This remote, 102-sq-km refuge has long lured anglers seeking that elusive 18kg snook, and birders hoping to glimpse rare waterfowl. During the dry season water levels drop, concentrating the birds (and fish) in photogenically (or tasty) close quarters. From January to March, when migratory birds land in large numbers, avian density is most definitely world class.

Thanks to improved roads, tour operators are now able to offer relatively inexpensive trips to Caño Negro from all over the country. However, you don’t need them to explore the river. It’s much more intriguing and rewarding to rent some wheels (or hop on a bus), navigate the rutted road into the rural flat lands and hire a local guide right in the center of Caño Negro village. It’s also a lot cheaper, and it puts money directly into the hands of locals, thus encouraging communities in the area to protect wildlife.