At 6:00 am nature’s alarm clock awoken me from a sound sleep. The howler monkeys called out to one another deep in the jungle. It’s a familiar sound at dawn in the rainforest of Costa Rica. A daunting sound if you’ve never heard it. In my imagination I see a huge male ape protecting his family against other predators loudly voicing his concern. In fact, the howler monkey only weighs up to 20 pounds but his throaty call can resonate up to three miles away.

I welcome the howler monkeys calls now but not so the first time I heard them. My husband and I were staying at a very rustic eco-lodge and were sitting outside with our friends enjoying an après dinner aperitif.  Our laughter died in an instant when we heard the monkeys as we could have sworn that they were inches away and were about to jump out of the darkness.

The next morning and every morning of our stay, the howlers let us know it was dawn and time to get up.  Their cries accompanied me as I bathed in the outside shower. I began to feel as if they were looking after me and keeping us all safe.

I must say my heart did skip a beat the first time I ever heard the elusive monkeys.

Find out more about the howler monkeys at