on April 1, 2008
I took a local bus for a few miles to reach Manual Antonio Park around 9 in the morning. I had barely passed the kiosk when I ran into the first group tour. Something that appeared to be a camera with a telescope was set up for the people to view animals so hidden and far away they couldn’t be seen by the naked eye. This reinforced that my decision not to go on a tour was a good one. I wanted to see the creatures for myself and be able to take pictures. I passed a couple more groups and then seemed to be alone. The tours were a couple of hours in duration so they didn’t cover much of the trails.Shortly after the entrance is one of the nicer, but more popular beaches. The local iguanas, raccoon, geckos, and lizards make it popular with the tourists and tour guides alike. The raccoon will check out your bags to see if you brought anything to eat, but worse are the monkeys who will check out everything. This beach is also popular for the fact it is has an outdoor shower, bathrooms and picnic tables. A small pond hidden a short distance from the path is home to egrets, kingfisher and herons.The trail continues along the beach until you reach a fork in the road. To the right is the trail that circles the perimeter of Punta Cathedral. While the map distributed at the entrance implies beach access, the high cliffs would make it impossible. The density of foliage and proximity to the ocean creates a muddy trail. There were a couple of areas where grasping a nearby tree trunk was necessary.Going left from the fork in the road while end the same place as taking Punta Cathedral one-way and this is to another beach. This one is more secluded and calm enough for snorkeling. Should you be lucky enough to be there at low tide you can see the remains of pre-Columbian turtle traps along the rocks.Beyond this beach is another fork. To the right will eventually end abruptly, overlooking an inaccessible beach. To the left is Sloth Trail that traverses some of the inland areas of the park. Although, sloths were high in the trees during the midday making it difficult to see, I did spy a couple. More to my delight was the deer. I saw young deer so I squatted low with my camera hoping not to scare it. I keep snapping pictures as it came closer; seemingly responding to my coaxing. Eventually it was so close licking my arm and cheek a passer by took my camera to get me a photo. That made my entire day. I returned the way I came and left the park. Important! The park closes on Mondays and is limited to 800 visitors on weekends and 600 weekdays.The entrance fee is $7 and there is no place to purchase food or drink. Feeding wildlife is prohibited.
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