RANGE: Two- and three-toed sloths are found across Central and northern South America.
THE EXPERIENCE: You’re unlikely to just stumble across a sloth in the misty rainforests of Latin America. They hang stationary for long periods (sleeping 8–10 hours a day in the wild), to the point that algae even grows on their fur, camouflaging them from predators and wildlife spotters. Because of this, local knowledge is invaluable if you want to see that blissed-out smile beaming down at you from the branches above.
NEED TO KNOW: Wandering sloth-friendly park trails independently can yield encounters, but using a guide massively increases your chance, as the teams radio each other to report sightings and their eagle eyes are more attuned to spotting these well-camouflaged creatures. Be sure to avoid any so-called sanctuaries that offer to let you hold sloths; this is not good for the animals and can cause them serious stress. BEST PLACE TO SEE… Costa Rica is year-round sloth central – it’s even on the currency! Home to Hoffmann’s two-toed and brown-throated sloths, you can see them anywhere but concentrations are highest in the forests of the Osa Peninsula; along the Pacific coast, such as Manuel Antonio National Park; or Tortuguero NP on the Caribbean side. However, those heading north towards Monteverde and its famous cloud-forest will only find the thick-furred, nocturnal two-toed sloth; they can survive at chillier altitudes, and though they are tough to see, guided night tours are available.
Not so lazy Sloths in the wild sleep nowhere near as long as their reputation suggests