The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the best views of the wildlife, so we were picked up at 7:30 AM today for our guided tour at Manuel Antonio National Park with Jade Tours. We were all really excited for this tour, and we definitely made sure to grab Aly’s wildlife guide and our camera for this excursion. When we got to the park entrance, they broke the large group of people down into several smaller groups, so we were paired with two other couples, and our guide, Edgar. Two important things to know if you are visiting Manuel Antonio National Park: 1) You can only take in sandwiches and pre-cut fruit, no other snacks allowed and 2) It is the most visited National Park in all of Central America, so it can be busy and it pays to come as soon as the park opens.
Right at the front, by the bathrooms, we saw a sloth and some white faced capuchin monkeys–yes! This tour was off to a good start. As we walked along the main trail with Edgar, he would tell us various tidbits about the animals, the park, the flora, and then would stop seemingly for no reason, position his scope, and show us an animal that we definitely didn’t see on our own. As we walked along, we saw iguanas, lizards, frogs, a zombie moth (yes, a real thing!), birds, and sloths. We also saw some crabs, a lobster, a Jesus Christ lizard (Aly was so excited)–and all along the way, Aly was checking her guide. We were able to get away from the crowds as we ventured further off the main path in search of a poison dart frog. We finally found one, but he was very jumpy and not wanting to pose for pictures.
We eventually made our way to Manuel Antonio Beach, inside the park, where we saw a raccoon, an agouti, and a whole lot of white faced capuchins. The tour company provided a light snack at this point, and then Edgar arranged for them to take us back to our hotel on a later shuttle so we could spend a few hours at the beach. Aly made a huge sandcastle, and we walked up and down the beach searching for shells to decorate with. She even found a few small sand dollars that were still whole. The water was warm, so we splashed around for a bit, and watched some hermit crabs and iguanas on the beach for a while.
On our hike back to the front of the park, we saw some cute, small, squirrel monkeys, and heard some howler monkeys as well. We all agreed that this was one of the highlights of the trip, and the tour we paid for was well worth it!
After quickly washing up back at the hotel, we walked down the road to Manuel Antonio Falafel Bar. If you stay in Manuel Antonio. . . .go here!!! It is so delicious and we talked about going back the next day, but ended up being too busy. I’m still thinking of how good the chicken shawarma sandwich, falafel, and hummus with pita were. After our walk back up the hill to the hotel, we were ready to hit the pool again. It started raining shortly after we got there, but that has never stopped us from swimming on vacay before, so we ended up with the whole pool and waterslide to ourselves-yay! The sun went down, the bugs came out, so we went back to the room to watch Honey I Shrunk the Kids with Aly (she loved it!) and get ready for another day of adventure.