The Las Camelias Lagoon Wildlife Refuge was created on January 5th, 1994, in order to protect palustrine wetlands and forests which serve as a feeding area, shelter and breeding area for a wide variety of wildlife in the northern part of Costa Rica, near the Nicaraguan border in Upala, Alajuela. This refuge is part of the Arenal Huetar Norte Conservation Area.
Las Camelias Lagoon Wildlife Refuge is a palustrine wetland that includes this lagoon bordered almost exclusively by Yolillo Palm (Raphia taedigera) and flooded forests. These forests serve as feeding and breeding area for some 240 species of birds, including endangered species such as Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) and the Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria), about 30 species of amphibians and reptiles, including a large number of caimans (Caiman crocodiles) and some 148 species of plants. Also serve as habitat areas to preserve the different species of wildlife such as jaguar, tapir, peccary and the rest of the biodiversity of the Arenal Huetar Norte Conservation Area (ACAHN).
Las Camelias Lagoon Wildlife Refuge aims to recover also the basins of the Pizotillo Gaucalito Rivers which feed the wetland, developing a management plan to reduce sediment and increase economic options and the technical capacity of local people to productive management of natural resources.
The area is influenced by climatic conditions in the Atlantic and, to a lesser extent, of Nicaraguan Lake, which has a regulatory function. The climate here can be classified as tropical rainforest, with annual rainfall between 3,000 and 4,000 mm, with an average temperature of 25ºC (77ºF) and high relative humidity between 85% and 90%.
There are no public facilities at Las Camelias Lagoon Wildlife Refuge. Other nearby Costa Rica parks includes Tenorio Volcano National Park, Miravalles Volcano National Park, Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge, Arenal Volcano Emergency Zone Forest Reserve, Arenal Volcano National Park and Corredor Fronterizo Costa Rica – Nicaragua National Wildlife Refuge.
Getting to Las Camelias Lagoon National Wildlife Refuge:
Take the General Cañas highway (Route #1) towards San Ramón/Puntarenas. Keep driving on the Route #1 and approximately 8 Km beyond the city of Cañas, Guanacaste; make a right at the intersection towards Upala (Route #6). Keep driving on the Route #6 for some 55 km until you get to Las Camelias Lagoon National Wildlife Refuge. Now you can also take the new Caldera Highway. Driving time from San José is about 3.5 hours.
From Liberia (Daniel Oduber Airport) take the road (Route #21) heading towards the city of Liberia. At Liberia’s intersection take the road (Route #1) with direction to Bagaces/Cañas. Keep driving on the Route #1 and approximately 20 Km alter the city of Bagaces, make a left at the intersection heading towards Upala (Route #6). Keep driving on the Route #6 for some 55 km until you get to Las Camelias Lagoon National Wildlife Refuge. Driving time from Liberia is about 1.5 hours.
An alternative approach is to take the Pan-American Highway from San Jose to Ciudad Quesada also known as San Carlos, then drive toward to Upala until reaching the refuge. Driving time from San Carlos is about 2 hours.
You can take a bus San José – Upala, which takes about 5 hours (Transportes Upala, 2221-3318).
You can also take a flight from the Juan Santamaria Airport to the Upala or the Arenal Airport, either with Sansa Airlines or Nature Air every day. From the Arenal Airport you can rent a car and drive to the refuge, which is about 2 hours.
Location: 220 km (137 miles) N of San José, district: San José, canton: Upala, province: Alajuela, Costa Rica. Zone postal code: 21303.
Upala GPS Coordinates: 10°53’46.97″N, 85°01’31.18″W
Size: 64 ha (160 acres)
Altitude: from 30m to 100m (100ft to 330 ft) above sea level
Arenal Huetar Norte Conservation Area (ACA-HN) Telephone: +(506) 2460-0055
(ACA-HN) Upala subregion telephone: +(506) 2470-0100
INFOTUR Tourist Information: 1192
Address map: Click here to view directions from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO), Alajuela, Costa Rica TO Las Camelias Lagoon National Wildlife Refuge in Alajuela, Costa Rica at Google Maps