Howler Monkeys or What The Hell Was That?

Howler Monkey in the Trees in Tamarindo
Howler Monkey in the Trees in Tamarindo

One thing that we’ve discovered since getting into Tamarindo is that wildlife can sometimes surround you without actually having to search for it. We’ve also found that some monkeys can be a little intimidating. I’m not talking about their body size (though some of those male dangly bits look downright painful to have while hanging onto a 30 foot branch) but rather their sound. The male howler monkey is known for two things out here. One is those afore mentioned dangly bits and the other is for the loud howling it does. It’s a bit of a unique sound and the closest I can approximate would be a cross between a Tarzan howl and a loud, deep guttural growl. They say that the howlers cry can reach almost 5 km’s and is one of the loudest land animals. After hearing it firsthand, I can believe it.

Now imagine this scenario. It’s five am the second morning after getting into Tamarindo. You’re feeling quite comfortable and secure in your 3rd story condo knowing that thieves or any “bad” people would need to jump the 10 foot high razor blade covered outer wall then perform a spiderman feat of climbing nearly 30 vertical feet to get to your balcony. Now imagine being woken up with superhuman loud guttural screams only feet from where you’re sleeping with the balcony doors wide open. You’re first impression is “Why am I being awoken at this time of the morning?”. The second is “Did I just hear what I thought I heard or was it just some crazy dream?”. With your groggy head slowly clearing you realize the howling is quite real. It’s also sounds like it’s coming from your balcony. “Honey, can you go check that?” is obviously not something you want to hear.

As Micki and I slowly made our way to the balcony together we quickly realized that, thankfully, it wasn’t something on our deck. It was a little black ball of fur on the tree a stone’s throw away. That, in a nutshell, was our introduction to the howler monkey. Considering their diminutive size, I applaud them for packing quite the vocalizations into such a small space. Mother nature definitely did her job there!

Since that early morning we’ve seen groups of them quite regularly. This morning they were behind our condo again but usually we see them across the street hanging out close to the beach. They’re actually quite cute to look at and there’s at least 3 or 4 babies in this particular group. They’re often just lounging on the branches but every once in a while they jump around the tree trying to find some better leafy greens to munch on.

One of the first times we encountered them on our way down to the beach, they had just finished “anointing” a few fellow curious travelers. We missed the waterworks show but the woman who had seen it said it was quite comical. Since then we no longer walk under them if we can help it and if we do we make sure to keep our heads down and our mouths tightly shut. Some of the locals seem to find that funny but they’re obviously smart enough to know not to walk under them.

As with anything, we’ve learned to coexist and in truth, enjoy their playful antics. They’re just another regularity here and that, in of itself, is something worth noting. To us however, they’re just another hairy loud mouth neighbor with cute kids and an oversized extended family.

Happy Travels Everyone!