On my first day in Costa Rica, I spent the afternoon in Manuel Antonio National Park, a small but beautiful tract of rainforest, mangrove and beach that hugs the country’s central Pacific coast. In just a couple of hours of walking around with a guide super-skillful in catching the slightest movement of the tree branches, I was lucky to see a multitude of animals, some downright scary, others utterly adorable. Here are just some of my sightings…
Known as the park’s mafia, the white-faced capuchin monkeys steal food from tourists and jump on children to snatch their snacks. I just saw one of the jumping incidents today. Shameless little creatures, yet totally captivating.
This eyelash pit viper was curled up on a tree right off the path, so perfectly camouflaged. I got serious chills just looking at this super-venomous snake, also known as bocaraca – or “kiss of death” – through the telescope.
A baby jaguarundi crossed our path. The park’s sole specimen, this wild cat that can grow to a sizable puma-like feline, is starting to present a problem for the park’s visitors, many of whom come to its beaches with small children. The jaguarundi will probably be taken away to some remote wilderness of Costa Rica.
Precariously hanging off a tree scratching itself, this three-toed sloth was moving at its typical pace, five times faster than a snail. Very energetic animal!
This tiny common rain frog peeked out of a tree trunk as we walked past, looking totally adorable.
For the end, here’s a member of the monkey mafia that I caught plotting the next attack on the beachfront tourists below. “Let’s see – scratch scratch – whose picnic looks really tasty…”