Day 15: To Ojochal

This morning was unlike the many ones before it: we slept in! So instead of breakfast at 07:00 we actually only turned up at 08:30, a full hour and a half behind our regular schedule, now that is being on holiday!

The drive from Manuel Antonio to Ojochal is actually very short, and the entire length of road is tarred and has an 80km/h speed limit, so making progress on those roads is easy. We actually arrived at Vollas Gaia in Ojochal way too early, but the staff here was kind enough to let us check in anyway, and even offered some advice on how to spend the rest of the day!

That meant that we were off to a beach right after lunch.
All beaches in Costa Rica are public, which means they are freely accessible and free to use. To get to Ventanas Beach however, you must pass over the grounds of a German guy, and he is asking money for that. This is legal, and I guess it is for him a nice way to make money on the side. So, we coughed up the 3000 colones for parking and for using his back yard to get to the beach and off we were.

And then the thunder and rain started. The weather over here can turn in the blink of an eye from clear and sunny into drizzle with distant thunderstorms. Too bizarre!
That happened to us today, and so our time at the beach was only short lived as being on the beach in an thunderstorm is not the best of thoughts. We did however find some Howler Monkeys in the trees right next to the beach, and generally had a good time over there after all.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the hotel pool (you can’t get any wetter that in a pool, right?) and in the supermarket, as groceries still need to be bought.
We are turning in early today as well, as tomorrow a small guided tour is held in the backyard of the hotel to watch the local wildlife. So, breakfast is at 06:30 again!

Day 14: Manuel Antonio National Park

After yet another breakfast for champions, this time with fresh fruit and the inevitable Gallo Pinto, our guide Brian arrived to pick us up for a tour inside Manuel Antonio National Park.
Yesterday, we negotiated a good price over the phone, and today was the day.

We got in our car and followed the guide to the park. After parking and getting the entrance tickets, $10, as usual, we were off. The park itself is only 7km² and a large part of it is accessible through senderos or paths. The main path leads to a large intersection of paths, one of which leads to the central Manuel Antonio beach.
The main path is actually nearly a road, but as it is wide and clear it is also a very good location for spotting animals.
In the scorching heat we have seen a very large troop of Squirrel Monkeys as they crossed the road. This is the first time we’ve spotted those! that was a real treat. You know it is a good sighting if the guide starts taking pictures!

We also encountered many other animals, big and small, including the two other species of monkeys living inside the park: Howler and White faced Capuchin Monkeys. We even got to see e few sloths! They unfortunately refused to show themselves, and remained that grey blob high up in the tree. 🙂
The guide even offered us the sweetest pineapple I’ve ever tasted at the end of the tour, and helpfully told us we could stay in the park as long as we wanted.

With the temperatures rising to well over 30 degrees again, we didn’t feel like walking a whole lot after the tour. And decided to see some of the beaches inside the park. As it was high tide at the time, we didn’t get to go to many of the beaches, to we walked back to the main beach and found ourselves a nice spot under a tree, right next to some Costa Rican dudes and black lizards. Yes, they were really close, approaching us to within two metres! The Italian couples next to us were scared out of their pants, which made the situation that much more enjoyable.
The water here is really nice, but the swell is enormous! It is hard to stand up in these waters, but it is too much refreshing to resist. Yes, this must be one of the few times I actually enjoyed swimming. 😀

We went back around 3, only to grab a quick bite and gear up for the next tour: a night tour to view frogs!
We had the best pizza yet, in a place called El Wagon. It looked very much like the standard tourist trap, but they offered awesome pizzas. The lace even included recliner chairs to sit on, and a full size train wagon to have your dinner in! The rains started to pour quite heavily during dinner, which didn’t give us good hopes about that night…

Around 6, Brian showed up again, and we drove off to the private property the tour would be in as the National Park closes at 4pm. Even with the rain, we have seen an enormous amount of frogs! Red-eyes tree frogs everywhere, in total we have spotted 9 species of frogs, most of which I cannot remember the names of. Including the many other nocturnal species like night jars, bug-eating crickets, spiders and much more, this was a very good trip.

Tomorrow, we are off again, and leave Manuel Antonio for Ojochal which is also along the Pacific Coast. Who knows what this place has in store for us!