Central America, Photography, Review, Travel

Jaguar Rescue Center – Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

This is the first part of a two part series. We were offered the opportunity to participate in Gecko Trail Adventures popular 3 in 1 tour in Puerto Viejo. Due to the sheer awesomeness of this tour, I couldn’t justify putting all of it in just one post.

Fleur de Lans snake – you do NOT want to run into one of these guys in Costa Rica.

JaguarRescueCenter-1Contrary to popular belief, there are no jaguars in the Jaguar Rescue Center. Long story to be honest – but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take the time to hit this place up.

It was a gloomy, rainy day – something we had gotten used to over the past 3-4 months following rainy season south. I really didn’t know what to expect for the morning and to be honest, it was hard to get out of bed. I was ready to get the hell out of Costa Rica.

We pulled up to the Jaguar Rescue Center for their 9:30 tour. They only have 2 a day to make sure they don’t exhaust their animals. This place is not a zoo but a place for rehabilitation. Our tour guide is freakin’ hilarious and made sure to hit the creepy crawlies (including their extensive collection of pit vipers).

To offset the fact that most of us had the heebie jeebies we headed into the baby monkey enclosure.

JaguarRescueCenter-8We were allowed inside to play with the baby monkeys.

This was a DREAM of mine.

We walk in and it immediately becomes a madhouse. Monkeys start climbing all over Shaun jumping from shoulder to shoulder, swinging from ropes and jumping on their trampoline. One female howler crawled into my arms, wrapped her beautiful arms around my neck and laid her head against my chest. She didn’t care to play, she just wanted to cuddle. How can I say no?

Did you know that the bottom of their tails are made from the same tissues as their fingers? They aren’t all fluffy. It is how they hold onto branches. It really is like another hand.

They are like puppies trying to wrestle with each other everywhere and we were just as playful giving little growls and tugs. At the end of 10 minutes or so I realized that Shaun, me and only 2 other people had stayed in the enclosure. Apparently they were a bit too energetic for people.

I loved it. I wanted to stay here. I wanted to volunteer.

Every day they take the monkeys out into the forest and let them play in the trees. Their hope is that the neighboring howler monkey troop will take them in after a while. They have already had success with others. When the babies are tired they come back down from the trees and take a nap on the blanket the volunteers have spread out. Many are carried home in their exhaustion.


After a tour of the rest of the property with sloths, wild cats, owls, and tree frogs, I fell in love with Costa Rica even more.

We seriously considered staying another month to volunteer at the Jaguar Rescue Center.

Thank you Gecko Trail Adventures for making one of my dreams come true.

And on Monday… more chocolate and waterfalls (no, not chocolate waterfalls, sorry)!


Disclosure: We did receive the tour as a complimentary service from Gecko Trail Adventures. While this may be true, all opinions are our own.

40 thoughts on “Jaguar Rescue Center – Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica”

    1. @Leslie: Thank you. I was weirding out a whole bunch of people with how natural I was with animals. I had to explain that Shaun and I are animal people and even considered going to vet school or studying zoology.


  1. Oh man, these pics are amazing. I wish I knew that you could hold the monkeys in Costa Rica–now I wish I had gone to do something like that when I was there. Such a cool experience!

    1. @Emily: I had run into several backpackers that were raving about the place or I would have never known about it. We went to Puerto Viejo kinda wanting to go.

  2. I don’t want to know anything else about this. I’m a sucker (as you’ve realized) for animals and volunteer experiences with animals. I am so glad you got to experience this. Now, we have to go to ENP together to hang with elephants!! I love that the little monkey loved you! So cute. And, can you please bring me a pet sloth? That’s the cutest little thing.

  3. Awww I didn’t know you were such a monkey lover. They’re so cute, right? There is so much effort to save them right now; the electrocution is issue is heartbreaking. Glad you enjoyed the east side of CR!!

  4. Why do I suspect that if I show this post to Shawna that we will be forced to make a sudden itinerary change? 🙂

    Awesome pics guys!

    Hey one more question, in that part of the world, what is the skinny with malaria or dengue? Obviously that doesn´t make them, ´no-go´zones, but just curious…

    1. We almost did! Good luck with trying to pass THIS one up.

      As for malaria and dengue – they do have them but it is still pretty rare to contract it as long as you are on it with the bug repellent.

      Basically you have to make the decision yourself:
      1.) Take the meds and deal with the crazy side effects (AND you can still get malaria.
      2.) No side effects and just treat malaria if you happen to get it.

      We went with #2 but the strains in Central and South America are nowhere near as bad as other places around the world.

    1. We really fell in love with their establishment and considered changing our plans to volunteer with them for a couple of months. Looking back I’m glad we left (for a million other adventures) but we’re still considering heading back.

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