Best Tour for Wildlife (Jaco, Manuel Antonio Region)

Old Oct 29th, 2014, 06:28 PM
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Best Tour for Wildlife (Jaco, Manuel Antonio Region)

We will be staying for a week in early January between Jaco and Manuel Antonio, and want to do an excursion where we see lots of Costa Rican wildlife (I'm not really sure what I mean by that, but I'd be disappointed if all I saw was exotic birds). We're an active group. The obvious options to me are:
1 - Self-hike through Manuel Antonio, only pay for admission fee
2 - guided hike through Manuel Antonio
3 - Mangrove tour at Damas island (boat or kayak)

What do you recommend, and what kinds of wildlife are we likely to see with that option? If I missed a favorite of yours in this region, please let me know that too!
Is the Mangrove tour different enough from the MA hike that it'd be worthwhile to do both?
Preference for the boat vs kayak Mangrove tour?

Thanks!
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Old Oct 29th, 2014, 09:24 PM
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We've done the guided tour of Manuel Antonio national park a couple of times and loved it. We've seen lots of monkeys, especially capuchins, sloths, raccoons, bats, iguanas, a pit viper and some really beautiful insects. You can see a lot on your own, but we would have walked right by some of the wildlife without noticing it if our guide hadn't pointed it out. Manuel Antonio Expeditions is a good company to go with; Juan Brenes is a great guide. We've done the Damas mangrove tour with him as well. We saw more wildlife in the park, but it's fun to ride in the boat, and we did see a lot of capuchin monkeys. Some even climbed onto our boat because a lot of the boats feed them, and they want bananas. MAE does not believe in feeding them. If you had to choose between boat and kayak, I'd go with the boat if seeing wildlife is your main priority. You can cover a lot more area, and the boat can get really close to the animals. I think it's worth doing both tours, but if you can only do one, I'd definitely take the park over the mangrove tour. The beach inside the national park is beautiful.
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Old Oct 30th, 2014, 11:21 AM
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We didn't go into the national park but did see more species of mammals on land in the MA area. We saw more reptiles on the Damas mangrove tour and of course lots of capuchins and a silky anteater.
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Old Oct 30th, 2014, 11:51 AM
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Guided hike in Manuel Antonio. Second best would be crocodile boat safari on the Tarcoles river. Isla Damas is great but much less wildlife except for the capuchins that come out because misguided tour operators feed them. Isla Damas does offer the chance to see silky anteater--but if lucky you'll have one sighting.
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Old Oct 30th, 2014, 02:12 PM
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We saw a silky anteater too. It was all rolled up into a little ball, but I still count it as a sighting.
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Old Oct 30th, 2014, 05:55 PM
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I had forgotten about the croc tours until RAC mentioned them. If you want to see huge crocs up close those are really fun. Not the most natural thing because the operators leap out of the boat and feed them, but wow, it's pretty amazing to see. We saw some nice birds along the way too. We went with Jose's Croc Tour as our operator, and they were very good.
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