In April of 2007, I went to Playa Herradura, Costa Rica. This trip was amazing — the beautiful beaches, interesting animals, and unique jungles made my trip spectacular. Costa Rica is known for its ecotourism so naturally my trip was centralized around wildlife.
The animals I saw were incredible! I was fortunate enough to see white-faced monkeys, spider monkeys, three and two toed sloth, vine snakes, and many different species of birds, including the rare scarlet macaw. Our trip into the jungle at Manual Antonio National Park provided my family and I with once in a lifetime opportunity, such as witnessing a mother and baby sloth, seeing huge bamboo plants, and spending an hour on a private beach. Along with our jungle adventure, we rode on a boat down a crocodile infested river.
Manual Antonio National Park is a transitional forest, which means it is half dry forest and half rain forest. This type of forest gives hikers experiences unique to each of the dry and rain forests. You get the best of both worlds in a transitional forest.
At the beginning of the hike, I learned about the different types of trees native to Costa Rica, including the national tree, the arbol de Guanacaste. Hiding in the Guanacaste tree was a sloth, eating the leaves. After witnessing the sloth, I saw a family of white-faced monkeys! These monkeys are very skittish and mean so I was lucky to see them at all.
After a short break on the private beach, I continued my hike and walked past the biggest bamboo tree I have ever seen. In the bushes, in front of the bamboo tree, was a vine snake. Vine snakes are very slender and bright green; they really do look like vines! Normally, I am terrified of snakes, but this vine snake was so small that I was not frightened and took an amazing picture of it.
After our awesome day at Manual Antonio, my family and I went on a boat, touring the Tarcoles River. The Tarcoles River has the second largest population of crocodiles in the world. Not only did I see sleeping and swimming crocs, but I also saw our tour guide feed one! He got out of the water with a dead chicken and slapped the chicken in the water until a huge, wild crocodile came to our boat.
The tour guide made the croc raise out of the water to eat the chicken and then the croc swam away with it! Our tour guide was incredibly brave. After witnessing the huge crocodiles, I saw the famous scarlet macaws. They are very rare no matter where you travel and my tour group was lucky enough to see four couples, Scarlet macaws mate for life so they never go anywhere without their mate. They were gorgeous. I learned so much about plants and animals from my trip.
My trip to Costa Rica was beneficial in many ways. Not only did I learn even more Spanish than I already knew, I was able to practice it on the native Costa Ricans. I learned a lot of new phrases and slang like, ‘que tal’ which is like the American slang ‘what’s up’. I would return to Costa Rica in a heartbeat and would certainly recommend the trip to anyone looking for a family friendly adventure!
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