The storm past during the night and the morning dawned bright and sunny. After breakfast we began our exploration of Manuel Antonio National Park. Although small it is touted as one of the most bio diverse areas in the world. We soon broke away from the main group and struck out on a side trail by ourselves. Within a few minutes we had our first of several wildlife encounters we experienced that day. High in a palm sat a white faced monkey. He scampered around the fronds before disappearing into the dense forest. Several moments later, sitting in the v formed by two tree branches was an animal with a reddish brown back. It was the rarely seen squirrel monkey. It looked down at us for an instant before swirling around the tree's trunk and also disappearing into the brush.
We continued up the steep hillside. Thankfully steps had been built which made the hike a relatively easy one. We crossed a small river. Continuing up we came upon a landing which afforded us a breathtaking view of the turquoise ocean below. Waves broke around small rock islands before lapping upon the shore. Roosting herons appeared as white spots scattered up the mountainsides. We heard the call of birds and the distinct bark of howling monkeys. We experienced a silence filled with the noises of nature. Climbing further we reached the end of the trail with another spectacular ocean view.
As we started to descend we heard a rustling in the trees above. Looking up we saw another white faced monkey. Then another appeared leaping from branch to branch with the grace of a trapeze artist. One by one the rest of the troop came into view leaping and swinging through the trees.
We joined the rest of our group on the beach. A brown iguana sat motionless on a tree trunk, it's color exactly matching it's chosen perch. On the beach was another, it's neck bright blue. Iguanas are camelions, it had picked up the color of the ocean. We spotted a raccoon, leaner, more catlike than the North American variety, it was feasting on scores of hermit crabs scuttling across the beach sand.
We began our trek back to the hotel to change into fresh shirts, the ones we were wearing soaked through from the humidity and our exertions, and meet the bus for our last adventure. We took a new, less heavily traveled boardwalk trail. It began to rain. We quickly donned our ponchos. In the brush another raccoon, with two babies in tow, ran across the forest floor seeking shelter from the downpour. It was a brief rain, over by the time we had gone downstairs to board the bus.
There was one final encounter with wildlife as we left our jungle view room. A cricket like insect, the size of a man's hand, clung to the wall of the hotel. While exotic, it was also slightly creepy.