CAFENET
EL SOL

Puerto Jimenez, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
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Carate

Photography courtesy of Charles Foerster
Map courtesy of Jorge Carranza

General Information

Carate is Spanish for hookworm, and like other colorful Costa Rican place names, like Malpaís, no doubt this fungal infection transmitted by walking barefoot in the jungle must have bedeviled the early residents of the region, enough anyway to apply the harsh moniker.  Arguably one of the more remote locations of the country, Carate has its share of history.  At the outbreak of World War II there were two offshore gold dredging operations in the entire world, one off the coast of Sierra Leone, the other off the coast of Carate.  Mechanized mining of the alluvial gold placer deposits of the Carate River concluded in the late eighties and rusting remnants of trommels, bulldozer parts, and other skeletal remains can still be seen overgrown by shrubbery.  Hand miners still eke out a couple of grams per day in isolated pockets that were not mined.  Commercial mining ended peninsula wide in the nineties coinciding approximately with Costa Rica's economic expansion into the ecotourism industry

Spider Monkey and Young La Leona Ranger Station Three-Toed Sloth

 

Carate is the southern gateway to Corcovado National Park and is a forty minute walk along the beach from the La Leona Ranger Station.  It is the closest point of road access to any of the park entrances.  Besides being a conduit to Corcovado, Carate is a destination in its own right.  Boasting miles of abandoned raw Pacific coastline and a backdrop of steep mountains, the Carate region is teeming with waterfalls, wildlife, and a variety of activities for visitors.  There is no land line telephone service, nor municipal electrical power.  Hydroelectric, Solar, and generator provide power to local lodges and private residences.  Cell phone service works well at Luna Lodge's elevated location but is spotty elsewhere.  VHF radio requires a bridge in the middle of the peninsula to sustain communications.  In sum, communications with Carate are tenuous at best.

Getting There

The Carate Air Strip is a five minute flight from Puerto Jimenez and is serviced by Alfa Romeo Air Taxi Service.  Commercial flights be Sansa and NatureAir also provide air transport from San Jose to Carate.  The Carate highway provides overland access with Puerto Jimenez year round.  However, in the rainy season a number of rivers swell with large rains to make passage intermittent as storm waters recede.  The drive from Jimenez to Carate takes about an hour and forty five minute in a rental car and is a beautiful drive through imposing primary growth in the mountains and across the lowland pasturage and rice farms of the southwestern part of the peninsula.  Private taxis charge $60 for the trip, but there are twice daily collective taxis with a fare of $6.  The Colectivo departs Jimenez at six a.m. and 1:30 p.m. daily and returns from the Carate Pulpería at 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. daily.  Boat access is impractical absent a Zodiac owing to the large Pacific surf.

Tours and Activities

WILDERNESS HIKES

The Carate region is girded with primary rain forest on the adjacent mountain slopes and has abundant wildlife within easy access.  Wilderness hikes may include a wildlife viewing focus, including monkeys, birds, reptiles, and sea turtles.  There are also a bunch of gorgeous waterfalls and rushing mountain streams that are great to hike and swim in.  The cost for guided tours depends on the guide.  Hotel guides tend to be a little less expensive than professional guides from Puerto Jimenez.  Expect a four hour tour to run around $35 per person depending on the number of people.

 

HORSEBACK RIDING

There are several horseback outfitters that can rent horses or provide guided tours on horseback.  Typically, horseback riding costs $10 per hour per person, whether accompanied or not.  Ride up the Carate River valley or gallop along the beach at low tide.  Take a trip up Shady Lane, or just explore the Carate coastline from the road on horseback.

TREE CLIMBING / RAPELLING

Reade Jordan, house guide at La Leona Lodge offers visitors the opportunity to get up in the trees to explore the canopy at eye level.  It's for the active visitor that is not afraid of a little exertion and certainly is not uncomfortable with heights.  Rates for his services range from $35-$60 per person depending on the scope of the tour decided upon and the number of participants.

 

KAYAKING

While the surf may make traditional sea kayaking more of an action adventure than many might wish for, there are two lagoons in the Carate area that feature tropical lowland ecosystems to explore leisurely by kayak.  Expect to see caimans and crocodiles and a wide assortment of wading birds, like herons, egrets, ibis, and perhaps a roseate spoonbill.  The snook fishing is occasionally absolutely excellent in these lagoons, particularly when the boundaries are breached on full and new moons.  Terrapin Lodge offers its sea kayaks to its guests free of charge and to the public for a modest fee.

CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK

Since Corcovado National Park is just a forty minute hike from Carate, many visitors choose to base themselves in Carate and explore the southern reaches of the park by day, returning to the comfort of their linens and catered dinners instead of camping inside the park.  The ideal launch pad for this type of park exploration is La Leona Lodge, which is the least expensive all-inclusive lodging in the area and is also a stone's throw from the La Leona Ranger Station.

 

American Crocodile Nightjar and young Fer de Lance

 

Accommodations:  All Inclusive

Regional all-inclusive eco lodges include the following.  For more information on the lodge of your choice or to make reservations, click on the link beside the lodge and let me know your dates.  If you would like general advice simply write me with your questions.  For budget hotels in the town of Drake, see the following section.

A WORD ABOUT PRICING:  Too avoid the possibility of dated information, Sol de Osa, no longer publishes prices for lodges.  We rate accommodations as budget (BUD), mid-priced (MID), and top-shelf (TOP) according to the relativities of the class of destination.  Most lodges are all-inclusive and are priced per person.  Others do not include taxes in their pricing structure, and hotels and vacation rentals are normally priced per night based on double occupancy.  Please inquire for current pricing. 

LOGO

DESCRIPTION PRICE  

PLAYA LAPAThis stunning, private beach front custom home is fully equipped.  Sleeps up to eight with full kitchen, washer/dryer, immaculate gardens, vast beach, and secluded location.  Fully equipped, one hour hike from Corcovado, minutes from air strip, right along the highway.  The best vacation rental option in Carate.

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TOP

LA LEONA LODGE: Located next to the La Leona entrance to Corcovado National Park on an 84-hectare private preserve, La Leona Lodge is located on the first beach terrace up from the Pacific Ocean coast. Thirteen new tents on platforms are equipped with a central dining area and shared showering and toilet facilities.  Three new deluxe tents sleeping up to four include private baths.  Solar powered.  Extensive trail network for hiking. First stop coming out of the Park.  A wide variety of tours available with an excellent in-house naturalist guide that specializes in tree climbing and waterfall rappelling. 

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MID

LOOKOUT INN: The self-styled "only beach hotel in Carate" is impressively perched on the mountain directly overlooking the pounding Pacific surf of Carate. Rooms and bungalows are both available. Solar-powered. Swimming pool; hot tub; gourmet cuisine. Rooms include fan, lights, private bathrooms.   A variety of tours available. 

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TOP

LUNA LODGE: Situated on sixty acres, half of which is original primary forest, Luna Lodge is an opulent, luxurious mountain resort and is the top shelf destination in the Carate region. The manicured gardens look out over the Carate River and Pacific Ocean.  Many wilderness trails to enjoy and two breathtaking waterfalls. Gourmet food, elegant consumately anointed bungalows, full tour guide services, incomparable yoga platform. Rooms include spectacular private bathrooms, sumptuous comforts, generator powered.  Bar and gift shop.   A variety of tours available.  

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TOP
MID

 

Accommodations:  Budget

LOGO NAME / DESCRIPTION PRICE RESERVE/INFO
  CABINAS CARATE: Rustic cabinas conveniently located at the Carate Pulpería. Private bathrooms, no electricity. No communications.  Walk-in only.  Backpacker budget. BUD WALK IN ONLY
  CARATE JUNGLE CAMP:  Rustic cabinas located about one kilometer before the Carate Pulpería.  Generator power.  No communications.  Walk-in only.  Backpacker budget. BUD WALK IN ONLY

For general reservations inquiries, please fill out our Osa Peninsula Travel Information Questionnaire.  Alternately, please write me or call at one of the phone numbers provided below.  From the United States, remember to use the 011 direct dialing prefix.

Osa Corcovado Tour and Travel / CafeNet El Sol
 Travel and Tour Agency, Reservation Services, Internet Café
English:  506 8632-8150
Spanish:  506 2735-5719
Facsimile:  506 2735-5717

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