Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Costa Rica: Manuel Antonio Nat'l Park

by Kathy 31. May 2013 16:51

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Manuel Antonio National Park

Our B&B was located on the border of Manuel Antonio National Park, which is home to a wide variety of small critters—including monkeys, sloths, coatis, iguanas, snakes, over 150 types of birds, and many different creepy crawlies.

To truly experience the wonders of this park, we sought the keen eye of local guide Johan Chaves.

Johan and Genevieve:

Johan was a superb guide. Not only was he knowledgeable about all the living things that we saw, but he was able to spot creatures that we surely would have missed if we were hiking on our own.

To start our tour, he met us at our B&B at 7 a.m. The entrance to the park was just outside our front door. Here is a park map, showing the trails:

From the park entrance, we followed the wide main trail named Sendero El Perezoso (the Sloth Trail):

Right away, Johan spotted a small lizard clinging to a plant stem:

Johan would continue to astound us as he spied creature after creature. Here is a turkey vulture:

The Sloth Trail was appropriately named!  Within minutes, we saw both a female 2-toed sloth with a baby (no photo) and a male 3-toed sloth. Here is the 3-toed sloth, whose algae-coated fur provided a nice camouflage in the trees:

Johan’s viewing scope allowed us to get a closer look at the wildlife. Here is David taking a peek:

We could also take better photos through the scope, including this one of a helmet headed lizard with its lacy drapings:

This baby golden orb weaver spider was right by the edge of the trail, showing us her spotted underbelly:

Under the trees was a small but fascinating crab, colored bright orange to prevent itself from being eaten by birds:

This green tree anole is a carnivorous lizard:

We were even fortunate enough to spot the backside of an agouti (which looked like a huge squirrel without a tail):

On the narrower and less-traveled “Mirador Trail”, Johan spied a large howler monkey:

In other trees, we found 2 more sloths, and another howler monkey—this one sleeping:

Genevieve, getting a better view through the scope:

Further down the trail, a troop of 30 to 40 red-backed squirrel monkeys crossed overhead.

Heading back toward the ocean, we passed a female white-tailed deer, similar to the ones who feast on the flowers in my yard in California:

Before reaching Manuel Antonio Beach, we stopped for a rest. In response to our questions about Costa Rican history, Johan gave us a brief overview extending from the first European colony in 1519 to the establishment as a free republic in 1834, and the creation of coffee bean and banana plantations. Today, the biggest Costa Rican export is microchips (not pineapples!). And tourism is very important to the economy.

Johan, answering some questions from Genevieve:

Johan also revealed the shady beginnings of the lovely phrase “Pura Vida!”, which could be viewed as the national slogan. In the late 1980’s, there was a gang of chapolinos, 12 to 25 year old boys who proclaimed that they were living “pura vida”, a pure life. They didn’t work; instead, when they needed something, they would just steal it from other people. The gang eventually disappeared, and the phrase “pura vida” was transformed and fused into the Costa Rican culture, to mean that life is complete, full of health and contentment.

Manuel Antonio Beach:

A sandy path connected Manuel Antonio Beach with a second beach called Playa Esparilla Sur:

The lizards along the second beach were pretty big:

Near the end of our hike, we crossed a small river via rowboat:

Our rower:

JoAnn disembarking, with assistance from Johan:

Hasta luego!

We connected with Ben and Sebastian back at our hotel. Sebastian had been running a high fever last night and was too ill to do the hike this morning. Johan had given Ben instructions on where to go for medical help if Sebastian’s fever persisted. What a relief to find that the fever had broken. And better yet, Sebastian was ravenous—craving a sandwich. On the road to recovery!

One of the great things about our hotel was that the wildlife from the park often came to visit. On 2 afternoons, we had visits from a group of squirrel monkeys. They came swinging from the trees and dropped into the pool area at the back of the hotel—so exciting!

Emerging from the forest:

The outdoor showerhead was a big attraction:

A leap of faith:

The monkeys hung out in the trees above our heads, giving us an up-close view of their sweet faces, tiny hands (and fingernails!), and other features:

We don’t have monkeys in our natural environment at home, so being surrounded by them here was a very special experience.

We also don’t have giant lizards, such as this beauty that joined us at the pool:

Manuel Antonio also had a fabulous long beach (Playa Espadilla Norte) near the entrance to the park.

The rolling waves were perfect for boogie boarding:

Genevieve, ready to head out:

Genevieve and Ben, after riding a wave into shore:

Pura vida!


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Map of Our Journeys

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Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin