November 9th, 2012 – Curú National Wildlife Refuge can be found on the southern Nicoya Peninsula of northwestern, Costa Rica, just south of Paquera. Most traveller to the area are in search of Sandy beaches, the surf of Santa Teresa or the very popular tourist destination, Montezuma, and the Peninsula’s primary wildlife park can sometimes get over looked. Curú offers easy access to seeing some of the most sought after species such as White-faced monkeys, Howler monkeys, Spider Monkeys, Scarlet Macaws, White-tailed Deer, Collared Peccary, Coati, Raccoons, Coyotes, Iguanas, and hundreds of species of tropical and migratory birds.
It is an important place to visit as it is Costa Rica’s first private National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1933 by Federico Schutt de la Croix, it was originally purchased on October 1, 1933 for 12,000 Costa Rican colones!
A few months ago, I took a guided tour with my family and some friends visiting from the UK to the park with Jepo from Olingo Eco-Tours. It was pretty amazing and I thoroughly recommend it to locals and tourists alike.
The day began with a 6am pick up. Don’t be put off by this start time. You need to get to the park early, to give yourself the best chance of seeing as many creatures of the wild as posible.
We stopped off at Soda La Cobaneña in Cobano for breakfast which was another good reason to head off early. A great, typically local, quality start to the day.
We arrived at the park, stopping just before it, to let a family of racoons cross the road to the screams of joy coming from my 3 year old daughter and a full explanation from our tour guide about the exact breed of racoons that we happened upon.
Jepo is passionate about sustainable local tourism and all of his tours about education as well as activities and animal watching. He is amazingly knowledgeable about the area in terms of geography and history and has an awesome passion for wildlife.
In terms of the actual variety of possible creatures you might be lucky enough to see at Curu, there are 3 different species of monkeys (the mantled howler monkey, white faced monkey and the spider monkey), the American Crocodile, Agouti, Coati, beautiful birds such like woodpeckers, manakins, toucans, herons, hawks; iguanas and squirrels. That is without mentioning the abundance of marine wildlife, including many species of tropical fish, sea turtles, sting rays, and occasional whales.
We spent about an hour on one of the several trails and saw monkeys, a crocodile, an armadillo, lots of birds and butterflies and then had a close up with Fifi the friendly monkey who has been living at Curu for many years now and has become extremely sociable with the visitors.
With the wildlife covered, we headed for Curu’s amazing stretch of beach where we were met by our kayak’s and a 45 minute battle against the waves to an incredibly secret beach that is only reachable by boat. I do not have very good sea legs but it was worth it. Lunch was prepared and served to us and we got to relax and watch the kids explore and play pirates for an hour or so.
The whole day was exhausting and exhilarating for all.
We chose a personally guided day out which, in my opinion, makes for a richer experience. Included was Jepo for the day, the tour, kayaks, breakfast and a delicious lunch and snacks and all soft drinks. The cost varies dependent on how many are in your group but will be around $85pp.
Should you decide to go it alone, the entrance fee at Curú is $10 per person, and the cost of the kayaks is $15 per hour per kayak.
More information can be found at:
Dahlia Nahome is a wife and mother of two who left the rat race of the London advertising world for the beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula .
As well as running her rental business, www.costaricanvacation.com & www.purasonica.com (a web radio station playing chilled music 24hrs a day & whats on Santa Teresa guide with her husband) she also enjoys writing about and raising the profile of the Nicoya Peninsula & Costa Rica and has work published on various travel blogs.
You may reach her at dahlia at costaricanvacation dot com.