Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica
Nestled in the northeastern corner of Costa Rica, on the Nicaraguan boarder, is this massive 225,365 acre (91,200 ha) national wildlife refuge-the largest in the nation. The reserve is a vast network of slow-moving waterways that feed into stagnant saline pools, lagoons, and swampy marshlands. Much of this refuge is inaccessible to eco-tourists due to poor roads and infrastructure which have kept Barra Del Colorado an isolated wonder.
Barra, as the region is often referred to by locals, shares a close relationship to its sister park, Tortuguero National Park, which gives sanctuary to similar plant and animal species. The two parks are administered by officials as a single Regional Conservation Unit due to the parks close proximity. However, despite these numerous similarities, Barra is more remote and consequently receives fewer annual visitors. Accommodations at Barra are a bit pricier compared to Tortuguero, and there aren't as many entry points into the park.
While eco-tourists are just beginning to realize Barra's amazing potential as a site to observe biologically-rich flora and fauna, sport fishermen have been frequenting the park for decades, taking advantage of the many types of fish that negotiate the park's rivers and make its lagoons their home. While the region's many lodges have begun catering towards eco-tourists as well, they still make the majority of their income from fishing. The locally caught fish provide the surrounding villages with their primary food staple.
Because of the region's relative isolation, getting here and away can be quite a task. Flights are offered to and from Juan Santamaria International Airport in the town of Barra del Colorado, or visitors can elect to access the reserve through the many waterways that intersect it. An extensive canal system beginning in Moin, just north of Puerto Limon, provides water access to Barra Del Colorado as well. The western part of the park is also accessible by road, pending weather conditions, all the way to Puerto Lindo.
Lodges dot the massive reserve, providing visitors with some ability to choose where they stay. A handful of lodges provide luxurious accommodations.