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    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Costa Rica Part 9

    Sunday, August 6, 2017
    Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

    Looking out at Playa Manuel Antonio near Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    Looking out at Playa Manuel Antonio near Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    A sign for the Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    A sign for the Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    The waterfall at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    The waterfall at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    Even though yesterday was a travel day, I could not rest today, as Manuel Antonio National Park is closed tomorrow, Monday, and I can’t spend more than three days in this area. So, after a sensible breakfast of eggs, rice, watermelon and pineapple at the Plinio Hostel, I headed out around 11:00 am to the rustic little bus stop just down the road. A few minutes later, the bus that shuttles visitors back and forth between Quepos and Manuel Antonio showed up. For just 60 cents, I got whisked five kilometers south, near the park entrance. On the way, we snaked around hairpin curves and careened up and down some pretty steep hills, passing numerous hostels, hotels and resorts, finally leveling out down by the beach.

    A moss-covered vine or tree root at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    A moss-covered vine or tree root at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    A white-headed capuchin monkey at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    A white-headed capuchin monkey at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    The main trail at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    The main trail at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    Once there, everywhere I looked, in addition to more lodgings, I saw some kind of restaurant, tour operator or souvenir stall–all sporting the most bright, garish signs. In short, this area is a crass tourist trap. As the midday sun beat down, throngs of people were out strolling and sunning themselves on the beach, which is very scenic indeed, and sitting in open air restaurants on the adjoining narrow, cluttery streets. Finally, reaching the ticket window of Manuel Antonio National Park, I paid the hefty $16 entry fee (It’s only $3.00 for Costa Ricans!) and headed on inside.

    A wooden walkway / trail at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    A wooden walkway / trail at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    A colorful crab at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    A colorful crab at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    A sizable crowd on the main trail at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    A sizable crowd on the main trail at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    “Manuel Antonio National Park is a small national park in the Central Pacific Conservation Area located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, just south of the town of Quepos in Puntarenas province. Boasting impressive jungle landscapes covered with lush foliage, white sand beaches, and several scenic coves, the park attracts hikers, birders, ecotourists, surfers, swimmers, and more. Due to its convenient access, ease and variety of services–including food and accommodation–and boasting a wide range of flora and fauna in a small area, Manuel Antonio National Park is the most visited tourist destination in Costa Rica. In fact, in 2011, Manuel Antonio was listed by Forbes among the world’s 12 most beautiful national parks.”–Wikipedia

    A white-headed capuchin monkey at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    A white-headed capuchin monkey at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    Looking out at Playa Espadilla Sur at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    Looking out at Playa Espadilla Sur at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    A white-headed capuchin monkey at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    A white-headed capuchin monkey at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    Fist up, I mean first up, I tackled a paved one-kilometer spur trail that lead up to a very scenic waterfall in the jungle. I was stoked there were fewer people out there, and that there was a lot of repeated elevation gain and loss–all with wooden stairs–which made for a great calorie-burning workout. There were a lot of small quaint bridges that crossed over streams, too. Sitting on a wooden deck in front of the waterfalls was very relaxing and yet simultaneously intense as the cicadas emitted their screeching drone.

    A thick jungle at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    A thick jungle at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    A burrito log at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    A burrito log at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    A cove at Playa Manuel Antonio in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    A cove at Playa Manuel Antonio in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    Back on the main drag, which is a wide dirt / gravel trail, I navigated my way south through the teeming throngs of humans. About halfway down, I took off on a side trail that paralleled the main trail. Actually, it was an elevated wooden walkway that crossed over some kind of fragile ground. I was surprised to see a weird crab with a blue shell and bright red legs. At the end of that trail was a big T intersection where a mass of people were crowded around a couple of restrooms. Proceeding down a hill, I made my way past the very scenic Manuel Antonio beach, where, through a covering of palm trees, tons of people laid about for a tan, frolicked on the shore and swam in the warm, aquamarine waters. Through this section of the trail, a lot of people crowded around the white-headed capuchin monkeys that were swinging through the trees, shooting more photos than should be allowed by law. It was a total mob scene.

    Super Cold Wotey at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    Super Cold Wotey at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    A couple of resorts near Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    A couple of resorts near Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    A lovely shambles near Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
    A lovely shambles near Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

    Next, I worked my way across a short isthmus to complete a loop trail around a shark fin-shaped peninsula. Like the trail up to the waterfall, this section also boasted a lot of up and down topography with a surplus of stairs. I was happy to get another good workout. Along with a phalanx of whining cicadas, the area also offered grand views (from atop a very high cliff) of the Pacific Ocean and a few tiny outlying islets. On the other side of the peninsula at the bottom of a irregular steep staircase, I was greeted by a grand view of a gorgeous cove with beautiful girls swimming and sunning themselves. By this point, my feet and lower leg muscles were fatigued, so it was time to make my way back to the Plinio Hostel to rest and pay a visit to Photoshop.

    Words and photos ©2017 Arcane Candy.

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