Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge ★ is a vast network of marshes and rivers (particularly the Río Frío) 100km (62 miles) north of La Fortuna near the town of Los Chiles. The refuge is best known for its abundance of bird life, including roseate spoonbills, jabiru storks, herons, and egrets, but you can also see caimans and crocodiles. Bird-watchers should not miss this refuge, although keep in mind that the main lake dries up in the dry season (mid-Apr to Nov), which reduces the number of wading birds. Full-day tours to Caño Negro average between $65 and $85 per person. However, most of the tours run out of La Fortuna that are billed as Caño Negro never really enter the refuge but instead ply sections of the nearby Río Frío, which features similar wildlife and ecosystems. If you’re interested in staying in this area and really visiting the refuge, head to Caño Negro Natural Lodge.
You can also visit the Venado Caverns ★★, a 45-minute drive away. In addition to plenty of stalactites, stalagmites, and other formations, you’ll see bats and unique cave fish and crabs. This tour is not for the claustrophobic, and includes wading through a river, scrambling over rocks, and sliding through some tight squeezes. This cave system is quite extensive, although tourists have access to only around 10 chambers. Still, these are quite striking, with impressive formations and ceilings more than 100 feet high in places. Tours cost $35, including the guide and headlamps. Be prepared to get wet and muddy.
All tour agencies and hotel tour desks can arrange trips to Caño Negro and Venado Caverns.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.