Thursday, October 25, 2012

Costa Rica: Day Six

Thursday, October 25, 2012

One of the reasons why we chose Manuel Antonio for the second leg of our trip was the Manuel Antonio Nature Park and Wildlife Refuge. The Nature Park is part of a 25-acre private wildlife refuge and protected corridor with three primary nature exhibits, including turtle ponds and several user-friendly nature interpretive trails. The park was established in 1972 and even though it is the smallest national park in Costa Rica, it was named among the world's 12 most beautiful national parks by Forbes. It most certainly lived up this title!

As we were planning our trip, we all four were determined to see lots of wildlife, so we figured what better way to accomplish this goal, than to take a guided walking tour of the park. We were picked up from our hotel again and driven down to the entrance to the park.  Our guide was very entertaining and very good at spotting the tinniest animal from far way. We were so glad that we decided on a tour of the park, because our guide carried a telescope that he would use to focus in on the animals so we could see them up close. It was hard for me to share with the other guests on the tour, including Joel, Chris and Jackie, because I wanted to watch the animals and didn't want to miss anything!

Howler Monkeys
This was actually a pretty cool lizard
How our guide spotted this tiny bug, I will never know!
This little guy wanted to be found, so he made it easy!
We saw so many different kinds of animals at the park. We saw white-headed capuchins, mantled howlers, and Geoffroy’s spider monkeys and Central American squirrel monkeys, three-toed and two-toed sloths, leaf cutter ants, a couple Green Basilisk Lizard (aka the Jesus Christ Lizard that can walk on water), so many iguanas and lizards I lost count, toucans (which always travel in pairs!), so many butterflies, including the Blue Morpho Butterfly, vampire bats, a crab-eating raccoon, a small ghost crab, and all kinds of strange looking bugs.

Leaf cutter ants
The only snake I saw was this one, and it was gone before I could take another picture, a rat snake

Green Basilisk Lizard (aka the Jesus Christ Lizard)
Crab eating Raccoon
Crazy little crabs!
more leaf cutter ants
a two or three toed sloth (I can't remember which)
Another howler monkey
Because we were visiting the park outside of the high tourism times of the year, the monkeys were not down on the beach, but instead were deeper into the jungle. Our guide took us on a short hike up the mountain to find the monkeys. Even thought the hike was short and we hike a bunch at home, we got super sweaty in no time. The humidity combined with the heat, made for a very sweaty afternoon. But I didn't mind because we saw amazing views of the coast lines, got a bit of exercise and got to see the elusive mantled howler monkeys.

The amazing view from our hike to find more monkeys
Joel and I, pretty sweaty from our hike, but loving it!
Me, Joel, Chris and Jackie enjoying our hike.

Joel and I enjoying the beach

One of the several beautiful beaches in the park

Chris and Jackie - so cute!
After returning to our hotel, we lounged around the hotel, eating and drinking to our hearts content, watching the trees for more monkeys, and enjoying our lazy afternoon.

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