Wildlife watching in Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio National Park

Wildlife watching in Manuel Antonio

From the misty mountains of the continental divide, we made our way, to the sandy beaches of the Pacific Coast, spotting our first flock of Scarlet Macaws at Playa Hermosa.

Scarlet macaw, Playa Hermosa
Scarlet macaw, Playa Hermosa
Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio view

When we pulled into the driveway of our rental house at Manuel Antonio, we thought we must’ve gotten the address wrong. It a mansion on top of a hill with uninterrupted bird’s eye views of the tropical rainforest cloaked in mist and framed by the distant mountains. Quite a change from our little cottage in Monteverde.

Wildlife watching in Manuel Antonio - Kinkajou
Kinkajou

The spectacular views were not the only surprise that our dream house turned up. As we were having dinner on the balcony, we heard some rustling noise in one of the trees growing by the side of the house. Always prepared like the best of Boy Scouts, we shined a torch on the tree and were greeted with a cheeky little face of a Kinkajou. It was feeding on mango fruits and was quite content to let us watch it for a few minutes.

Damas Island

Wildlife watching in Manuel Antonio - Silky Anteater at Damas Island
Silky Anteater

In the morning Ruth, Peter and I took a tour to Damas Island to search for the elusive Silky Anteater. Very rare and hard to find elsewhere within its range, the tiny anteater occurs at high density in the mangroves around the island. No one knows why.   To be fair not much is known about the species at all.

Milenlli – our guide from Ave Natura quickly found the first anteater which was shortly followed by another one, much lower in the tree. Since they are a nocturnal species, most observations of Silky Anteaters during the day involve staring at a motionless ball of orange fur, coiled so tightly on itself that it is next to impossible to tell what part of the animal you are looking at.

Wildlife watching in Manuel Antonio - Four-eyed opossum at Damas Island
Four-eyed opossum

After finding the anteaters Milenlli took us to a hollow tree that was home to a female Four-eyed Opossum and her young. Both were at home, snoozing peacefully inside their snug ‘nest’.

Wildlife watching in Manuel Antonio - Mangrove boa on Damas Island
Mangrove boa

The majority of other wildlife sightings on the trip consisted of birds and reptiles with the only other mammals being a slightly different looking race of White-throated Capuchins.

Wildlife watching in Manuel Antonio - White-throated capuchin at Damas Island
White-throated capuchin

Manuel Antonio National Park

We spent the afternoon wildlife watching in Manuel Antonio National Park. Unfortunately, as most other popular and easily accessible national parks anywhere in the world, Manuel Antonio was overcrowded and overdeveloped. It did contain an impressive array of wildlife though.

The most popular way of visiting the park is with a guide, but we chose to explore on our own. Haunted by the memories of the Kinkajou night walk in Monteverde, we ignored the countless groups of tourists clustered around their guides and staring intently into the canopy through a scope. No doubt a fair share of these sightings was crickets, spiders and iguanas, but a few had a sloth or an interesting bird in their sights.

Wildlife watching in Manuel Antonio - Crab-eating racoon
Crab-eating racoon

We managed to find a Three-toed sloth on our own as well as a few Crab-eating racoons on the beach and a troop of Squirrel monkeys on the way out of the park.

Wildlife watching in Manuel Antonio - Three-toed sloth
Three-toed sloth

Back at the house, we had a few frogs – a Masked tree frog and an aptly named very nondescript Drab tree frog. We kept an eye out on the mango tree and even put some ripe mangos on the edge of the balcony, but the Kinkajou did not come out to play.

Wildlife watching in Manuel Antonio - Masked tree frog, Costa Rica
Masked tree frog

Species List Manuel Antonio                                    More images in Costa Rica Gallery

Previous Stop: Monteverde                                      Next stop: Drake Bay

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