On the last day of our road trip to the Central Valley it felt like we should do something fun for the kids. They had been very patient as we dragged them around on day-long house hunting trips and it felt time to do something kid-focused. I wanted to find a place we could see some wildlife. Django had been begging for jaguars but that felt like a tall order. They had both really wanted to see some more sloths. I had been hard pressed to find anywhere to see them short of on the Caribbean side of the country, a 3.5 hour drive in the opposite direction from our house. Imagine my delight when I came across The Toucan Rescue Ranch. Their website describes them as a “wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and release organization”. I don’t know how I never found this place before but it was awesome. And it’s located right in the Central Valley.
We booked the Breakfast with the Babies tour. Yes, that’s right, baby SLOTHS! Omg. Who did I say this was for? Oh right, the kids. In any case, this tour allows you to get there early and be right up next to the babies while they get their bottles. This is a picture of Suki with Leslie, the founder. The ranch is relatively small and (when we went) uncrowded. We had a 3 hour guided tour and saw so much. The animals are incredibly well cared for, making the whole experience great.
The breakfast portion of the tour takes place on what is essentially a porch and there are sloths everywhere. Obviously you can’t touch them but you can get so close! I could not get enough.
As the name implies, there are many more animals at the ranch, especially toucans. I had no idea there were so many different types. They also had a baby monkey named Jazz, who was Suki’s favorite.
Django was a big fan of this little margay.
There were also owls, porcupines, river otters, monkeys, lots of toucans and parrots and others that I know I’m forgetting. At the end we got to see a sloth eat his “chocolate,” a hibiscus flower.
And then, my personal favorite, they brought out a bucket of baby sloths. I mean, come on!
It was a great experience. I’ve not heard of any other place in the country where you can see this many sloths this close up. Interestingly, the kids were not as enamored with the sloths as I was. They liked them, sure. But they weren’t oohing and ahhing like I was. I suppose it’s because, in reality, they don’t actually do that much. Nonetheless, Suki says she wants to volunteer there when she’s 18. Django enjoyed it but kept talking about jaguars and crocodiles.
Now there is a place to see crocodiles. Supposedly, many many large ones hang out under the Tarcoles Bridge. This bridge is in Puntarenas, on the way to Jaco. Heading home from the Central Valley as we were, this would only be a 20 minute detour. We decided to surprise Django by going to see these crocodiles on the way home.
I expected there to be several but I didn’t expect to see this many. It’s hard to tell how big those guys are but trust me when I say they’re BIG. Like 20 feet long big. And they were active! They were opening their mouths at each other, swimming, moving around. Thirty feet above them was as close as I wanted to get. Apparently, a (drunken) man wandered into the river a couple of years ago and lasted just a few seconds before crocodiles-plural-attacked and devoured him. But Django didn’t care. He was beside himself with excitement. What was funny to us was that he clearly referred this impromptu, no frills, distant and free view over a bridge to the wonderful, up-close and expensive tour at the sloth rescue. Classic. It was a perfect ending to our trip.