But what happens when no matter how hard a government tries animals are hurt by tourism. Take the Costa Ballena area. 10 years ago the main road, (route 34) that connected San Jose and the towns of Uvita, Dominical and Ojochal was a dirt road that saw very little traffic. Once it was paved tourism and traffic picked up. While this has been great for locals in the area cars are hitting and injuring more animals. Same goes with the power lines that are in the area. Monkeys are constantly electrocuted. So what bridges the divide between a wonderful tourist destination for pristine nature and world class wildlife watching and the the sad fact that animals that are being injured?
During my time in Costa Ballena I had the chance to visit Alturas wildlife sanctuary. Not only was it an amazing day seeing anteaters, toucans, monkeys and sloths up close. But it was also a great way to spend my money; giving back to a non profit that helps the animals that have been injured from increased tourism.
How to Visit Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary
Alturas is located in Uvita Costa Rica. It is up a pretty steep hill that is 4x4 recommended. I took a cab because I didn’t trust my standard rental car to make it.
- Alturas is open Tuesday - Sunday (Closed Monday to clean).
- To see the animals you have to join one of their 4 daily tours - 9 am, 11 am 1 pm, and 3 pm.
- Each tour is 1.5 hours long.
- It costs $25 for adults and $15 for kids under 12.
What animals you will see at Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary
The tour only covers a small portion of all the great work they do for costa rican animals. You will get to see the front half of the sanctuary, the animals that unfortunately will never be able to be released back in the wild. This is usually due to some sort of debilitating injury or the simple fact that they were too domesticated. (This usually happens when the animal is raised illegally in captivity.) There are a couple of sloths, anteaters, tons of monkeys, toucans, parakeets and many other animals. You cannot touch or hold any of the animals at Alturas.
What else the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary does
What you cant see is all the behind the scenes work they put in for animals. They staff three veterinatians, have a working veterinarians office and hundreds of animals that are in some stage of being rehabilited and released back in the wild.
Alturas is run almost completely on volunteers, some from abroad who live on property and other locals (mostly expats) who come once a week for a couple of hours. If you want an unforgettable vacation you can contact them about costs for volunteering here.
On my trip to Alturas I had the fortunate opportunity to meet many of the volunteers at the wildlife sanctuary. These workers mostly comprise of compassionate (mostly female) wanderlusters who live on the property in a small house. The house is quaint with mosquito nets over the beds and a small but sufficient kitchen for them to use. All their food is provided to them from the facility and they spend their days cleaning cages, gathering food for the animals and just helping run the amazing sanctuary. You can volunteer for as little as 10 days or for as long as you want. There were actually quite a few volunteers that were staying indefinitely.