Indulge in the natural beauty of the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge and the awe-inspiring Manzanillo Beach. This wildlife sanctuary boasts an extraordinary array of plant and animal species. It is renowned for its abundant wildlife, which includes a diverse range of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

Embark on our guided tour to witness the regal Macaws at Ara Manzanillo for a unique birdwatching experience immersed in rich tropical biodiversity.

Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge Hike | Visit Ara Manzanillo – What to expect?

Our meeting is scheduled for 09:00 AM at the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge entrance. Please make sure you’re on time. We can organize private transportation from Puerto Viejo via a taxi if you prefer. If not, you can also reach us by public bus.

From this point, we embark on a 3-mile hike to the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, which typically lasts around 2.5 hours. This provides an opportunity to relax at Manzanillo Beach, savor some fresh fruits, and swim in the sea.

Around 1:00 PM, after a brief 1-hour lunch break, we proceeded to the Ara Manzanillo Macaw project for a guided private tour lasting approximately 1 to 1.5 hours.

Following the tour, we will arrange private transportation to Puerto Viejo or Manzanillo.


Approximately: 6 hours.

What do you bring with you?

Sunscreen, drinking water, easy shoes, a towel, and eventually, rain cover, swim clothes if you want to have a fresh dip in the sea. Making a valid weather forecast can sometimes be challenging. And of course your camera.

Our Tour guides

Our guides are genuinely local and experienced tour professionals. They harbor a sincere and profound passion for nature and wildlife, deeply respect Costa Rican culture, are thoroughly prepared, and are licensed by the ICT (Costa Rican Tourism Institute).


For pricing, see the shop product page and the “Additional Information” Tab; minimum group size [adults] = two persons. For youngster discounts, visit the product page!

What is Included

An experienced, ICT-licensed tour guide, fresh fruits and the transfers from Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge to Ara Macaw and return to Manzanillo, an experienced tour guide, and fresh fruits.

What is Excluded

The entrance [donation] Fees for Adults [$20] for Ara Manzanillo. Youngsters below the age of 12 have free entrance.

Meeting Point and Direction

The designated meeting location is situated at the entrance of the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge.

If needed, we can organize transfers from Puerto Viejo; however, it is advisable to opt for a taxi, as public transportation may not consistently adhere to reliable timetables.

About Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge

The Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is a designated conservation area in the southeastern Costa Rica region, near the border with Panama. This sanctuary is renowned for its remarkable ecological diversity, encompassing many ecosystems, including rainforests, wetlands, mangroves, and pristine coastlines.

Here is some pertinent information and notable aspects of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge:


The Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is situated within Costa Rica’s Limón Province, hugging the Caribbean coastline. It spans approximately 23,348 acres (9,449 hectares) and stretches from Manzanillo southwards to the Sixaola River, which forms the border with Panama.


This wildlife sanctuary boasts an extraordinary array of plant and animal species. It is renowned for its abundant wildlife, which includes a diverse range of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Some creatures you may encounter within the refuge’s boundaries include howler monkeys, sloths, jaguars, toucans, and poison dart frogs.

Marine Life

The refuge also encompasses marine environments, safeguarding coral reefs, seagrass beds, and various marine species. Snorkeling and diving opportunities are available in the coastal waters, allowing you to observe colorful fish and other marine life.


The primary objective of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is to protect and preserve the natural ecosystems and wildlife residing within its confines. It plays a crucial role in safeguarding many endangered and vulnerable species.


The refuge has become a sought-after destination for ecotourism and nature enthusiasts. Visitors can explore hiking trails through lush rainforests, partake in guided tours to learn about the local flora and fauna, and savor the beauty of the picturesque beaches. It is imperative to adhere to the refuge’s rules and regulations to minimize human impact on the environment.


Visitors to the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge can engage in various activities, including birdwatching, wildlife photography, hiking, kayaking, and beachcombing. Guided tours are often available to enhance the experience and provide insights into the local ecology.

When visiting the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, it is essential to remember that it is a protected area, and practicing responsible tourism is paramount to preserving its natural allure and biodiversity. This includes respecting the local wildlife and ecosystems and adhering to any guidelines or regulations established by park authorities.

About Ara Mazanillo – Great Green Macaw Reintroduction Project

The Great Green Macaw, also recognized as the Green-winged Macaw (Ara ambiguus), is a large and endangered parrot species indigenous to Central and South America. These exquisite avian creatures confront various threats, including habitat degradation and illegal trade in the pet industry.

Conservationists and organizations have diligently undertaken multiple strategies to safeguard and preserve this species, including reintroduction initiatives.

Reintroduction projects for parrot species like the Great Green Macaw, such as the Ara Manzanillo project in Costa Rica, typically encompass several pivotal elements:

Organization and Local Community

Ara Manzanillo remains steadfast in pursuing the same objectives as its founders – to secure the long-term survival of wild parrots in Costa Rica. This mission is achieved by reintroducing macaws to their historical habitat, contributing to scientific research, advocating for the preservation of tropical forests, and educating the public to ensure the enjoyment and benefit of both current and future generations.

The Ara Manzanillo project relies on a dedicated and compact professional team of local community leaders who have been involved with the project for several years. Financial and technical support for the project is derived from institutions and from the many visitors who visit the release station.

The operation of Ara Manzanillo is overseen by the Costa Rican licensed non-profit organization, Association El Proyecto Ara, which collaborates closely with the Ministry for the Environment of Costa Rica.

Habitat Restoration

The revival and safeguarding of the macaw’s natural habitat are paramount. This endeavor may encompass activities like reforestation, protection of nesting sites, and establishing forest corridors to reconnect fragmented areas.

Breeding and Rearing

Controlled environments often house captive breeding programs to increase the macaw population and provide birds suitable for release into their native habitat.

Health Surveillance

Monitoring the health and well-being of macaws bred in captivity or undergoing reintroduction is essential. This includes meticulous disease management and ensuring their ability to adapt to the wild.

Community Engagement

Local communities frequently assume a pivotal role in the success of reintroduction endeavors. Engaging and educating these communities regarding the significance of macaw conservation can mitigate threats like habitat degradation and poaching.

Reintroduction and Release

Once macaws attain readiness, they are reintroduced into suitable wild environments. This process is meticulously overseen to ensure their survival and seamless integration into the wild macaw population.

Research and Monitoring

Continual research and monitoring are indispensable to evaluate the progress of reintroduction projects, track the health and behavior of released macaws, and make requisite adjustments to project strategies.

Ara Manzanillo, in the Province of Limon in Costa Rica, extends guided excursions for an unparalleled birdwatching experience immersed in the lush tropical biodiversity of the region.

Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge Hike | Visit Ara Manzanillo

tour guides at gandoca manzanillo wildlife refuge

Take your camera – Make your Own Video Memory

Charlie Fayers made this breathtaking video during an astonishing visit to the Ara Macaws projects.

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