Costa Rica Spotlight: Aviarios del Caribe Sloth Refuge, Limon Costa Rica
One of my favorite special interest tours is Aviarios del Caribe Sloth Refuge located near Limon Costa Rica on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. My husband and I stopped by there on my way to Cahuita National Park which is a few miles down the road. And boy did we get a treat! After meeting Judy and Lewis Arroyo, the founders, We took the tour ( $14.00) which included viewing a well made video about the behavior and life cycle of the sloth. Then, the best part- we meet three university students who come for three months to volunteer their time to care for the sick and injured sloths, then release them back into the wild. Some of the newborn sloths were being bottle fed-so cute!
The Story of Buttercup-the mascot of Aviarios, pictured above in the arms of Judy’s grandson. Buttercup was rescued and brought to Judy when she was a baby. She was hit by a car while crossing the roadway near by the refuge. She was nursed back to health and now resides in her own wicker hammock right there on the front porch of the refuge. Buttercup is friendly and loves the tourist. I even had my picture taken wit h her. (no flash photos, please).
Then we took the canal tour offered at the sanctuary: This tour took us down a narrow fresh water canal system that is an offshoot of the Estrella River. Our canoe was paddled by our local Costa Rican guide named Jose who spoke very good English. We were out only a short time when we spotted a toucan -jet black in color with a long yellow bill. Boy am I glad I had my binoculars! It was early, around 6:30 a.m. and we could hear a symphony of bird sounds. Such lush tropical vegetation in this exuberant lowland rainforest, a thousand different colors of green. A small black howler monkey lurked in the tree top above us and gazed at us with amusement. And Jorge then explained that this is the home of the reclusive caiman, and other creatures such as anteaters, river otters, turtles, lizards, and the beautiful turquoise -blue morphous butterfly.
Yesterday, upon our arrival to Aviarios, darkenss came around 5:30 p.m. so we decided to rent one of Judy’s rooms. She runs a B&B here, so we took the room with air conditioning $100.00 The rooms ( not luxury) are clean with plenty of hot water and a very comfortable queen bed .The price included a delicious full Costa Rican breakfast of fresh fruit (pineapple, papaya, and watermelon-all locally grown.) Then fresh scrambled eggs along with gallo pinto which is a mixture of rice and beans flavored with Salsa lizano (a Costa Rican salsa and yes the receipe is a secret). Then came the fresh homemade tortillas with white cheese called farmers cheese (made locally), and fried plantains- Those big yellow bananas. Yummy!
Highly recommended: What a special treat-Aviarios del Caribe!
How to get there: From San Jose take the main road to Limon (Highway 32) Before Limon city turn south towards Cahuita, Puerto Viejo. Go about 30 minutes , around 18 miles, watch for the signs Aviarios del Caribe. The sign into the property is on the left side of the road.
Please call ahead of time to let them know you are coming. They keep the front gate locked.
How much time do I need to spend there? I felt it was a good thing to spend the night , since we had been driving for almost 4 hours getting there from San Jose, we were tired out.
We got up the following morning at 5:30 a.m. (daylight in Costa Rica is around 5:30 a.m. all year round) and took the canal tour around 6:15 a.m. lasting around 1 hour) Then the sloth film and then the tour of the refuge and actually seeing all the sloths being cared for. By lunch time we moved on to Cahuita National Park. Only a few miles further south.
Special instructions: Use your mosquito repellent at around 4:30 p.m. when the mosquitoes come out. Sunhat and sunscreen. It’s hot here, around 80 degrees F. Remember you are in a lowland rainforest at sea level, so dress in cottons and stay cool.
Camera and binoculars for the many nature photography opportunities here!
Best time of year to visit: All Year round, rainfall is heavy here most of the year so remember to get up early and get going. Mornings are usually more sunny. Caribbean side of Costa Rica gets considerably more rainfall per year than any of the other regions.
Credit cards accepted?– check with Judy first as to how she handles credit cards and which ones she accepts.