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Ateles geoffroyi | Central American Spider Monkey | Mono Araña


Good spot: Tortuguero National Park, Limon Province, Costa Rica



Taxonomy & Occurrence

Geoffroy's Spider Monkey (A. g. geoffroyi) -- Costa Rica, Nicaragua


Azuero Spider Monkey (A. g. azuerensis) -- Azuero Peninsula, Panama 


Red-Bellied Spider Monkey (A. g. frontatus) -- Costa Rica, Nicaragua


Hooded Spider Monkey (A. g. grisescens) -- Panama


Ornate Spider Monkey (A. g. ornatus) -- Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama


Mexican Spider Monkey (A. g. vellerosus) -- Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico


Yucatán Spider Monkey (A. g. yucatanensis) -- Belize, Guatemala, Mexico


IUCN Conservation Status


Seeing this Species


Spider monkeys are the gibbons (Hoolock, Hylobates, Nomascus, Symphalangus) of the New World. Few other primates flow with such ease through the trees. They are a pure joy to watch. 


Tortuguero National Park, Limon Province, Costa Rica 

Tortuguero is famous for hosting three species of nesting sea turtles. During nesting season (March-June), the park will be hectic. This is the third most visited park in Costa Rica, and so lodging, restaurants and tour operators are at every corner just outside the national park.


From San Jose, bus leaves the Gran Terminal del Caribe ($3.50, 3 hours) towards Cariari. In Cariari, you will arrive at a bus station known as estación nueva (new station). From here, walk 500m north to the estación vieja (old station), otherwise referred to as the Terminal Caribeño. There, bus leaves for La Pavona at 6am, 9am, 11.30am, and 3pm ($2.20, 1 hour). Boat to Tortuguero leaves from La Pavona at 7.30am, 1pm, 4.30pm ($3.20, 45 minutes).


By foot, you can only walk a 2 km trail and gumboots are required most of the year (available for rent for $1). For the primate-watcher, this trail is all you need. During our walk we met at least two groups of spider monkeys. The first group fed and then slept right above us. We also encountered a huge group of Mantled Howler feeding at the same time. The spiders chased the howlers out of a tree. 


The second group seemed semi-habituated. At one time a male scampered down a branch to feed almost within arm's reach. It was the closest we've ever been to wild spider monkeys. In the late afternoon, as the light turns golden, the Montezuma Oropendola birds (Psarocolius montezuma) begin calling, and the spiders soar across the gaps in the canopy, you may feel in paradise.


Entrance fee: $10

The different subspecies vary in color.


Probability of Success: ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◇


Overlapping species: Mantled Howler, Panamanian White-Faced Capuchin


Other sites:

Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica 

Please see page on Central American Squirrel Monkey

Overlapping species: Central American Squirrel Monkey, Mantled Howler,

  Panamanian White-Faced Capuchin 



Santa Elena Reserve & Monteverde, Costa Rica

Watching spider monkeys manuever through the mossy, slippery cloud forests is incredible. To be honest, we weren't even sure if they'd occur here. We thought the forest might be too wet and overgrown. The monkeys move much more gingerly and carefully, and for good reason. We saw a baby, high, high up, snap a branch and almost fall.

Overlapping species: Mantled Howler



Rincón de la Vieja National Park, Costa Rica

Overlapping species: Panamanian White-Faced Capuchin, Mantled Howler



Santa Rosa National ParkCosta Rica

Fiona Reid notes that "Central American spider monkeys (a golden-colored subspecies) are usually found in evergreen forest (about halfway to the administration area on the road in, or near the beach)."(p. 32)



Local contacts:



Cafe at Tortuguero

The spider monkeys at Tortuguero are almost golden in color.

Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

Page Last Updated: 3 March 2014


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