Sloths have become one of the most iconic animal species for national and foreign visitors to Costa Rica, and without a doubt, the area of La Fortuna and the entire San Carlos plain is an ideal region to see these curious and sweet animals.
The fame of the Sloths is such that they have become something similar to the Koala in Australia, and especially children are captivated to see these slow but interesting and brave mammals on a branch high up in a tree.
There are two types of sloths in Costa Rica, and although they are very similar, there is an important distinction. The sloth of the lowland areas of Costa Rica (tropical rainforests and hot zones) has three toes, while the sloth of the highlands (cloud forests and mountainous areas) has two toes.
It is found in practically all regions of the country, except in the dry tropical forest and in the high altitude peaks, above 3500 meters above sea level.
In appearance however, both are very similar, and have a lush fur, in which sometimes accumulate and grow some species of botany (resembles moss). Sloths, as their name suggests, are extremely slow in their movements, which makes hiding from predators such as large eagles, pumas and other species so important.
The animals look for trees, such as the Yos or Guarumo, which provide them with enough green leaves (their food) as well as a source of water.
During the day, it is possible to see them high up in the trees, clinging to a branch high up, and many times they are mistaken for a termite nest, monkeys, a squirrel’s nest or a bird’s nest.
However, when using binoculars, it is very easy to distinguish them and see that it is a sloth.
Among the curiosities of the sloth is the fact that they only come down from the tree to defecate, which for them implies a high risk. Another reason why they come down from their trees is to look for another tree, in case the one they had, began to lose foliage, or perhaps the water source is no longer sufficient.
Another curiosity is that the animals usually move on the ground, and sometimes cross roads with heavy traffic, in which case, in the vast majority of cases, a driver stops, takes the animal by the back and helps it to cross so that it is not run over by a vehicle.
Sloths near La Fortuna and Arenal
One of the best places to see sloths is the Peñas Blancas River, which can be navigated by raft or kayak. During the tour along the river, which is surrounded on both sides by dense gallery forests, it is quite common to see them.
Another tour departing from La Fortuna that is ideal for sloth lovers is undoubtedly the tour on the Tres Amigos River, which connects La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano with the Boca Tapada region, even further north. The sloths are usually entrenched in forest trees on the banks of the river, which makes it easy for the visitor to see them, always with the help of the guide.