with species such as: Gaspar (Atractosteus tropicus) and Sábalo Real (Megalops atlanticus).

Environmental Education: The route is aimed at groups of national and foreign students of all levels, as well as groups interested in a particular theme, such as: sustainable development, geography, wetland dynamics, flora, fauna, avifauna, the Wildlife Protected Area and its people, natural history, among others.

Water Trails: Being a wetland, the trails present inside the National Mixed Wildlife Refuge Caño Negro, are aquatic. The boat drivers, make the tours based on their experience and knowledge of the wetland.
​​Jimmy Gutiérrez
Phone: (506) 5006-9415