December 29, 2019
Today was an early start day. Our driver was picking us up at 6:45am to get us to Manual Antonio National Park for our private tour.
Being at one of the closest hotels to the park we arrived quickly to find the area was already packed with tours, guides and a line of travelers who were waiting to get into the park. Because we had booked a private tour, our guide had tickets for us simplifying the process. The biggest challenge was due to the amount of vehicles arriving to the area and no designated parking at the park, he could not find parking.
Once our guide arrived, we passed through the entrance queue and on our way to exploring the park. With the popularity of the park, much was invested into walkways and public areas to accommodate the large groups of guests entering the park with and without guides. All stopping along the route to spot wildlife. It was amazing the eye that these guides have in seeing camouflaged animals, small insects and reptiles. They would then proceed to set up their spotting scopes for an up close view of the find and would allow us to get great up close photos of grasshoppers, spiders, lizards, squirrel monkeys and toucans.
A casual walk stopping frequently to spot wildlife, we did not get far into the park before we were routed to the beach to hang out for about 45 minutes. The views were beautiful from the beach, which was inside of a bay. The sand was course and hard but we were there to see wildlife not waves. Continuing on along the coast, we spotted sloths and lizards lounging enjoying the coastal air. The coastal path lead us back to the front entrance which turned out to be the highlight of our tour. A large troop of capuchin monkeys were playfully entertaining passerby’s. Unafraid of all the people and in fact so brazen that one even got close enough to try and grab an orange out of our hand. We watched them for awhile before being herded out of the park as it was the end of our tour. Due to the small roads, number of cars and tour buses entering into the area we had to walk far from the park to meet our driver who was stuck in traffic and could not get to us so we ended up getting cabs to get us back to our hotel.
We spent the remainder of the day relaxing by the pool at the hotel before heading out to watch some American football at a local bar. With not many options for restaurants in Manuel Antonio, we had dinner at a hotel restaurant (El Wagon) which offered the same menu as their restaurant from the previous night with a few additions.
We enjoyed the up close experience with the animals but, I guess you could say that Manuel Antonio was our least favorite stop on our Costa Rica adventure and we were ready to move on to our next destination along the central coast.