A Go! Girl Visit to The Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica


We here at Go! Girl Guides love Costa Rica for many reasons: the sun, the surf, and the natural beauty are all enough motives to visit. But for animal lovers, it’s a paradise, too!

As home to half a million species of wildlife, it should come as no surprise that some of the cutest critters on the planet also reside there: sloths!

You can certainly spot them in the wild all over the country, just hanging out in trees. With the continual development of Costa Rican roads and towns, many sloths have been injured or orphaned due to accidents with vehicles and power lines. That’s where The Sloth Sanctuary comes in.

Located on the Caribbean side of the country close to the town of Cahuita, The Sloth Sanctuary aims to rescue and rehabilitate sloths who are injured or orphaned, study their behavior and expand sloth-related education and awareness. Since 1997, they have rescued more than 500 sloths.

While doing research for our Costa Rica guidebook, I decided to check out the Sanctuary. As a visitor, you can choose to stay in their B&B for up to two nights, or opt for a tour. Two tours are available for very different prices–the Buttercup Tour and the Insider’s Tour. For you, dear readers, I thought it best to take the plunge for the Insiders Tour.

sloth image

We arrived in the morning and went on a canoe ride. Howler monkeys serenaded us and our guide pointed out creatures our city eyes weren’t used to spotting. (He noticed a pair of bats sleeping soundly in the niche of a log that we passed directly under. I never would have seen that!)

Then we met for breakfast with Buttercup, the Sanctuary’s very first sloth. She has been with the family running the Sanctuary, the Arroyos, since 1991, when she was orphaned and brought to the Arroyos by some of their neighbors. Now she lounges in a hanging wicker chair like a slow-moving and adorable queen.

After breakfast, we started the tour of the facility. We learned all about sloths and the individual stories of the ones who ended up at the Sanctuary. Did you know that sloths grip trees so tightly that when they die, they still hang onto the tree for a while? Or that they only poop once a week? Well, you do now (and so do I).

sloths in hammock

A highlight was getting to watch the baby sloths playing and practicing their climbing skills on a makeshift jungle gym.

Overall, it was a remarkable experience, and increased my awareness of the sloths’ situation in Costa Rica. I would recommend the Insiders Tour for those with the extra cash to spend (or for anyone who loves sloths as much as Kristen Bell does). For more information about The Sloth Sanctuary, check it out here.

If you’d like to volunteer in rehabilitating sloths and other jungle animals, you can also check out the Jaguar Rescue Center near Puerto Viejo.

For more about solo travel in Costa Rica, be sure to order our forthcoming guidebook!

Have you visited the sloths in Costa Rica?


About Author

Sara learned the value of travel at an early age, on annual family trips in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Not to be relegated to the North American continent, she made her first trip overseas at the age of 13 and has been finding ways to travel ever since. She has explored Etruscan tombs in Italy, made hostel beds in Ireland, and hiked volcanoes in Costa Rica. Follow her travels near and far at www.saramelanie.com

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