For anyone visiting Costa Rica and the Puerto Viejo area we would say that visiting the Jaguar Rescue Centre is a must do. Besides the stunning forests and beaches of Costa Rica, a main tourist interest are the native animals to the country.
The Jaguar rescue centre is located just south of the Caribbean Cost town of Puerto Viejo – a very cool hippy town known to tourists and yogis alike. We were staying in Cahuita at the time, but finding the rescue centre was a piece of cake. You can get there from any town along the coast by catching a cheap local bus to Puerto viejo. If you’re already staying in PV, a popular route is hiring a push-bike and cycling down the jungle-meets-beach road and stopping at the rescue centre for a tour.
The centre is located directly across from the tropical beach with dense jungle mountains bringing up the rear. We arrived at the centre at 9am for a 9:30am open and tour. Visits to the centre are by guided tour only, and believe me you will not be disappointed! The tour runs either in the morning or in the afternoon, so it’s best to prepare which you are wanting to attend to get there a little early, as it does fill out, everyday.
The cost was $20 which can seem a little hefty considering the daily budget of accommodation and meals in Costa, but seeing the animals was something we didn’t want to miss out on.
The centre survives solely on donations so know that your admission is for a good cause. The tours and centre workers are also all volunteers, who pay to work at the centre for animal research and study purposes.
Upon entering the centre we were assigned to a waiting area while tour groups were sorted. In this area we were able to see the beautiful native serpentines and this is where the photo snapping begins!
Our tour was between 12-15 people and was hosted by a lovely Australian named Skye. Skye gave some background knowledge on the centre founder (a Spanish primatologist) and the mission behind its statement. The centre is a rehabilitation centre for native animals that are brought in by locals or found in the jungle needing help. The aim is to aid these animals for however long is necessary; and then, if possible, to release them back into the wild.
We started at the bird aviary where we saw many stunning birds from owls to tropical parrots. Each animal has a name, story and goal behind them in order to see them healthy and free again. After the birds we took a stroll through the pond area spotting native tree snakes (that just like to hang out there), while trying to spot the famous red and green frogs. We saw Cayman alligators (with interesting stories on how they had arrived) and beautiful deer and foals.
Strolling through the gardens It was easy to see the animals aren’t in captive conditions, and clearly enjoy their stay at the centre. This was on show with the eager volunteers who sometimes have many of them hanging from their shoulders and arms.
Then we hit the most wanted animals section – the baby sloths! We were able to get up close and personal with the baby sloth basket, with the photos definitely not doing their amazing cuteness justice. After here we hit the baby monkey play pen where a volunteer gets to bottle feed orphaned monkeys and help them find their tails in climbing.
After here we visited the adult monkey area where we saw howler monkeys, white faced monkeys, and spider monkeys. They are very playful and curious with many being allowed to head out each day with volunteers to the jungle for an excursion.
We saw many animals in the centre from tucans, turtles, eagles, caymen, snakes, sloths, ocelot cats and of course primates! Here’s a few more of our favourite pictures below:
Upon exit we went through the sloth garden (the highlight!) where our friendly furry pals are hanging just centimetres above our heads – mainly sleeping!
We loved every minute of the Jaguar Rescue Centre visit and was definitely a top highlight in Costa Rica. Once finished the tour I recommend checking out the cafe in the centre for some delicious Costa Rican coffee and tasty fresh brownies.