Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Thu March 03 2016

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  • A Cruising Couple | March 3, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    Experiencing Costa Rica’s Abundant Wildlife at Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

    Experiencing Costa Rica’s Abundant Wildlife at Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

    Photos by A Cruising Couple

    Costa Rica is home to some of the most diverse and abundant wildlife in the world. It’s not uncommon to spot monkeys playing in the jungle canopy, toucans soaring across the sky and sloths lazily lounging the day away. An encounter with the country’s wildlife is always a highlight of any trip to Costa Rica, no matter how many times you’ve seen the animals before.

    Sloth Costa Rica Wildlife

    Unfortunately, not all animals in Costa Rica get to live a happy and healthy life in the wild. Some have been abused by the illegal pet trade. Others have been hit by cars or abandoned by their mothers. Whatever the cause, there is a constant flood of hurt and helpless animals who need a safe place for rescue and rehabilitation. Enter the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary. Located in southern Costa Rica, just outside surf hub Dominical, Alturas is a must-visit for animal lovers and tourists who want a better understanding of the country’s diverse wildlife.

    Monkey Jaguar Rescue Center

    The primary goal of the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary is to rescue, rehabilitate and release animals back into the wild. For those animals that will no longer be able to survive in the wild, Alturas offers a safe, “forever home” in as near natural conditions as possible.

    READ MORE: How to Give Back on Your Costa Rica Vacation

    Animals At The Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

    Because the ultimate goal of the sanctuary is to release animals back into the wild, there is no guarantee as to what wildlife you will find at the sanctuary on any given day. However, typically there are Squirrel and Spider Monkeys, Scarlet Macaws, Toucans, Two and Three-Toed Sloths and more. The sanctuary has habitats for over 75 animals, all of which are cared for by the staff and volunteers.

    Ant eater

    One of the best parts about a visit to the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary is the opportunity to hear the stories behind the animals. While many stories are tragic, some are also beautiful tales of new friendships and rehabilitation. Tours also provide travelers with the opportunity to ask extensive questions about the wildlife sanctuary and Costa Rica’s animals, adding an element of education to your adventure.

    When To Visit

    The Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary is open Tuesday through Sunday (closed Monday). Tours run at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Reservations are not always necessary, though advised. Do note that the sanctuary is all outdoors, so the tours will not be held if it is raining.


    The Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary is a non-profit. All of the sanctuary’s funding comes from donations and tours. Through donations, the sanctuary seeks to “nurture the fragile ecosystem by rescuing and returning these invaluable animals back to the rainforest where they belong.” The one-hour tour is $25 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under.

    READ MORE: Costa Rican Animals Want To 'Save the Americans'

    Additional Options

    If you’re not traveling to Costa Rica’s southern zone, there are still a handful of other wildlife sanctuaries around the country that warrant a visit. In particular, the Jaguar Rescue Centre and Sloth Sanctuary on the Caribbean coast should not be missed if you are in the area.

    Tucan_2 Jaguar Rescue Center

    For an up-close encounter with Costa Rica’s wildlife, you can’t get any better than a visit to an Animal Sanctuary. Not only can you learn about the animals and photograph them, you’ll also feel great knowing that your tourist dollars are going directly towards the continuation of Costa Rica’s mesmerizing ecosystem.

    Have you visited an animal sanctuary in Costa Rica before? Would you put the experience on your must-visit list when in Costa Rica?

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A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
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