One of the things that continue to amaze me about Costa Rica is how many different places there are to go and hidden treasures to find. Just when you think you know most of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, some unknown region pops up, luring you with new adventures, beautiful scenery, fascinating nature and incredible wildlife.
The region is in the hinterlands of northern Costa Rica, only 15 kilometers from the Nicaraguan border and that country’s vast Indio Maiz Biological Reserve. Just to the east is the Barra Colorado National Wildlife Refuge on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast. A bit farther to the northwest is the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge. The San Carlos River runs right by the Costa Rica eco-lodge. In fact, to arrive at Maquenque, you have to cross the river on the lodge’s private ferry, leaving your vehicle parked in a secure area at the river’s edge.
It is a very remote, wild area of lowland tropical rainforest and wetlands. The recently formed Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge (2005) protects 150,000 acres (60,702 hectares) of virgin forest and pastureland in the process of being reforested.
If you love wild nature, Maquenque Eco-Lodge is the place to go. The Costa Rica rainforest lodge has simple, comfortable accommodations in 14 bungalows, each equipped with solar-heated hot water, private bathrooms, and balconies overlooking a beautiful lagoon. Dining is in the lodge’s restaurant. Eight kilometers of trails wind through their 68-acre property, leading you through the forest past ponds and streams and along the river.
Maquenque is a place for bird-watching. Lodge information cites more than 410 identified species of birds in the area, including endangered Great Green Macaws (Ara ambiguus) and Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao). With only a few thousand Great Green Macaws left in the world, it is an exceptional treat to see these spectacular green and turquoise parrots with their distinctive fiery red band across their foreheads.
Besides bird-watching, you can canoe on the lagoon, hike in the rainforest, ride horses, go boating on the San Carlos River, and float river rafting on the Tres Amigos River. The climate is very rainy, so be prepared.
Maquenque Eco-Lodge supports sustainable tourism and reforestation. Every guest who stays has the chance to plant a tree in the reserve and visit the local school to see their environmental education program in action.
Article by Shannon Farley