Barra Del Colorado Wildlife Refuge

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Barra Del Colorado Wildlife Refuge


Only accessible by plane or boat- Barra del Colorado is worth it.
Only accessible by plane or boat- Barra del Colorado is worth it.

Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge is located in the northern Caribbean on the border with Nicaragua. It includes 50 kms. of coastline and 92,000 hectares of channel, lagoons, rivers, river islands, forests, marshes, holillo forest and hills- ancient volcanic cones. This Refuge provides a perfect sanctuary to thousands of Jabiru storks, oropendolas, crocodiles, caimans, monkeys, iguanas, frogs, butterflies, toucans, sloths, river otters, and many other wild species that call Barra Del Colorado, home. This area is also home to the endangered West Indian manatee and other endangered species like the green macaws and tapirs. With 230,000 acres of ecological retreat, the Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge provides a perfect area for animals to breed peacefully.

Getting to Barra del Colorado is an adventure in itself, and although it’s only 140 miles from San Jose, the refuge is only accessible by plane or boat. Fly into the village’s airstrip and enjoy a magnificent view of the lush vegetation. The rivers meander through the refuge frequently changing course. Such is the case of the River San Juan, which now flows into the River Colorado in Costa Rican territory. The meandering rivers also form islets and islands such as Calero, which with 15,160 hectares is the larges in Costa Rica, and Brava with approximately 4,500 hectares, both located near the Caribbean littoral. There are no roads in or out of Barra del Colorado and the town itself is rather small, mostly a collection of raised stilt houses. The town supports a diverse population of Afro-Caribbean and Miskito Indian residents, Nicaraguan emigrants, and transient commercial fishermen.

Traditional pangas maneuvered by local guides lead you through the thick forest via swampy waterways and into the heart of the jungle. The wildlife of Barra del Colorado seem oblivious to tourists and carry on with their lives as if not knowing they’re being watched, providing a unique opportunity to observe their natural behavior. Barra del Colorado is beautiful but the truth is most visitors come here for the fishing. In fact, tarpon and snook fishing are world class and they, as well as antediluvian garfish swim by the millions in the undisturbed water. And if that’s not enough, you can head out even farther offshore for some deep-sea action. Fishing trips can be organized in the town and include equipment, transportation and expert guides.

Come prepared because Barra del Colorado is located in the wettest part of the country, rain is heavy and constant, which of course is why it’s so beautiful. Bring along a raincoat, plenty of mosquito repellent and comfortable shoes for hiking.

The Caribbean coast offers a wide variety of hotels, cabins and lodges. Prices are typically low and service personalized in the comfortable inns scattered throughout the area. Eco-lodges and tour operators can arrange transportation to and from San Jose along with accommodations and meals.

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