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“The time of my life!”

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Aviarios del Caribe
Ranked #19 of 21 Cahuita B&B and Inns
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“The time of my life!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 25, 2012

I just returned from volunteering at the sanctuary for 10 days. Had it not been for a firm obligation back in the states, I'm not sure I ever would've have come home! Simply put, it was the experience of a lifetime and the happiest I have been in years.

I'm an animal and nature lover, so working with exotic animals and living in the middle of the rainforest where the air is constantly abuzz with thousands of interesting sounds from lizards to monkeys to birds to insects was endlessly fascinating. The grounds are gorgeous and pristine, surrounded by nothing but greenery and sitting right on the river estrella. Heaven on earth.

And now of course, the real reason I came: the sloths. The most amazing creatures and just as cute and wonderful as they are strange. As a volunteer, you get a ton of up close and personal time with them. Pretty much as much as you want, though most people like to keep their interactions with the sloths between the volunteer work hours (6am to 3pm -- and yes, non-stop and fairly tedious work!). You'll have a certain section of sloths you'll be assigned to clean their cages and feed them. I think I had around 30. Getting to know their personalities, quirks, and building trust with them was an unforgettable experience. You definitely bond with some more than others for whatever reason that may be. These little guys (well, not sure I should say little, some are pretty big!!) will no doubt find a place in your heart. They are beautiful and intriguing and they can do the silliest things! I could never seem to get enough pictures and filled up almost 100 gigs worth of memory cards!! No matter what, they were constantly putting a smile on my face.

At night, the other volunteers and I usually went into the nearby towns of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo. It was always a good time!

I am ridiculously jealous of any volunteer who is there now, and I am just going to end my review with this: I am spending every waking hour planning my next trip to go back and stay longer!

Feel free to PM me if you would like more information.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
5 Thank Lyndsey W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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17 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Location
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Yorkshire
Level Contributor
75 reviews
62 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 7, 2010

We stayed for a night at the sloth sanctuary and wish we hadn't. We arrived by bus from San Jose in the early afternoon, the lady at the desk in the gift shop took our money for the stay and the tour - and then they basically ignored us, giving us no information at all.

After asking around, we were advised to take the boat tour at 6am and were told that there is a short walking trail at the back of the cafe/gift shop. We also discovered there is no food at the sloth sanctuary after lunch, so we had to get a bus to Cahuita (10km away) for dinner and then a bus back (the last one back from Cahuita leaves at 8pm). If you do want food, and are there early enough, be aware that a sandwich costs $5 + 22% in tax and service.

The rooms are perfectly adequate and clean, but it is not a 'boutique hotel' basically there are a few bedrooms under the cafe where you can sleep, it rather feels like you are sleeping at someones office. Be aware that you can stay in much nicer places in Cahuita (where you can also get an evening meal!) for half the price.

We saw no sloths at all on our first day. In the morning the boat tour at 6am, which we assumed was the sloth tour, turned out to be a gentle paddle through the waterways - no sloths, but we did see some herons. Quite why we were told to get up so early to see some herons we don't know.

Rather fed up by this stage we asked if there was anywhere we could go to see some sloths... our guide finally explained that there was another part of the tour around the sanctuary led by someone else. Eventually we located the guide for that part of the tour... who took us around. The sloth tour was actually very interesting (led by the owners grandson) and we did get to see some sloths and learn about these interesting animals.

However... (and we appreciate people may have different views to ours) we learned that sloths are not an endangered animal in Costa Rica. Injured/orphaned animals are brought to the centre where they are looked after and nursed back to health. 90% can't be released for various reasons and they live out the rest out their lives in cages at the back of the centre. Of course it is great that 10% are able to go back into the wild... but there are now more than 100 sloths living in cages at the back of the centre, and we were left to wonder what purpose this is serving. Sure sloths are cute and no one likes to see an animal hurt, but as the creatures are not endangered and so few are released... this isn't really conservation, is it?

We wondered if it is better for the animals living in the cages to survive... or is the fact that some animals come to an unfortunate end simply a sad fact of life?

Either way (and that is question everyone will have to make up their on mind on!) - the very least the owners of the Sanctuary could do is ensure their guests are told when the tours are, what they involve... greeted with a smile, and not simply left to get on with it.

In the end we felt we were there purely to generate income (and the place looks pretty swanky) for something that has more to do with sentimentality than it does to do with conservation. We have been lucky enough to visit many real conservation projects around the world - and we have never felt like that before.

Sure, go for a tour if you want to see and learn about sloths (and they are cute) but stay somewhere else. Suggest you also read the reviews on the 'attraction' section of tripadvisor for the volunteers perspective, wish we had before we'd stayed!!

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled with family
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Helpful?
5 Thank Lou_Simon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, Georgia
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 31, 2010

My father and I stayed there for 3 days. Waking up to the Howler monkeys was magnificent. The breakfast was delicious. It was amazing. I got to hold a sloth because of connections.

  • Stayed March 2009
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Helpful?
Thank Desirebros
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wisconsin
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 11, 2010

Aviarios del Caribe is an excellent sloth hospital facility and I would highly recommend taking a tour. You could even stay for one night and get a great meal with the baby sloths in the morning. I'd advise that you not stay any longer than that, however, or you might be disappointed with the location, service, and options for things to do.

We stayed at Aviarios del Caribe for three nights. We were thrilled with being surrounded by sloths, especially seeing the babies up close while they were out sunning in their buckets each morning. The tour of the facilities included the baby sloths (who happened to be out on the lawn for recreation, which was really cute), the permanent adult sloth residents, and a silly sloth video. We also paid a little extra for a canoe tour of the canal, and our guide helped us spot at least twenty different bird species on the half-hour trip.

Our room was clean and nice, but basic. One of the window panes was missing, so we had a little trouble keeping the mosquitos out at night. Breakfast in the morning was delicious, although it was the same meal for all three days.

The staff at Aviarios is very dedicated to running their hospital and taking excellent care of their sloths. Our biggest disappointment was just that they don't have any staff dedicated to their guests. We tried multiple times to get help with making a couple local phone calls to nearby attractions, and the staff was either busy with business discussions or they brushed us off by pointing to the phone in the other room (which I couldn't figure out how to use on my own). They couldn't help us make change for a 10,000 colones bill (which is $20 US). And while you're allowed to watch the baby sloths during breakfast, you have to remember that they are not there for your entertainment. When it's time for feeding or healthcare, their nurses will sweep them out from under you with no apologies or explanation.

One note about the location: Aviarios is about twenty minutes from Cahuita by public bus, and, since we couldn't figure out how to call a taxi, even further from everything else. We would like to thank the one staff member, Jacqueline, who went out of her way to give us a ride to Cahuita the first night and show us all around town. She was great!

So, in short, Aviarios is a great attraction but not the place to stay for a spell.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank garfsnerky
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ardmore
1 review
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 12, 2010

Was given a horrible room with a mattress so thin that I had to pad the underneath with towels so that I would not feel the wooden slates under my back! The night before departing, Judy told me that she had given me the "wrong" room because she couldn't extricate the other guest from my originally "booked" room. Only a few rooms are air conditioned and altho I was seriously requested one, I did not get it. When I returned home and emailed her curiously requesting the room rate, she surprisingly and rudely told me that she didn't want my future business! (Not that I would have ever gone back! I just wanted to see how much the tour company was charging me. And get this...I paid EXTRA for a single room!! She made a HUGE mistake with my booking and then blamed me....I never even complained to her about my room. She came to me.

  • Stayed July 2009
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Peachy083
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Southern California
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 23, 2009

We stayed at the Sloth Sanctuary for 2 nights. It was a little challenging to get here, so if you don't have a car, be prepared to face some logistical challenges. We took the bus to Cahuita from San Jose. What we didn't know was that this place is not actually in Cahuita--it's about 20 minutes away from the town on the road to Cahuita (so, as you drive from San Jose--it's San Jose-->Sloth Sanctuary-->Cahuita). At the rest stop along the way, we told the bus driver where we needed to get off, but as we zoomed past it in the bus, I had to go up and ask the bus driver to stop the bus. He was (understandably) really angry about 1) stopping the bus on the side of the road, 2) the fact that our bags were way in the back because he thought we were getting off in Cahuita along with everyone else. So, it was harrowing to get there at first since we basically had to jump off the bus in the middle of the road, then hike back with our bags to the hotel. Unfortunately, there is not a lot within walking distance around this hotel, so you should be prepared to take the bus down to Cahuita for meals, etc. or plan to buy food and bring it back to the hotel because only breakfast is available there. Be careful taking the bus late at from Cahuita--the schedule is not always clear, and the buses stop running at 8. Also, limited taxi services are available so you could get stuck down there. As for the hotel itself--breakfast was very good, rooms were basically clean, and the hot water was strong. The sloths by far are the main attraction. This hotel is really more about sloths and less about being a hotel, but we thought the rooms/amenities were decent. I woudl suggest the owners make it more clear when you arrive what you should do in case issues arise. There is no staffed "front desk" after the sanctuary is closed to the public (around 3 p.m.) but I think some of the owners live on site....but we weren't told where that was in case of emergency (like when the power went out one of the days and we didn't know if it was our room or the entire site). We got to play with the baby sloths, hang with Buttercup the sloth, and took a really good tour of their facility. They have something like 100 sloths there, so it is definitely a unique experience! However, I do think you could get a pretty good "sloth experience" simply by staying in Cahuita or Puerto Viejo, and taking a day trip up to the sanctuary. We stayed two nights but I think one would probably suffice. Overall a positive experience but again, I think you could get a similar one by staying somewhere else and visiting the sloth sanctuary for a few hours.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank twotravelers_socal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
england
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 28, 2009

not a luxury place but lovely setting,nice walks and great to learn more about those unusual creatures,the sloths.shame some people had negative experiences.I enjoyed my stay and seeing lovely birds and a poisonous snake(not too closely,fortunately!)

  • Liked — location and the sloths
  • Disliked — nothing particular
  • Stayed January 2009
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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Helpful?
Thank catspaws_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Aviarios del Caribe

Property: Aviarios del Caribe
Address: Aviarios, Cahuita 7300, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Limon > Cahuita
Amenities:
Kitchenette
Hotel Style:
Ranked #19 of 21 B&Bs / Inns in Cahuita
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 7
Also Known As:
Aviarios Del Caribe Hotel Cahuita
Aviarios Del Caribe Costa Rica/Cahuita

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