The Last Frontier: Golfito Wildlife Refuge

View from Golfito Forest Reserve

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“In wilderness lies the preservation of the world.” Thoreau

On the edge of civilization in the Osa Peninsula is the Golfito Wildlife Refuge, which is one of the regions many protected areas. While Golfito means little, the surrounding area’s biodiversity is a treasure trove of nature’s wonders. In 1939, the United Fruit Company established the frontier town of Golfito for banana production.  This area is known as the last frontier, and it is one of the least explored and most beautiful places in the world. Neighboring Golfito and Blancas National Park is the Golfito National Wildlife Refuge, which covers some 6,943 acres.  this wildlife refuge plays a significant role in habitat protection of wildlife, flora and fauna. They safeguard the area from development paths that would threaten the incredible biodiversity of this country while also supporting ecotourism

Golfito Wildlife Refuge Stream

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Created in 1986 to protect the area’s water supply, this wildlife refuge is known as one of the wettest places in the world. Heavy rains nourish the evergreen forests producing some of the tallest canopies in Central America.  The green foliage and wildlife including the exotic birds nestled in this refuge makes it a favorite hiking spot. With hiking trails accessible from Golfito, you can hike to scenic overlooks that have an expansive view or to the beaches of Golfo Dulce.  You can walk along the side of a river enjoying a majestic landscape that leads to the mouth of the Pacific Ocean while spotting all sorts of exotic wildlife along the way. For the truly adventurous, you can take a night and leave the comfort of your resort to camp along the beach.

Golifto Refuge

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The wildlife refuge extends over a vast alluvial plane that is dotted with outcroppings of volcanic rock, which contribute to the vibrancy of the plants and richness of the soil. The heavy and consistent rains feed numerous waterways. Many extinct or threatened species in neighboring countries still exist here. Among the endangered species are West Indian manatees, tapirs, cougars, jaguars, ocelots, crocodiles, and iguanas. There are nearly 150 species of birds including scarlet macraws, parrots, brown pelicans, ibis, horons, and owls.

Golfito Refuge Trail

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Wildlife refuges play an important role by protecting wildlife from hunters and development; it preserves an area of land for the wildlife.  Refuges make a significant contribution to protecting the areas phenomenal biodiversity and much of Costa Rica’s land base. As development paths continue to expand around the globe and more and more areas are encroached on, the protection of large land mass is critical to protecting biodiversity and the survival of many species that would otherwise be lost. This refuge is one of the many great places to explore in the southern part of Costa Rica and Crocodile Bay provides day hikes through this refuge.