Hacienda Baru Wildlife Refuge
- Location : 2 miles north of Dominical
- Area : 815 acres
- Telephone : 2787-0003
- Entrance Fee : $6.00
The rainforest has reclaimed the pastures, cacao and teak farms that once spanned Hacienda Baru. Hike through thickets of secondary growth, primary forest, sandy beaches and clear streams concealing two- and three-toed sloths, capuchin monkeys, coatis, sea otters, poison dart frogs and sea turtles. Among the bramble of the canopy dwell toucans, trogons, motmots, tinamous, as well as whimbrels, plovers and sandpipers.read more close
Two miles north of Dominical, Hacienda Baru is a private wildlife refuge that serves as a link between Corcovado National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park and Los Santos Reserve known as "The Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor". The refuge encourages wildlife like tapirs and jaguars (which no longer inhabit Hacienda Baru) to move through the region again. The results are already coming in. Pumas and Tapirs sightings have begun to surface as the forest has reclaimed the old cattle ranch.
Hacienda Baru now has more than 368 species of birds and 70 different mammals living across the 815-acre refuge that supports a variety of habitats including primary and secondary rainforest, mangrove estuaries, wetlands and grasslands. The refuge also encompasses Baru beach, a two-mile stretch of cocoa sand, driftwood and powerful surf.
Tours include a tree-climbing adventure, overnight camping trip, rainforest hike, canopy tour and several bird-watching excursions. The wildlife refuge also has an onsite orchid gallery, butterfly garden, bird-watching tower and more than four miles of self-guided trails.
Travelers can lodge at Hacienda Baru in one of their 12 cabins which will accommodate up to six people. Each two-bedroom cabin has a kitchen with coffee maker, fans, safety box and screened-in porch.
El Ceibo cafe serves hearty traditional meals at reasonable prices. The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The refuge also has a souvenir shop, tour center and picnic areas.
Hacienda Baru has four main hiking trails for guided and self-guided tours that wind through the property traversing all kinds of terrain leading to the beaches, streams and different habitats that make up the refuge.
- Teak and Canal Trail, .62 miles, cross through the old teak farm, tall grass and streams for a glimpse at orange-chinned parakeets, white-crowned parrots, woodpeckers and wood rails. The trail ends at the beach.
- Strangler Trail, .5 miles, less ominous than it sounds, the trail is named after the strangler fig trees that wrap their thick limbs around the trunks of older trees. This trail weaves through secondary forest past hanging vines, heliconias and philodendrons to a swamp forest that eventually crosses with the Pizote trail leading to the beach.
- Pizote Trail, .93 miles, this trail meanders through grass lands, marsh lands and secondary forest. Starting from the entrance of Hacienda Baru you'll cross through the old Cocoa farm where you can still see the cocoa trees growing amidst other secondary forest trees. Good for bird and wildlife watching, this trail takes you through the different stages of forest regeneration.
- Lookout Trail, 1.5 miles, this trail ascends through the highlands past the secondary forest and into the depths of the primary forest for a look at some of the oldest forest found at Hacienda Baru. Along the path, you'll find two different observation towers with views of Hacienda Baru's lowlands, the Baru River's delta with the Pacific Ocean and the town of Dominical – great spots for bird watching. Keep an eye out on this trail for capuchin monkeys, sloths, poison dart frogs and even bats hiding under the rainforest flora. This trail eventually winds over a ridgeline in a circle leading you back the way you came.
From San Jose: The shortest route is via the Route 34 to Jaco. Continue south toward Quepos and Manuel Antonio. From Quepos, the 28-mile stretch takes less than 45 minutes. You will find Hacienda Baru on the right, two miles after the village of Hatillo, just before the gas station.
An alternative route is via San Isidro del General and the Route 2. This will take you over the Cerro de la Muerte, the highest point on the Inter-American highway – 10,400 feet. This stretch of highway tends to get cloudy and rainy in the afternoons. When you reach San Isidro del General, watch for a sign to Dominical. Turn right and drive through town following the road 23 miles to the intersection of the coastal road. At this junction turn right onto the signed dirt road towards Quepos. Hacienda Baru is 2 miles up this road. The journey takes between 4 and 5 hours, depending on road conditions and traffic.