Are you driving from Guanacaste or San Jose to South Pacific Costa Rica or even only Manuel Antonio? The you need to stop at a very special place: the bridge over the Rio Tarcoles. From the bridge you can see dozens of huge American crocodiles, and you don't need to pay anything! you might see some other water birds as well, along with macaws on mornings and evenings, when they do their daily "commute" between Carara park and the mangroves.
One important thing though: make sure to leave no valuables in your car!! I saw some people with doors unlocked that had their luggage stolen in less than 10 minutes.. because it's a popular stop.
Right after the river, (Southbound), starts the Carara national park. It's a transition zone between dry and humid forest.
Park is well maintained, with nice trails and decent parking. Forest is filled with scarlet macaws, but they are difficult to photograph when you're in the middle of the forest, so be patient. :-)
I saw macaws, poison dart frogs, many lizards, and many other types of birds.
Listen to that symphony of birds:
Definitively a place to stop for
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