The Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, home of Iguana Verde

The Gandoca-Manzanilo Wildlife Refuge ( REGAMA) is strategically located at the south- eastern most tip of the Caribbean coast. It is surrounded by the sixaola River at the Panamanian border to the east, a row of mountains from the Talamancan range to the south and bathed on the north side by the white sand beaches and rich coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea.

REGAMA is a component of a complete system of Costa Rican protected areas which offer the visitor a broad spectrum of cultural, ethnical and ecological diversity, including the neighboring Hitoy-Cerere Biological Reserve, Cahuita National Park, Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve, Bribri indigenous Reserve and Cabecar Indigenous Reserve of Talamanca, Telire indigenous reserve, Tayni indigenous Reserve and the Amistad International Park.

Compromised of 5,013 land mass hectares and 4,436 marine hectares, the REGAMA occupies nearly 70% of the Southern Caribbean region (Caric Sur). The remaining 30% include the equally attractive areas of Cocles, Old Harbour ( Puerto Viejo) and Black Beach.

The land eco-systems best represented in the Refuge are the wetlands. The Gandoca- Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is one of several areas in Costa Rica designated of special international importance.

The wetlands and surrounding forest areas contain a great diversity of species, many endemic to this area, such as: crocodiles, alligators, otters, wild bores, ocelots, pumas, pacas, sloths, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, white-throated capuchin monkeys, and numerous other species of birds, reptiles and amphibians.

 

 

 

The biological richness is increased by the Refuge’s marine coastal areas: coral reefs, sandy beaches, fossil lined coral caves, mangroves, varying marine floors from silt to sand to rock to coral.

Within the refuge there are five types of coral reefs. These formations contain a wide variety of plant and animal species not found elsewhere; 11 types of sponges, 27 species of algae, and 34 species of mollusks have been identified so far. The beaches from Monkey Point in Manzanillo to the mouth of the Sixaola River are sites for four types of sea turtles to lay their eggs; the leatherback, Green hawksbill and more. And the loggerhead, all of which are endangered.