Barra del Colorado National Refuge for Forest Wildlife

Barra del Colorado National Refuge for Forest Wildlife

It has 90.400 hectares, that include the area that borders Nicaragua, the Barra del Colorado National Refuge for Forest Wildlife is the largest in Costa Rica, next to the border of Nicaragua, this area extends, forming rivers, lagoons, wetlands, canals surrounded by forests and Yolillales. This warm alluvial land is saturated with the waters from the Ríos San Juan, Colorado and Chirripó to the north. It receives intense annual precipitation of 6.000 mm. In the middle of these flooded lands two islands emerge, the Calero Island, 15.160 hectares, the largest Island in Costa Rica. The refuge is splashed with some hills covered with mixed forest and old volcanic cones. In Barra Del Colorado you will be able to see caimans and crocodiles, the strange Gasper fish, manatees, Dante, pumas, jaguars, the Congo monkey and the cappuccino, ocelot, the Yaguarundí, tepezcuintles, the peccary, sloths and an innumerable legion of birds. The Río Colorado crosses through the central part of the park, the main arm of the Río San Juan, which flows into the Nicaragua Lake. On the banks of the river, is the population of Barra del Colorado, divided into the vicinities of Barra Norte and Barra Sur. Upstream is the Agua Dulce stream, where there is a tourist center.  A 78km canal goes through the Tortuguero National Park, joining the population of Barra del Colorado with the port of Moín, 7 Km to the north of Limón. Many tourists come to the Barra del Colorado to fish. The fish in this area include the already mentioned Gasper fish a living fossil. The area is also abundant in sábalo or marine tarpón fish which you are able to see in large shoals, the roncador, the róbalo, the guapote, the macarela, the jurel and the coloured pargo. The season for tarpón runs from between January to June, the best months are from March to April; in the middle of August to the middle of October you will be able to fish for Róbalo. You can get there by car, and by bus which arrives to Puerto Lindo, in the Río Colorado, at the heart of the reserve on a daily basis.



Barra Del Colorado village is located very close to the mouth of the Colorado River, whose course divides the Barra Del Norte and Barra Del Sur. The landing strip is on the south side of the river bank and the inhabitants are on the north side. The surroundings are flat and you can go on a boat trips from here; there are no roads. It is possible to walk in some areas and there are a few places to stay in the area. The National Park Service has a small forest post in the south bank of the river, close to the village. There are no types of installation and entry costs 6 US$.


Where to eat and sleep

In the Barra Del Colorado refuge you can camp in your own reserve, the Forest rangers let you put up your tents opposite the forest post. You can also stay in a someones house from the Barra village for some 10 US$ per person; enquire at the village.


Tarponland Lodge Ph+ (506) 2710-2141/ 2710-1271. Located 50 meters from the landing strip. Double 250 US$. There are 12 large rooms with small beds, fans and private bathrooms. There is a swimming pool and a bar, a restaurant that serves a variety of meat, fish, seafood, and Costa Rican meals, the main dishes in the restaurant 3/ 4 US$. The owner Guillermo Cunningham also organizes trips. Round trip journey 4 people 100 US$ from Tortuguero 2 to 8 people 4 hours.


Rain Goddess Ph+  (506) 2231-4291, fax (506) 2231-3816. E-mail: www.bluwing. It is a floating house that is 19.5 meters long and 5.4 meters wide, which allows you to see the surrounding area.  The boat has air conditioning and six cabins 95 US$ per person with accommodation and meals everyday, four double beds and a single bed, and another two with double beds, sharing three bathrooms with hot water.  The restaurant and the bar, the cook makes first class meals. The owner of the boat, Alfredo López, is a doctor and sometimes travels with the guests. Fishing tours are organized as well as natural history tours, a minimum of six passengers and a maximum of twelve to go fishing, eight for guide’s excursion with a nature guide. You can rent the whole boat or share with other tourists. There are two smaller boats for fishing and exploring the rainforest. Transfers to the airport, meals and open bar. The same fishing circuit for five days and five nights costs 2.250/ 1.070 US$ per fisher / non fisher; extra day 350/ 220 US$.


Samay Lagoon Lodge Ph+ (506) 8390-9062/ 8384-7047, fax (506) 2228-6672. USA fax (707) 202-3644. Located some 8 km to the south of the Barra Del Colorado Airport. A package from San José for three days / two nights 298 US$ per person in a double room, there are 22 standard rooms with a fan and a bathroom with hot water. The tariff includes accommodation, meals, transfers and circuits an extra day costs 75 US$.


Casa Mar Lodge Ph+ USA (800) 543-0282, Tel (714) 578-1881. Packages for three days/ two nights 1.325 US$, includes meals.  There are six double cabins with a fan and a private bathroom with hot water. There is a 2.8 hectare farm that attracts a large amount of birds.


Río Colorado Fishing Lodge Ph+  (506) 2232-4063, Tel USA (800) 243-9777;  Located in the south of Barra Del Colorado, close to the landing strip. Six day/Five night package, 1.430 US$, includes meals. It was built in 1971; it is the oldest on the Carribean coast. The 18 rooms are ventilated; they have air conditioning, fan and private bathrooms with hot water. There is also a honeymoon suite with mirrors on the ceiling and a couple or rooms that are suitable for the disabled. There are home made meals, offering happy hours with rum cocktails, there is a billiard table, terrace and video room with satellite television.


Silverking Lodge. Located in Barra Sur, to the north of the landing strip. Tel 888 6TARPON. Rooms 140 US$ and 450 US$ with fishing. It has 10 rooms, a kettle, and a bathroom with hot water. There is a Jacuzzi and an outside swimming pool with natural spring water and hammock, there is a dining room where they serve buffet meals. There is also a bar with views of the river, where they project videos, open 24 hours.  Laundry service, telephone, fax and Internet.


How to arrive and leave

By Plane

The landing strip is 4 km north of Tortuguero village, crossing the canal.


SANSA Ph+  (506) 2221-9414. E-mail: International Airport Juan Santamaría, flyer 650, departure 05:45 arrive 06:43 price 67 US$, to Barra Del Colorado flyer 650, departure 05:45arrive 06:45, price 67 US$.


Nature Air Ph+  (506) 2299-6000. E-mail: E-mail: – Free Call (USA/Canadá): 800 235 9272. Tobias Bolaños Airport in Pavas, flyer 210, departure 06:25 arrive 07:20, price 68 US$, to Barra Del Colorado flyer 210, departure 06:25 arrive 07:20, price 63 US$.


By Boat

Some boats go from Moín to Tortuguero, and continue to Barra; there are no regular services. You can contract boats for three to five people in Tortuguero that will take you to Barra for about 50 US$ the journey lasts 2 hours. Some travel from Barra to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, traveling along the San Juan and Sarapiqui Rivers. You can contract a motorboat to go from Barra to the small riverbank community of Puerto Lindo along the Río Colorado, in less than an hour. In Puerto Lindo there is on land transportation to Cariari, from where the buses leave to Guápiles.