Manuel Antonio

Published: August 6th 2014
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Manuel Antonio is situated on the Pacific side of Costa Rica and in the southwest direction of San Jose. I was quite excited that this was our next destination as I had heard that Manuel Antonio is an amazing place to visit. I'm told that the beaches are stunning and it's the perfect opportunity to see lots of wildlife as it has an national park.

The day started off with another early start and we had approximately a 4 hour bus journey ahead of us as we headed south from Monteverde. We had only been on the bus for about 45 minutes when we came to a halt. There were workman working on the road. I must admit some of the roads in Costa Rica are in poor condition and we found that these workman were not allowing any traffic through for an hour. Great!! Anyway, most of the group and myself made good use of this time by playing with a hacky sack with trying to see how many times we could keep passing it around to each other without using any hands. A great way to kill some time. After about 50 minutes, we were back on the bus. We got about half way to Manuel Antonio when we stopped off at place just outside of Orotina. I remember the name Orotina as this is where my friend Walter lives. The place that we stopped off at has a souvenir shop and market stall that sells everything from fresh fruit to cigars, and most importantly it has bathrooms. There is also a long bridge nearby that crosses a river and were told that we would see crocodiles. We walked along the path on the bridge and once got to about half way I saw this man feeding chicken to the crocodiles. The man was charging tourists for him to feed the crocodiles, what a nice little earner! They looked very aggressive as they battled for the meat and I was thinking best not to lean over too far as wouldn't want to fall in. We were told that about a month prior to our arrival that a drunken local man decided to wash himself in the river and got eaten alive. However, we were assured that this is a very rare case!! The bus did stop off one more time after this so that we could see from a distance the beautiful beach of Jaco. This beach resort is very popular with the American's and is known to be very touristy. I heard that it has some popular food fast chains for the tourists.

The hotel that we were staying at in Manuel Antonio was called Byblos and looked very good for a 3 star hotel. Once we had arrived and checked in, we had the option to go visit a nearby beach. The weather was looking gloomy but dry, so I was up for exploring. Whilst waiting for everyone to get ready I heard this huge commotion and then noticed these white faced monkeys playing and fighting with each other in the trees. They looked extremely cute, however I got warned that they have a nasty streak and will quite happily snatch food off people so needed to be conscious.

To get to the nearby beach and main touristy area we got on a local bus, not far from the hotel. The buses seem to be fairly frequent and reasonably priced. Once we got to the beach, I was taken back by it's beauty. I took a few photos and posed in some but felt the gloomy weather wasn't giving the beach any justice. Afterwards we had meal at a nearby restaurant that had an old plane with a bar inside, I believe it was called El Avion. It was definitely worth a visit.

The next day

We had to be up early again as a guided walk through the national park was included in the trip. On the way walking to the park our guide pointed out this camouflaged bird. It was so camouflaged that it actually looked like bark of the tree except you could see its feet and beak. Also, I bumped into these two Spanish ladies who were on my volcano hike in La Fortuna. They did not speak English and spoke to me in Spanish but luckily out of my small knowledge of the language I understood what they were saying to me and was able to speak back to them.

Once we got to the park entrance we were greeted by our guide and he walked us through the park, every few minutes he would stop and point out animals to us. Some of the animals were so far away but with his telescope we could see them clearly. He also offered to take photos with our cameras/phones against the telescope and I got some really close and clear pictures. The animals we saw were sloths, toucans, monkeys, bats, insects and a basilisk.

After our walk through the park which lasted around an hour we were taken to a beautiful beach and had around 45 minutes to enjoy. Guess what we did to kill some time? hacky sack of course, but in the sea obviously. We didn't have long at the beach as we all planned to do a boat trip later on.

In the afternoon we all got picked up from the hotel and taken to Quepos to go for a ride on the Catamaran. The price was around 80 US dollars but I got charged extra because I was paying in the local currency and didn't have any dollars so ended up paying around 86 US dollars. I guess they like tourists paying in US dollars as they probably make money out of converting into Colonies. I moaned but realized it wasn't going to get me anywhere so paid up. But I was pretty peed off as this was not communicated at any point until I was at the boat company's office.

When we got on the catamaran, it was amazing. The catamaran looked really posh, like it was for wealthy people and we only had to share with a few other people. It really did feel like a private boat. We had a limited number of alcoholic drinks included and music. The boat journey lasted for a couple of hours and we had the opportunity to jump into the sea, go snorkelling and use the waterslides. The sea water was very murky and was hard to see anything, however I did get to see a couple of different types of fish, including the famous sergeant majors. The reason the water was so murky was due to it being rainy season. I was told that in the dry season it is much better for snorkelling as the water is clear. We also had food included and the fish I ate looked like meat. I had opted for the fish in error as I don't eat much fish but ended up really enjoying it. I was told the fish was called a wahoo, or something like that.

After the boat trip we headed back to the hotel and I was feeling quite tipsy. It was out last night with Kate as she was staying behind in Manuel Antonio so that she could head further south to do some surfing, so it was like our final night party as the rest of us all only had one whole day left together. I was quite happy having a whole jug of beer to myself.

Good times and I was feeling gutted that the G Adventures trip was coming to an end but pleased to know I still had a week left in this beautiful country. The next stop; San Jose, for the second time!

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