The Curu Wildlife Reserve is located in the province of Puntarenas, in the Nicoya Peninsula, by the little village of Curu. It became a protected forest in 1981 and the Curu National Wildlife Refuge was finally created in 1983. The family that originally settled on the land is still there today and they turned to the government for help in order to protect this little haven. The trails of the Reserve vary in range of difficulty. In fact some of these trails are only accessible during the dry season. Some of the easier trails to do include the Laguna, the Toledo, the Monos, the Finca and La Ceiba. Each trail represents a specific habitat, making the refuge resemble a life-size museum!
Curu’s rich biodiversity attracts nature lovers, tourists and explorers alike for its abundance of flora and fauna. While the whole Reserve measures 1496 hectares, only 75 of it encompasses the refuge and the remaining land is used for low-impact agriculture.
The abundant wildlife of the refuge includes the Capuchin monkeys, the Howler monkeys, the Spider monkeys, peccaris, coyotes, coatis, anteaters and more. Seventy eight species of mammals have been discovered to date in Curu including some big cats like the pumas, ocelots and margay. However, because they are usually nocturnal and shy away from people, they are not very easy to see. Sightings of the Boa Constrictor are equally difficult as they usually escape at the approach of humans. Curu is actually home to 87 species of reptiles.
Bird watchers’ will feel in heaven with over 232 species, which is absolutely phenomenal when one considers the size of the reserve. Amongst these you may spot the broad-winged hawk, a laughing falcon and many cattle egrets. There is an estimation of about 500 different species of plants and trees.
Curu also has a beautiful beach, rivers and mangroves estuaries. The types of mangroves in this small reserve encompasses the five species found in this country! The beaches in the reserve are also stunning and are the nesting ground for the Olive Ridley and the Hawksbill turtles that come to nest their eggs on the shore. The calm crystal clear waters of the bay are also perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
The Curu reserve is an excellent destination for kayaking. There are many guided tours offered by the nearby lodges. Curu is privately owned so there are only basic rustic lodges onsite. The neighboring towns offer more comfortable accommodations. Curu is easy to reach by car or by bus. From Puntarenas you take the ferry to Paquera and the park is just 6 km away. Just continue to follow the directions to Tambor. The road to Curu is not paved and a 4X4 is a must once you enter the grounds of the Reserve. The Curu Reserve is opened every day from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. Don’t forget to bring sun block, insect repellent, a change of clothing and of course a swimming suit.