Sunday, April 15, 2012

Monkeying Around

As I mentioned, Quepos is well know for their park- Manuel Antonio. It's a beautiful nature reserve with an easy trail through the jungle that heads to the pristine beaches. On our last day Dayne and I took a cab to the entrance of the park and hired a private guide for a 3 hour walk. Without these guides that we hired we would have never seen even half of the wildlife we had throughout the country. It's really my number one piece of advice when traveling in Costa Rica, hire a wildlife guide!

The guides that work for the park wait until they have about 8 to 12 people total, I'm sure you could hire a private guide, and it costs about $30 cash only. Note that there is no ATM in the area around Manuel Antonio. Besides spotting and informing, the guides also carry a scope and set it up each time they spot things, giving everyone a chance to see their finds.
Banana flowers

We had seen a lot of wildlife on this trip so this day we were really hoping to glimpse more monkeys and a sloth or two. We entered the park with our guide and pretty much immediately saw a group of white faced monkeys swinging from tree to tree across the path! Success!

Sometimes we followed the main trail alongside families on their way to the beach, towing children and floaties. Other times our guide took us off on little used side paths, warning us to watch for snakes camouflaged by the underbrush. All in all it was a leisurely walk towards the beach past interesting flora and fauna.

Along the way we spotted some species we had seen before like helmut iguanas, hummingbirds, bats and even a random deer.

But we also saw a different species of toucan, which are generally not found here so the guide was very excited!  Mangrove crabs with bright blue bodies and red claws hanging out on the forest floor seemed weird and out of place.
In the area known as Sloth Ally we did finally catch a glimpse of a few shy sloths but unfortunately they were fast asleep way up in the shade of the tree leaves, making it very hard to see even with the scope.

As we ended our walk on the beautiful beaches we were rewarded with more white faced monkeys. Quite a few of them in fact. They are very interested in the picnic'ers lunches and sadly some people feed them. They were putting on a show, just as interested in us as we were in them, and swinging around having a good time. Adorable!

As Dayne and I made our way back to the main area of town on our own, there was one point where the beach we were on ended and you had to try to time the sea in order to make it to the other side. Dayne got wet, I however allowed this gentleman to transport me via his boat.

A casual lunch at Marlin's and some time hanging out on the beach rounded out a fantastic afternoon.

That evening when we got back to Quepos we found a farmer's market going on near the waterfront. Vendors had all sorts of beautiful tropical fruits on display. We bought a coconut water which in this case is a fresh coconut kept in ice water until you buy it and then a straw punched through its eye giving you access to the delicious liquid. Yum.


We also spotted a vendor with a big cauldron of chicarrone frying up. Perfect to go with our evening cocktails!
We finished up our day and our trip with a really delicious dinner at Kapi Kapi. A pretty, open air restaurant, by far the fanciest of the places we had been. The food and service were very good and it was a nice romantic way to end our travels.

We had time in the morning for a lounge by the pool before grabbing lunch, again at El Grand Escape. Then the van transfer that we hired picked us up for the 3 hour drive to the airport. Costa Rica may be small but with only one major airport, you have to plan your timing pretty well.

We flew home via Miami where we had to spend the night. We chose the close to the airport Regent which I would not recommend nor would I stay there again.

We loved Costa Rica and totally see why so many people have been traveling here over the last few years. A great first trip to Central America, but not the last!

All photos from the Quepos area are here.

Next up, Iceland!