The Colorful Flora and Fauna at Manuel Antonio Park

by Johnny on May 26, 2012

I was honored to be awarded The Gift of Happiness, an initiative by the Costa Rican Tourism Board to spend one million dollars to send people to Costa Rica for a week (600 trips were awarded). It was inspired by the fact that the country is consistently near or at the top of lists of the happiest countries on earth. I was given a choice of several itineraries, and I chose the one that focused on eco-tourism and seeing an authentic side of the country. I went from May 10-17, 2012. Here is a post from my amazing trip!

One of the highlights of my trip was visiting Manuel Antonio Park, a nature preserve on the Pacific coast. It has several paths in the jungle, but it also has several pristine beaches. We were picked up at our hotel with a group of several other Americans, all anxious to see a world of wildlife unlike anything seen at home. Upon arriving, we were told that nobody is quite sure who Manuel Antonio was. It’s suspected that he was an old man who used to live on the land, but rumors and legends abound.

Our guide (as were all the other guides we passed) was equipped with a powerful scope so that when he spotted a creature, he could quickly set it up and allow us to take a look at it up close. If you were to simply walk straight along the path we traveled, it would take less than 20 minutes. It took us well over two hours, as we stopped nearly every 15 feet–our guide kept finding creatures.

Guide at Manuel Antonio Our guide showing us a coconut

He was a wizard. He would suddenly stop us and excitedly set up his scope, only to show us a tiny, flat tree frog 30 feet in the air nearly obscured by leaves. We all couldn’t believe how easy it was for him to find animals of all kinds, especially ones that were well camouflaged or very far away. He had studied nature in college and was incredibly passionate about plants and animals. That was one thing that really struck me about Costa Rica–all of the people truly love and respect nature, and do everything they can to preserve it.

Here are some of my photos from the park. I had to take some from very far away, so they aren’t as clear as I would like. Regardless, seeing so much wildlife in one place was a treasure!

A three-toed sloth in Manuel Antonio Park A three-toed sloth Sloth in Costa Rica Mr. Sloth, legs spread, scratching his belly (no shame) Sloth in Costa Rica Mr. Sloth hanging upside-down Toucan in Manuel Antonio Park A toucan looking at its baby in a nest Toucan in Manuel Antonio Park The toucan feeding its baby Frog in Manuel Antonio Park A very flat frog on a leaf Squirrel monkey in Manuel Antonio Park An adorable squirrel monkey Black iguana in Manuel Antonio Park A black iguana Lizard in Manuel Antonio Park Another lizard in Manuel Antonio Park Rattlesnake flower in Manuel Antonio Park Rattlesnake flower, which resembles the scales of its namesake Beach at Manuel Antonio Park Gorgeous beach at Manuel Antonio Park Massive tree roots at Manuel Antonio Massive tree roots at Manuel Antonio Bats at Manuel Antonio Park Bats lined up in a row. We were told this is a defense mechanism made to make them appear like a snake, especially when they move. Beach at Manuel Antonio Park The ocean has several massive rock islands Beach at Manuel Antonio Park Me having a little yoga fun on the beach! (It’s hard in wet sand!) Squirrel monkeys in Costa Rica A bit hard to see, but this is a squirrel monkey carrying her baby on her back Squirrel monkey in Costa Rica Another cute squirrel monkey Fungus in Costa Rica Fungus that looked like a cocktail umbrella

Butterfly in Costa RicaHave you ever been to Manuel Antonio Park? What did you think?

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