One of the most enjoyable ways of taking in the abundance of flora and fauna that Costa Rica has to offer is via its rivers.
As the arteries of the natural world, rivers attract a lot of animal activity.
In Guanacaste, the Corobici river cuts through cattle and agricultural country. The tropical dry forest along its banks allows encounters with a wealth of wildlife, where troops of howler monkeys and their white-faced cousins swing from the treetops, solitary iguanas sunbathe on fallen logs, and Jesus lizards scamper over the water. Controlled run-off from Lake Arenal feeds the river and eventually empties into the Tempisque basin where the Palo Verde national park is found. These wetlands are renowned for the mass of local and migratory bird life they attract.
The Corobici by raft is an idyllic way to wildlife watch. All you have to concern yourself with is getting comfortable and enjoying the scenery as it glides by. The river itself is a Class 1-2 whitewater which, for novices, means that passengers will enjoy an easy, splash-free ride. You don’t even have to paddle. The water is good year-round for this type of ‘nature float’. We took a two-hour guided trip that included room for seven adults, a guide, and refreshments. After enduring a spirited drive via the Pan American highway, the gentle bumps that knocked the bottom of our raft were a welcome change of pace.
Photography enthusiasts, however, had no time to waste as opportunities for wildlife shots abounded in every direction. Obviously, on a tour like this, the quieter you are, the more you’ll see. On the raft, our presence seemed less intrusive and startling for the animals. The best advice for a river tour is to try and set off as early as possible. The wildlife are the most active early in the morning and going early ensures that you avoid the scorching temperatures later in the day. Early risers enter into a birdwatcher’s paradise.
The bird life is specially abundant this time of year. The reason for this lies in Costa Rica’s strategic position in the migratory routes of many birds as the bridge connecting the land masses to the north and south. Costa Rica’s is a prime destination for many species of birds that migrate with the seasons in the search for food and warmth. Parrots, cuckoos, falcons, kingfishers, egrets, wood storks, herons, and ospreys, have all been seen along the Corobici River.
Upon returning from your tour make sure you stop at the Las Pumas wildlife refuge located behind the rafting tour offices. A non-profit refuge founded by the parents of the Safaris Corobici owner, Las Pumas offers shelter and rehabilitation to big cats and other local wildlife.