Between the town of Ciudad Quesada and the San Juan river, bordering Nicaragua, stretches the lowlands of San Carlos. Pineapple and Heart of Palm are grown there and huge areas have been deforested in the past for cattle. In the North however, towards the border of Nicaragua, still some beautiful rainforests are remaining.
The region around Boca Tapada is one of the main nesting sites of the Great Green Macaw, which is in danger of extinction.
This region is also the last remaining area where the Almendro tree (Dipteryx panamensis) is dominant. Additionally this region provides habitat for a number of charismatic endangered species such as the Jaguar, the West Indian Manatee, and the Great Green Macaw. However, deforestation and wetland loss seriously threaten wild habitat and habitat connectivity in the region.
The core of the San Juan-La Selva Biological Corridor is the Maquenque Mixed National Wildlife Refuge, which created by executive decree by the government in 2005, maintains more than 123,500 acres (50,000 hectares) of tropical forest in northern Costa Rica. This new mixed designation puts restrictions on development in the region to maintain wildlife habitat but permits people to continue to live on and own the land.
The refuge protects diverse and fragile ecosystems such as wetlands; lagoon systems, rivers, and creeks. Researchers are developing and implementing a comprehensive sustainable development strategy and working to achieve the declaration of these sites as Ramsar Wetlands sites of International Importance.
A boatman in the region Boca Tapada installed a simple restaurant on his property bordering the San Carlos river, offering river crab dishes accompanied by local vegetables like castaña (chestnut), among others.
A good option to enjoy a delicious lunch on the way to Boca Tapada!
North of Pital a few very recommendable Eco Lodges can be found:
The "Laguna del Lagarto Lodge" with its private 500 ha rainforest reserve right in front of the guest rooms, a true pioneer en Ecotourism. The "Pedacito de Cielo Lodge", located directly on the river shore of the Rio San Carlos and more luxurious "Maquenque Eco Lodge" which opened its doors in 2008.
Hotels / Lodges in Boca Tapada - Rio San Carlos
How to get there (4x4 recommended, mandatory during the rainy season):
From San José: Via Alajuela, (consider a side trip to Poás Volcano), then via Naranjo and Ciudad Quesada to Aguas Zarcas und Pital.
From La Fortuna / Arenal Volcano: Via Tanque and Muelle to Pital.
From Siquirres / Guapiles: (after taking a trip to Tortuguero National Park) Turn right in Guapiles to Rio Frio and Puerto Viejo Sarapiqui then via San Miguel and Aguas Zarcas to Pital.
The paved road ends in Pital. After about 35 km / 1.5 hrs on a gravel road you'll get to the small village of Boca Tapada and the Lodges.