Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Amazing wildlife along the Rio Frio!

The Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge is in the northern part of Costa Rica, very close to the Nicaraguan border.  The bus drove through some nice farms and pineapple plantations on the way there.  We got on the boat at the town of Los Chiles and went up and down the Rio Frio, sighting more than 20 different species of wildlife in the couple of hours that we were there.  

It was an amazing boat trip as you can see from the photos below.  I wasn't able to capture everything we saw as they were not all within range, for example, the howler monkeys were way up at the top of the trees and the sloths were almost impossible to photograph as they were well camouflaged.  I have our guide Rafael to thank for finding and naming all the wildlife and giving us interesting backgrounds on them.

The Rio Frio

Howler monkeys taking it easy - they made frightful howling sounds
Tropical King bird

The beautiful Anhinga, in its many poses.  It's a water bird, like a cormorant but much more graceful with a long tail.  It spears fish with its long beak.
Yet another anhinga preening...

Great egret stalking

A caiman - looking wickedly unreal
So these are "long-nosed bats".  According to Rafael, this is a harem of 18 females with the male at the top, a typical domestic arrangement.
We were lucky to see the unusual "Jesus Christ lizard" and not just one, but two of them!  It got its name because it's so fast it could sometimes walk on water...

This marks the Nicaraguan border.   The boat actually sneaked into what would be Nicaraguan waters.

A painted turtle - the only turtle we saw in Costa Rica eve though the place is supposed to be famous for turtles (it's not the right season for sea turtles)
A multi-tasking howler monkey - hanging by its tail and reaching for food, with its young wrapped around it
I have had to email Rafael for the name of this bird - an "immature yellow-crowned night heron" (now how does he know it that precisely!).  It's the "immature" part that threw me off when I tried looking it up - most sites would show a mature bird.

A boat-billed heron - a very unusual sighting, according to our guide

A blue heron - watching a cormorant who is watching an anhinga who is watching the heron - that's why they were all standing so still waiting to be photographed...;-)


All in the family - and one of them caught something...

Beautiful pastoral scene at Los Chiles

And of course a Los Chiles cat...

On the way back to Arenal, we visited this restaurant south of Los Chiles - the property was crawling with iguanas.  And here's an amazing story of redemption that our guide told us. Apparently years ago, an iguana showed up at this restaurant owner's property.  He picked up an axe and was about to kill the iguana when at the critical moment, the iguana established eye contact with the man.  He couldn't do it.  He spared the iguana's life and word must have gotten around, more iguanas arrived and his place became a tourist attraction.  Business was booming and he had the iguanas to thank for it.  He became a vegan because of this incident - a story that all vegans are happy to repeat. 

I took this photo from the bus the first time we passed this place - what a surprise to see this huge beast on the tree!

 After a long day, it was great to return to the beautiful Arenal Manoa, which is more like a tropical paradise than a hotel.  It's lush and green and full of wild life, including a colony of egrets.

Lush grounds of the Arenal Manoa
View of the volcano from our room


  1. The Jesus Christ Lizard got it name because it runs so fast that it can run across the surface of a pond or slow moving river.

  2. This brings back wonderful memories! Great job, Catherine! Rosalie

  3. Thanks, Rosalie. It was a wonderful trip!