The National Wildlife Refuge “Golfito” is a very natural place, which is 324 kilometers from San José, in the province of Puntarenas. This wildlife refuge is located in an area where heavy rains abound. This land was formed by the succession of layers of basalt dating from 50 to 65 million years ago.

“Golfo Dulce” is not only a very sought after place for ecotourism but also close to one of the most popular duty-free shopping places among Costa Ricans. As the seat of the Golfito National Wildlife Refuge, it has a varied collection of wildlife, with thousands of species of birds, animals, and plants in this natural tropical paradise. Nature lovers will not want to miss a visit to this impressive jewel near the southwest coast of the country.

Large tropical forests

The wildlife refuge is covered in forests with trees of approximately 45 meters high. These, along with other local plants, benefit greatly from the abundant rainfall between May and November. The refuge presents dozens of species of native trees, such as silk cotton, walnut, manu, and copal, among many others. The cyad, with a robust woody trunk and fern-like leave, has a long history dating back to the reign of the dinosaurs on the land.

The forest in this refuge is very thick. A plant that commonly grows in these lands is the black palm. In addition, you can find botanical rarities like the güira, a tree belonging to the family of Lauraceae, an extremely primitive plant. The forests of the zone are characterized for having trees of great height and diameter. Under them, it grows a dense variety of plant species, which is distributed along a vertical axis that starts at the highest layers and ends at ground level.

In terms of biological complexity, a great variety of habitats can be found such as a riparian forest, secondary forest, intervened primary forest, primary forest, secondary acreage, secondary forest in recovery, highly intervened primary forest, and wetlands. The evergreen forests of the refuge, with trees that are more than 140 feet high, take advantage of the heavy rains in the area, especially during the rainy season of Costa Rica, between May and November.

Fauna that we can find there

We can find resident mammals within the boundaries of the park, such as the agouti, which is a rodent belonging to the same family as the paca, very useful in spreading the seeds of different plants and fruits that it consumes. It is also possible to find raccoons, rats, and some reptiles such as snakes, as well as amphibians -toads.

Jaguar roaring to defend its territory

In these habitats, there is a diversity of mammals and the richness of birds is considerable. These existing habitats still meet the conditions of adequate forest cover to maintain a large population structure of birds belonging to different guilds. Among the birds in danger are the scarlet macaw and the king vulture. Among the threatened mammals, we find the ocelot and the jaguar.

Other species of mammals in danger or at risk to disappear in the area are the mountain pigs, which in the past were common and now have virtually disappeared from the area and the giant anteater that also has the greatest risk to disappear, possibly in all the Neotropics. Among the bats, 2 of the identified species are close to being threatened.

Avid hikers will discover a lot of trails through the refuge, allowing a lot of opportunities to immerse themselves in its splendor. If we try the trail known as “Radio Tower” Trail, let’s make sure to pack properly and plan a 5-hour-walk. The “Playa Cacao” trail is also a popular option, covering more than 5miles of terrain and offering breathtaking views of the Golfo Dulce.  A wide range of shorter trails is also available, through various forest regions.