Manuel Antonio National Park
Just a small sized park compared to the other gigantic ones around the country, Manuel Antonio National Park is home to hundreds of species of wildlife and is regarded as one of the top bio-diverse parks in the continent. From mammals, reptiles and insects to a wide variety of vegetation and plants are condensed in this park, thereby making it much easier to spot wildlife, even without a guide.
This park though attracts a lot of visitors and because of its size makes it look crowded at times. Unless you have a guide already reserved, the line to get in can be daunting and time consuming. We got a really nice guide, Chelsea, who walked us around, spotted and provided interesting information about each.
The guides talk among themselves on the trips thereby increasing the chances of spotting elusive wildlife. Plus they have high resolution scopes to see the animals up close. You can even take snaps through the scope if situation permits.
On our 2 hour tour, we spotted iguanas, snakes, bats, two and three toed sloths, and a plethora of birds. The highlight was the endangered squirrel monkeys and white faced monkeys. The park has well marked trails and bridges making it easy to walk and explore.
After exploring the trails and experiencing the wild, we hopped on to the beach and dipped our souls in the warm shallow waters off the cove. Overall a fulfilling experience especially made memorable due to the cute and endangered squirrel monkeys.
Tip – The monkeys try to steal food (esp. potato chips, fruits) that are harmful for them. So please do not carry any food inside the park or keep them hidden all the time. We heard and saw monkeys stealing cameras or bags and holding it hostage until you give them the food you are carrying. They were our predecessors so assume that they have some kind of brain that are aware of barter trade.
The park only admits a limited number of visitors every day, so make sure to go early in the morning. Petty theft is also common (by humans not monkeys), so try not to carry valuables with you or keep a close eye. Always.