Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera) River Cruise & Scarlet Macaw Sanctuary Excursion Reviews
Actually the bus, boat and river excursion. The river part of it was definitely the best. Got close to crocodiles and a lot of birds. We saw 7 crocodiles in one glance.
We visited the Scarlet Macaw Sanctuary El Manantial as part of a cruise tour. Located fairly near to Puntarenas, the journey, which required an early start, was a mixture of good roads followed by what one would call county lanes back in the UK. The coach stopped on route and we had the pleasure of seeing and hearing a wild howler monkey. On entering the sanctuary we received a warm welcome from the staff and a briefing of the 'don't dos' During the walk around the site in the pleasant, green gardens we encountered scores of free flying Scarlet Macaws, butterflies and other interesting bugs. Within the cages, most of which were fairly large, one could also view other macaws and parrots including the beautiful Hyacinths. However, you were forbidden from interacting with the birds although several were keen to 'catch your eye' and interact, perhaps because they had been rescued from human homes. Therefore if you enjoy that experience with birds, this will not be your ideal venue. The focus of the sanctuary is to release the Scarlet Macaws back into the wild in Costa Rica, but many of the released birds remained free flying at the sanctuary. As part of the tour we each received a complimentary bottle of water and some local fruit. There is a small shop where one can buy souvenirs but please note that these items are much more expensive than the beach market at Puntarenas. The second part of the tour was a boat trip on the swampy coastal rivers but on way the coach driver and tour guide managed to get us lost in the thick mangrove growth and we had to reverse most of the way out but as a consequence we did get to view a lot of Costa Rican countryside! We even drove on the Pan American Highway during this section of our travels. The actual boat ride was fun with an interesting commentary from the pilot. We saw plenty of birdlife including pelicans and egrets as well as a few crocodiles and some locals in their canoes. Following the tour we went back to the Coral Princess and then had a good look around the market and beach at Puntarenas, which was more interesting than we had found in Mexico and Nicaragua.
We decided to go ahead with an excursion this time - I wanted to MAKE SURE we saw crocs! (And we did!) We booked the mangrove river cruise and scarlet macaw sanctuary excursion through Princess at $99/pp. We did see crocs and rare birds in the wild. We heard monkeys, but didn't see them. Next we went to the Macaw Sanctuary, which was wonderful. It truly was amazing. Never seen so many macaws and toucans at once in my life. Had some local fruit and bottled water provided by them. We would do it again. Talked to a couple that did the train ride excursion, and they weren't pleased.
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