Coast Rica is a tropical paradise boasting 26 national parks throughout its transoceanic country. During my stay in Jacó, I took a trip to the Manuel Antonio National Park. It is located less than an hour south of the famous Jacó Beach. It may be one of Costa Rica’s smallest parks but it provides habitats for a large variety different animals.
Throughout my explorations around the world I’ve learned to use a tour guide when they present themselves. Never be embarrassed to feel like a tourist. You are one, and everyone already knows it.. You get the most out of your visit with a tour guide! I highly recommend it. Right out of the gates, our tour guide pointed out these teeny tiny bats clinging to a palm frond.
I thought that was impressive until he spotted this even smaller, rainbow grasshopper that was less than 2 inches long, from 30 feet away. Each tour guide uses a periscope to help you see the animals up close. The periscopes also help you take close up videos or pictures with your phone. I used my camera as much as I could, but some instances the periscope had a better view, like this photo below.
Documentaries, especially on wildlife, are what I live for. I have seen tons of them, so when I came across these Halloween crabs I was beyond amazed. I never thought I’d see one in the wild, let alone a forest floor covered in them.
Our tour guide’s main mission was to find a sloth. Once we got far enough into the park they were all over. If you don’t have a guide, just look for these types trees in the pictures below. It’s their favorite food! Manuel Antonio hosts 2 of the 3 types of sloths: The Hoffman’s two toes Sloth and the brown-throated three-toed sloth. My photos are all of the 3-toed sloths. We found one 2-toed sloth, but I didn’t get a decent photo of it- he was sleeping.
In the thick canopy above us, a family of capuchins crossed our path. They seemed to be very familiar with people and didn’t care to examine us much. Two babies emerged holding tight to their mothers’ backs while mingling above us.
On the forest floor, lived a large rodent that I am very familiar with. I used to care for one during my internship at my local zoo. My tour guide kept calling him a relative of a pig, but he meant a guinea pig. The agouti. One of the largest rodents. As I was photographing it, I didn’t realize it was a mother and baby pair. I had only seen the baby until I looked up from my viewfinder to see that there were two. They were well camouflaged.
Don’t forget your bathing suit because there is a section of protected beach inside the park! When we got down to the beach a couple of raccoons began opening coolers looking for an easy meal. Monkeys and raccoons can become a nuisance in the park. Try to keep a watchful eye on your food and water, for the safety of the animals and yourself. You might notice raccoons with collars on in the park. They are part of a study by local research scientists.
We came across more animals than I was expecting to see in this small preserve. We didn’t see any large birds like the local macaw or toucans inside the park, but we did see them closer to Jacó. Here are some more photos from my visit to the park.
do you see it??
On your drive down the coast notice all the palm tree farms lining the highway. These are palm tree plantations which produce palm oil. Unfortunately, these farmers are clear cutting habitats like the preserve Manuel Antonio National Park is protecting. Many animals have lost habitats and food sources from the destruction of these lands, which is killing off their species. Palm oil is devastating the ecosystem in countries like this. You can help stop this from the comfort of your own home by boycotting items that use palm oil- it’s in almost everything now a days. Boycotting products that contain palm oil can prevent new farms from sprouting up. This will save many animals’ lives, and hopefully entire species. SAY NO TO PALM OIL! See here for more information: http://www.saynotopalmoil.com/What_can_i_do.php
- Parking is a little confusing. Don’t let the hustlers direct you anywhere. We arrived around 9am and got a spot for $5 but on the way out they were charging $35.
- Admission tickets are $10 and must be purchased at the bank near the entry gate.
- I recommend getting a tour guide. It is commonly $20/person. You will miss so many animals without one.
- There is no food or water sold inside the park. Bring what you need with you.
- Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints.
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