Curú National Wildlife Refuge and farm are located on the southem Nicoya Peninsula of northwestern Costa Rica. The area is teaming with abundant wildlife and hosts one of the most beautiful beaches and protected bays on the Nicoya Peninsula. The area offers easy access to seeing some of the most sought-after species such as White-faced Monkeys, Spider Monkeys, Scarlet Macaws, White-tailed Deer, Collared Peccary, Coati, Raccoons, Coyotes, Iguanas, and hundreds of species of tropical and migratory birds.
Curú contains Costa Rica’s first private National Wildlife Refuge and is an example of a successful sustainable development program. The hacienda still includes low levels of cattle grazing and produces tropical fruits such as mangos on an annual basis. However, tourism and visitation by school groups and researchers are the focus of Curú today. Curú National Wildlife Refuge and farm is managed sustainably to produce a profit and local employment while also protecting its threatened and endangered forested habitats such as mangroves, tropical moist and dry forests, and coral reefs.
Curú was established in 1933 by Federico Schutt de la Croix. The area was transformed into a sustainable development project with multiple uses that included selective timber harvest and agricultural activities including rice, beans, corn, plantains, and later mangos and teak plantations. Cattle grazing also became an important activity, but agriculture would later be scaled back as conservation and ecotourism efforts began to be implemented.
In 1981, it received status from the Costa Rican government to protect its forests and mangroves. In 1983 Curú became Costa Rica’s first private National Wildlife Refuge. The Schutt Valle family, who manages Curú Wildlife Refuge and farm, has converted the area into an eco-tourism location and research center for students and scientists from Costa Rica and around the world.
In 1974, part of the farm was settled by squatters which led to converting part of the hacienda into what is currently known as the small town Valle Azul where many of the squatters and their families still live. From that point on, Curú began to concentrate on protecting its important habitats for many threatened and endangered species.
In 1981, it received status from the Costa Rican government to protect its forests and mangroves. In 1983, Curú National Wildlife Refuge was officially created. In the past two decades, the Schutt Valle family, who manages Curú Wildlife Refuge and farm, has converted the area into an eco-tourism location and research center for students and scientists from Costa Rica and around the world.
The area contains a total of 1,496 hectares, including deciduous and semi-deciduous forests, mangroves, beaches, marine habitats, pastures, and plantations. A total of 1,100 hectares are protected forest (75%), 312 hectares are for grazing and agriculture (20%), and 84 hectares contain the Curú National Wildlife Refuge (5%). The area is known to contain a high level of diversity due to its protection of several habitat types. 232 species of birds, 78 species of mammals, 87 species of reptiles, and more than 500 species of plants have been identified. Curú contains a great example of tropical dry and moist forests as well as coastal and marine habitats.
There are several trails throughout the refuge ranging from short and easy to long and very difficult. Sendero Finca de Los Monos is one of the best trails to see birds and small mammals. The best time to go bird watching is as early in the morning or at dusk which is possible if visitors stay in one of the cabins. Visitors that come to the refuge for a day trip, the best times to see birds are 7-9 AM and 3-4 PM. Other good trails include Sendero de Cangrejal, Sendero Ceiba, Sendero Quesera, and the main road leading from the entrance gate to the beach.
Birds - Orange-fronted Parakeet, Yellow-naped Parrot, Scarlet Macaw, Long-tail Manakin, Lineated, Pale-billed, and Hoffman's Woodpeckers, Osprey, Common Black Hawk, Barred Antshrike, Blue-crowned and Turquoise-browed Motmots, Black-headed, Violaceous, and Elegant Trogons, Brown Pelican, Crested Caracara, Flycatchers, Tanagers, Vultures, Herons, and several species of migratory song and shorebirds Mammals - White faced, Spider, and Howler Monkeys, Raccoon, Coati, Squirrels, Anteater, White-tail deer, Armadillo, Tayra, Collared Peccary, Margay, Puma or Mountain Lion, Skunk, and Kinkajou Amphibians and Reptiles - Giant Toad, Boa Constrictor, Iguana, Sea Turtles, Anolis Lizards, and Crocodile
In 1999, Amigos de las Aves, a Costa Rican conservation organization, initiated a Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) restoration program in Curú. Thirteen Scarlet Macaws were released and they are independently foraging. The survival rate has been over 90% year after year. Active nesting has been documented; in July 2004 two juvenile birds between 4-5 months of age were noted flying with the flock. This is the first successful breeding of reintroduced Scarlet Macaws in Costa Rica. The macaws are seen on a daily basis within the wildlife refuge and are frequently sighted foraging on beach almonds along Curú’s pristine beach and in the more open areas of the wildlife refuge where their favorite food resources are found. Future releases will be conducted in hopes of establishing a viable population in the area.
In 2002, a new Psammocora stellata coral reef was discovered in the Bay of Curú. This reef is one of only three known Psammocora sp. reefs in all of Costa Rica. Marine biologists from the University of Costa Rica and Universidad Latina are conducting a scientific research project to map and study this unique Psammocora stellata coral reef in the Bay of Curú. The researchers are finding that it is the largest and healthiest of its kind in Costa Rica.
The Set Us Free Project includes the reintroduction of the Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) in a remote area of the wildlife refuge. The Spider Monkey was driven to extinction on the Nicoya Peninsula and this project aims to develop a protocol for implementing successful programs aimed at the reintroduction of Spider Monkeys in the wild. Several Spider Monkeys are foraging independently and several pairs have successfully reproduced in the refuge in past years.
Curú Wildlife Refuge and Hacienda provides a great opportunity for school groups and researchers (independent or enrolled in a school or University) to conduct studies in a tropical forest and beach setting. Accessibility to the site, an extensive trail system, a large protected bay and pristine beaches, and high densities of many groups of terrestrial and marine animals make this an ideal setting for high school, college, and graduate students to conduct their class or thesis research. Curú is also an ideal place for school groups and classes to conduct courses in tropical ecology, biology, and environmental studies and science. Many international and Costa Rican students and groups have taken advantage of Curú’s easy accessibility from San Jose and Puntarenas, and its dry and moist forest and marine habitats on the Nicoya Peninsula, to conduct their research and conduct classes. Current and past research has focused on White-faced Capuchin and Howler Monkey ecology, the ecology of several other species of mammals, Scarlet Macaws and parrots, migratory birds, forest ecology, and in the marine environment, projects related to fish diversity, coral reef mapping, and marine invertebrate surveying.
Horseback tour for one hour $15
3 hour horseback tour to Quesera Beach $25
Direct public bus leaves from San José twice a day 6 am and 2 pm, via the Paquera ferry. Tell the bus driver to drop you at the entrance of Curú.
Public bus leaves from San Jose on a regular basis and drops passengers in Puntarenas. Take a taxi to the Paquera ferry. After arriving in Paquera, take another public bus and tell the driver to stop at the entrance to Curú. Look for the Transportes Cobano Facebook page for a schedule.
Drive to Puntarenas (2 to 3 hours depending on traffic), take the ferry to Paquera (1 to 1 1/2 hours) www.navieratambor.com and drive to the entrance of Curú (30 minutes). Entrance will be on the left side.
Fly to Tambor airport (25 minutes), drive to the entrance of Curú (20 minutes).
|Southern Nicoya Peninsula of northwestern Costa Rica.|
|Fax: (506) 2641-03-94|
|Mail: Section 14-5357 Paquera, Costa Rica|
|Schedule: According to the management plan, only visitors staying in the cabins may stay after 4:00 p.m. All others must vacante the wildlife refuge.|
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