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Monkey watching is a popular past time around Tamarindo as tourists and visitors alike enjoy being an audience to the crazy antics of the primates which inhabit the tropical rainforests and mangroves of the area. There are two main species of monkeys around Tamarindo: the white faced Capuchin and the somewhat larger Costa Rican Howler monkeys.

The Capuchin monkey is a small to medium sized brown monkey characterized by a white face. Typically they reach a size of about 8.6 lb (3.9 kg). They have a prehensile tail which is coiled up when they travel but is used for added support while they feed in the treetops. Capuchins are quite long lived as they have a recorded maximum age of 54 years.

White Faced Capuchin

Capuchin monkeys can be found in a wide range of habitats as you will be able to spy them in the cloud forests as well as in the low lying mangroves. This species loves to travel in groups and can often be seen in large numbers swinging from branch to branch as they traverse the dense canopy of the rainforest. They are cheeky and clever and if you are not careful they are likely to pinch a quick snack from your picnic.

Their cleverness is also expressed in their ability to use tools such as when they crack open a stubborn nut with a stone. Capuchins are easily trained and are in fact the very same species of monkey as used by organ grinders. A few have even be trained as assistants to quadriplegics because they have proven themselves quite adept at opening bottles and microwaving dinners. Their faces are quite expressive and they are often likened to humans in some of their mannerisms.

Howler Monkeys

If you can’t see the Howler monkeys frequenting the areas around Tamarindo then you will definitely hear them from time to time. The sound is quite hard to describe with words but suffice to say it is a loud guttural noise that carries well through the forest as it can be heard up to three miles away.

Howler monkeys are the largest species of monkey which can be found in the Latin American Rainforests and can reach sizes ranging from eight to twenty-two pounds with a height of two to four feet tall.

Their upper body is characterized by their big necks and lower jaws. There’s no doubt that the extra size of the neck and jaw is used to house their oversized vocal cords which are used to good effect as they project their territorial howl over vast distances. As each male monkey howls the call is answered by any other males who are within earshot. The howls are used to mark off their territory and protect their food source.

As the howler monkey subsists on the somewhat nutrient deficient leaves of the forest it’s important that they protect their main source of nutrition. Fruits and flowers are also a valuable commodity so the howl also helps to stake a claim on these rarer more nutritious food sources.

Howler monkeys hang out in the treetops but are very common in the Tamarindo area. If you want to see them the best way is to wake up early and use your ears as they usually start to roar just before sunrise. Follow the sounds and check out the tree tops where howler monkeys spend most of their time foraging for food.

If you notice lots of fruit falling to the ground or suddenly find yourself in the middle of a light shower without a cloud in sight look up because you will likely see a howler monkey urinating on you.

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Written by Scott Oliver, author of 1: How To Buy Costa Rica Real Estate Without Losing Your Camisa, 2: Costa Rica’s Guide To Making Money Offshore and 3. ¿Cómo Comprar Bienes Ra’ces en Costa Rica, Sin Perder Su Camisa?

Scott Oliver's Four Books

Scott Oliver’s Four Books.

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