Situated on Caño Negro Lake (Lago Caño Negro), this wildlife refuge is one of the most important wetlands in the world, where many migratory birds live for part of the year. The area’s marshlands and forests house many endangered species, and wildlife such as jaguars, tapirs, special species of monkeys and cougars have been spotted in the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge.
The Rio Frio is the main water source for the lake area and the largest flowing river in the Arenal region. During the dry season, the water recedes, leaving only the Rio Frio’s main channel, and during this time visitors can typically spot neotropic cormorants, glossy ibises, wood storks, green-backed herons, blue-winged teals, black-bellied whistling ducks and more. For avid bird watchers, Caño Negro is one of the prime spots to see the Nicaraguan grackle or the endangered Jabirus, the largest bird found in Central America. Fishing is allowed on the Rio Frio from July 1 through March 31, and licenses are available through the ranger station in the village.
Some of the more commonly spotted species include howler, spider and white-faced monkeys, three-toed sloths, turtles and even Jesus Christ lizards. Keep your eyes peeled on the water, as a number of visitors have reported seeing the fin of a freshwater shark.
The wildlife refuge is open daily year-round, and there are no public facilities in the park. Be sure to bring bug spray and binoculars (or a good zoom lens) to spot wildlife from a distance. During the dry season, which can start as early as December and run as late as April, the park can be accessed by road; however, it is necessary to take a boat during rainy season.