The Rancho La Merced National Wildlife Refuge was created on October 6th, 1995 in order to protect forested and beach areas near Punta Uvita and Ballena National Marine Park, on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast.
Rancho La Merced National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of a forest reserve with both, primary and secondary tropical wet forest as well as mangrove estuary. It’s located in front of the beach and the Morete river. The refuge offers very well informed guided jungle hikes, bird watching tours and horseback rides on the beach and through the jungle, as well as a wide variety of environments to explore, where visitors can find a great diversity of amazing birds, reptiles, insects and mammals such as monkeys, sloths, peccaries, coatis and raccoons. Here you can enjoy hiking around the trails of the reserve, enjoy the tropical rain forest, the mangrove or visit the Ballena Marine National Park which is located next to the refuge.
Rancho La Merced National Wildlife Refuge promotes wildlife and rainforest conservation on many levels, so a visit is not only fun and very informative but also serves to protect and promote conservation of the area, as this has been protected from hunting for many years and is an active member of South and Central Pacific Nature Friends Association (Asociacion de Amigos de la Naturaleza del Pacifico Central y Sur or ASANA in Spanish), and as well part of the Tapir’s Path Wildlife Corridor (Corredor Biologico Paso de la Danta).
Rancho La Merced National Wildlife Refuge has a house that can lodge up to 10 people. They also offer a cabin that lodges up to 3 persons, equipped with 1 double bed, 1 single bed, refrigerator, coffee maker and microwave oven. Electricity is 110 Volts AC, and water is heated using solar energy. Other nearby Costa Rica Parks include Ballena Marine National Park, Hacienda Baru del Pacifico National Wildlife Refuge, Portalon National Wildlife Refuge, Transilvania National Wildlife Refuge and Manuel Antonio National Park.
Getting to Rancho La Merced Wildlife Refuge:
From San Jose take the Pan-American Highway north passing through Atenas up to Orotina. Take the Tárcoles/Jaco/Quepos/Manuel Antonio exit. Once in Quepos travel south for 58km (35 miles) on the highway until the Ballena National Marine Park. Now you can also take the new Caldera Highway (route 27), taking the same exit to Tárcoles/Jaco/Quepos/Manuel Antonio and following the same directions until you get to the Rancho La Merced Wildlife Refuge. The Caldera trip takes about 3 hours from San Jose while the other takes about 4.5 hours.
There is another route from San Jose through the Cerro de la Muerte. Drive south on Pan-American Highway for some 135 km (81 miles) to San Isidro, where you turn southwest taking the exit to Dominical and then driving for about 26 km (16 miles). In Dominical turn southeast and continue for about 16 km (10 miles) to Uvita.
From Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR), drive south on the Pan-American Highway to Puntarenas. From there, take the new Caldera Highway (route 27) and take the exit of Tarcoles/Jaco/Quepos/Manuel Antonio. Once in Quepos travel south for 58km (35 miles) on the highway until the Rancho La Merced Wildlife Refuge.
Take a bus from the route San Jose – Quepos / Manuel Antonio – Ballena National Marine Park, which takes about 4 hours, making the stop at Rancho La Merced Wildlife Refuge (Transportes Morales, 2223-5567).
You can also take a bus from the route San Jose – San Isidro de El General, which takes about 4 hours, (MUSOC, 2222-2422) and then take another bus from the route San Isidro de El General – Uvita, which takes about 2 hours, (Transportes Blanco, 2771-4744).
You can also take a flight from the Juan Santamaria Airport to the Quepos Airport, either with Sansa or Nature Air airlines, both with daily flights. From here you can rent a car or take a taxi to Rancho La Merced Wildlife Refuge, which takes about 40 minutes.
Location: near Uvita, some 10 miles south from Dominical, district: Bahia Ballena, canton: Osa, province: Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Zone postal code: 60504.
Uvita GPS Coordinates: 9.161983,-83.735036 (9°09’43.14″N, 83°44’06.13″W)
Size: 510 ha (1,255 acres)
Telephone: +(506) 2771-4582
Osa Conservation Area (ACOSA) Telephone: +(506) 2735-5580 / 2735-5276
INFOTUR Tourist Information: 1192