A haven for birds and wildlife, Cano Negro National Wildlife Refuge is located in north-central Costa Rica, 120 mi/195 km northwest of San Jose. The best way to see it is from the water—narrow boats leave from Los Chiles near the Nicaraguan border for an enchanting trip down the Rio Frio.
Shorebirds cruise the banks alongside caimans, crocodiles and iguanas, while comical Jesus Christ lizards dance across the surface of the water. In the tangled treetops above, howler monkeys can be heard proclaiming their territories. Of Costa Rica's six types of kingfishers, four are found along the Rio Frio, as are exquisite roseate spoonbills and jabiru and wood storks.
Cano Negro is one of the best places to spot birds and animals—they are more concentrated along the river banks because much of the land around the water has been cleared for farmland. Efforts to return the forests are under way. Be prepared for a long, bumpy ride to Cano Negro village—the road to the refuge is rough and sometimes impassable in wet season.
The lakes and lagoons that distinguish this park boil with tarpon and snook—feisty gamefish that lure anglers. Three dedicated sportfishing lodges in the village offer trips. http://www.anywherecostarica.com/destinations/arenal/tours/cano-negro.
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