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Animal Rescue Centre, Chocolate Lady and Waterfall

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If you are into a little bit of education on local animals and cacao, followed by a short jaunt through the jungle to a waterfall, this is the tour for you. You will learn how the center serves as refuge and rehabilitation for animals (monkeys, sloths, snakes, wild cats and more) as well as have the opportunity to hold and play with the monkeys living there. A visit to an indigenous family to learn about the production of cacao follows the animal center. We end our day by hiking to a beautiful waterfall where you can swim if you’d like. Tour cost includes transportation to and from your hotel in Puerto Viejo as well as entrance and tour fee at the Jaguar Animal Rescue Center.

Jaguar Rescue Centre

The Jaguar Animal Rescue Center offers shelter, treatment, rehabilitation and protection to ill or wounded wild animals in the South Caribbean area.

Sandro, an expert in poisonous snakes, and Encar, a biologist with many years of experience caring for wild mammals in captivity, run the Center.

Sandro and Encar started the Center with the aim of saving the lives of as many injured or sick wild animals as they could. After sufficient time has passed, and if the animals are willing and able, they are re-introduced into their natural habitat in the forests of the South Caribbean.

Got Goat's Milk?
If you're visiting the center, you can help out by bringing with you to Costa Rica a can or two of Meyenberg Powdered Goat's Milk for the abandoned Howler Monkeys and Sloth babies at the center. They also need a product called Bene-Bac which is used for treating animals with intestinal problems. Unfortunately, neither of these products is available in Costa Rica.

The Center has become a sanctuary for wild animals and they try to accommodate their jungle guests as well as they can; terrariums for the snakes, large spaces for the monkeys to rest in after spending the afternoon swinging through the trees outside, special quarantine cages for the animals arriving seriously injured and an operating theatre for emergency surgery if necessary. 

Your visit helps support the work of the centre. Jaguar Animal Rescue Centre photos by Lori Sorrentino.

Chocolate Lady

Next we visit an indigenous family growing cacao trees on their land. They are eager to show you the entire process of cacao fruit becoming a bar of chocolate. You will have the opportunity to purchase some of their chocolate or other indigenous handmade crafts. Please note that only part of the family speaks very limited English so if you don’t speak Spanish, your explanation of the process may be in the form of pantomime!


«Manuel was an excellent guide, providing us with a wealth of information throughout the trip. Magnificent tour!»
- Dan & Jeannette

«So impressed with Gecko. Corresponded to e-mails immediately. Our guide was very personalbe and went out of his way to see that our wishes were met.»
- Mary Ann & Dee

«Manuel was great. I feel he showed us more than we were expecting and explained things with much detail. He also took us to a great restaurant with beautiful view.»
- Leonora & Justin


After learning a bit about cacao, your tour guide will bring you to the Volio Waterfall. It’s about a twenty-minute hike through the jungle to a twelve-meter high waterfall in the mountains of Talamanca. You can swim if you’d like. Should the waterfall be too dry (this can sometimes happen during the dry season), your tour guide will lead you to a different waterfall in the same area where you can enjoy swimming in the pools there. Your feet may get wet while you’re exploring the waterfall so we advise you to wear appropriate shoes or bring an extra pair for changing into after the hike.

Tour information:

Fitness level: The Jaguar Animal Rescue Center and Chocolate Lady are suitable for all fitness levels although they are unfortunately not wheelchair accessible. The waterfall trail is not long but can be steep and sometimes muddy so an adequate fitness level is suggested. The second waterfall option is a shorter walk, so should you prefer that regardless of water level, please let us know.
Departures: Daily at 9:00 AM except Sundays when the Jaguar Rescue Center is closed.
Duration: Half day
Cost per person: Adults $59.00, Children $29.50
There is a minimum of 2 adults for this tour. Children under 3 years are free. Children over 11 years pay the adult rate.
Includes: Transportation to and from your hotel in Puerto Viejo, driver/tour guide, entrance fees to Jaguar Animal Rescue Center and the Chocolate Lady
Not included: Optional afternoon add-on with lunch and facilities at Banana Azul Beach Club (see details below).
Additional transportation charges apply for hotels outside of Puerto Viejo (per booking not per person):
Playa Chiquita $15
Punta Uva $20
Cahuita $25
Manzanillo $25
What to bring: Shoes with traction and perhaps an extra pair to change into after the waterfall hike, swimsuit underneath your clothes (there is not a changing room at the waterfall), insect repellent, sunscreen, water, towel and money for lunch and snacks.
Note: You should not touch the animals at the Jaguar Animal Rescue Center if you have applied sunscreen or insect repellent. We recommend you apply these items after your visit to the Center.

Make a day of it at the Azul Beach Club

Choose the Azul Beach Club option when booking your tour (for $15 per person). Includes transportation to Banana Azul after end of tour, beach chairs with rancho, lunch entree served either on beach or in restaurant, beach towel, locker, shower and pool access (no children under 16 allowed in pool). Not included: transport back to your hotel (ask our tour desk for help), drinks, tips.

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