Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio
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The Quepos region has quickly become one of Costa Rica's most developed tourist destinations. Within just a few years, hotels have sprouted up like mushrooms, considerably reducing the amount of lush vegetation found in the area. Fortunately, it was decided early on to protect a portion of this territory by creating the Manuel Antonio national recreational park on November 15, 1972, which became Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio in August 1982.
Situated only seven kilometres from the village of Quepos, and 157 kilometres from San José, Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is one of the smallest parks in Costa Rica, with an area of 682.7 hectares. However, it is also the second most visited park in the country, after Parque Nacional Volcán Poás.
Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is overflowing with natural beauty that will enrapture any visitor. Tropical dry forest meets rainforest in this transitional forest where primary and secondary forests stand side by side, and lagoons can be found along with vegetation that grows only along the beaches. However, the park's old-growth forest was hard-hit by Hurricane Gert on September 14, 1993.
One of the most deplorable consequences of this hurricane was the disappearance of about half the population of marmosets (Saimiri oerstedii), which Costa Ricans call mono tití. The marmoset is the smallest of the four monkey species found in Costa Rica, but, more importantly, it is the rarest of the four. Incidentally, although it is quite rare to spot a marmoset, visitors are almost guaranteed a sighting of a white-faced capuchin or to hear the powerful cries of the howler monkeys. Howler monkeys are much smaller than one would expect, they are 50 to 60 centimetres tall, and usually weigh between five and eight kilograms.
Other animals that populate the park include coatis, agoutis, iguanas, sloths, racoons, lizards and many species of snakes. Of these last, a few are venomous, so visitors must be constantly alert on the trails or when taking breaks. Other species that live in the park include 109 mammals and 184 birds.
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