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Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

You are transferred to Los Chiles to begin a 2-3 hour boat journey up the Rio Frio in search of sloth, caiman, lizards, tropical birds, monkeys and turtles as well as a diverse range of other wildlife that is abundant in the lush rainforest and wetlands.

The Cano Negro refuge itself is located 25 kilometres south of Los Chiles in the northern area of the Alajuela province, approximately a two hour drive from Arenal. It has been declared a site of international importance for the nesting of migratory birds and occupies an area of 9,969 hectares in the Río Frío Basin.

This is an area of great ecological, economic and social importance for Costa Rica, so much so that in 1984 it was declared to be a wildlife refuge and in 1991 it was included in the RAMSAR list, an organisation that protects wetlands of international interest.

There is a system of lagoons, rivers, flood forests, yolilo palms, Santa María plants and marshes. Seasonal flooding occurs throughout and its environment is characteristic of the northern zone that borders Nicaragua.

There have been 307 species of birds, 78 mammals and 96 reptiles reported in the refuge in addition to more than 300 plant species grouped in to 73 families of shrubs and trees. However, according to a 1988 study by the Organisation of Tropical Studies (OTS), there are actually 1,016 plant species and 5,000 animal species in the refuge.

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Audley Travel specialist Alison

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Other experiences in Arenal Volcano

These activities are designed to give you the most authentic experiences around where you're staying. We work with local guides, who use their knowledge and often a resident's eye to show you the main sights and more out-of-the-way attractions. Our specialists can suggest tours and activities, such as cooking classes, that will introduce you to the local ways of life.

  • Arenal Hanging Bridges Natural History Tour
    Canopy Walkway, Arenal

    Arenal Hanging Bridges Natural History Tour

    Arenal Hanging Bridges Natural History Tour

    Follow the hanging bridges through the Arenal rainforest canopy and the walking trails along the forest floor to spot numerous bird, animal and plant species. Clearings and open spaces in the forest canopy offer a glimpse of the magnificent Arenal Volcano in the distance.

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  • Arenal Rainforest Sky Tram and Trek
    Aerial tram, Costa Rica

    Arenal Rainforest Sky Tram and Trek

    Arenal Rainforest Sky Tram and Trek

    Enjoy a peaceful gondola ride above the Arenal rainforest and take in the breathtaking views of the volcano and the still, blue lake. Choose to return back to your starting point the same way or via the Canopy Tour; an exhilarating zip line through the forest canopy.

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  • Arenal Volcano Hike
    Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica

    Arenal Volcano Hike

    Arenal Volcano Hike

    This easy and manageable hike will allow you to enjoy the most extraordinary view of the Arenal Volcano as you walk along the base of this marvellous 'Mountain of Fire'. See recent lava flows and rock formations and learn about the big eruption of 1968.

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  • Arenal Volcano National Park Tour
    Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica

    Arenal Volcano National Park Tour

    Arenal Volcano National Park Tour

    Embark on a journey of exploration through the beautiful Arenal Volcano National Park, spotting unique flora and fauna along the way and learning about the activity and history of the still-active Arenal Volcano.

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  • Cerro Chato Hiking Excursion
    La Fortuna waterfall, Volcan Arenal

    Cerro Chato Hiking Excursion

    Cerro Chato Hiking Excursion

    Ascend through dense primary forest, which is home to a huge variety of flora and fauna, to the summit of Cerro Chato - Arenal Volcano's 'older brother'. Finish this half day walk with a refreshing swim at La Fortuna Waterfall.

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  • Eco Termales Hot Springs
    Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica

    Eco Termales Hot Springs

    Eco Termales Hot Springs

    The Eco Termales hot springs are a beautiful sanctuary surrounded by nature. The smallest of the hot springs in the Arenal area, Eco Termales is perfect for privacy and relaxation.

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  • Half Day Quad Bike Tour
    Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

    Half Day Quad Bike Tour

    Half Day Quad Bike Tour

    This half-day quad bike tour combines adrenalin and adventure with incredible wildlife and tropical forest, all set within the shadow of the majestic Arenal Volcano.

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  • Lake Arenal Kayaking Excursion
    Crossing Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

    Lake Arenal Kayaking Excursion

    Lake Arenal Kayaking Excursion

    Take to the water of Lake Arenal in your own kayak and explore the shores to spot a multitude of different bird species, and perhaps hear the unmistakable call of a howler monkey.

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  • Peñas Blancas River Floating
    Three toed sloth near Arenal, Costa Rica

    Peñas Blancas River Floating

    Peñas Blancas River Floating

    Drift silently along the Peñas Blancas river, which winds through lush, verdant forest, and see a huge variety of wildlife including monkeys, sloths, iguanas, tortoises, crocodiles and several types of birds.

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