A Day in Manuel Antonio National Park

Spent most of the day at the country’s most popular national park – Manuel Antonio, which is just down the road two miles away.  The park opens up at 7am, and the key is to get there before the tour buses arrive at 9am.  We managed to get breakfast and catch the public bus (60 cents each one-way) to arrive around 8:30am.  We stood in line to buy our park tickets and politely declined offers for guided tours.  We then walked over to the actual park entrance line where security guards inspect bags and confiscate food items that might be attractive to the park’s white-faced monkeys — bags of chips and crackers and cookies are the big no-no’s.  

The park isn’t necessarily big and we covered 80% of it during our six hours there — one of the trails was closed which accounted for the missing 20%.  Early on, there were hoards of visitors with their guides.  You could tell because they were clumped together and the guide had a huge tripod telescope for wild life viewing.  During our visit we were able to find (well, with the help of others pointing or looking up) a pair of sloths, white faced monkeys, birds, a tail-less rat thing, a squirrel, iguana and a marching colony of leaf cutter ants.  So cool!  But also so hot and humid.  The walking wasn’t hard, it was just tiring.  Going up a bunch of steps.  Then down.  Then up again.  And down.  We took many breaks.  And that was fine, since we were always on the lookout for wildlife.  A lot of the park was shaded so we didn’t need to wear our hats or slather a lot of sunscreen.  There also were not too many bugs (ie mosquitoes!), so we didn’t have to use our bug repellent, but we did anyways!  Upon the park’s exit, we were very popular as a throng of vendors offered us cold water, coconut water, snow cones and souvenirs.  We ended up buying a bag of freshly sliced mango — delicious and a perfect end to a great day.

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