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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

24 December 2013

Finca Maresia

19th December 2013

We went out early to visit Manuel Antonio park in the hope of spotting some wildlife before it got busy. At 7am the place was quiet, although the usual crowd of pests had already gathered to try and scavenge money from the tourists. Some guy in an official looking vest flagged us down. “Parking for the park is here! Do you need a guide? But seƱor, you won’t see much if you don’t have a guide. Well, okay. Is this the official car park for the park? Eh… no.”

The rainforest and beach reminded me of Penang NP in Malaysia. We didn’t see much wildlife, though a bunch of vultures were feeding on something dead in the forest and there were plenty of agoutis and lizards. On the way back we found we’d hit the rush hour. Dozens of guides were leading hundreds of tourists along the main park trail, pointing out lizards and interesting plants. As an unexpected bonus, a three-toed sloth was clambering down a tree right near the park entrance. Easy enough to spot: just like a lion in the Kruger he had gathered a helluva crowd!

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The drive to Bahia Drake was quicker than expected. The dirt road was exceptionally pot-holed in places, but quite bumpy fun. We followed a local driver to the main river crossing, hoping to follow him across. But he pulled up just before and waved us past. We tried to explain but he smiled and said inexplicable Spanish things and waved us past again. It was a bit worrying that he was using us to check the depth, but actually the water didn’t quite reach the bonnet of our trusty old Daihatsu Terios and we were fine.

At the end of the drive was Juan and Finca Maresia. It’s one of those brilliant places that we stumble on once in a while, like Beau Rive in Dominica, or Meditasi on Bali’s Amed coast; it’s not five star luxury, it’s just brilliant and relaxing and you could stay there forever. There’s a combination of factors needed. Firstly, they’re all small enough that the owner can look after everyone, and the owners of all these places are lovely people. Second, it needs to be a beautiful spot, so you wake up every morning and smile. Thirdly, it needs to be designed, to look good. We’ve stayed in loads of hotels with much, much better “facilities” but no soul and so no joy. So after a fairly soulless few days (albeit with some cool wildlife), thank you Juan for Finca Maresia.

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