Manuel Antonio National Park has been officially reopened by the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications after a week of hard work to clear the debris left by last Tuesday’s surprise storm.
In a statement Monday, Carlos Vinicio Cordero, the regional director of the Central Pacific Conservation Area (ACOPAC), announced that the national park will be open to the public as of 7 a.m. Tuesday. The park’s main access trail, Sendero Perezoso, will be open, as well as several access points to the park’s beaches.
This is welcome news for hotels and businesses in the area. A week after many tourists vacated Manuel Antonio after the severe weather, the reopening of the national park indicates a return to normalcy for the popular tourist hotspot.
Although a significant amount of trees were uprooted and properties damaged, no fatalities were reported.
The storm hit Manuel Antonio and Quepos late last Tuesday with winds reaching up to 100 kilometers per hour, knocking out the electricity supply to most of the area and leaving 7,000 local residents and businesses without power. Over the past week, an estimated 200 workers brought in by the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) have been working to return power to the area, including Manuel Antonio National Park.
Cordero also praised the support given by the association of local guides, who helped to clear footpaths. Over 25 local guides and tour operators put in 10-hour shifts over a period of five days to help prepare the park to receive visitors.
Government experts from the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) visited the park on Monday to assess the feasibility of reopening. An official report from SINAC detailing the current conditions of the footpaths is due to be released in the coming days.
Cordero said the damage to the park was considerable, and that some footpaths will require more extensive and specialized repair. Access to these areas has been restricted and will only be permitted in the company of a park ranger. However, “as there are less tourists arriving during this season, (this) will give us an opportunity to complete the necessary work,” Cordero added.
The Aguirre Chamber of Commerce also thanked the local community and government institutions for their participation in the cleanup efforts.
With over 300,000 visitors a year, Manuel Antonio is the most visited national park in Costa Rica, and the economy of the Quepos – Manuel Antonio area is heavily dependent on tourism generated by the park.