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Wildlife Refuges

The Wildlife Refuges protect areas with particular ecosystems and organisms, especially those in risk of extinction. These areas are not protected because of their scenic beauty or potential for recreation (as national parks are) but guarantee the existence of populations of species or habitats for wildlife. It could explain why so many of them do not offer facilities for the visitors.

The protected land may belong entirely to the government, to particular individuals, or constitute a mixture of private and governmental lands.  There are 67 wildlife refuges in the country, and they are by far the most numerous category among the protected areas. However, they constitute only 18% of the total protected areas. Here is a list of wildlife refuges with location and the main habitat they are protecting is provided.  Also, detailed description of some is given.

Bahía Junquillal Wildlife Refuge

  • Date of creation:  1995.
  • Area: 505 ha

Location

Guanacaste Province, on the Pacific coast. It is located 58 km northwest of Liberia, 4 km North of Cuajiniquil, 34 km southwest of La Cruz via Interamericana Highway or at 18 km by Puerto Soley. It takes about 1 hour to get to Junquillal from Liberia.

Brief Description

This is a refuge dominated by secondary growth forest or dry forest remnants.  The best part of Junquillal is the 2 km length beach. Average temperature is 29 C (84.2 F), and annual precipitation is about 1500 mm. Mammals such as raccoons, coatis, capuchin monkeys, howler, monkeys or spider monkeys, can be easily seen in the refuge. Birds include parrots (Aratinga canicularis, Amazona auropalliata), Magpie-jay (Callocitta formosa), raptors, sandpipers, pelicans and other coastal birds. Whales may be observed at the end of the year.

Contacts and More info: http://www.acguanacaste.ac.cr/1999/ecoturismo/junquillal.html
Regional Ofice at Liberia (506) 2666-0630, Bahía Junquillal Wildlife Refuge (506) 2679-9692.

Barra Del Colorado Wildlife Refuge

  • Date of creation: 1985
  • Area: 81211 ha

Location

Limon Province, on the north Caribbean coast, near the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border. It is very isolated and can only be reached by boat or by plane.

Brief Description

The Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge protects important systems of wetlands, rivers, lagoons, flooded forest. It is quite famous for sport fishing (you will need a permit). The climate is hot and humid, average temperatures range between 26 and 28 C (79-82 F), with constant rain (annual precipitation is about 6000 mm). Flora of the region is very diverse, with about 58 endemic plant species. Fauna include the manatee, crocodiles, monkeys, and sloths.

Sources: Contacts and More info: http://www.acto.go.cr/bacolwildrefuge.html
Barra de Colorado Wildlife Refuge (506)- 2711-1201

Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge

  • Date of creation: 1985
  • Extension: 3833 ha

Location:

Limon Province, southern part of the Caribbean coast. You can get there following the Puerto Viejo Road towards the south. It is at 71 km from the city of Puerto Limon.

Brief Description:

Gandoca Manzanillo wildlife refuge protects wetlands, coastal areas and forest. It protects the habitat of the endangered manatee, as well as the nesting sites of several marine turtles, and coral reefs. One of the few remants of “cativo” (Prioria copaifera) forest is also protected by this refuge. The climate is hot and humid, and the precipitations decrease from January through april. This wildlife refuge protects a mixture of ecosystems: yolillales, mangroves, coral reefs, swamps, and flooded forest.  Therefore, it protects a vast diversity of animals, including toucans, frogs, tepezcuintles, coral fishes, lobsters, among others.

Contacts: Operative Center Manzanillo area: (506)- 2759-0600

Ostional Wildlife Refuge

 

  • Date of creation: 1984
  • Extension: 180 ha

Location:

Guanacaste Province, central to southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula it covers a coastal area - Playa Ostional and is part of the Tempisque Conservation Area. To get there go north from Nosara.

Brief Description:

The Ostional Wildlife Refuge protects important nesting beaches of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle. The Olive Ridley Sea Turtle is unique as it arrives in very large numbers to lay their eggs in Playa Ostional's dark sand. The Refuge extends app. 16 km (10 mi) along the shores of Ostional, Nosara and Guiones beach.  Besides the rivermouths it is only the maritime zone with the maritime zone extending about app. 5 km (3 m) of coastline.

Source: National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC)

 

Wildlife Refuges of Costa Rica:

Here is a description of some of the facilities available on wildlife refuges, the location and a link to the official web page (when available). Click here to download this list as a pdf.

Wildlife Refuges
(WR)

Main Protected
Habitats

Province

Conservation
Area*

Public Facilities
(into the wildlife refuge)

Caño Negro WR

Wetlands

Alajuela

ACAHN

None

Laguna Las Camelias WR

Wetlands

Alajuela

ACAHN

None

Bosque Alegre WR

Forest and crater lakes

Alajuela

ACCVC

Housing, camping, restaurant

Corredor Fronterizo WR

Forest and wetlands

Nicaraguan
Borderline

ACAHN

None

La Marta WR

Forest

Cartago

ACCVC

Camping areas, hiking trails,
bathrooms, water, visitors office

Curi Cancha WR

Humid forest at Tilaran

Guanacaste

ACAT

None

Iguanita WR

Beach and Mangrove

Guanacaste

ACG

None

Junquillal Bay WR

Marine area, mangroves

Guanacaste

ACG

Camping areas, hiking trails,
bathrooms, water, visitors office

Ostional WR

Beaches

Guanacaste

ACT

Guided tours, Ranger station;
close to the Ostional village

Camaronal WR

Beaches and Mangroves

Guanacaste

ACT

None

Curú WR

Dry Forest and beach

Guanacaste

ACT

Hiking trails

Cueva Murciélago WR

Forest and Beach

Guanacaste

ACT

None

Romelia WR

Forest and Beach

Guanacaste

ACT

None

Werner Sauter WR

Forest and Mangroves

Guanacaste

ACT

None

Mata Redonda WR

Forest and wetlands

Guanacaste

ACT

None, but close to Palo Verde
NP

Costa Esmeralda WR

Mangroves

Guanacaste

ACT

None

Cipancí WR

Wetlands

Guanacaste

ACT

None

Tamarindo WR

Wetlands

Guanacaste

ACT

None

La Ensenada WR

Wetlands

Guanacaste (south)

ACOPAC

None, but nearby Hotel

Cerro Dantas WR

Middle elevation

Heredia

ACCVC

educational center

Jaguarandí WR

Forest

Heredia, South of
Barva Volcano

ACCVC

None, but 3 nearby NP:
Braulio Carrillo, Irazú, Turrialba

Gandoca-Manzanillo WR

Coral Reefs /
Lowland Forest

Limon

ACLAC

Picnic & Info station, restrooms,
water, nearby facilities

Limoncito WR

Forest

Limon

ACLAC

None

Aviarios del Caribe WR

Wetlands

Limon

ACLAC

Guided tours, observation
platforms

Dr. Archie Carr WR

Beach

Limon

ACTO

John H Phipps Biological St.,
Casa Verde Visitor's Center

Barra del Colorado WR

Wetlands

Limon

ACTO

None

Punta Leona WR

Beach

Puntarenas (central)

ACOPAC

None, but nearby Hotel

Finca Barú National WR

Beach

Puntarenas (central)

ACOPAC

None, but nearby Hotel

Finca Hacienda La
Avellana WR

Forest

Puntarenas (central)

ACOPAC

None

Portalón WR

Forest

Puntarenas (central)

ACOPAC

None

Surtubal WR

Forest

Puntarenas (central)

ACOPAC

None

Cacyra WR

Forest

Puntarenas (central)

ACOPAC

None

Playa Hermosa WR

Nesting beach for turtles

Puntarenas (central)

ACOPAC

None

La Ceiba WR

Dry Forest and beach

Puntarenas (North)

ACT

None

Transilvania WR

Forest

Puntarenas (North)

ACT

None

San Lucas Island WR

Island forest where a
former prison was located

Puntarenas (North)

ACT

Guided tours

Río Oro WR

Beach

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

None

Río Piro WR

Beach

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

None

Agua Buena WR

Forest

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

None

Donald Peters
Hayes WR

Forest

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

None

Golfito WR

Forest

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

Hiking trails

Osa Wildlife Sanctuary

Forest and Beach

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

None

Preciosa Platanares WR

Forest and Beach

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

None

Carate WR

Forest and Beach

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

None

Bolaños Island WR

Forest and Beach

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

Park Range

Laguna Azul WR

Forest and Beach

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

None

Punta Río Claro WR

Forest and Beach

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

None

Quillotro WR

Forest and Beach

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

None

Rancho La Merced WR

Forest and Beach

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

None, but there is a hotel

RHR Blancas WR

Forest and Beach

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

None

Pejeperro WR

Lowland Forest

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

None

Hacienda Copano WR

Riverine areas

Puntarenas (South)

ACOSA

None

Joseph Steve
Friedman WR

Middle elevation forests

San Jose

ACLAP

None

Fernando Castro
Cervantes WR

Forest

San Jose

ACOPAC

None

Peñas Blancas WR

Forest

San Jose

ACOPAC

None

Cataratas Cerro
Redondo WR

Forest and Waterfall

San Jose

ACOPAC

None

Páramo WR

Highland Ecosystems

San Jose

ACOPAC

None

* Conservation Areas do not necessarily coincide with the Province.

Conservation Area*s acronyms

ACTO Tortuguero Conservation Area
ACOSA Osa Conservation Area
ACAT Arenal-Tempisque Conservation Area
ACT Tempisque Conservation Area
ACOPAC Central Pacific Conservation Area
ACLAC La Amistad-Caribe Conservation Area
ACLAP La Amistad-Pacifico Conservation Area
ACG Guanacaste Conservation Area
ACAHN Arenal-Huetar Norte Conservation Area
ACCVC Cordillera Volcanica Central Conservation Area
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