Starting at $65 per night


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.


  • 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 Times

  • 7:15am
  • 7:30am

Tour Type

  • Safari Cruise

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation Policy


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


  • Overall 90.5% (519 Guest Ratings)
  • Experience: 89.8%
  • Expectations: 89.4%
  • Guides: 92.8%
  • Logistics: 89.9%
  • Value: 91.6%


You guys should tell people that it is a 2 hour drive from the hotel. What a waste of the day. Very disappointing!


This was probably my most favorite excursion!




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


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


Very informative and knowledgeable tour guide. Excellent!!


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.


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


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.


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+


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.


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


Pierre was an excellent guide


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


Great time


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


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


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


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.


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.


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


The bus to and from Cano Negro was a little cramped


Another wonderful trip, with excellent guides and efficient arrangements


Wonderful trip. Saw more wildlife here than anywhere else


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!!


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


Really nice guides


A lot of driving for a small result.


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.


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


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


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


This was a long trip but enjoyable throughout.


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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.)


Few animals long boring ride.


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


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


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


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


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.


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.


Best chance to see wildlife and the guides are awesome.


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.


Wonderful adventure and cross cultural experience!


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!!


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


Great Driver, Great guides.


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.


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.


Amazing experience, my favorite part of the whole trip


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


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.


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!


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


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.


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.


A highlight of my trip! Guide was fabulous!


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.


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


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


Guides we awesome


A little too 'bird watcher' oriented.


Great trip.. Guides were excellent.


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


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


Sayrese was a very good and experienced guide.


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,
were able to see a lot of birds and monkeys though


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.


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.


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!


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


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.


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


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


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.


Terrific! Exceptional guide!


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.


Lot's of animals.


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!


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


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


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


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.


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.


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


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


Fantastic tour. Very knowledgeable guide and everything was perfect!


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


Not as much wildlife as we expected


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


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


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


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


Most enjoyable and interesting


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.


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


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


Many miles of horrible roads


Beautiful country, beautiful animals.


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


Guide was amazing..


Saw a lot of wonderful animals and had a nice lunch


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!