Manuel’s Tours is not hard to remember when he bears the same name as the town & national park he is a nature guide at. Find out what creepy crawlies lurk in the dark on a Night Research Walk in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica!

Benefits of a Night Research Walk with Manuel’s Tours

Have you ever been walking at night & seen a pair of eyes looking back at you? Now’s your chance to find out what it may have been & then some… there is a whole new world waiting for you when you go on a night walk in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica!

All the animals with big, reflective eyes are nocturnal & come out of their nests or burrows during the night. If you aren’t exploring during their active time, then they will forever remain a mystery to you.

Join us here at DIY Travel HQ as we take you on a Night Research Walk in Manuel Antonio with Manuel’s Tours!

Manuel from Manuel's Tours

Meet the one & only Manuel from Manuel’s Tours in Manuel Antonio!

Booking a Tour with Manuel’s Tours

We found Manuel’s Tours while exploring TripAdvisor for Manuel Antonio, & decided a Night Research Walk sounded very interesting. You can’t argue against over 250 excellent reviews & a 5 star rating!

After perusing Manuel’s Tours website for other tours we might have been interested in, we emailed him to arrange our Night Research Walk.

Here are some of the other tour options that Manuel’s Tours runs:

  • Manuel Antonio National Park Tour – $60.00, 3 hours
  • Night Research Walk – $45.00, 2 hours
  • Early Morning Bird Watching – $45.00, 3-4 hours
  • Mangrove Boat Tour (Damas Island) – $65.00, 4 hours
Frog in Manuel Antonio

If you love frogs, you’ll see many different species on a Night Research Walk!

During our digital communication Manuel mentioned that he had a night tour booked that we could join, or go the following night if our schedule was more flexible.

From what we gathered, he really wants a personal experience for his guests & prefers small groups. This is in stark contrast to many other nature walks we’ve seen where they try to combine groups as much as possible.

Manuel's Tours

Small groups with Manuel’s Tours make nature walks a much more personal experience

Planning for Manuel’s Tours Night Research Walk

To be honest, there is very little planning involved on your end once you book with Manuel’s Tour. The key information that needs to be confirmed is your tour choice, date, & hotel for pick-up.

Manuel’s Tour arranges transportation, entrance fees, provides water, a knowledgeable bi-lingual guide, spotting scope, & flashlight. The only thing you need to worry about are closed-toed shoes for the roots & possible snakes in the jungle, snacks, a camera, &/or smartphone.

Spider Manuel Antonio

Always let the guide lead the way, to clear the trails of any potential spiders!

We were actually joined by Manuel & Roy on our Night Research Walk, & at least one of them had a Swarovski spotting scope, which is the best for optics & collecting light. As you can imagine, you need all the light you can get when viewing wildlife in the dark. Another interesting aspect to the equipment were zooming flashlights that would allow you to have either a spread or narrow beam of light.

If you like to take pictures & show your friends all the amazing things you’ve seen on a Night Research Walk with Manuel’s Tours, then don’t forget to take your smartphone. The spotting scope’s zoom works perfectly with the optics from a smartphone’s camera & you get sharp pictures. We tried to do it ourselves, but ultimately had Manuel & Roy take the pictures for us since they have a lot more practice.

* Top Tip – Remove your smartphone’s password for the duration of the tour for easy access to your camera.

Swarovski spotting scope

Roy with a top of the line Swarovski spotting scope – it brings nature walks to life!

Manuel’s Tours Night Research Walk

We started our tour by getting picked up in a shuttle van from Hotel Mono Azul at 5:00 pm, & arrived at Playa Espadilla in Manuel Antonio just in time for sunset.

Manuel & Roy showed us their favorite place to watch sunset & it is a great way to kick-start a tour. The few meters in height you gain from the boulder really allow you to get a nice vantage point overlooking the bay & sun setting. The colors were truly mesmerizing.

Sunrise Manuel Antonio beach

Amazing sunrise at Manuel Antonio beach to kick off our Night Research Walk with Manuel’s Tours

With the last bit of light we were able to spot several animals just on the beach that few had noticed. The most obvious were titi monkeys on the power lines, a two-toed sloth tucked away in a tree, & a pygmy owl awakening from its slumber.

On our way to a private reserve that borders Manuel Antonio National Park (closed at night) we also spotted a fiery-billed aracari only visible through the spotting scope, along with a green iguana, another sloth, & a Spectacled Owl perched on a branch & on the hunt. All these animals were spotted before we even entered the reserve that adds an additional margin to the national park.

Spectacled Owl

Spotting a Spectacled Owl at the start of the tour!

Before we ventured on the path, Manuel & Roy explained how to use the flashlights & techniques to spot wildlife in the dark. The trick is to hold the flashlight eye level, look in all directions, & try to recognize reflective eyes mixed into the jungle. Another important thing to remember is to stand still while looking up so you don’t trip on anything. Manuel led us, while Roy followed behind making sure we didn’t accidentally disturb any snakes that may be on the trail.

The path roughly follows a stream so a lot of the wildlife you may spot are smaller amphibians, arachnids, insects, & other creatures. What surprised us was how still everything was. Besides tarantulas that would cower back to their burrows, we’re not sure we saw anything move. Roy explained to us that most nocturnal animals prefer to use their senses to wait & strike when prey pass by.

Frog Manuel Antonio

All the creatures, including frogs, were as still as the night

Another common class were arachnids. We saw the Golden Silk Spider with insanely strong webbing, Silver Argiope Spider that forms an easily identifiable X in their web, & the infamous Tarantula.

All guides at Manuel’s Tours know where the tarantulas live on the trail so they instruct their guests to start treading quietly so that the tarantulas don’t return to their holes. They can feel the vibration from your footsteps & know you are too formidable an opponent to attack.

Tarantula spider

Aaarrrggghhh it’s a Tarantula!!!

One of the oddest arachnids we found was the Tailless Whip Scorpion – see the feature image! When viewed through the spotting scope it looked frightening & like aliens have indeed invaded Earth, but is completely harmless in reality.

Another favorite insect we spotted on Manuel’s Tours was the Leaf-Mimic Katydid, which really did resemble a leaf perfectly.

Leaf-Mimic Katydid!

It’s not a leaf by a Leaf-Mimic Katydid!

Manuel was nice enough to send us an email of all the creatures we saw on our tour afterwards so we didn’t forget & could focus more on enjoying the tour instead.

Along the trail we saw 5 species of frogs (Olive Tree Frog, Red-Eyed Tree Frog, Masked Tree Frog, Common Rain Frog, & Bull Frog), & refused to move even when we almost stepped on them while sitting on the trail. Most of them glued themselves to the sides of trees though.

Frog Manuel's Tours

Frogs are excellent at camouflage in the jungle!

Another cool feature of the night walk is the use of a black light that Manuel’s Tours guides carry as well. The purpose is to find scorpions! Their outer shell is fluorescent so you can see them glowing in the dark. We tried using the black light a few times & there was always a scorpion nearby.

What we loved about our time with Manuel’s Tours was that everyone got to be involved in the process of spotting wildlife. This is a great activity not just for adults, but for families with kids too. It took a while to even spot things being shown to us, but at the end we were able to spot an opossum & a few tarantulas of our own.

Silver Argiope Spider

At the end of the walk, you may be able to spot creatures on your own – such as this Silver Argiope Spider!

Manuel’s Tours Night Research Walk Afterthoughts

Both Manuel & Roy were very enthusiastic & eager to answer any questions that we had about the wildlife & vegetation we were viewing during the tour. They knew everything about this particular environment!

It was also nice that they practiced a soft touch to exploring the wildlife in the reserve. It’s always a fine line viewing animals at night since you need to use a flashlight. However, Manuel’s Tours made sure we stayed on the path & viewed distant wildlife through the spotting scope, used indirect light, did not feed the animals, & discouraged us from touching anything (some trees have spikes)!

Manuel's Tours Costa Rica

A nature walk with Manuel’s Tours is an eye-opening experience filled with fun & facts!

Know Before You Go

Location: Manuel’s Tours is located in Manuel Antonio & transportation is arranged from your hotel for the tour

Price: Night Research Walk costs $45.00 per person ($20.00 extra for a private tour)

Tour Includes: Transportation, Entrance Fees, Bi-lingual Guide, Flashlights, & Water

Duration & Difficulty: 2 hours on a level trail

Contact Information:

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***The Final Word – A night research walk with Manuel’s Tour is a great chance to experience the wildlife you can’t see during the day & fun for all ages.***

Have you ever tried a night walk before?

* We received a complimentary Night Research Walk with Manuel’s Tours, thank you to Manuel for hosting us. We only recommend fun, value for money activities & experiences that we believe our readers would enjoy. As always, all opinions & photos are our own.

Visited in January 2017