Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge was established by executive decree in June 13th 2005, thanks to the initiative of Eduardo Artavia, his wife and six children, to maintain and conserve the wildlife habitat, protecting different types of ecosystems, such as the fragile wetlands and the tropical rainforest endagered species. This refuge is located to the north of Boca Tapada in San Carlos, Alajuela.
Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge is part of the Arenal Huetar Norte Conservation Area and an intermediate strip of the Nicaragua-Costa Rica Border Corridor National Wildlife Refuge, in the northern part of Costa Rica, some 130km from San Jose, 30km from Pital and only 21km from the San Juan river, the natural border with Nicaragua.
This property is surrounded by virgin nature, which includes a lagoon complex and swamp ecosystems of the tropical wet forest ecoregion, characterized by high biodiversity and the livelihoods of endangered species such as the Great Green Macaw (Ara ambigua), vulnerable species like the Manatee (Trichechus manatus) and other important species such as the Jaguar (Panthera onca) and the Gaspar Fish (Atractosteus tropicus), which makes the Maquenque Wetland unique in the country.
Also, the wetland plays an important hydrological function to the surrounding watershed. Inside the refuge 4 wetlands have been identified: Maquenque, Tambor, Colpachí and Canacas.
The refuge is part of a proposal to bring together a number of existing Nature Reserves, Wildlife refuges and Forest Reserves to form a new National Park, covering the areas between the San Carlos River, the Sarapiquí River and other areas near the Nicaraguan border. Among the existing reserves that would be consolidated would be Cerro El Jardin Forest Reserve, La Cureña Forest Reserve, Lacustrino Maquenque Wetlands and the Palustrino Tamborcito Wetlands.
Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge is a mix of habitats on both sides of the San Carlos River, with sections of former pasture lands that are now being reforested. There are about 40 hectares of secondary forest bordering the western edge, while to the east, the refuge borders a neighbor that holds hundreds of hectares of some of the oldest forests in northern Costa Rica.
Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge is home to a rich biodiversity of animals and plants, with large amounts of Almond trees, which can’t be found in any other national park or protected area of Costa Rica and is a favored food source of the Great Green Macaw, which has led the World Parrot Trust, among other organizations, to campaign to create this national park.
The refuge has a tropical rainy climate with an average temperature of 27ºC (81ºF), with the rainiest months between May through December, and occasionally, this can extend until February. This region has some of the best habitats for the Great Green Macaw and there is a big number of nests in the area. Also, among the species of accounted animals, there are approximately 139 mammals, 135 reptiles, 80 amphibians and 424 birds, since wetlands are of great importance as habitat for water birds, many are seen near the large lagoon and along the San Carlos River, such as the Scaly-throated Leaftosser (Sclerurus guatemalensis), Blue Dacnis or Turquoise Honeycreeper (Dacnis cayana) and Black-and-yellow Tanager (Chrysothlypis chrysomelaena).
The refuge is also of vital importance as it is the core of the San Juan – La Selva Corridor. This corridor allows connections between ecosystems (both public and private) in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, making it an important part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. It is also located in a zone designed to protect the whole group of native species and fulfill basic corridor functions of connectivity, while maximizing compatible sustainable forestry uses and benefits from environmental services.
For years, Maquenque Wetland has been competing with other wetlands, located throughout the world, to enter the Ramsar listing, abbreviated name for the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, which was an agreement signed February 2, 1971 in the city of Iran, Ramsar.
Other nearby parks in the area include Cerro El Jardin Forest Reserve, La Cureña Forest Reserve, Arenal Volcano National Park and an intermediate strip of Nicaragua-Costa Rica Border Corridor National Wildlife Refuge.
Getting to Maquenque Wildlife Refuge:
Take the Pan-American Highway from San Jose towards north. Turn right at Naranjo exit. Follow the road to Ciudad Quesada, passing through Zarcero town. Once in Ciudad Quesada continue for approximately 18 km (11 miles) more, and then turn right looking for Pital town, as Boca Tapada is accessed most easily from there.
You can take a bus from the route San José – Pital, which takes about 4 hours and then take a bus Pital – Boca Tapada, which takes about 2:30 hours. Or you can also take a bus San José – Cuidad Quesada which takes about 2:30 hours, then Cuidad Quesada – Pital, which takes about 1.30 hours and Pital – Boca Tapada, which takes about 2:30 hours.
You can also take a flight from the Juan Santamaria Airport to the Arenal Airport, either with Sansa Airlines or Nature Air every day. From here you can rent a car and drive to the refuge, which is about 4 hours.
Location: just north of Boca Tapada, near the Nicaraguan border, inside the districts of Pocosol and Pital, canton: San Carlos, province: Alajuela and the districts of La Virgen and Cureña, canton: Sarapiquí, province: Heredia, Costa Rica.
Pital GPS Coordinates: 10.448623,-84.27637 (10°26’55.04″N, 84°16’34.93″W)
Size: 60 ha (148 acres)
Altitude: about 200m above sea level.
Telephone: + (506) 2479-8200 / 2479-7785
Fax: + (506) 2479-8219
Arenal Huetar Norte Conservation Area (ACA-HN) Telephone: +(506) 2460-0055
Pital’s (ACA-HN) office telephone: +(506) 24733939, 24733488
INFOTUR Tourist Information: 1192