Finally getting my butt out of Jaco, I spent my last weekend in Costa Rica exploring Marque Manuel Antonio and doing a hike to a waterfall not too far from Jaco.
Together with two other students, we had originally planned to take the bus from Jaco centre to Quepos, then take another bus or a cab to Manuel Antonio. At the very last minute, Colin, a Texan with a big personality, decided to rent a car since he had to drive to the airport early the next morning anyway. Perfecto, this gives us much more flexibility.
The drive was 1.5 hours to Manuel Antonio from Jaco and a few tips for future visitors:
- Hiring a nature guide is actually a good idea because they have eagle eyes and can spot animals you won’t be able to. They bring along a telescope and set it up whenever something interesting is spotted so you can get a good, detailed look. My favourite was when we spotted a mama and baby sloth pair sleeping and scratching themselves on a fork of a branch. Sloths are so strange looking but it was fascinating to see.
- Spray yourself good with mosquito repellent. I didn’t get bitten but you are walking around in the middle of the jungle so be prepared.
- Bring a towel and chill out at the beaches within the park. We hiked the loop around Punta Catedral (the little peninsula that juts out) and then relaxed at Playa Espadilla Sur, before heading back out of the park.
- It’s totally doable without a car, you can take the public buses and then pay the park entrance and walk on your own. The park is fairly small, just the right size for a day trip.
Adventure number two was lead by one of our surf instructors, Ivan. In my mind, I call him Enrique Iglesias because he looks just like him, except a tiny bit leaner and without the 5 o’clock shadow. Mucho caliente 🙂
Enrique, I mean Ivan, drove Juri, Ange, and myself south towards a local waterfall, providing interesting commentary on life in Costa Rica along the way. He explains that Jaco is a big town, by Costa Rican standards. We drive through little farm towns and he emphasises that outside of San Jose and a few “big” towns like Jaco, most Costa Ricans still live in these little towns. He grew up in San Jose, but prefers to chill life in Jaco.
The waterfall trek starts near the home of a local. There’s some harvesting of palm seeds going on, a couple horses, and lots of mud and manure. We’re walking right through that mud and manure, it turns out. It’s a muddy walk on a good day, but since we’re in the middle of rainy season, it’s extra sludgy. We struggle to not slip and fall or lose our shoes to the sticky clay-like mud. Gundy, Ivan’s dog, tags along and is a good sport.
The reward is a pretty waterfall, though today the water is a little brown, made of three smaller falls that cascade into each other. Ivan jumps right into the middle pool, showing how it’s done, and causing me to drop my jaw in shock. Oooh, as much as I want to YOLO, I can see myself landing funny and hurting myself. Not going to be that brave today. Juri is the opposite, and quickly strips off his shirt and jumps in after Ivan. Ange, poor thing, wanted to jump it so badly, and eventually pulled it together to do one jump, but landed badly on her belly and face. Ouch, not as easy as it looks!