Located in the very heart of Guanacaste province, this is a vibrant place for wildlife spotting. Its strategic location makes it accesible from most popular destinations, so it is likely that if you visit the North Pacific Coast beaches there might be a port or road to take to this park in less than 2 hours.
Palo Verde National Park includes 45 500 acres of protected dry forest and wetlands. It is mostly sustained by Tempisque river, which in rainy season floods and irrigates the wetlands.
This vast sections of flooded areas provide a sustained source of food for migratory birds which happens to fly away from the cold winter of North America. These circumstances also make an ideal place for nesting and growing the chicks.
In result over 300 species of birds populate Palo Verde National Park, which sums to more than 26 species of mammals, several reptiles such as crocodiles, iguanas, basilisks, other small lizards and above 600 species of plants and trees.
The name of this place could be traduced as “Smoke Port” and was one of the most active places during colony. Its location right at the border of Tempisque River made it ideal for boats to load cattle from the big ranchos of the area.
Now a day, its a humble little town with a population that would hardly make it to a few hundreds, living in barely painted wood houses.
This is one of the living pictures of rural living in Costa Rica, when life was simple and distractions included playing soccer on Sundays and go fishing. It even has a tiny convenience store we call “Pulpería”, where they sell you small amounts of rice, sugar, beans (out of the original plastic bag) and the items on the shelf can be counted with the fingers of your hands.
Visiting Puerto Humo is like traveling back in time. Makes you reconsider and value some things from your lifestyle certainly.
But Puerto Humo is also the closest port to one of Palo Verde National Park most impressive wildlife spectacles: Birds Island.
About 10 minutes by boat right in the middle of Tempisque’s riverbed is this rather large portion of mangrove trees that provide an ideal nesting place for migratory birds. Branches of every tree here serve as spots for wood storks, roseate spoonbills, egrets, boat billed herons, anhingas and some other birds to build their nests.
Interestingly birds bring all the material to make their temporary home from outside the island, like a collective understanding that using the very branches of the trees of the place will spoil it very quickly. In result, several hundreds of birds cover the island from one end of the island to another. An unbelievable spectacle of birds flying, feathers falling, chicks cheeping and all sort of bird calls.
Ideal season to visit this place goes from September to March. Being a different show depending on when you visit during that window. Early months you’ll see adult birds building nests and laying their eggs. To the mid you’ll see just hatched chicks with feathers that look more like fur.
At the end you’ll see big chicks still being fed by their parents and already attempting to fly. The thing is, some birds began early than others and the whole nesting season can be delayed by the rains, as birds will only nest after rains have fell.
Bebedero is located to the West of Palo Verde National Park, its a more developed town thanks mostly to the large sections of agriculture that surround it, which employ most of the population. The two main crops here are Sugar Cane and Rice, the first one is processed really close in a famous sugar refinery called “Taboga”.
It is the best option for taking the tour if you’re staying nearby Liberia, and most hotels located North and East of Guanacaste. Can be easily accessed by any kind of vehicle as the road is in perfect conditions which make it possible to be there in just 30 min from Liberia.
Although this river does not border Palo Verde National Park its so close that wildlife bursts out of this protected area and spreads to both sides of Bebedero River. Unlike Tempisque River, Bebedero’s riverbed its far narrower, which makes possible to look at wildlife at the trees on both sides of it. This doubles the chances of spotting birds, monkeys, iguanas… and you’ll see a lot of them.
Bebedero can also be approached by canoe, starting in a smaller river that later joins Bebedero river a few miles north to Aventuras Arenal facilites. By canoe or by boat, the experience is incredible with wildlife surrounding you on both sides the river.
It’s impressive the amount of iguanas you can find, when you run the river by canoe there’s a chance that one iguana might fall in to the canoe, as the branches of the river extend and cover the river.
Besides that, you can find Blue Herons, Tiger Egrets, Ospreys, Jabirús (the largest bird in Central America and severely endangered), crocodiles, bats, mot mots, trogons, howler monkeys, spider monkeys and many more to keep eyes busy while traveling the river.
Aventuras Arenal facilities in this port offer lunch, coffee, restrooms and of course boats to join the tour.