Hacienda Barú Reserve is located 31 kms. southwest of the city of San Isidro de El General, just 1 km west of the bridge over the River Barú on the road to Quepos. The dry season from January to April is the best time to visit the region.
Costa Rica, a small country on the narrow Central American isthmus, has an extraordinary variety of flora and fauna, which is explained as much by its being a bridge between the Americas as by its extensive range of altitude and climate. In its 51,100 square kilometres live more species of birds than in all of Canada and the United States together with their combined 19,339,261 square kilometres (378 times the size of Costa Rica) In Costa Rica so far have been identified 849 species of birds, 130 species of freshwater fish, 218 of reptiles, 160 of amphibians, 205 of mammals and some 9000 vascular plants. The biodiversity is so great that in only 330 hectares of ranchland located near the mouth of the river Barú- in a region where the climate is very hot and humid and the landscape consists of forest, grassland in the process of regeneration, mangrove swamps, orchards and hills less than 300 meters above sea level- no fewer than 212 species of birds have been identified to date, the equivalent of 25% of all the species in the country.
The birdlife at this secluded site on the southern Pacific coast includes brown pelicans, anhingas, Neotropic cormorants, magnificent frigatebirds, great egrets, white ibis, rosate spoonbills, Northern boat-billed herons, little blue herons, black-bellied tree ducks, turkey vultures, curassows, parakeets, parrots, barred and collared forest-falcons, owls, hummingbirds, kingfishers and woodpeckers, among many other species.
The forests and mangrove swamps provide refuge for sloths, anteaters, white-faced capuchin monkeys, white-tailed deer, collared peccaries, coyotes, kinkajous, tayras, ocelots, jaguarundies, caymans, ctenosaurs, bushmaster snake (The largest on the continent), fer-de-lances, boa constrictor, tamanga vipres, and a large number of butterflies. The wide Barú Beach is where olive ridley and hawsbill turtles come to nest from May to November, the busiest time being September and October.
The forest species that make up the saltwater edge of the beach are white, red, black, and tea mangroves. Inland the forest conists mainly of evergreen species, such as the copal and cow tree, typical for very humid regions. Despite the fact that the region is quite distant from the dry climates of the northern Pacific, it has some typical species, such as the ear tree, gumbo-limbo, mayflower, stinking toe and many other deciduous species.