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Published: April 16th 2014
Our main reason for visiting Costa Rica was to see wildlife so what better way to arrive in the country than on a boat through the jungle with monkeys running around in the branches and various birds swooping through the trees. We crossed the border at Los Chiles and it was a pretty easy crossing.
To get anywhere in Costa Rica by bus you have to go in and out of the capital San Jose, which makes it a difficult country to travel around. We headed straight there as a quick stop on our way to Manuel Antonio national park. Steve will talk about San Jose later.
After the remoteness of Rio San Juan, Costa Rica came as a bit of a shock. The country is incredibly beautiful and has a ridiculous amount of wildlife. It is also very safe and everyone speaks English. As such, it is expensive and overdeveloped and not ideal for backpackers.
Steve had managed to organise a fantastic hostel on the road to the national park with a gorgeous balcony overlooking the forest and down to the sea. Even from here we could see plenty of wildlife,
with huge spiny-tailed iguanas in the trees, squirrel monkeys causing havoc and the occasional toucan.
We had been warned how busy Manuel Antonio would be so the huge tour groups did not come as too much of a surprise. It was a bit annoying when people were complaining loudly that they hadn’t seen anything, oblivious to the fact that their shouting might have something to do with it. I even heard one particularly large couple complaining that there should be a bus that runs through the park. Really!?
The park is big enough to avoid these people however, and we had a great time spotting three different types of monkeys and everyones favourite, the sloth. Taking our time and listening out for stuff meant that we spotted numerous agoutis rummaging around the undergrowth. These are large rodents with long noses that move a bit like a rabbit and are very cute.
What makes Manuel Antonio really special is that the trails lead to perfect, white-sand beaches where you can chill out after a sweaty walk through the park (although you do have to watch out for crocodiles). The first beach was
incredibly busy so we headed to the second where we had a spot to ourselves. By this time I was pretty hungry so we stopped to try and eat our picnic. As soon as we sat down a huge racoon came running over and tried to steal our food. I know that racoons can become aggressive but nothing gets between me and my lunch.
There is nowhere to buy food in the park and they probably shouldn’t let people bring food in as we saw plenty of capuchins and racoons rifling through peoples bags when they weren’t looking. This is bad for the animals as it makes them dependent on humans and can lead to them catching diseases. As impressive as it is seeing a monkey unwrap a chocolate bar I’m sure it’s not good for them.
Aside from this the park is truly beautiful and seeing a sloth up close was a highlight for me. We spent five days here, hanging out on the main beach , visiting the park and drinking in our hostel. Steve did a night tour and got to see various frogs, including a red-eyed tree frog, a kinkajou,
sloths and lots of spiders. I opted out of that one.
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