Manuel Antonio & Tortuguero National Park

Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio

13th of October 2013

The Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio (Admission 5100 CRC / 7,73 €) is a very small national park about 150km north of the Parque Nacional Corcovado. Which is exactly why they are fairly similar in terms of the wildlife (I’m sure there is differences, but for me it felt very similar). Unlike the Parque Nacional Corcovado, the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is very busy and touristy (I went on a Sunday which might not have been the best idea, the park was packed with people).

Big walkways wind through the park and make it easily accessible and the wildlife is so used to humans that raccoons and monkeys come right up and try to steal your food out of your backpack. So at times the park felt more like an open air zoo with nice ocean views rather than a national park. Perfect for families with kids or people who don’t have the time to go to the Parque Nacional Corcovado (If you want the real deal, that’s exactly where you will have to go).

BUT besides the park being small and extremely touristy, it is also quite beautiful and definitely worth a stop if you’re passing through and not in a rush (some paths were closed but we walked everything and were done after only 3,5 hours. Expect to spend more time if you want to hang out on the beach).

Parque Nacional Tortuguero

16th – 18th of October 2013

Reaching the Parque Nacional Tortuguero on the Caribbean Coast by public bus and boat might seem difficult at first but it really is not. Quite the opposite, it is very easy. And it is worth it! The bus from San Jose only takes about three hours followed by a 1-1,5 hour boat ride along a river and canals which is quite spectacular. Along the way it is even possible to spot crocodiles and various kinds of wildlife on the riverbanks.

The main reason for visiting this national park is, of course, to see one of the three species of turtles laying their eggs. So on the first night we booked one of the famous turtle watching tours (10.000 CRC / 15,15 €) and luckily we were able to witness a Green Sea Turtle laying her eggs. The whole thing was incredible and funny at the same time because the eggs look like slimy ping pong balls. Eventually the turtle closed the nest and headed back to the ocean (which we sadly weren’t able to see since our guide, once again, was rubbish). Unfortunately taking photos is strictly prohibited in order to not disturb the turtle during the egg laying process.

The second day was a lazy day with not much going on apart from swimming and walks along the beach during which we saw a little sea turtle hatch and run towards the ocean. That little thing paddling through the sand and finally reaching the water was one of the cutest things I had seen in a long time.

On our last day we booked a Canoe tour (Tour: 10.000 CRC / 15,15€ plus park admission: 5.100 CRC / 7,73 €) with Barbara, a legend in the Tortuguero National Park who has been running various kinds of tours in the area for 18 years now. The fact that she’s a biologist and extremely enthusiastic about the flora and fauna definitely benefited the tour. We got to the park entrance at 6 am to buy our tickets and started paddling into the forest. I have to admit I am definitely a big fan of sitting in a kayak or canoe while paddling into a rainforest. There were tons of different birds and other wildlife which are far too numerous to list them all (Barbara knew every single one and told us the names but eventually I reached the point where I just couldn’t remember any more). This tour was absolutely worth the money and I’d recommend it to everyone who has the chance to go to the Parque Nacional Tortuguero.

In general this National Park is one of the better ones I have visited in Central America so far. When on holiday in Costa Rica, this park should definitely be on the list of things to visit (especially during the turtle nesting season).

Leave a comment


  1. Hello dear Sebastian,
    very beautifull pictures – it is very interesting to read about your journey and the many interesting impressions you have got in South America.Me too, I was in Peru 30 years ago and was in Cousco, Machu Pichu and Arequipa and Puno with the Titicaca -lake like you.I never forget these many different impressions and the nice people and I think, you will do it too.
    friendly Dr. L.Löffler, Munich, Germany (an old friend of your father,who told me about your journey).

    • Hallo Ludwig,

      Vielen Dank für Deinen netten Kommentar. Freut mich, dass dir mein Blog gefällt. Bis jetzt ist die Reise wirklich unglaublich schön gewesen. Die Gegend in Peru ist wirklich sehr schön. Wobei ich mir vorstellen kann, dass es vor 30 Jahren noch um einiges abenteuerlicher war.

      Ganz liebe Grüße aus Nicaragua


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