Cano Negro National Wildlife Refuge (Caño Negro Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Fauna) is a remote tropical everglade in northern Costa Rica on the border with Nicaragua, 100km north of La Fortuna
The 9,969-hectare reserve protects a lowland basin of soft, watery sloughs and marshes centered on Lago Cano Negro, a seasonal lake fed by the fresh waters of the Río Frío, which makes an ideal waterway for guided boat tours from Los Chiles.
The region floods in wet season. In February, when the dry season sets in, Cano Negro dries out, and the area is reduced to shrunken lagoons.
Cano Negro is a bird-watcher’s paradise. The reserve protects the largest colony of neotropic cormorants in Costa Rica and the only permanent colony of Nicaraguan grackle. Cattle egrets, wood storks, anhingas, roseate spoonbills, and other waterfowl gather in the thousands. The bright pink roseate spoonbill is one of Caño Negro’s most spectacular wading birds. It is named for its spatulate bill, some 15–19 cm long, which it swings from side to side as it munches insects or small shellfish. Another of my favorites is the anhinga, a bird as adept underwater as in the air (it goes by three aliases: snakebird, for its serpentine neck; American darter, for its jerky movements; and water turkey, for the way its tail spreads in flight.
The reserve is remarkable, too, for its population of endangered mammal species, including cougars,jaguars, ocelots and tapirs. There are always monkeys to see. The crocodile population of Caño Negro is perhaps the best-protected in Costa Rica, though caimans are more easily seen. Mosquitos are plentiful, so cover yourself with a good DEET based insect repellent..
The ranger station (tel. 506/661-8464) is 400 meters inland from the dock. The regional office is in Los Chiles (tel. 506/460-6484, fax 506/460-5615, email@example.com).