Gandoca Manzanillo wildlife refuge has two distinct parts. The beaches of Manzanillo, Uva, Chiquita and Cocles are dotted with hotels, lodges, B&Bs, restaurants, bars and small businesses but south towards Gandoca after the end of the road is a whole other world. Accessible only on foot the tropical lowland coastal rainforest here is one of the last tiny patches undisturbed on the southern Caribbean (Cahuita National Park protects the other).
The relatively flat terrain means the huge amounts of rain that fall collect into marshes and Jollio swamps that couldn’t readily be converted to pasture. Mile Creek on the south east border spends as much time outside its banks as in and while the trails can be challenging when it’s wet (most of the time) the rewards are worth it.
The Refuge can also be accessed from the south east by heading 10 km inland to Bribri then 20 km south towards Sixalola before cutting 12 km back to the coast on a 4WD road that fords a couple of small rivers to reach Gandoca.