We’d gone wildlife spotting in the Manuel Antonio National Park and bird watching in the forest at El Silencio nature reserve, so the next logical thing to do seemed to be to get on the water and check out the wildlife from a boat, cruising the mangroves of the Pacific Coast Costa Rica.
One of the most popular activities in Manuel Antonio is a mangrove safari, a cruise on an open-sided boat through brackish water, along a river, then along canals, and then to Damas Island, to experience seven different types of mangroves and the wildlife that inhabit them.
There are some 1,200 species inhabiting the mangroves – from egrets and silky anteaters to crocodiles and caymans – but, just as with bird watching, it’s hard to predict who is going to come out and visit on any particular day.
We didn’t get to see the silky anteaters, although our guide, Juan, made his best attempts to find one, and we didn’t see crocodiles and caymans, much to the disappointment of the other three passengers on the boat. The crocodiles and caymans are better spotted at night during an after-dark cruise.
But we did see plenty of birdlife, including Green-backed Herons, Tiger Herons and Jesus Birds, loads of boa constrictors wrapped around trees, heaps of the land crabs we’d seen at Manuel Antonio National Park, and – to the delight of the others on the cruise – lots of Capuchin monkeys.
But of course, by this time we were spoilt as the monkeys had already been visiting us for two weeks on a daily basis at both Casa Elsa and The Beach House. It was a first for the others and they relished the experience.
For us, it was lovely just to get out on the water.
The highlight was cruising along the tranquil canals beneath 95 year-old mangroves, which, on the day we passed beneath them were rather moody and a tad spooky due to the lack of sunshine and ominous clouds.
They were world’s away from the sunny beach and the jungle we’d been experiencing everyday and that was lovely for a change.
The cruise includes pick-up, drop-off and a post-cruise lunch of Costa Rican food at a restaurant on the way back to Quepos/Manuel Antonio.