If you’re heading for a vacation rental home near Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica, you’re in for an incredible nature adventure. In addition to iguanas, toucans, coatimundis and more, there are 3 species of monkeys indigenous to the park.
Manuel Antonio National Park
When the park boundaries were established in 1972 no one bothered to tell the Howler, Red-backed squirrel and Capuchin monkeys, so they continued to follow their established foraging routes beyond the park limits. Not all but many of Manuel Antonio’s vacation rental homes are located within these natural foraging routes known locally as the “Monkey Corridor.” However, staying in one of these vacation rental homes carries with it a big responsibility. It may seem cute, funny or thrilling to hand feed the monkeys, yet it’s extremely damaging to them in many ways.
One of the many attractions to Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica is the abundant wildlife particularly its primates – capuchin, howler and the endangered Red-backed squirrel monkey. Having Manuel Antonio National Park in such close proximity to many vacation rental homes gives vacationers the added thrill of seeing wildlife in their own backyard.
Unfortunately out of ignorance, indifference or for a photo opportunity many tourists feed the monkeys. However, they’re not fully to blame. Although local hotels are completely aware of the dangers, a few still encourage feeding monkeys to attract more clients. When tourists see others doing it they assume it’s acceptable. But feeding the monkeys is so detrimental to their health and survival it can have catastrophic consequences.
By Evelyn Gallardo
Seasonal terms can be confusing in tropical places like Costa Rica where online resources and guidebooks may describe them in different ways. To add to the confusion, some terms refer to the weather itself, while others refer to tourism.
Honestly, there are really only two seasons in Costa Rica, dry and rainy. There are no seasons with snow or drastic changes in temperature. The average temperature year round is between 71F and 81F degrees (21.7C-27C). One thing to keep in mind is elevation. The higher up you go, the cooler it gets. If you’re planning to visit Costa Rica you’ll want to optimize your experience by knowing what clothes to pack and what to expect weather-wise. No worries. The seasons in Costa Rica are about to become crystal clear.
One of the beauties of staying at a vacation rental home is you have the option of eating in. However, you’re most likely to venture out for a few meals during your trip. Eating at a restaurant in a foreign country is intimidating, especially when you don’t speak the language or understand the cultural nuances. If you’re headed for Costa Rica here are 3 tips that will help you feel and act like a local.
Tip #1 – The Check Will Never Come Unless You Ask for It
Unlike the western world where the waiter can’t wait to hustle you out the door and make his next tip, Costa Ricans have a different attitude. This is the land of Pura Vida (living the pure life) where no one rushes (with the exception of loco taxi drivers) and there’s time for everything. Costa Ricans feel you should relax, enjoy your meal at leisure and when you’re ready you’ll ask for the check. So, don’t sit at your table and fume because the waiter hasn’t brought your check and you think you’re getting poor service. It isn’t bad service, it’s cultural. So lighten up, enjoy the sunset and have another cup of coffee. Bask in the moment – you’ll be back to the hustle-bustle soon enough.
Baby Boomers set the first travel trend in the 1960’s when they strapped on backpacks and began exploring the world. Their parents had postponed travel until retirement. Not so for Baby Boomers. Travel was an intoxicating, powerful drug. It was an ever-changing high from the Gringo Trail in South America to the beaches of Costa Rica. Boomers were hooked.
If you’re on your way to Costa Rica be prepared to be dazzled by Mother Nature because she’ll command your attention, get you out of your head and for brief magical moments, she’ll wrap you in her wonder and make you a part of it all.
For instance, imagine an iridescent blue butterfly the size of an open paperback book, a monkey that howls louder than a coyote and a tree sloth so slow it grows moss. Stay tuned for more about them in future articles but for now let’s talk about the quirky Green Basilisk, nicknamed the Jesus Christ Lizard because of its ability to walk on water. Technically they run on water. But wait, add another wacky element. At several of the Manuel Antonio vacation rental homes – these lizards perform this feat in the swimming pools.
Green Basilisks have long fringed toes on their hind feet. When threatened by iguanas or other perceived predators they stand on their hind legs and run across bodies of water using their tails for balance. They spread their toes wide and run slapping their feet hard against the surface of the water, creating a pocket of air between their soles and the water, which keeps them from sinking. The trick is they have to sustain a speed of 5 feet per second, otherwise, gravity wins and they have to resort to their excellent swimming skills.
How do they do that? Having lived in Manuel Antonio for many years, I’ve seen my share of Jesus Christ Lizards. Recently, I spotted two males by our pool. The males are easy to identify by the distinctive high crests on their heads and backs. These crests serve to impress the ladies. I approached the first mail cautiously for a closer look. He quickly jumped in the pool and did his Jesus Christ thing. I had one of those “duh” moments and ran back for my video camera hoping the second male would still be there.
No worries. When I returned Jesus Christ lizard #2 stood at the edge of our pool about 20 feet beyond but before I could get any closer he jumped into the water on his hind legs and bolted for the other side. I’ll be better prepared next time. Watch the National Geographic video here.
Manuel Antonio is a perfect eco-vacation destination when you need to get away from stress, traffic and punching a time clock. There’s an abundance of costa rica vacation villas nestled into the rain forest. Their close proximity to Manuel Antonio National Park has the added benefit of frequent wildlife sightings for vacationers.
Imagine lying by the pool reading your book and witnessing a lizard walk on water! If that doesn’t make you forget your worries and laugh, it’s too late, you’re headed for a dirt nap.
I’m so grateful to be living in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica and grateful to be able to share one of its magical moments with you. Paradise Awaits!
If you’ve booked a luxury vacation rental home in Costa Rica and you’ve rented a car to get there, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with some of the twists and turns of the road. Driving in a foreign country can be intimidating, especially if all the road signs are in Spanish!
1 – Road Signs – Here’s a handy glossary of common road signs listed alphabetically for easy reference. Print them out and refer to them while you’re on the road.
- Alto – Stop
- Ceda el Paso – Yield
- Derrumbres en la Via – Watch for landslides in the road
- Despacio – Slow down
- Hombres Trabajando or Trabajos en la Carretera – Men at Work
- No Estacionar – No Parking
- No Hay Paso – No passage
- Peligro – Danger
- Salida – Exit
- Sin Salida – No Exit
- Una Via – One Way Traffic
- Velocidad Maxima – Maximum Speed
- Velocidad Minimo – Minimum Speed