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A Few Words About Caño Negro Refuge

A Few Words About Caño Negro Refuge

Caño Negro Refuge is the most significant wetland in Costa Rica, located in the northern plane. This magnificent refuge is about 10,000 hectares. It incorporates several ecosystems, such as a lagoon system, rivers, creeks, rainforests, marsh, and open and semi-open environments. To visit Caño Negro Refuge, you have to drive to Caño Negro village. A small town surrounded by the refuge.

Its climate varies over the year, with 2 defined seasons. Is weather has intense influence from the dryer northern Pacific region of Costa Rica. On a normal basis, the dry season extends from the end of December to mid-April. Two very well-defined seasons are responsible for drastic changes in the water levels, Cold fronts and tropical depressions can produce drenching rains on the foothills and lowlands, raising the level of the Río Frío (Cold River) to 6 meters, subsequently flooding this vast extension of land and triggering fish and plant reproduction.

Birdwatching destinations in Costa Rica

The RAMSAR convention:

The Wildlife Refuge Caño Negro is a Ramsar Site because is a wetland ecosystem designated of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The Convention on Wetlands, known as the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO. Today incorporating 169 nations, over 2,000 designated sites and encompassing over 200,000,000 hectares (490,000,000 acres) of protected land. The treaty supports national action and involves international cooperation concerning wetland conservation efforts, encouraging at the same time thoughtful sustainable use of the site’s natural resources. Costa Rica, as part of the Convention on Wetlands, protects a total of 569,742 hectares (1,407,860 acres).

Because the wetland, Caño Negro is one of the best Birdwatching destinations in Costa Rica

Best time to visit Caño Negro.

The best time of the year to explore Caño Negro does depend on what you are looking for. Eventually, every day is the best time to visit Caño Negro.

Birdwatching in Caño Negro

If it is about birding, we have a lot of birds every day of the year. From November to April, the number of birds rises because migrant birds arrive in Caño Negro, such as shorebirds, warblers, and Oriols. 

During the dry season, we are going to have a concentration of birds, but fewer places where to navigate and discover. So, during the very dry season (February to April), it is possible to walk around.

The advantage of the rainy season, April to December, is that the water level of the lagoon and river around us to navigate to several more places.

Photography in Caño Negro

Definitely, if photography is your passion, and you do not have a very specific object, photography is one of the activities you can do for 365 days. Nature is always there to amaze us. Just keep in mind that during the rainy season a good camera rain cover is a must.

Watching Wildlife in Caño Negro.

Caño Negro Refuge is not only about birding, but we offer a large option of wildlife animals: Emerald Basilisk, Green Iguana, Spectacled Caiman, American Crocodile, Nicaraguan Slider-Turtle, Long-nosed Bats, Greater Fishing-Bats, Neotropical River-Otter, Mantled Howler Monkey, White-faced Capuchin, Central American Spider Monkey, and Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth.

The easiest animals to spot in Caño Negro are for sure monkeys and sloths, caimans, iguanas, and basilisks.

In this case, the season may affect the amount of this animals you can see. For example, as lower as the water level, much more caimans you can spot. But basilisks are more active on the river during the rainy season when there are fewer congregations of shorebirds along the river.
Monkeys and Sloths are always around. But when the water level is higher, we have much more places to take a boat tour in Caño Negro, raising our chances of a great spot.

Videos about the National Refuge of Caño negro

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Contact us

    caño negro costa rica facts

    When is Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge open?

    The National Refuge of Caño Negro is always open. You can visit Cano Negro every day of the year. This is because Cano Negro is a mixed refuge (where a community lives) and is not a national park. This gives us more flexibility in visiting Cano Negro.

    If you are planning a Costa Rica birding itinerary, be sure Cano Negro is in it. You will be enjoying one of the best birding in Costa Rica.

    The National Refuge of Caño Negro is the place where you can birding Costa Rica on your own



    For some additional information about Caño Negro and what to do, please read the following posts:


    What's the best way to see Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge?

    The best and almost the only way to see this Paraiso tropical Caño Negro is by boat. A boat tour in Cano Negro is mandatory because is a wetland ecosystem: lagoons, rivers, creeks, marsh, and so on.

    Even during the very dry season the best way to explore Cano Negro Refuge is by boat. All the action is always along the river.

    This kind of environment makes Cano Negro one of the best Birdwatching destinations in Costa Rica

    For some additional information about Caño Negro and what to do, please read the following posts:


    What's the best way to experience Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge (Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Mixto Caño Negro)?

    The answer is having a boat tour in Caño Negro. Any activity you would like to do in Cano Negro Refuge is always by boat. Birdwatching in Cano Negro, Wildlife watching in Cano Negro, photography in Cano Negro. These are the most interesting activities you can do in Cano Negro.

    For some additional information about Caño Negro and what to do, please read the following posts:


    What are Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge (Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Mixto Caño Negro) hours of operation?

    The Refuge of Cano Negro is always open. During the dry season, for sure we are going to see birds in Cano Negro very soon in the morning, or late in the afternoon. These are the best time to visit Cano Negro.

    Meanwhile, during the rainy season, in case it will rain, we are going to change according to the weather.

    For some additional information about Caño Negro and what to do, please read the following posts:


    How long does it take to get from Guanacaste to Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge?

    This will depend on which place in Guanacaste you came from. Let’s make the city of Liberia your starting point, and I will say about 3 hours.


    For more information about how to reach Cano Negro, please read this useful post:


    For some additional information about Caño Negro and what to do, please read the following posts:


    When can you see birds in Costa Rica?

    Most birds native to Costa Rica can be spotted all year long, but those devoted to the patient hobby of birdwatching find that the best time to spot the country’s resident birds is during the dry season, which runs from November to April. It’s during this time that birds come out more frequently (as there is less rain) and can be heard singing nearly everywhere. Also, visibility is greatly improved during this season.

    If you’re looking for migratory birds, traveling to Costa Rica from September through November provides a window of opportunity. If you’re specifically seeking the famed quetzal, you may want to get some local advice on the best areas to find these long-tailed Central American birds, though they are often found feeding on wild avocados in the cloud forests during during the dry season.

    (travel and Leisure)

    Where can I stay near Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge?

    The best hotel in town, and the only one just in front of the lagoon, is Hotel de Campo Caño Negro.

    It is a cozy place, inside a natural botanical garden. There you can organize your birding trip in Cano Negro, wildlife excursion, and photography tours.

    When you are looking birding Costa Rica on a budget, with Hotel de Campo Caño Negro you will find a great solution.



    You can make a direct reservation with a lower price than using bookings sites


    For some additional information about Caño Negro and what to do, please read the following posts:



    Best Times to Visit Costa Rica for Wildlife Spotting

    Costa Rica is home to endemic species found nowhere else on Earth. The exceptional number of national parks and wildlife refuges all play a part in helping to protect these animals, while simultaneously allowing travelers to catch a glimpse.

    The best times to spot wildlife depend on which animals you’d most like to see. Some well known attention-grabbers, like the Capuchin monkey, can be seen (and heard) year-round. But those seeking to spot sea turtles should head to the Caribbean coast between February and October, or during April and May for leatherback turtles. Generally, you’ll want to rise early — well before sunrise — and head to a reserve just as the animals wake up.

    (travel and Leisure)

    Where are the hummingbirds in Costa Rica?

    Hummingbirds are especially abundant in the cloud forest of Costa Rica such as Monteverde, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Bajos del Toro, and the Losa Angeles Cloud Forest.

    With Birding Costa Rica Tour, you can set up a personal birding trip in Costa Rica. You can choose a package with up to 18 birding hotspot, or request a very unique birding trip in Costa Rica


    Should I get a birding guide in Costa Rica?

    You are certain to see more birds with a professional naturalist guide in Costa Rica. These guides know bird calls, can often mimic them, and can detect unique birding behaviors that the untrained eye or ear would miss. Furthermore, they’ll often bring professional bincoluars along so you can get a closer look at the birds you come across than you otherwise would have.

    Fortunately we have this cover. At Hotel de Campo in Caño Negro Refuge, all birding tours are private and guided. You will not waisting any moment of your trip. Birding in Caño Negro with experienced guide is a must.

    Meanwhile, if you are looking to travel around Costa Rica to know as much as possible birding hotspot, check out with Renzo. It is a specialist tour guide for birdwatching. Visit

    Where can I see parrots in Costa Rica?

    Definitely the National Refuge of Caño Negro is a great birding hotspot in Costa Rica to watch parrots.

    It is a place easy to visit (you can arrive with your own car), and take a birding boat tour. There, you can trust on the experienced birding guide of Hotel de Campo.