Seeking sloths in Manuel Antonio National Park

I love sloths.

Sloths are one of the main reasons I decided to make the trip to Costa Rica. I love many other types of animals too so my visit to Manuel Antonio National Park was a major highlight for me.
Manuel Antionio National Park is on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It is one of the smallest national parks in the country but the most popular. I stayed in Quepos which is about 20 minutes by car from the park and village of Manual Antoinio. Buses run between the two frequently making Quepos an easy and more budget friendly option for accomodation.

The bus ride from San Jose was really pretty. Everything was so green and lush! We stopped briefly at a couple of bus stops which sold food and drinks. We passed over a bridge where about a dozen huge crocodiles were laying on the banks of the muddy river. Apparently National Geographic came out to do a story on them because this particular group were exceptionally huge.

When I arrived at my hostel, I was stoked. It reminded me of a big treehouse in the jungle. The main buildings and rooms are all made of wood and a few stories high.

The pool area joins up with a restaurant that offers pizzas and other standard Costa Rican menu items: rice and beans, American food, fruit drinks etc. Nothing exciting. The reception area has some couches, hammocks and tables for people just to hang about in. The dorm has a balcony and a roof top chill spot with swings. The people I met were all very chilled out, again here for the main reasons I am: to see the park and relax in the jungle!

I took a walk into Quepos town and bought my bus ticket for two days time to San Jose, thankfully just passing through this time! I like Quepos, it has a nice friendly feel to it. It consists of only a handful of streets with all the usual: restaurants, sodas, bars, tour offices. I had some breakfast at a little soda and once again fumbled over my Spanish. I think people appreciate me trying. It’s good practice all the same.

I headed back to the hostel and spent some time reading, organising my next stop and chilling in a hammock. The hostel was the most perfect place to chill out.

I decided to take another walk into Quepos but this time taking a route through some residential streets instead of the main road. I wanted to check out the waterfront and get something to eat. The walk down was a good insight into how Costa Ricans live. Their houses are small, basic and usually colourful. The sidewalks (like everywhere in Costa Rica) and a bit of a hazard, with holes and broken off pieces of concrete all over.

As I made my way down to the waterfront, I noticed a group of guys hanging about, almost camouflaged, next to a cliff covered in greenery. There was some makeshift shelter made from coloured sheets, with a group sitting under it. It made me feel a bit creeped out. The waterfront was pretty gross. The water was yuck and there wasn’t a view. Plus more men were just ‘hanging about’. I felt pretty unsafe so made my way to a Mexican place for dinner. After dinner, the rain bucketed down so I scurried back up the hill to the hostel.

My second day in the area was exclusively reserved for the national park. I was feeling pretty excited! It has been high on my list for a long time so hoped for it to meet my expectations.

I headed down to the bus stop for the 20 min ride to Manuel Antonio town. An older Tico (Costa Rican) man sat next to me and started chatting in Spanish. I could understand most of what he was saying and we had a bitsy conversation. He was very kind and told me to keep practising.

Upon arrival at Manuel Antiono, I grabbed some water, fruit and a sandwich for lunch. I then went to the park entrance and joined the long line of people waiting to get in. After about 10 mins I found out that I had to buy the ticket at a seperate office. So I left that line and joined another line at a ticket booth down the street. Thankfully after I got this ticket and joined the original line, there were almost no people in line.

Within the first half hour of being in the park, I saw four sloths. The first was a mum with her baby. Both were awake and looking around curiously. The second was one hanging from a tall vine. This one wasn’t doing a lot when I first walked past, but when I was on my return trip from the waterfall trail, he/she climbed all the way down the vine, looked around a bit, then climbed back up. This was a long process! Such an incredible sight to see, they are such peaceful creatures (I had a few tears in my eyes).The next one I saw was moving quite quickly, upside down and horizontally along a branch. I didn’t realise sloths could move that quickly!

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The park itself is a lush jungle and it was lovely to simply be there and enjoy the environment.

I walked all of the trails and was treated to more sloths, many cheeky monkeys, caotis, raccoons and colourful crabs.

I sat to have my lunch at Playa Manuel Antonio Sur and people watched a little bit.The beach was packed, tourists and locals all with their little piece of sand claimed.

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I found another short trail which had some good lookout points.

Having decided it was probably enough walking for one day, I found a patch of sand to chill at. I had some dips in the warm water, read my book and watched a cheeky pair of raccoons scavenge in backpacks. The park ranger kept scaring them away but they kept trying…very funny to watch!

Content with a great day of hiking and animal watching, I left the park and took a quick look around MA town then got the bus back to the hostel.

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Seeing the sun was still out, I lay by the pool and read my book for a little while. The perfect end to an incredible day!
Thanks for reading. Next time, I’ll be up on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica!

Mel 🙂

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