Well I just got back from Costa Rica and my first foray into the wilds of Central America. If by “wilds” one means the tourist hot spot of Manuel Antonio, of course. In all seriousness, the small Manuel Antonio National Park, situated on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is packed with wildlife galore and I got to see monkeys in their habitat for the very first time in my life.

Most of the monkeys we spotted near the Manuel Antonio beach were the white-headed capuchins. These things come out in the morning in droves. At least twenty (or what seemed like that many, they move around quick) took to the treeline that hugged the beautiful coastline. There they played, groomed, foraged and stared back at the curious human onlookers. They can be territorial as I saw them chasing off the packs of crab-eating raccoons that compete in the same area. Neither animal poses much threat to humans (except the raccoons love to check out your bags, as I had to pull away my pack from the mouth of one).

Obligatory park sign photo op

Obligatory park sign photo op

Capuchins are quite the cute bunch, but upon further research I found out that the males will kill younger capuchins just to get with the mother (and the mother generally comes to accept this after vain attempts at protecting the young monkeys). Yikes! We also spotted one Central American squirrel monkey further back on the trails (couldn’t get a good photo of it, though), which apparently practices more humane courting rituals.

We spotted another capuchin two days later on a isolated road that led to western side Playa Espadilla (which borders the park). It was just the two of us and the capuchin (balancing on an electric line) walking down to the beach.

I’ll have much more on Costa Rica later but for now enjoy pictures of the monkeys!


This lone capuchin nestled outside park boundaries led us to the beach

This guy was nervous of my presence but decided to bolt right past me anyway…


Looking for something good to eat…


Those thieving raccoons…


Keeping a watchful eye on things…


I’ve been spotted!


Out of the whole pack, this was the first one to brave being this close to the beach


King of the capuchins?


An interesting way to position oneself…


One of these raccoons messed around with my bag, not knowing I had absolutely no food in there to being with


Grooming time!


This lucky monkey has two masseuses


Picking bugs off is tough work. You gotta concentrate!


Lunchtime, step one: Find a nice shrub and scan the immediate area…


Step two: Snap said shrub


Step three: Chow down like you mean it!

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