barra del colorado

Find out about Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge

Barra del Colorado National Wildlife refuge is located in the northeast of the country on the Caribbean coast. Created in 1985, it covers a territory of 81,177 hectares of land area that is comprised of coastal areas, lakes, rivers, wetlands, flooded forests and small forested hills that do not exceed 219 masl in elevation.

One interesting detail about the refuge is that wildlife conservation is carried out in harmony with the communities who live in the area, making it an ideal place for rural community tourism.


As with national parks, the refuge designates areas for various kinds of conservation:

  • Sustainable use: 61%
  • Absolute protection: 35%
  • Special use: 3%
  • Public use: 1%

The 1% of the area set aside for the public is around Cerro Tortuguero, at the far southeastern point of the Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge. With an altitude of 119 meters above sea level, this small conical hill is of volcanic origin and was formed around 1.8 million years ago.

Cerro Tortuguero sector is located at the edge of Tortuguero National Park and is just 10 minutes from the community of Barra de Tortuguero, making a visit to the park an easy side trip for those heading to the country’s famous ecotourism offerings in Tortuguero.

Due to the hill’s ecological fragility and the limited space at the peak, the number of visitors allowed per day is controlled in order to ensure the conservation of its natural resources, maintain its infrastructure and offer a quality experience. The services of the refuge are offered in partnership with a local organization that generates economic benefits for the nearby communities.

Some of the species you can see in the refuge include: howler monkeys, white-faced capuchins, spider monkeys, red frogs and the great green macaw.


Boardwalk: built to reduce visitors’ impacts on the soil, this boardwalk makes it possible to access the area and walk from the base of the hill to its peak.

Cerro Tortuguero lookout: as the highest peak in this area of the Caribbean, it offers a unique view of the true dimensions of the Tortuguero jungle.

Community of San Francisco: this small village is known for its simple way of life and Caribbean traditions, which intermingle with the region’s characteristic natural surroundings.


  • Quay
  • Restrooms
  • Boardwalk
  • Rest areas
  • Observation deck

Hours of operation:

Seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Maximum 330 people per day. Reservations are required (through hotels, agencies or operators). Guides are required. Admission limited to groups of up to 10 people. Groups must enter separately every 15 minutes.



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