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Published: February 7th 2019
I love how well sloths camouflage! The green algae in their fur not only hides them visibly, it also masks odor. Sloths look and smell like plants, not animals.
The warm evenings and hot sunny days were exactly what I wanted, coming from Seattle. It was also nice after the chilly evenings up in the mountains of Monteverde. Cloud forests are beautiful, but you’re in a cloud. The beaches around Manuel Antonio were a whole different world.
We stayed with a woman named Anita who has run a small guest house called Casa Buena Vista for forty years. It’s on a steep bluff overlooking the Manuel Antonio beach, so the deck area above our room was up in the trees. We saw dozens of squirrel monkeys and a few howler and capuchin monkeys too. It was fun to lay back in a hammock and watch the squirrel monkeys playing around us in the tree tops. We saw almost as many animals from Anita’s as we did in the park. She warned us that the capuchin are the trouble makers. They’re the ones who break into people’s houses to steal food and will take a camera from your backpack.
Besides the three species of monkeys we also saw a rufous-tailed hummingbird, a toucan, an agouti, an iguana, geckos, lots of other small lizards and lots of butterflies and birds.
Those little arms reaching up! It had the cutest little face! Unfortunately, what I have most of is video and Travelblog isn't supporting video at the moment. Check back later.
The steps from the main house downhill to the building with our room was also home to a small colony of tent-making bats. They had too nice of a spot to bother making tents. Every morning the stairs were covered with the rinds of the little palm fruits they ate overnight, which looked like grapes but had tiny seeds like figs. They eat insects too, which is one of the reasons why I love bats.
It was a short walk from Anita’s to either a dirt road leading down to the Manuel Antonio beach, or a paved road and dirt path that led to Playa Biesanz. We explored both and really loved Biesanz. One afternoon there we rented kayaks to paddle around the bay. There were a lot of people there, but it didn’t feel too crowded.
Manuel Antonio is named for the national park next to town. The town itself has grown up around the entrance gate to the park with little restaurants and shops crowding around the road at the park entrance. We were told to get there early, a half hour or so before the park opened and I’m glad we did. You have to
Trouble a.k.a. Capuchin Monkey
These little guys are so much trouble. They're the ones who will steal the hat off your head and the food out of your backpack.
buy tickets at the bank by the park entrance before standing in line to get into the park. They only take cash for tickets, either USD or CRC. Considering how much money they took in each day I’m not surprised that they are using the security of a bank. We were there on a holiday weekend and I was amazed at how many people were there, although we were told that during the summer it’s even worse. It was enough hot in the afternoon in December and I wouldn’t want to be there on a summer afternoon, unless I was there to swim.
It looked to me like most of the foreign visitors were there to hire guides and see the animals in the forest, while most of the locals were there to go to the beach. The beaches were beautiful, but we were there to see the forest and didn’t bring our swim suits. In Monteverde we had only seen one sloth, the two-toed Choloepus during the night at our B&B. In Manuel Antonio I lost count of how many three-toed Bradypus we saw.
Like Monteverde, every guide I saw was carrying a large telescope and they
Hanging above the stairs to our room, and below the stairs up to Anita's house, these bats have too good of a spot to bother with making tents. They were super cute and it was fun to see them every time we came and went from the house.
were all taking photos with clients’ phones through the telescopes. I took photos and video of the sloths with my camera, but the telescope-phone combo was still better. Two of the sloths had babies, one was curled around the baby and seemed to be sleeping, but the other was very active. She was hanging by her back legs and one arm, with the baby cradled on her stomach. They nuzzled each other’s faces and the mother snuggled the baby in with her other arm. It was the most adorable thing I had ever seen. I could barely tear myself away to follow the guide on to the rest of the park.
The park was beautiful, but besides the sloths we didn’t see any other mammals that we hadn’t already seen from Anita’s place. The park has several areas of mangroves, with dozens of very brightly colored land crabs. We saw bronzy hermit and green hermit hummingbirds, a snake eating a frog, several species of lizards, a coral snake, some toucans and lots of blue morpho butterflies everywhere. The park capuchin monkeys were much more used to people than the ones by Anita’s. They approached tourists with their hands out,
Costa Rica is just beautiful
Everywhere I looked there were flowers and butterflies, although this is a moth. Like I wrote in the last blog about Monteverde, there is so much of everything growing on everything. No wonder it's known as a biodiversity hot spot.
apparently used to being fed.
After the park, the only thing left on our list was dolphins. We signed up with a catamaran for a sunset cruise on New Year’s Eve. It was beautiful! We saw a pod of spotted dolphins, which played alongside the boat for a while. We also saw frigate birds and brown boobies. After the dolphins, but before sunset, we anchored near Biesanz for a little snorkeling. There really isn’t much life underwater. It was bizarre. Anita said that it’s a dead zone and it really looked like it. I only saw three species of fish: sergeant major, parrot and Indian. It was so weird. I’ve never seen an ocean so empty. We motored out away from the coast for a bit to watch the sunset, then headed back to Quepos.
At the dock before we left, we saw the Sea Shepherd boat Brigitte Bardot
which was amazing! I’m always awe-struck by Sea Shepherd. They’re so hardcore and total rock starts to me. When we got back from the cruise a couple of the Sea Shepherd folks were outside on the dock, talking to people. I asked what they were doing in Costa Rica
These crabs were everywhere in the mangroves. Looking them up I’ve seen them called both blue land crabs and red land crabs.
and they said that they were tracking boats catching sharks to sell the fins. They also said that they had only been allowed back in Costa Rica for three weeks, after being banned for a while. There’s a lot of politics involved in marine habitat and wildlife conservation. If you haven’t heard of Sea Shepherd before, check them out at www.seashepherd.org and if you have heard of them before, consider donating.
New Year’s morning we got up early for a sunrise swim at Biesanz. It was so still and beautiful. We had the whole place to ourselves for the first half hour or so. The bay faces northwest, so we watched the sun come up over the trees to hit the water where we were swimming. The birds were up. We saw pelicans, a sandpiper and an egret. It was the most peaceful way to start the new year and a lovely end to the trip.
There are more photos below, so scroll down. If you didn't catch my blog about the first half of our trip, click on previous entry.
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