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Sleeping Sloth hangs in between the green vegetation in Costa Rica

The Sloths of Costa Rica

Arrived in Cahuita we had a strawl through town to check out what was happening. Not much was happening in Cahuita.. As a matter of fact it was what I expected to find on the Caribbean side. Life goes around slowly here. We found out that the Cahuita National Park is free to visit although a non-compulsory donation is much appreciated. The next day we wandered into the coastal park to look for sloths.

We were hoping to see the snakes other travellers had told us about. We did not rent a guide for the hike so we'd had to find the animals ourselves. This is not too much of an issue since our eyesight and hearing are quite well and Sandy has a keen eye for spotting wildlife. Off we went looking up in the trees and in the bushes.


Early in the hike Sandy spotted a sloth high in a tree. As another group with a guide was trailing us we notified the guide on the sloth, which turned out to be a good decision. The position of the next few animals he spotted he also shared with us; a great trade off. At one point a venomous snake was spotted as well! Once each person in his group had taken their pictures we took our time to line up our cameras. It was a pretty little viper which was perched over a branch just off the path. Careful not to get too close we took our shots and left the animal on its quest to find a decent meal.

At one point in the hike we discovered a sloth that seemed to be making its way down the tree. We knew they only do this every once in a while to visit the toilet. So we waited.. It took 5 minutes for it to come close to the path, but it stopped since the paparazzi had gathered. Many tourists saw us standing there looking into the forest and came in for a closer look. In the end the sloth decided that this was not the most ideal moment for a toilet break and moved  back up into the tree in a sloth-sprint.

It was a nice hike which tired us out towards the end. Especially because temperatures soared high at one point when we were on a more exposed part of the track on the seaside. Not so much wind was present either so it turned into a sweaty affair towards the end :-).


Just before we reached the end of the path we even spotted howler monkeys high up in the trees. Obviously their howling was what gave them away. Sadly the promised Italian restaurant with good food and drinks was closed, which made us jump back on the bus to Cahuita without lunch. We made up for that once we had returned in Cahuita.

Sloth Sanctuary

On another day we went to visit the Sloth Sanctuary which has become famous due to the tv series "Meet the sloths" on Animal Planet. The sanctuary cares for sick and injured sloths coming in from all over Costa Rica. To get there was a challenge in it's own right as our bus driver managed to forget to let us know when to get off. So when it took longer than expected I ran over to him, only for him to realise what had happened. Nice.. Luckily he stopped the bus travelling in the other direction and told the driver to drop us off at the gate.

Finally we were there. The place we had been watching on TV seemed as tranquil as expected. The absolute star of the show was also there: Buttercup, a three-fingered sloth. As the first ever resident she is the queen of the sanctuary and presumably the oldest inhabitant. She has her own special place her "throne"; a reed basket. The queen reigns from above and likes her leaves fresh and juicy.

Around 150 sloths reside at the rescue center. Both the two-fingered (Megalonychidae) and the three-fingered (Bradypodidae) species are cared for. In the wild sloths live mainly in trees. We learned that thousands of years ago there were ground dwelling sloths as well. Scientists believe us humans to be accountable for their extinction. What's new huh..?

We did a tour around the enclosures and got an introduction into the lives of these slow moving, but interesting animals. Many of the sloths die or get injured from accidents with powerlines. We have seen the impact of the powerlines in Cahuita ourselves. Not a nice experience to see the animals roasted on the lines.. So it's great to see that extra care is being taken for these animals in the center.

After the tour in the rescue center we also did a small boat tour close to the sanctuary where we spotted an aligator in between the vegetation on the watersedge. The small specimen was patient enough to get its pic done just before it bursted into the greenish water looking for serenity.

joostvanuffelen's picture
About the Author:
Joost loves the oceans, travelling and (underwater)photography. Combining those three elements he creates ocean art, travel reports and ocean photo stories...

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