tags: conservation costa rica, manuel antonio, manuel antonio national park, quepos
Within a relatively small corner of Costa Rica, tourists can find the excitement and adventure of a vacation in the tropical forest, surrounded by one of the country’s most beautiful natural environments, without sacrificing life’s modern conveniences. There’s a magic to Manuel Antonio that is hard to explain. One thing, however, is absolutely certain: once you’ve been here you’ll want to come back again.
Manuel Antonio, with its 1700 acres of land mass and 135,906 acres of marine reserve, is the smallest of the 20 national parks Costa Rica has put aside for total protection. Even so, it is the country’s second most visited conservation area, after the Poas Volcano.
Last year alone, 143,520 tourists visited the park. Conservation officials have fixed the park’s carrying capacity at 600 people per day from Tuesdays to Fridays, and 800 on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. On Mondays the park is closed to the public.
“If there are already 600 visitors at 10 a.m., we close it right then”, said Javier Herrera, in charge of environmental education at the park, which is usually open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m
Located 100 miles south of San José the Pacific Coast (a pleasant three-hour drive, or a short 20 minutes by plane), Manuel Antonio, which was declared a national park in 1972, is the natural habitat of species such as the endangered squirrel monkey (endemic to the area), white faced capuchin monkey, raccoons, three and two-toed sloths, white-nosed coaties, brown pelicans, black-collared hawks and green kingfishers. They share the space with primary and secondary forests, bursting with cedars, bully trees, black locusts and silk cotton trees. A mangrove swamp covers about 44.5 acres, adding to the biodiversity of the region.