The rainforests of Costa Rica, swarm with exciting animals, noisy, but often elusive birdlife, crawling insects, lazy swamp caiman, dozens of species of monkeys, and even the fabulous jaguar. It was one of the things which appealed to me most when visiting the country, exploring the forests in the clouds.
A chilled out howler
“best impression of an excited primate”
Considering my experiences with baboons in The Gambia, I might be forgiven for not being overly enamoured by primates. However, any wildlife encounter, is exciting, and monkeys are also fun, but keeping my camera out of reach seemed wise.
One of these encounters occurred in Monteverde, while crossing a hanging bridge in the cloud forest with Daniel, our guide from Sky Adventures. Videographer Guillermo had gone ahead to film the crossing, when he suddenly stopped in his tracks. Gesticulating, animatedly for us to keep quiet, and doing his best impression of an excited primate. He may not be a natural at charades, but the message was clear …. he’d seen a monkey.
Troop of howler monkeys in the canopy
You looking at me?
As we approached quietly, I couldn’t see anything, whispering my frustration at this unexpected bout of myopic vision, then seconds later tripping over my jaw as it hit the ground. There wasn’t just one monkey, but a whole troop of howler monkeys, leisurely playing, and relaxing in the canopy just a few feet from the bridge.
Instantly there was the click of several camera shutters as we excitedly chattered in hushed whispers like schoolchildren in a library sweet shop. Everywhere there appeared photogenic primates, posing contentedly for their portrait. Sitting in the branches, sprawling out, completely relaxed, and unconcerned by our presence. Babies climbed over mothers, jumping over the gap between branches, and basically making mischief, like any self-respecting juvenile.
Time for mischief
Some were genuinely so close they were within touching distance, and one especially curious, and camera friendly young monkey used his mother as a climbing frame, showing off his agility right in front of our eager lenses. His long-suffering parent however, had been chilling moments earlier, now rudely disturbed by his antics, she may have considered adoption.
“only be described as a sexual deviant”
Other things on his mind
Awww c’mon mom
It was mesmerising watching this relaxed monkey troop, they all had very different characters. Some remained quiet, almost in self-reflection, or meditation, others very curious, while one can only be described as a sexual deviant, his picture tells all! Their facial expressions alone were enough to keep us entertained, yawns, tongue poking and evil grins were just a small part of their repertoire.
Howler monkeys are usually heard long before they being seen, their booming calls carrying far in the rainforest, warning all wildlife of potential intruders, or danger. This was the closest we came to them, on every other occasion they were high up, in the upper branches of the highest trees in the forest.
Ain’t he cute?
We stayed for at least ten minutes, and would have happily stayed for longer. Daniel however, ushered us along once he determined we had enough shots, and before we over stayed our welcome.
I’m all for low-calorie sweeteners
Several days later we came across a mischievous troop of white-faced Capuchins raiding the rubbish bins of our hotel in Tortuguera. They were rooting through the trash with ruthless efficiency, jumping down from the roof of a nearby outhouse, snatching anything within reach, and squabbling over precious titbits. They eventually knocked one plastic bin over, scattering like startled mice, but returning to their raid moments later.
The howler monkeys had seemed calm, almost benign, these characters however, seemed much more mischievous, and almost sinister. Appearing like a group of bored delinquents, just itching for trouble. It came as little surprise to discover they can be aggressive towards people, and even steal the young of other primates for food.
I’m on a calorie controlled diet too
This is my bin
Costa Rica is home to an amazing variety of exotic wildlife, living in the primary, or newer secondary rainforests, or cloudforests. The places we visited during this trip were relatively accessible, easy hiking trails, hanging bridges high in the canopy, or boat tours along the swampy canals, monkey business, and other wildlife encounters are never too far away in this exciting destination.
How’s my camouflage?