Starting at $65 per night

Overview

The Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge is home to many species of exotic wildlife and is an amazing location for birdwatching.  The waterways, canals and lagoons provide perfect habitat and an exciting way to observe animals in a natural setting.

The remote wildlife refuge is located near the Nicaragua border so be prepared for an hour and a half drive in each direction to reach Cano Negro.  Once you arrive, the best way to visit is by boat with a local guide. 

The covered riverboat departs from the Los Chiles town dock on the Rio Frio.  As you cruise along the river, you will undoubtedly see plenty of caiman and migratory bird species.  Your guide will also be on the lookout for other wildlife such as howler and spider monkeys, sloths, boat-billed herons, motmots, iguanas, toucans, roseate spoonbills, trogons and much more.

During the drier months, the tour is limited to the Rio Frio, but during the rain seasons, when the water is higher, the boat can make it into the famous Cano Negro Lagoon.  In both seasons, you can expect to stay on the water for two to three hours depending on the conditions of the day.

After the riverboat tour you will visit a local restaurant for a buffet style lunch.  This is a nice way to experience a more traditional Costa Rican soda.

The tour includes round trip transportation from your La Fortuna area hotel.  As previously mentioned, the tour takes place near the Nicaragua border, so be prepared to show your passport if requested.  The tour usually lasts around six to seven hours including transfers, but this is subject to change based on a wide variety of factors which are out of our control.  In addition to transportation, the tour also includes a bilingual naturalist guide and lunch.

Highlights

  • Covered riverboat safari through the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge
  • Observe exotic wildlife in a natural setting
  • Pass through traditional non-tourist influenced country side
  • Eat a traditional meal at a local restaurant

What to Bring

  • Camera
  • Sunblock
  • Insect Repellent
  • Passport

Location and Availability

The Cano Negro Riverboat Safari is available from Arenal, Arenal Zone 2, Arenal Zone 3, and Chachagua Rainforest Hotel

Tour Time

  • 7:30am

Tour Type

  • Safari Cruise

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation Policy

Recommended Ages

All Ages

Location

Latitude: N 10°59'24.23". Longitude: W 85°16'28.08"

Reviews

  • Overall 91.1% (615 Guest Ratings)
  • Experience: 90.3%
  • Expectations: 89.9%
  • Guides: 93.6%
  • Logistics: 90.6%
  • Value: 91.9%

12/04/2018

This was an amazing day made better by George. What an amazing guide

11/12/2018

Fauricio and Helena were very knowledgeable and wonderful guides!

11/05/2018

Fantastic tour guide. Great food and drink. For me, the experience was a bit watered down by the farms and cattle on the sides of the river. I pictured a wilderness area.

10/27/2018

tour and guide were great
did have 80.00 taken from my backpack while away from boat

10/11/2018

Wonderful experience. Only comment is that the vehicle driving us there wasn't that comfortable - otherwise, excellent!

10/02/2018

Worth the long trip of the beauty of this place.

08/17/2018

Amazing tour, saw so much more than I thought I would and the guide was amazing (Pierre) The lunch was very good!

08/16/2018

All of the birds seen on the drive to the river were almost as fun as the animals we saw by boat.

08/15/2018

Everything was wonderful!

08/11/2018

Excellent tour with an exceptional guide. The boat captain was also excellent. We got to see and learn about many animals plus how they affect the surrounding areas.

08/09/2018

Very fortunate to see a large range of animals and birds. One missing piece of info in the itinerary was the length of the tour; good to know these things in advance

08/03/2018

Our guide was very nice and made every effort to make the 2 hour drive to Cano Negro interesting by giving us a lot of information about the area, as well as the animals. Once on the safari (after meeting up with another guide and group), both of the guides were great at spotting a lot of animals. I also appreciated how the captain was able to maneuver the boat so that we could get good photos.

07/28/2018

Amazing trip all the way through--we saw howlers and spider monkeys, along with dozens of beautiful birds!!! The tour guide was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable about the animals we encountered--we learned so much!!!

07/23/2018

The tour didn’t cover a lot of territory, but we saw many animals, but wanted to ride more and see more of the river life.

07/22/2018

Our guide was GREAT. She knew so much about the wildlife and answered every question. We felt like this trip was a little off the beaten path, which was exactly what we wanted. It was probably the highlight of the trip.

07/19/2018

Guide on the bus and on the boat were very good at spotting and pointing out wildlife. Restaurant was aware of our gluten free requirements and made separate meals.

07/18/2018

Lunch was awesome

07/16/2018

The tour guide, elena, was very knowledgeable and nice. She even made special effort with my niece (5 year old) and nephew (2 year old). The boat and sightseeing was nice but it got a bit long when we'd stay at the same spot for so long. I know that is to make sure everyone got a chance to see but it made for a long and hot trip.

06/19/2018

My granddaughter not only saw a three-toed mother sloth and baby but the guide made sure she got close-up pictures. Even saw an orange monkey at play. Great job!

06/18/2018

There wasn't the variety of animals as expected, so this trip was not as enjoyable as expected. I understand tours like this are highly dependent on the animals so I am still satisfied. I found the leaf cutter ants to be the most interesting back at the dock.

06/13/2018

Outstanding, we saw so much and the guide was great - both on the river and commentary on the journey. One of our best days

05/03/2018

Great. Got to see lots of birds
It was relaxing and very educational

04/28/2018

Really enjoyed it but very heavy on the bird watching ;)

04/04/2018

Guides were great. Fun to spend the day with and knew there stuff

03/20/2018

This was probably the best guided day of our trip. The drive was long, but our guide provided us with so much interesting information. We stopped at an area where we could use the facilities or get food, but also see tons of iguanas! We saw many other creatures just along the drive, birds, and a sloth - as well as the Costa Rican flora, all very interesting.
The riverboat safari was unbelievable. We were provided with a small breakfast and coffee, and then headed out onto the Cano Negro. We saw the most amazing amount of creatures, and our wonderful guide Rebecca helped us take great photos with her binoculars. She was attentive to all of us, and we couldn't believe all the animals we got to see in the wild.
After the safari we were treated to a delicious lunch and cold beer! The guides even made a special meal for those with dietary restrictions. The drive back was also long, but it was wonderful to relax and just look out the window. This was a fantastic tour and I would highly recommend it.

03/05/2018

A bit too crowded and bus was too hot

02/24/2018

Long rides there and back, but worth the trip. We saw 3 species of monkeys, many birds, bats, lizards. Nice authentic lunch meal at Soda. Joudan was great as a guide.

02/16/2018

The guide was fabulous! Knowledgeable, helpful with pictures and kind. The animals were incredible! We saw many birds, two of the kinds of monkeys but heard the third! Of course, Caimans were there as well.
I enjoyed the Costa Rican menu at lunch. Thanks for the beer!

02/15/2018

best part of our holliday

02/13/2018

This was a great tour. The guides were excellent at explaining everything on the tour. The lunch provided was very good as were the staff. It was our most enjoyable tour on the vacation.

02/11/2018

From start to finish this was an excellent tour. Our guide told us so much about Costa Rica and the farming in the area as we drove to Cano Negro which was very interesting. We also saw many animals on the way which was awesome. The snack and lunch at the restaurant was delicious! The tour on the river was so enjoyable it was quite the highlight of my trip. Seeing all the animals, birds, and reptiles was what I wanted and this tour didn't disappoint. The guides were wonderful. A full day that just flew by!

02/08/2018

Would not recommend this tour ,a similar riverboat tour would be nice, to many people on the tour and all 30 something people had to see every bird so tour spent a lot of time was spent just idle on the river! Guide was good and the meal after was excellent

02/07/2018

Would have liked to see more birds

01/29/2018

long van ride We did enjoy seeing the animals which we came to your country to see.

01/22/2018

Wonderful adventure. Saw lots of animals. Wonderful guide.

01/21/2018

Guides were great but the site was SO far from my hotel...2+ hours. The tour itself was very slow paced. People did enjoy it though I just think I had different expectations.

01/18/2018

We even had sunshine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

01/13/2018

Overall, a good experience. The excursion was a very long way from Tabacon; much longer drive than expected. The River Safari was good as well; more birds than animals. The lunch afterwards was very good. The guides were very professional and tried to ensure everyone had a good experience.

12/27/2017

Another highlight of the trip. This time being able to observe the fauna and animals that did appear was good. The guides where great in explaining what was around us and stopping for long periods of time as appropriate to observe. We watched a troop of monkeys over 20 moving slowly across the trees which in itself was a great closure to the visit.

12/21/2017

Yaneris was our guide again. Indredible experience for me and my son!

12/18/2017

Again, friendly driver and a great guide.

11/22/2017

2 hour drive from the hotel. What a waste of the day. Very disappointing!

09/03/2017

This was probably my most favorite excursion!

07/20/2017

Fabulous!

07/18/2017

We don't know much about birds so guide was informative but we probably wouldn't do this excursion again.

07/02/2017

Our third time on this safari--unique and educational and enjoyable each time

06/19/2017

Tour guide and drive were awesome. Being able to see wild animals was a dream come true. And the lunch provided was so good!

06/17/2017

Very informative and knowledgeable tour guide. Excellent!!

06/13/2017

Excellent, inc. the guides, snacks, and lunch buffet.

05/04/2017

The tour guide, Pierre, was outstanding. Very knowledgable and informative, answering all of our questions. The boat driver made sure to slow/stop for us to view monkeys, birds, iguanas and caiman. We saw Howler, Capuchin and Spider monkeys all in action! This is a must do if you are in this area.

04/19/2017

Fabulous tour great guide. She was so excited to show us all the wildlife. The food was wonderful too!!!

04/16/2017

This tour was very good. our guide for the day spoke a lot about her life and experiences in Costa Rica which was interesting and enjoyable. The only negative was that we didn't know it was a three hour ride to the river. It ended up being fine because the ride was interesting, too, but we may not have booked it we knew it was so far away.

04/01/2017

So great! The guide (Pedro) was AMAZING! I was so impressed with his sense of humour and knowledge. The tour was really great, the lunch was really good and the transport was perfect. A+

03/28/2017

Guide was really fun & informative with good humor! Saysa was good at spotting wildlife & helping us see it too, so gave her a good evaluation there too. Helped us take memorable photos of selves along with giving us time to take our own.

03/20/2017

Too far away and it was not as intimate as I expected.

03/19/2017

Pierre was an excellent guide

03/11/2017

Very enjoyable, guide was very knowledgeable and I would highly recommend it

03/02/2017

Great time

02/24/2017

I just thought we would see more animals. Other than that the trip was great. Great guide, transportation, food and overall experience.

02/23/2017

definitely worth the trip. very knowledgeable guides and wonderful commentary on the ride

02/19/2017

While nice, I don't think I'd recommend it. I was the first picked up and we spent an HOUR picking up other people before we began the long drive to the river. The river was nice, but we were kind of far away from the animals

02/17/2017

A two hour drive for a very short boat ride that really didn't go anywhere. Questionable value. Preferred Rio Celeste. Boat had trouble and spent a lot of time stuck in mud. Too much time spent on birds that are seen throughout North America as opposed to wildlife specific to CR.

02/16/2017

The tour guide provided a very informative commentary during the transportation to the Cano Negro and during the boat tour. The actual safari was not as"wild" as expected given the extensive agricultural development in the area. The use of the term "safari" is a bit of a stretch. Perhaps there is a more natural safari tour available and clients would benefit from this recommendation by PTW.

02/12/2017

Tour guide was awesome, gave us great history of Costa Rica.

02/11/2017

The bus to and from Cano Negro was a little cramped

01/31/2017

Another wonderful trip, with excellent guides and efficient arrangements

01/24/2017

Wonderful trip. Saw more wildlife here than anywhere else

01/17/2017

We enjoyed this tour as a relaxing follow-up to the previous days hike. The guides were very knowledgeable about wild life we saw. Enjoyed the local lunch!!

01/09/2017

Amazing guide on the bus. She was so informative and knowledgeable. The guides on the boats were also just amazingly excellent. Nice food after the boat trip h

01/06/2017

Really nice guides

01/04/2017

A lot of driving for a small result.

12/27/2016

The drive was a bit long, but the guides were very nice and knowledgeable. There were many monkeys for us to view as well as a variety of other wildlife. They provide a nice lunch as well. Great experience and a fun relaxing part of our trip.

12/23/2016

The guides worked really hard to point out things and were very knowledgeably.

12/13/2016

Our guide is very knowledgeable and patient. We got to see variety of animals as well as the boat ride. Lunch was good too.

12/12/2016

This was awesome, but it would have been helpful to know how long the excursion was.

11/28/2016

This was a long trip but enjoyable throughout.

11/21/2016

A very nice boat safari! Our guides made sure we saw every animal!

11/12/2016

We saw so many fascinating birds and animals, including a Potoo! I am very impressed that the boat captain had scouted this out, which let us see a nocturnal bird sleeping in the daytime.

11/11/2016

Long ride on rough roads and not many animals to see. My least favorite of the tours.

09/28/2016

The guide on this tour was SO knowledgeable! Very impressed!!!!

09/19/2016

For our family, it was a little low on the action part. I think we probably should have stuck with something more interactive.

07/24/2016

It was great the on the tour we saw some birds monkeys and Sloths

07/05/2016

The guide was very nice but when we took this tour previously the guide seemed more knowledgable.

07/04/2016

Too much time was spent looking at turtles so people can take a picture. The boat trip was not what was expected and rather boring.

06/30/2016

Riverboat safari was very fun! Saw animals like sloths, monkeys, caimans, among others.

06/29/2016

Saw lots of animals despite the rainy weather. Guide was knowledgable and would also pull out a book if he needed more information (which shows he is still interested in growing.)

06/27/2016

Few animals long boring ride.

06/24/2016

The tour guide was the best part. He was extremely knowledgable and entertaining.

06/16/2016

We were surprised by how many different types of animals we saw. This was a fun relaxing day.

06/06/2016

had the same tour guide, love her. we were able to see monkey's sloths and camans.(sp) lots of birds and lunch was awesome. loved the rice pudding

05/30/2016

Amazing tour Pierre was incredibly knowledgable. We saw many different animals well worth the drive to get there.

05/26/2016

Excellent tour. The guides split the group into two boats so we would have more room. The guides tried hard to show us as much as possible, sharing sightings via phone so both boats could see everything.

05/24/2016

It was lessen enjoyment for me because of plenty of birds which I hate them (phobia of birds). Very hot on that day and VERY LONG day on the road and frequent stops.

05/18/2016

Best chance to see wildlife and the guides are awesome.

04/27/2016

Guide and driver and boat operator and lunch service were OUTSTANDING! River was low because it was at the end of the dry season. Bumpy road was very unpleasant.

04/15/2016

Wonderful adventure and cross cultural experience!

04/14/2016

A very easy way to see the wildlife and learn about the area. Too bad there was a group of rude children aboard who made so much noise we were unable to quietly view as much wildlife as might have been possible. Not the guide's fault! Several times he tried to calm the children, but they returned to their noisy level soon after the guide's suggestions that more quiet would result in more views of animals. Loved the monkeys!!

04/13/2016

Getting into and out of the boat was a challenge due to tidal influences and the lack of a boat dock. It was most interesting an we enjoyed the information and were pleased with the knowledge level of our guide.

04/04/2016

This was a long drive from our hotel. The safari tour itself was great. Plenty of wildlife. The provided lunch was excellent. The tour could have been a little shorter.

04/03/2016

Could have had a little less Costa Rican massage on the ride but rest of trip was good. Pierre our guides passion made it worth while! Loved the hot lunch again.

03/23/2016

A long drive, but the guides and variety of animal and bird sightings was worth it!

03/15/2016

Best tour. Amazing wildlife . Great guides. Nice food . Loved it all

03/13/2016

Guides were great and we did get to see a good deal of animals and all three types of Monkeys. The drive was a little long and I guess we were expecting it to be in more of a jungle setting. However still a good trip.

03/05/2016

Loved the tour. Our guide Seyris was great, and so was our boat driver, and the rest of the staff. Food was so good. Loved that they provided bottled water during the boat ride.

03/02/2016

Great Driver, Great guides.

02/26/2016

It's a bit of a drive but the guide made it interesting. We saw quite a bit of wildlife from the comforts of a slow-moving boat.

02/25/2016

Fantastic tour guides. Lots of wildlife and the guide on bus to Safari made it interesting. We were picked up at the hotel on time and driven to the main tour office. Very efficient. However the return as anything but. For some reason we all had to be taken to our various hotels by the one van. To our dismay it was an hour from the time we arrived back in town to us actually getting back to our hotel. The other drop offs were very far away. I would recommend that a separate arrangement be made for those staying at the Lost Iguana on return just as for the departure.

02/21/2016

Amazing experience, my favorite part of the whole trip

02/19/2016

Guides very good at pointing out "wildlife" but this was just birds and Alligator type reptiles with a few monkeys.

02/18/2016

Great bus drive to the Cano Negro Reserve. The tour guide was engaging and funny. The boat ride was fabulous and we saw a lot of wildlife. Loved it!!! The food was also excellent. This was one of my favorite days in Costa Rica.

02/15/2016

We saw so much wildlife! The boat driver was great ...maneuvering the boat toi help us get good views and photos of wildlife. A very favorite part of our trip!

02/14/2016

This was an interesting trip. The guides were great. The river part was very slow for us.

02/13/2016

The ride to Cano Negro was very long. The "bus" had no leg room on the seats over the rear wheels. This was very uncomfortable.

02/10/2016

I loved this tour. The guide was very informative and explained everything. The travel time to the riverboat was much longer than stated. Otherwise it was awesome.

02/09/2016

A highlight of my trip! Guide was fabulous!

02/08/2016

The riverboat tour staff was also very good and the native food at lunch was yummy but it just wasn't my favorite part of the trip. I think we should have opted for a more active experience - but that was our choice, not PTW's.

02/07/2016

The tour guide was very knowlegable and personable. We very much enjoyed our time with her.

02/05/2016

The guides were very good, giving much information on wildlife and life in general inCosta Rica. Tour was done in English and Spanish.

01/26/2016

Guides we awesome

01/21/2016

A little too 'bird watcher' oriented.

12/30/2015

Great trip.. Guides were excellent.

12/23/2015

Saw lots of animals and birds. Guide was the best.

12/09/2015

Excellent food was provided at our stop and the safari trip was excellent!!

12/03/2015

Sayrese was a very good and experienced guide.

08/24/2015

Sitting in the back of the boat didn't afford me the opportunity to hear the guide at all. I feel that the boat the stayed way too long in the same spot. Though,
we
were able to see a lot of birds and monkeys though

07/25/2015

This was one of our favorite experiences in Costa Rica. The tour guides were hospitable, humorous, and extremely knowledgeable. We saw an abundance of wildlife thanks to our guides and enjoyed a delicious lunch as well.

07/18/2015

Overall just ok - should be called "Bird Watching" trip. Too much time (4 hrs+) on the road for 2 hr safari. The lunch was not very appealing either. Would not recommend.

06/27/2015

A bit of a ride out tot he boat, but other than that good. The boat trip was OK, river banks were flooded and that may have limited the number of sightings we had!

06/18/2015

Saw more wild life along river than expected. Drive to river from hotel was longer than expected, but driver was very good.

06/17/2015

It was a long drive to Cano Negro especially after the travel the day before. I think if i were do do it over i would have no activities on the first day just to get situated. But the tour was enjoyable.

06/16/2015

Very long for the really overall short tour on the actual wildlife area, nice people, we were glad we did it.

06/11/2015

Very good experience. Guides were great in helping get good pictures.

05/24/2015

The guide and her driver were great. They maintained professionalism when we had a tire blow out in the pouring rain. They kept us safe. The meal we had after our tour was terrific. The guide was very knowledgeable and friendly and very fun to learn from.

05/18/2015

Terrific! Exceptional guide!

05/14/2015

I would have liked to know beforehand that the drive to the river was 2 hours; I would not have picked this tour due to the travel time.

04/30/2015

Lot's of animals.

04/23/2015

For a more laid back day the river boat safari introduced us to many new animals. It was definitely a laid back day and the food was fantastic!

04/22/2015

Thought we would see more wildlife. But, still a good tour.

04/18/2015

Wonderful tour. Guides were extremely knowledgeable, funny, and could spot a lot of wildlife. The scenery was incredible.

04/13/2015

This was very good tour, wish we had more time on the water we saw a lot of birds and animals

04/10/2015

It was a long ride, but the bus was comfortable and the guides made the ride informative and fun. The tour was cool and the lunch was great. We saw lots of different animals and birds and got great pictures. A relaxing and easy trip.

03/24/2015

the drive to and from where longer than i hoped. the lunch served was good but not great. the guide did a good job of spotting the animals.

03/17/2015

Tour and lunch very enjoyable. Did not realize it would be quite so much of a drive. But saw some great country.

03/10/2015

A great tour once we got there. It was a very long drive, though.

03/03/2015

Fantastic tour. Very knowledgeable guide and everything was perfect!

03/02/2015

Again this was a nature tour not a specific bird watching tour. Very interesting trip

02/28/2015

Not as much wildlife as we expected

02/20/2015

This was the best tour of all because we were able to see all sorts of things. Loved it.

02/12/2015

On the back of the boat it was difficult to hear the guides

02/09/2015

Very interesting safari - seen 3 different types of monkeys - the guide was very knowledgeable

02/07/2015

Saw many animals, the guide really knows his birds. Lunch was good.

02/06/2015

Most enjoyable and interesting

02/04/2015

The food was excellent. We had the same guide as at the hanging bridges, and on this trip he was very good and loud enough to be heard on the entire boat.

02/03/2015

Wonderful tour! The guide was terrific. Very knowledgeable and fun. They showed us a wonderful variety of wildlife. This was a great experience.

01/25/2015

Our driver and guide stopped and pointed out many animals and plants along the way. The boat trip itself was unforgettable.

01/19/2015

Many miles of horrible roads

01/11/2015

Beautiful country, beautiful animals.

12/29/2014

Fabulous adventure. Seeing the monkeys swinging through the trees was a wonderful experience.

12/18/2014

Guide was amazing..

12/14/2014

Saw a lot of wonderful animals and had a nice lunch

12/05/2014

Awesome tour! The guides were wonderful! Loved the history and narrated tour of the country side on our bus ride to the river. The safari was also great! And lunch was delicious! Would highly recommend this to other travelers!