Costa Rica became famous among birdwatchers of any class. And a birding experience in Caño Negro is a must. From serious to beginners, birding in Costa Rica is one of the world’s best birding destinations. The National Wildlife Refuge of Caño Negro is in the top 3 of the birding destinations you should consider visiting when you head to Costa Rica. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider a Costa Rica Birdwatching trip there, and some of the birds you should aim to see in the Refuge of Caño Negro.
birding experience in Caño Negro

With the half size of Kentucky State, Costa Rica’s birding list is about 900 species. More than you can find in the whole of North America. In such a small country, birdwatching in Costa Rica is easy.

Caño Negro Refuge is not the exception! This wetland multi-ecosystem reserve is one of the most important birding hotspots in Costa Rica. Definitely is a birding experience in Caño Negro. Here, we receive keen birdwatchers and photographers from around the world.

Inside this 10.000 hectares protected area, we have a birding list of about 200 species. And about 100 of them are “easy” to spot.

During the best season, you can spot about 100 species on a birding day.

Want to travel to see Costa Rica’s wildlife and birdwatching?

With the experience of Renzo Sturmo, an Italian guy ingrained in Costa Rica for +30 years, offer private and customized birding tours around Costa Rica. Enquire direct by visiting

It is easy to become a birdwatching fan even for these people who have previously had a passing interest in birding. In Costa Rica, spotting birds is easy.

To ensure birding visitors enjoy good views of a wide range of the country’s diverse bird species, local Hotels and tour operators provide experienced local guides: they are local, they know places, and they spot everything.

Why Costa Rica and the Refuge of Caño Negro are special for birdwatchers and photographers?

Costa Rica is a small country, with a variety abundance of habitats and ecosystems close to each other. In the case of Caño Negro, this very small region offer in one place several wetlands habitats, such as forest, marsh, lagoons, and rivers.
Such a small and “condensed” country allowed you to find a wide range of bird species.

Costa Rica and Cano Negro Refuge are the destinations for migrant birds during the North American winter season. This will be the “summer season”, or better say the dry season of Costa Rica, between September – October to April-May. This is the moment of the year when you can have more of your birding trip.

But it is also the crudest tourist season. If you do not like the tourist season, well, no problem. The rest of the year is also wonderful for wildlife and birding in Costa Rica at the refuge of Caño Negro.

Cano Negro refuge is one of the easiest birding hotspots in Costa Rica because its essence is a wetland.

The wetland in Caño Negro is reach in habitat, and this environmental characteristic gets together over +200 bird species in one spot.

Another reason why is easy to explore Caño Negro, is because all wildlife and birdwatching tours are by boat. It is a wetland, and all the action is always over water.

In Cano Negro you do not have to worry about walking or the difficulty of trails. We go by boat. This is the best way for a birding experience in Caño Negro. So just relax and focus on spotting as many birds as you can.

Costa Rica’s Must-See Birds at the Refuge of Caño Negro.

It is quite difficult to list must-see birds in Costa Rica. Birdwatchers are a creature of special habits.
But with a few bird species, there is some sort of agreement.

At the Refuge of Caño Negro, these are the most interesting birds you should watch.

The Agami Heron.

The most beautiful and colourful heron. And also very difficult to spot if is not the right time of the year.

In Caño Negro we have a special spot to see this shy bird. If the season is correct, the chances to observe him will be very high.

Agami Heron Costa Rica caño negro refuge


The Black-collared Hawk

Big, brown-rusty colour, white head with a black collar on his neck. Normally spotted on trees close to water because is a fishing hawk. This bird is normally spotted with regularity.

black collared hawk costa rica

Yellow-breasted crake.

If you come to Caño Negro for a good time, this is one very special bird that is worth the time you spend to find him. Remember that is a tiny bird that lives inside dense vegetation over the water. It takes time to see a yellow-breasted crake in Costa Rica.

yellow breasted crake costa rica

Medio queso extension for the dry season

A few birds that we have in Caño Negro could be easy to spot at Medio Queso Wetland, 35km from Caño Negro town. If you are very very interested in easily spotting Pinnated bittern, yellow-breasted crack, sora, least bittern, Medio Queso should be on your birding destination.

From Caño Negro you can take a half day to visit the place. Contact us, and will point you in the right direction.

The Nicaraguan Grackle.

For many, it is only a grackle but is one of the birds you can find on serious birdwatchers. This is an endemic bird of the Nicaraguan lake, and Caño Negro is very close to it. So, Nicaraguan Grackles are usually around in Caño Negr Refuge.

It is not an ugly bird, especially the male. He has a deep and shiny black colour and yellow eyes, and he flies with his tail in a vertical position, like a rudder.

Snail kite

Speaking about the personal taste of birdwatchers, this is one for me.

He is around, especially during the rainy season, when the water level is high, and the snails that live in the vegetation in the lagoons are on top of them. Also, he likes to nest during the month of June-July.

His particular beak is evolved to easily take out from the shell the meat of snails.

In fly, you can easily distinguish him because is an all-grey colour, with one white stripe on the tail. If you can get close enough, you will appreciate his beautiful red eyes.

snail kite Costa Rica


Is not a duck, is not a grebe. It is a sungrebe, a small aquatic Gruiformes. It is the only living member of the genus Heliornis.

For me, is one of the cutest birds you can see in Caño Negro. Look at the “leopard colour” finfoot, and the orange cheeks in females.

Sungrebes are unique among birds in that males have “pouches”, folds of skin under their wings in which they carry their young from hatching until the chicks can swim for themselves. This has led to them being called “Marsupial Birds”

sungrebe costa rica

Are You Interested In A Birding Tour To Costa Rica and Caño Negro?

To make a reservation for a birding experience in Caño Negro, you can contact Hotel de Campo Caño Negro directly. It offers packages for birdwatchers, or you can request a special one. Scroll down, and look at the option Hotel de Campo Caño Negro is offer you.

In case you are looking for a vacation package to go birding around Costa Rica, you can contact Birding Costa Rica Tours with Renzo Sturmo.

Birding experience in Caño Negro

Looking for full day Caño Negro boat tour?

You are in vacation in Costa Rica. Why the rush?

Instead of a stressful full day caño negro boat tour from Arenal, you better drive to Caño Negro, and spend at least 1 night here. To experience Caño Negro, and have a unique caño negro tour, at least 1 night is our recommendation.


Because is the best way to enjoy a full day caño negro boat tour. Have a good dinner, sleep nicely at Hotel de Campo, and wake up in the morning in Caño Negro ready for a boat tour.

The 3 days - 2 nights Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge Boat Tour is one of the most sold vacation packages. With this offer, you will be sure to receive a full experience Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. And also, and this is a major point, with Hotel de Campo we guarantee you will be visiting the Original Caño Negro.

Birdwatcher/photography vacation packages

From 2 to 4 nights customizable options

#1 Best Agami Heron Birding Costa Rica Vacation Package is our #1 sold package. It is fit for any birdwatcher and/or photographer that has a short time during their vacation in Costa Rica. This affordable vacation package at Hotel de Campo, located just in front of the lagoon of the National Wildlife Refuge of Caño Negro, you will have up to 8 hours of tours for birding in Costa Rica, or taking the best shot of your vacations.

This prime vacation package for your vacation in Costa Rica is directly offered by Hotel de Campo. After many years of experience, we design this package. Eventually, it becomes the first choice for those tourists that love birding and photography but also like some free time for themself. The more time you spend on a boat tour at Caño Negro Refuge, the more chances you have to spot the bird that you are looking for, or to take the best shot of your vacation.

Contact us

Original Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

If you have any other questions about your vacation in Costa Rica and would you like to visit Caño Negro please write to us

    Capuchin NATURELOVER post

    Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge Facts

    Things to do in cano negro?

    The National Wildlife Refuge Caño Negro location is a very well know destination in Costa Rica for nature lovers who want to spot wildlife, and for birdwatchers / photographers. This is a prime hotspot for wildlife and birdwatching.

    For information you can visit:

    How to go to Caño Negro Refuge

    The National Wildlife Refuge Caño Negro location is on the northern plains of Costa Rica, between Los Chiles and Upala. The road that communicates the National Wildlife Refuge Caño Negro is the 138. from Arenal (La Fortuna) is about 2:30 hrs, From Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí is about 2:45 hrs, and from Tenorio Volcano about 1:45.

    Here you can find a few caño negro costa rica map to follow. If you have any doubt, please contact us.

    From La Fortuna to Caño Negro
    How do I reach Caño Negro Refuge

    From Bijagua to Caño Negro Refuge
    How to I go to Caño Negro

    From Tenorio Volcano to Caño Negro Refuge
    caño negro costa rica map

    From Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí to Caño Negro Refuge
    caño negro location

    What do I Need to Pack for Caño Negro - Costa Rica?

    For an eco-tour vacation, I do recommend bringing clothes that dry fast and wick away moisture, good walking shoes, lots of sunscreen and mosquito repellent, sunglasses, a hat, a microfiber towel, and an insulated water bottle.
    If you’re visiting in the rainy season, then we recommend bringing a waterproof rain jacket and a waterproof backpack or rain cover.

    When is Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge open?

    Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge open is always open, 365 days per year. Just drive there, and enjoy the wildlife.

    Do you need to book in advance to visit Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge?

    No, you don’t need to book in advance the entrance for Cano Negro Refuge, but you should book in advance at Hotel de Campo Caño Negro, especially in high season from November to April.

    Best time to visit cano negro?

    The best time of the year to explore the National Wildlife Refuge Caño Negro does depend on what you are looking for. Eventually, every day is the best time to visit Caño Negro. So let me ask you… What do you expect from Caño Negro? Why would you like to explore Caño Negro Refuge?
    At the time to decide on visiting Caño Negro, or at the time to ask us about a stay in Caño Negro, this information is very important.

    What is the best time to visit Caño Negro?

    Where is the Best Place to Visit in Costa Rica for birdwatching and photography?

    One of the best places to visit in Costa Rica for a nature lover, or a more specialized birder and photographer is Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. Here you can enjoy special Vacations in Costa Rica birdwatching ecotourism.
    This is an amazing refuge with a different scenario. We have a lagoons area, a river, and a mostly forest section.
    This almost unique wetland, allows you to enjoy the different panorama and also switch between animal species: birds, sloths, monkeys, caimans, iguana, and so on.

    Can I enjoy birdwatching and/or an ecotour on a rainy day?

    YES. Rain is part of the ecosystem, and finally, birds and mammals are not very worried about that.
    In any case, we do offer private tours and specially organized based on your interest. So, when you arrive at Hotel de Campo, we will organize the best moment to go explore the refuge

    Is Caño Negro - Costa Rica Safe for Families?

    Yes! Caño Negro and Costa Rica in general are great destinations for family vacations. Caño Negro is a very quiet place, very safe. It is a safe place to discover nature. Also, for families, our tours are always private. So, you will enjoy it for sure.
    For a family vacation, we offer rooms with up to 3 beds (2 doubles and 1 single bed) and joined rooms. So, you will never be apart, but with privacy.

    What is the currency of Costa Rica?

    The currency of Costa Rica is the colon, colones plural.

    Which Shoes Should I Bring to Caño Negro - Costa Rica to enjoy eco-tours and/or a birdwatching tour?

    For the rainy season, a waterproof hiking shoe. Also, and especially for wetland places and rainforests, a good pair of rubber boots. This is what the locals use. They protect you very well from rain and mud. And also, they dry up very fast.
    During the dry season, very comfortable hiking shoes, always waterproof.

    Do I Need a GPS to Drive in Costa Rica?

    Not really. Costa Rica has only a few main roads, and normally to arrive at some destination, you will not have more than 1 or 2 options.
    Instead of a GPS, I will use Waze, or Google Maps (not so accurate as Waze).
    I am sure, that everybody can share with you their location with Whatsapp and Waze.

    Looking for a full package?

    With Hotel de Campo you can enjoy a Wonderfull vacation in Costa Rica at the National Refuge of Caño Negro, choosing between 6+ packages. Or customize your own.

    Made for birdwatcher & photographer

    We prepare 3 packages from 2 to 4 nights, with up to 15 hrs of private birding and photography tour. You can customize this vacation packages.

    Made for nature lover

    We prepare 3 vacations packages from 1 to 3 nights, that include up to 5 hrs of boat tours in Caño Negro. This packages doesn’t include private trip, but you can upgrade it