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Manuel Antonio

COSTA RICA | Monday, 27 January 2014 | Views [409]

Costa Rica continues to be an absolute ecologist dream, it´s just so chock-full of wildlife. It is nearly TOO easy to spot wildlife. We spend no more than a few hours in Manuel Antonio National Park and in that time saw coati´s, raccoons, the guinea pig-like agouti, ctenosaurs, iguana´s and, most amazingly, two types of sloths... and we weren´t even really trying! Ok maybe we were just a little.  We also heard and saw howler monkeys again. I must admit that the first time I saw one of those I was a bit startled as for a second I thought I was looking at a human being. Just a dark human-like shape, up in the trees, hands reaching out to grab a branch. Freaky.

Manuel Antonio is actually one of those parks which is nearly  loved too much. Easy to see why: it is very easily accessible due to its location adjacent to the very touristy beachtown of Manuel Antonio,  the park has a couple of most beautiful beaches and of course there is the wildlife. In fact the park is now such a tourist drawcard that it nearly feels like an amusement park: come 7 AM the gate opens and busloads full of tour groups start up the track, camera´s at the ready. And it is not just popular with foreigners,  Ticos (Costa Ricans) also come down in droves to swim and picnic at the beach. Unfortunately, people have started feeding the wildlife and you can guess what has happened. Come lunch time, there are little battles going on all over the beach between people and wildlife. No use stringing your food bags up in the trees either as that´s no problem for monkeys. But still, it is amazing to see sloths in such a heavily-visited place, and there is no denying that the park is both stunningly beautiful and amazingly full of wildlife.

And actually, Costa Rica is quite serious about its natural treasures. Costa Rica is the most politically stable country in Central America, and because of this, has for a long time been the destination of choice for western eco-research (as well as for American tourists/ retirees). With all this international attention and interest in its natural treasures, it´s no surprise Costa Rica is at the forefront of eco-tourism. Rangers are very knowledgeable about flora and fauna and park entry is stricktly regulated, with maximum daily visitors in some places. I would have loved to have done some volunteer work in Corcovado National Park but they required a minimum of several months. Great for me but a bit boring for Arnold!

 

 

 

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