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Meeting Costa Rica’s Iconic Sloths: Where and When to See Them

Sloths in Costa Rica can be seen in their natural habitat but they are so well camouflaged that you’d better take a professional guide with you unless you don’t want to pass near a sloth without noticing it.

They are slow so to escape from predators they need really good camouflage and this makes them really hard to spot by inexperienced eyes.

They might be lazy and slow in movements, but they are among the most adorable animals from this tiny country.

These fascinating creatures have become a symbol of the country because of their cute face and slow living, a representative of the Pura Vida lifestyle.

Named in the local language as perezosos, Costa Rica sloths with their weird appearance continue to fascinate not only tourists but also naturalists from all over the world.

There are 6 sloth species all over the world and just 2 types of sloths live in Costa Rica: the two-toed sloth and the 3 toed sloth.

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Two toed sloths of Costa Rica

The Hoffman s two-toed sloths Costa Rica are nocturnal animals so they are harder to spot during the day as they stay hidden in the canopy and sleep.

For spotting these elusive animals you’d better hire a professional guide and take a night tour in one of the protected areas that organize such tours, like Monteverde Cloud forest reserve.

Three toed sloths Costa Rica

Also known as brown-throated three toed sloth , the Costa Rican three-toed sloth is the most common type of these creatures from the entire world, and Costa Rica three toed sloths are smaller than 2 fingered sloths and more active, so easier to spot.

Sloth Sloths in Costa Rica

Sloth Sloth in Costa Rica

Sloths in Costa Rica

Let’s discover together when and where you can spot these cute little creatures and read some useful tips and tricks that can help you increase your chances of seeing them in their natural environment.

Best time to see Costa Rica Sloths

The good news is that these creatures in the wild can be seen all year round in Costa Rica, no matter if there is the wet season or the dry season.

What we know for sure is that during the wet season many of the trails from protected areas across the country might become impractical so that is why we recommend you visit Costa Rica during the dry season.

Sloth Costa Rica National Park

Sloth Costa Rica National Park

So that is why I like to say that your experience of observing sloths in natural habitats is strongly influenced by weather conditions and tourist seasons.

In the end, you will have to choose between some drops of rain but fewer tourists and higher chances to spot wildlife in their natural environment or the dry season when tourists are everywhere and wild creatures tend to hide deep in the forest.

What does a sloth eat and why they are so slow

Sloths eat branches, leaves, buds, and sometimes insects if they can catch them and have very slow digestion systems, one of the slowest in the animal world.

Their favorite snack is the leaves of the Cecropia tree that can be found in many parts of Costa Rica forests.

Sloths spend most of their time sleeping, almost 20 hours a day in order to conserve their energy.

An interesting fact about sloths and their digestive system is that they need almost 2 weeks to fully digest a meal.

Where to see sloths of Costa Rica

If you are asking if are there sloths in Costa Rica, South America, the answer is yes and I will tell you below which are the best places to go for seeing these incredible creatures in their natural environment.

These places are ranked to be the best ones for spotting sloths in the wild on your trip to Costa Rica according to the most famous naturalist guides:

As you can see the areas from Costa Rica with a higher density of sloths are the Caribbean region, the Osa Peninsula as well as the central Pacific region.

Keep in mind that you can see sloths in La Fortuna and Arenal areas but not in Arenal Volcano National Park as it is too cold for them.

Both sloth species can be found in the same places over Costa Rica but only the two fingered sloths can survive in higher altitudes where it is colder as they have more hair.

In areas like Guanacaste, your chances to find sloths in the wild are lower almost zero because here it is a dry forest and sloths love tropical rainforest and cloud forests.

If you are running out of time or resources and you really want to see some sloths in Costa Rica then you should consider visiting a wildlife refuge or a sanctuary.

Many of these wildlife rescue centers are trying to rehabilitate Costa Rican animals and to return them to the wild when their medical condition allows that.

There are some rescue centers dedicated to sloths and they are called sloth sanctuaries that have the main purpose of treating the ill sloths and giving them back to the wild when and if possible.

No sanctuary or rescue center should allow visitors to pet these creatures as this is extremely bad for these animals which can get stressed out by humans or get bacteria and other harmful things from us.


Tips and tricks to see sloths in Costa Rica

  • Always look up, extremely high in the dense canopy as sloths are living in the top level of the forest and they come to the forest floor only once a week when they poop.
  • Search for cecropia trees, which are the favorite trees of this incredible creature and can be found mostly in the rainforest from Costa Rica.
  • Cecropia trees is a tall and thin tree with a white trunk and long, yellowish fruits that resemble string beans.
  • Book an experienced guide who knows exactly where sloths can be found as have trained eyes to spot these elusive creatures

Where to stay to be closer to sloths in Costa Rica

Many hotels from Costa Rica have sloths on their property and you will have the chance to be close to these magnificent creatures.

Here are 3 of the most popular hotels with sloths on the spot:


Bring with you a pair of binoculars and a good zoom lens to have a closer look at these beautiful creatures that live in Costa Rica.

Sloths in Costa Rica are considered to be the symbol of the country and even appear on the 10.000 colones banknote so you definitely have to see them on your Costa Rican tour.

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation
We always use as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance
We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money.

When we go for longer trips around the world we get Globelink Insurance as it offers a good cover for an affordable price.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected costs caused by medical events like illness, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.