A Bike-Packing Highlight

As with any travel adventure, there are usually highlights of a trip that stay in mind more vividly than others. I would like to share a moment in Costa Rica.

Bob and I biked near Tres Esquines and found a decent camp spot on the edge of a small patch of woods. As we set up our screen tent in between two trees, Bob and I could hear the well-hidden, incredibly loud howler monkeys. We had heard monkeys from a distance during our travels, and these monkeys were definitely much closer.

Settled within our tent after nightfall, we could hear creeping and climbing up the trees next to us. I could hear them climbing one of the trees our tent was tied to. (That particular tent is the type that needs to be strung between two trees or poles). My imagination created a scene that we would soon get pulverized by these monkeys. Somehow I drifted off to sleep.

Refreshed, I woke up and looked around as I lay there. No signs of monkeys. They retreated back into the trees sometime before daybreak.

While packing our tent and gear, Bob nudged me and pointed. Two adult scout monkeys, about three feet tall, approached a near-by tree. Bob and I observed them while they checked us out. The scout monkeys concluded we were harmless. With a silent signal, monkeys slowly came out of the woods and started climbing up the tree to go about their business for the day.

We learned later that they were not howler monkeys, but capuchin; also called white-faced monkeys. The distant howlers were so loud that they created the illusion that they were next to us.

I wished that the camera had not been giving us grief. But then, perhaps the noise of turning it on would have prompted alarm and then a retreat. Bob and I were fortunate to encounter the monkeys, even white-faced ones, at such close proximity. We treasure our memories.

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Some facts about howler monkeys:

  • Height: 22-36 inches; tail – an additional 23-36 inches
  • Weight: 15-22 pounds
  • Average life span: 15-20 years
  • Distance they can be heard: up to three miles away.

Source: National Geographic