Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge
This 35,000 acre, coastal wildlife refuge is so named for an expansive wetland area where the Rio Cuero and Rio Salado meet the Caribbean Sea.
The refuge contains a lush mix of tropical wet and mangrove forests, traced by a network of lagoons, rivers, small streams, and marshes. Monkeys, sloths, caimans, crocodiles, anteaters, iguanas, and turtles are common sights here, and the area is a bird watcher’s dream, with over 350 species of tropical wetland and forest bird species.
Perhaps the refuge’s most famous inhabitant, and the one for which the area was designated a refuge, is the elusive and endangered West Indian Manatee. There is an estimated population of between 50 and 75 individuals inhabiting the refuge.
Rio Santiago provides transport to the village of “La Union” (a 30 minute drive). From here a small, motorized train carries us along the narrow-gauge, Dole Fruit Company railway that leads through pastures and coconut groves to the Refuge’s visitor center at the mouth of the Salado River. We will explore the Refuge’s wildlife-rich estuaries in a small motorized skiff. Canoes are also available.
For optimum wildlife viewing, this trip is best started in the early morning. Guided trips to Cuero y Salado leave Rio Santiago at 6:30 AM, and our guests are usually back at the resort by lunch time.