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Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Sloth Spotting in Costa Rica

Written by Bel Woodhouse
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Standing in the cool misty mountain morning I watched headlights grow larger and brighter making their way up the windy road. It’s 5:30 am and as the truck pulled up Giovanni, our wildlife tour guide, beamed Buenos Diás, good morning.


His infectious smile had us all relaxing and even those ‘I’m not a morning person’ people in the group leaned forward to hear what was on the agenda. Our intrepid early bird group of five would start by visiting a place where toucans like to greet the new day before heading to his private reserve. That’s where we would play spot the sloth.


Sure enough less than ten minutes later we rattled to a halt and everyone perked up. Giovanni excitedly pointed high up into a nearby tree. The signature bright sunflower of a yellow-throated toucan’s breast was gleaming as the rising suns first rays illuminated the canopy. “It is a good sign” he beamed as a second then a third appeared. We hurried down a path for a closer look.



Yellow-throated, also called chestnut-mandibled or double-mandibled Toucan. ©Bel Woodhouse


Their melodious chirps greeted each other; it was sweet in our ears until broken by a grunting sort of growl.


Turning around, in the large trumpet tree behind me, a sheen of rusty red caught my eye. The shimmering coat of a howler monkey radiated in the early light. Hanging upside down by its strong tail, it was enjoying some breakfast. The youngest tenderest shoots nestled in the bough of the tree’s branches. Giovanni beamed. The wildlife was co-operating today.


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New shoots of a trumpet tree are a howler monkeys’ favorite breakfast. ©Bel Woodhouse


As the sun continued its journey higher into the sky the jungle around us came alive. Flashes of color had us all oohing and ahhing as flashes of exotic birds’ flit from tree to tree happily skipping along the branches. A sunset of colors as radiant reds, oranges and yellows caught our attention.


But little did we know that this was nothing compared to our next stop. The vibrant colors of tropical birds in Costa Rica are mesmerizing. The stuff of every birder’s and twitcher’s dreams. I must say they are the most beautiful I’ve seen in over 30 countries I’ve visited.


Especially at our next stop. The main event. Giovanni’s private sanctuary: Bogarin Trail. Built from the ground up, literally. Since 2000 he has been converting farmland into a lush jungle habitat. Planting over 400 trees he has created a haven for wildlife which is now home to several families of sloths. Having waited my whole life to see a sloth it was on my bucket list of animals to see in the wild.


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Last modified on Thursday, 01 July 2021

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