Cano Negro Rio Frio River

We took another tour with Aventuras Arenal today to explore the Cano Negro River area.

Learning the Lingo

We were on La hora Tico (appointment times are more of a ballpark suggestion of when to meet than anything definite) for this trip unfortunately   There was some confusion about whether we had booked a canoe or a boat trip resulting in us being picked up half an hour late.  The drive to Caño Negro takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes to the rustic village of Los Chiles where you board a covered boat for a two hour leisurely cruise.


Extensive deforestation of the Caño Negro began in the 1970s in response to increased population density.  In 1991, logging was stopped, but illegal logging and poaching have continued around the perimeter of the park and wildlife has suffered.   Ocelots, sharks, manatees and macaws have all vanished.  

Residents have formed a number of organisations aimed at controlling development in the northern lowlands.  As I read in one of the beautiful coffee table books at the lodge this morning:  “Only after the last tree has been cut down.  Only after the last river has been poisoned.  Only after the last fish has been caught.  Only then will you find that you can’t eat money.”

Flora and Fauna

There was no problem seeing experiencing the wonders of Mother Nature today though – ​the animals seemed to come out in pairs – two by two.  It was a veritable Noah’s ark at Caño Negro – Frio River!

We saw pairs of howler monkeys, mangrove swallows, turtles and Mr. and Mrs. Jesus Christ Lizard – maybe on their honeymoon?!

Caño Negro -Frio River Costa Rica Howler Monkies
Howler Monkies
Caño Negro -Frio River Costa Rica Mangrove Swallows
Mangrove Swallows
Caño Negro -Frio River Costa Rica Pair of Turtles
A Pair of Turtles
Caño Negro -Frio River Costa Rica Jesus Christ Lizard
Mr. & Mrs. Jesus Christ Lizard - On honeymoon maybe?!

There is just so much to see on a trip like this – almost every 5-10 minutes, something new and amazing would come into view.  It would be such a great trip to do as a family – and all from the relative comfort of your boat too – no muddy boots or tired feet on this trip!

The afternoon yielded a white-faced capuchin monkey, a heron, an American pygmy kingfisher, an iguana, a snake/piano bird and a rather fierce looking (but not dangerous to humans?) cayman crocodile.

Caño Negro -Frio River Capuchin Monkey
Capuchin Monkey
Caño Negro -Frio River Costa Rica American Pygmy Kingfisher
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Caño Negro -Frio River Costa Rica Heron
Heron having lunch!
Caño Negro -Frio River Costa Rica Iguana
Caño Negro -Frio River Costa Rica Snake Bird
Snake Bird/Piano Bird - the wings look like a piano keyboard!
Caño Negro -Frio River Costa Rica Caiman
Caiman - with open jaws
Caño Negro -Frio River Costa Rica Caiman
Caiman up close - (Not dangerous??!!)

Fascinating Facts

River turtles were historically part of the Maleku diet.  Prior to a hunt, the Maleku would appease the turtle god Javara by fasting and abstaining from sex.  If the hunt was successful, they would later celebrate by feasting on smoked turtle meat and consuming large quantities of chichi (a spirit derived from maize).  They probably indulged themselves in other ways afterwards too?!


Photo I wished I had taken

Blue Morpho Butterflies.  We saw lots of them, but they were a bit too far away to get a good photo from the boat.

  • Post category:Costa Rica