Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park
At just a hair over six square miles in size, this national park might be the smallest in Costa Rica, but it’s a heavyweight in biodiversity. To protect the parl, the government limits the number of visitors to 600 per day on weekdays and 800 on weekends and holidays. Those lucky enough to enter have the opportunity to witness the parks 109 types of mammals, 184 species of birds, and 364 species of plants. Our phenomenal guide, Michael, informed us before entering, “Many plants in this park are dangerous and very poisonous. It will be best if you do NOT touch any of them. Be watchful to not brush up against any of the plants. Ok? Let’s go!”
Only steps down the path our eagle-eyed guide spotted two insect bats peering down at us from a branch suspended over the trail. Then, a crab just over the railing on the rainforest floor. Next, a lizard and then a red-eyed frog were tough to spot. Since the frog is nocturnal, it’s eyes were closed. That, along with the white spots on its back to mimic the leaf it was clinging to made it difficult to see. A raibbow grasshopper was our guide’s most impressive find because it was only about an inch long. This isn’t my photo. Sadly, mine was blurred.
Our most anticipated and favorite sighting of the trek had to be the three-toed sloth! Our guide told us that they feed on a steady diet of psychotropic coca leaves. No wonder they are so mellow!
In the canopy right next to the sloth was a group of howler monkeys. Our guide allowed us to put Mike’s phone to the lens on his spotting scope to capture this video of a baby and it’s mother!
At the end of the trail was a magnificent beach. Actually, two beaches sit here back to back. We spent about an hour on the Playa Manuel Antonio Beach (left) before heading back to the shuttle.
The area has many white faced monkeys and large iguana. We even watched one of those ornery monkeys snatch a lady’s backpack and take off! She chased him down and got it back.
We finished the day at a local restaurant, where we dined with our tour group. We got acquainted with a family who had made the two hour drive up from Columbia. What a fantastic day! Tomorrow…. we tour a coffe plantation, a sugar cane plantation, a chocolate plantation, and hike elevated walkways in the Cloud Forest!