Our journey to the park was eventful. Our bus pulled over on a bridge and we all piled out to see a huge float of crocodiles basking on the bank below us. There were at least thirteen of the little beasties, all resting in the sun with their huge jaws wide open... It was a slightly scary sight to say the least!
Once we'd arrived at the Manuel Antonio National Park we got stuck in straight away, heading deep into the vegetation to see if we could spot any animals. We weren't disappointed and before long, we came across a shy little lizard.
And then a not so little lizard....
Then came the monkeys! There were two different varieties- the small, chattering spider monkeys and the larger, more boisterous cappuccino faced monkeys. Both troops were flinging themselves through the trees and playing with each other and there were even baby monkeys clinging to the backs of the older ones!
Then, the best thing happened! We spotted the one animal I was desperate to see- a two toed sloth! Even better, for some reason it was surprisingly active, climbing up its tree and swinging between branches.
Just look at its little smiley face!
Can you see that little green patch on the sloth's back? That's a symbiotic algae which lives in the sloth's fur which helps the sloth camouflage!
After quite a walk, we emerged from the forest and found ourselves digging our toes into pure white sand. The beach was just beautiful. The waves crashed on one side, while monkeys played in the trees on the other and racoons scampered on the sand. We even found another sloth and its baby in a seaside tree!
Day two in Manuel Antonio took us to the mangroves. We started at our guides house where we had a traditional Costa Rican meal and he told us about the importance of tourism in Costa Rica. Tourism is a relatively new industry out there and it became very clear very quickly how important it is, having risen to be the biggest economic sector even over the long established trades, such as the exportation of tropical fruits. We'd seen first hand how welcoming many people working in tourism had been, but it was fascinating to find out just how much it meant to the individuals in the industry and how it had lead to a boom of small businesses.
Before long, we found ourselves bobbing through the mangroves on the lookout for more exotic animals.
The mangroves were teeming with life. Little birds hopped around and jewel coloured crabs scuttled up and down the tree roots. Then, our guide excitedly pointed upwards where a tiny silky anteater was dozing in the branches!
We also spotted some snakes and more giant lizards!
Our last day was spent relaxing beside the pool at our hotel, Plaza Yara. From my sun lounger, I could see the jungle and in the morning and evening, monkeys came and played in the trees. The hotel was also shockingly lovely- we had an absolutely huge room with a jungle view and the entire place was decorated beautifully! The hotel also used the restaurant next door, Z, which turned out to be absolutely wonderful. (It kept my mother very happy as they had a choice of three different seafood platters!).
Manuel Antonio had to be my favourite area of Costa Rica. The entire country has been incredibly vibrant, but Manuel Antonio took this vibrancy to an entire new level.