We are now gradually working our way down the pacific coast to eventually cross the border back into Panama. We have moved on from Jaco to the town of Quepos (pronounced Kepos) mainly to visit the Manual Antonio National Park. We booked a small room on the fringes of the town, at a place call Casa Del Arbol. Sounds better than it is. The apartment is much cheaper than Jaco, also a bit of a comedown from our nice apartment there. It’s quite dark inside but at least it has air-con and it’s clean, but as usual the photos look far better than reality, but we are only here for four nights so it will do.
Quepos is a nice little town laid out in grid form and is the place where most people stay when visiting Manual Antonio Park. There is not much to do in town except eat and drink but there are plenty of choices. There is a promenade with lovely views over the ocean, but is not very well kept and has quite a litter problem. Still walking along it we saw lots of our lovely iguanas spread out on the rocks taking in the sunshine, for which they need as they are cold blooded reptiles. At the end of the promenade their is a nice marina with a good choice of upmarket restaurants, which are surprisingly good value considering their location. The marina itself is full of what Americans call sports boats, used mainly for big game fishing, Marlin sharks etc, with posters advertising competitions throughout the year, if that’s your thing.
Our visit to the Manual Antonio park nearly never was. You see we had planned to visit on Tuesday, as the Lonely Planet guide book stated it is closed on Mondays. It was only by chance on checking the parks website on Sunday night, to download a map of the park we discovered it’s actually closed on a Tuesday but open on Monday. Also we found out you can only purchase tickets online on the official website. Click here. entrance fee is $15 dollars pp. At time of writing you could not buy them at the gate only online.
Top Tip beware of other websites advertising online tickets, buy from the official site from the link above. Also beware of anyone trying to sell you tickets at the entrance, they will probably only be buying them online, which you can do yourself and charge you a fee.
Getting to the park is easy from town, there is a dedicated bus to the park from the bus station and runs roughly every 15 minutes or so. The fare is less than a £1 for two people. We opted to take an Uber from our apartment, as it saved walking to the bus station, the cost was roughly £2.50. As it turned out it was a good move as we avoided running the gauntlet of souvenir venders, unofficial tour guides and people trying to sell you tickets. If you are thinking of taking a guided tour only book them on the official site, as although the ones plying there trade outside, may look official they are not and more than likely you will get a substandard tour.
The morning of our visit to the park we were awoken by the most horrendous sound of rainfall hammering on the tin roof, nearly all the properties out here have them. Believe me when it rains out here boy does it rain. As this was the only day for us to visit the park and the fact we had booked our tickets we had no choice but to brave it. Luckily we had brought good walking clothes and boots with us also a packable rain coat. Although wearing the raincoat you get equally as wet inside as you do out because of the heat and humidity. For about the first hour of our walk the rain did not let up. Oh well what do you expect when you visit a country renowned for its rain forests.
The first part of the walk was easy, just a small incline up a gravel track. We had not long entered the park when out of the jungle on our left a couple of raccoons wandered across our path just a few feet in front of us. Brilliant . Unfortunately my cameras were packed away in my rucksack, for obvious reasons, and I could not operate my phone because of my wet hands, still it was exciting anyway as it was our first time in seeing raccoons in the wild. We continued up the path to be greeted by a cafe come souvenir shop. This made us quite angry as at the entrance you’re bags are searched for plastic, “which is good to avoid littering the park” and for food as it’s not allowed in the park. Only to discover that you could buy plastic bottles of water, fizzy drinks and food at the cafe.
From this point we took the trail to the viewpoint, this is where it started getting tough. Wooden flights of stairs after stairs we reached the first one and because of the weather you can imagine the view wasn’t great. There was a guide taking someone at this point and we asked him how much further is the next point. When he said about another half an hour we threw in the towel. So it was back down to the shop where the climb started to start the next trail, called Punta Catedral (Cathedral point). The walk started alongside the beautiful white sand beach, it was not long before we started to climb up some very dilapidated not very well kept steps. Up and up we climbed with it getting harder and harder. We did not know whether to turn back or carry on. We were exhausted. We trudged on when finally we started to descend. It was equally as tough going down as up because the steps were in such a bad state of repair. At one point there what was once a bridge totally broken down and rusted away which crossed a small stream, so we had to walk through the stream to get across it was a good job we had our walking boots on. We finally reached the bottom and was back on the beach where we started, absolutely worn out. I’m not going to lie it was very difficult for me. also we did not see any wildlife along the way probably because we were to busy tying to stay upright. I have to say it was not a pleasurable experience but I did it. We walked a total of 4.26 miles. Climbed 1640 feet which took us just under 4 hours. I’m sure I will suffer tomorrow.