Caño Negro, Costa Rica

A Life of Angling among the Wildlife

Black Cano aerial
The Frio River and surrounding lagoons seen from the air.
shadow anchor
Guide Rosi on one of the boats used for tours on the Frio River.
anhinga anhinga
Anhinga dries its wings in the sun, on a bank of the Frio River.
"Rey Plateado II"
Fishermen on board "Rey Plateado" and under a large palm tree.
Ararapa's gaze
An attentive juvenile macaw on top of a tree above the Rio Frio.
A Tree Tunnel
Residents of Caño Negro follow a shady trail that leads to the jetty for Caño Negro.
Entry into Rio Frio
Boat with fishermen prepares to enter the Frio river.
Tiger heron
Tiger heron eyeing the surface of the Frio River.
bat sleep
Small bats slumber clinging to a tree.
Fishermen's Triumph
Two fisherwomen display fish freshly caught in the Rio Frio.
Anhinga Anhinga II
Anhinga patrols the Frio River in search of fish.
Reptile recharge
Crocodile reheats after a period of rain.
Rosi seeks wildlife
Guide Rosi looks for animals in a tree by the river Frio.
Spider monkey
Spider-monkey follows the movements of the embarked below.
blue trogon
A blue trogon, one of the many birds that inhabit Caño Negro.
Fishing Duo
Two fishermen along an arm of the Frio River.
Iguana Landing
Iguana installed on the dense vegetation around the Frio River.
Kingfisher to Fishing
One of the many kingfishers that inhabit Caño-Negro.
Rio Frio & Lagoas
Aerial view of the Frio River and the lakes that its flood generates during the rainy season.
"Rey Plateado"
Deep fishermen aboard the "Rey Plateado"
One of the most important wetlands in Costa Rica and the world, Caño Negro dazzles for its exuberant ecosystem. Not only. Remote, isolated by rivers, swamps and poor roads, its inhabitants have found in fishing a means on board to strengthen the bonds of their community.

Together, we walked the long trail above the waters, at the base of an almost tunnel of verdant canopies, furrowed by countless roots that irrigate the trees.

Arriving at the pier, on board, Rosa Arguedas Sequeira, the guide and the woman at the helm, asks us: “Now, do you want to go left or right?”. As Rosi (that's how the other Cannonegres treat her) well knew, the question raised at least one additional one.

As soon as we finished retorting, she tried to enlighten us, with the smiling tranquility we still retain from her. “Well, to the right, the river enters more open land and, therefore, it is easier for us to see birds.

To the left, it is winding, narrow and flows through jungle. There, we find more mammals and reptiles, also some birds.

Boat, Cano Negro, Costa Rica

The river in question was the Cold. A few days later, we would move to the domain of the Tenório volcano where it was born.

For the time being, we were exploring the lower part of its basin, still halfway to the unusual mouth, where it flows into the San Juan River, at the exact point where it launches from the southwest of the Lake Cocibolga, already in Nicaraguan lands, as the lake is also called.

Before heading to the countless meanders of the Frio, we stop for a strategic climb to the Caño Negro observation tower, just a few hundred meters from the jetty. We went up the three.

The Panoramic Revelation of Caño Negro

From the top, we unveil the flooded vastness of the wetland that the river generates, a set of large earth-tone lakes with more than 8km2, which stood out from the green immensity of northern Costa Rica. Rosi takes advantage of the 360º panorama to clarify us better.

Not so much about the geography of the Cold, but about the magnetism that its sprawling waters exert on hundreds of migratory bird species coming mainly from the North, some of them in danger of extinction.

“See that during the rainy season, from June to November, all you see is a big sea of ​​fresh water.

Boat in Caño Negro, Costa Rica

Neither the river nor the different lakes can be identified. Then, the rain gradually decreases and the dry season sun evaporates much of the water"

A Flooded Area with Prolific Wildlife

The consequence we had all around represented a point of stopover or providential stay for ibises, storks and herons, the intriguing Arapappas, plentiful ducks, cormorants and many others.

Ararapa, Caño Negro, Costa Rica

Roasted creatures aside, the Frio River has always been blessed with a rare profusion and diversity of fish.

Unsurprisingly, in the absence of modernity and sophisticated pastimes, unable to bathe in what is the habitat of bull sharks that climb the river from Lake Nicaragua, of caimans, crocodiles and their predators, jaguars and pumas, the region's inhabitants they worship fishing.

Crocodile, Cano Negro, Costa Rica

We return to the ground. We reboard. We proceeded downstream.

From the “straight line” that we had set sail for, the Frio soon undergoes a path of successive subsumed in the shadow of the tropical forest.

Whole Pueblo from Caño Negro to Fishing

From then on, we came across small boats with people on board, almost all of them with fishing rods in the air, silent, embedded in the surface of the water, by that time, dark but still translucent.

Fishing in the Rio Frio, Caño Negro, Costa Rica

Some of the boats, the “King Plateado”, “El Gaspar”, we saw them as living works of art, as dazzling river statues, monuments to the family, friendship and solidarity of Caño Negro.

We recognized the occasional face of natives who had served us meals, or seen them savoring theirs.

Fishing, Cano Negro, Costa Rica

Rosi knew them all. Some were your family members. Even taking into account that Rosi and her husband lived in a house and property located on an island in the Rio Frio, others were neighbors.

Fishermen, Cano Negro, Costa Rica

"So but doesn't it flood during the rainy season?" we questioned it, worried about the precariousness of the address. "May I help. The place was chosen for that too.

He is one of the few that has always been above the rising waters.”

Caño Negro, Costa Rica, Rio Frio

The Frio River and surrounding lagoons, seen from the air.

Rosi continues to pilot the covered boat in which we followed among the fishing groups.

A Flood of Wild Animals

And, for our photographic delight, to reveal the animal species of Caño Negro, abundant aninga and herons, jabirus, crocodiles, basilisk lizards, a howling gang of howler monkeys, orange iguanas, kingfishers and even a colony of bats. sleeping clinging to a log over the river.

Iguana, Rio Frio, Caño Negro, Costa Rica

And fish, of course. The ones that from time to time jumped out of the water. The ones that the cormorants and anhingas devoured whole.

Anhinga devours fish, Caño Negro, Costa Rica

The sea bass, guapotes (wolf cichlids) and others that fishermen hooked.

The Prehistoric Attraction of the Gaspar Fish

When we come across again with the “El Gaspar”, Rosi's nephew had already done justice to the boat's name. On board, followed a freshly caught gaspar (Atractosteus tropicus), one of the truly emblematic fish of Mexico and Central America, Caño Negro and some other parts of Costa Rica.

Catching a gaspar is a task that requires either enormous knowledge and practice or gigantic luck. Gaspar is a powerful and cunning predator, so vigorous and lethal to other fish that it is also treated by lizard peje.

Rosi Guide, Cano Negro, Costa Rica

Which goes against its improbable profile as a living fossil fish, with a physiognomy that has changed little or nothing since more than 65 million years ago, since the age of the dinosaurs.

The skill of fishing them seems to run in Rosi's family. Joel Sandoval, her husband, a fishing guide, holds the record for the largest fish caught.

Two days later, we would find him on the same jetty where we disembarked in the meantime.

Intrigued by not seeing a single boat around, we asked him where the fishermen of Caño Negro were. We received an expert response: “When you saw them, the Rio Frio was perfect for fishing.

Fishing Duo, Caño Negro, Costa Rica

Only, however, everything changed.

Here it rained a little. But in the mountains, where the river is born (Volcanoes Tenório and Miravalles), there has been a deluge.

The river water has become muddy and opaque, and for a few days it won't be enough to fish.”

Joel clarifies us with enthusiasm, at times, something nostalgic for the Caño Negro from before. “Now it's a portion of what it once was. On windy days, the volume of water and the waves were such that we could not take the boats to the river or the lagoons. It was too dangerous.”

We say goodbye. Next, we conjectured whether, in addition to the infamous global warming, the exponential increase in agricultural and pasture plantations would not be true water sinks, co-responsible for how much the Caño Negro had dwindled.

Once the river tour is completed, Rosi dedicates herself to a group of typical visitors. We passed to Jimmy Gutierrez's boat.

The most recent host takes us to Rancho Pitin, a property and business owned by his family, located on a meander where the Frio spreads over a vast lagoon.

Cano Negro, Costa Rica

When we disembarked, Jimmy's family in weight were sailing on a single boat, chartered to join the community fishing.

Jimmy, his brother and his wife had sacrificed themselves out of duty.

They show us the main building of the ranch, at the same time, restaurant, bar and meeting place for visitors who flocked there for fishing trips, ecological tours, horseback riding and other programs.

Rancho Pitin Bar, Caño Negro, Costa Rica

The trio explains the genesis of the business to us.

It also draws our attention to the incredible work of the father Pedro Gutierrez, who had built the building almost entirely out of wood, much of it recovered from trunks, stumps and branches that Nature and the floods of Caño Negro, in particular, granted him.

In addition to the building's architecture, Pedro Gutierrez was also concerned with decoration. Some of the establishment's tabletops and seats had been enhanced with gaudy paintings of macaws, herons and other broiled creatures from the wetland.

As a way of adjusting to the name of the property, we left Rancho Pitin on horseback, along the muddy banks of the river, so soaked that, with each new step, the horses had to apply themselves so that their feet could be freed from the mud. .

Horses, Cano Negro, Costa RicaEven so, in Pantanal mode, we arrived at the center of the village.

After the small local police station, we enter the restaurant “Luna Mágica” by Jorge Zelledon, one of the unavoidable gastronomic landings of Caño Negro, as is the “Black Cano Fire” which, on other occasions, restored our energy and delighted us with the best dishes from the north typical.

When we moved to the foot of the Tenório and Miravalles, we knew that we had just unveiled a precious Costa Rica.

Where to stay in Caño Negro:

Pousada Rural Oasis –

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PN Tortuguero, Costa Rica

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