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Arenal, Monteverde, and the Northern Lowlands Sights

Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge

  • Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge
  • Fodor's Choice

Updated 06/09/2014

Fodor's Review

It's a shame that Caño Negro doesn't grab the same amount of attention in wildlife-viewing circles as other destinations in Costa Rica. The reserve is a splendid place to watch waterfowl and resident exotic animals, including cougars, jaguars, and several species of monkeys. If you're not staying at one of the two lodges up here, the refuge is most easily visited as a day trip from La Fortuna. Sunset Tours pioneered the Caño Negro excursions, but most every Arenal-area tour operator can set you up. There are no public facilities in the park, which consists mostly of wetlands fed by the Frio River and can be explored only by boat. Bring a camera, binoculars, and plenty of bug spray.

Sight Information


180 km (108 miles) north of La Fortuna, Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge, 21402, Costa Rica

Sight Details:

  • $5; fishing license $30
  • Daily 7–4

Updated 06/09/2014


Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
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Feb 17, 2009

Excellent Place to See Wildlife

My husband and I did the Cano Negro tour with Sunset Tours on our first trip to Costa Rica. We enjoyed it so much that we went back and did it a second time on our last trip. This is an excellent opportunity to see wildlife near the La Fortuna/Arenal area. The tour starts in the early a.m. and returns around 3:30 in the afternoon. You board a nice van that will take you to the put-in spot where you'll board a covered boat. You travel up and down the

river with an excellent guide who will spot everything from sloths to bats to capuchins to howler monkeys. We saw a huge variety of birds, lots of caimans, and even an albino baby howler monkeys. Wonderful opportunity to take wildlife photos here. Sunset Tours provided cold juice drinks for us on board. The guides love for you to join in the spotting, and the whole boat ends up getting involved which is great. I would highly recommend this tour. It gets back early enough that you can hit the hot springs for dinner and relaxation when you return.

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Nov 18, 2008

Relaxing yet eventful boat tour.

My husband & I booked this boat tour through our hotel in Arenal and had a wonderful time. We were lucky enough to only have another couple on the tour with us. We had a great tour guide named Roy, he had answers to all our questions and accomadated all our needs. The captain of the boat was nicknamed Eagle Eye and he lived up to his name cause he spotted everything. We experienced seeing over 7 different bird species, different monkeys, bats,

caimans, and different iguanas. The tour takes you right up to the Nicaraguan border and back. The tour also included lunch which was a great Costa Rican traditional meal. The tour is definitely worth it.

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