Carate

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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 most 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.  Carate’s long, flat beach extends all the way to Corcovado National Park and is one of the few entry points into the park.

SPIDER MONKEYS

LA LEONA   STATION

CARATE BEACH
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La Leona Ranger Station 

 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.

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Corcovado Map

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 $90 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 4:00 p.m. daily.  Boat access is impractical absent a Zodiac owing to the large Pacific surf.

Activities

  •  WILDERNESS HIKES
    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 $85 per person depending on the number of people
  • KAYAKING
    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.
  • BOAT TOUR
    BOAT TOUR
    The Golfo Dulce is the tenth deepest gulf in the world and encompasses shorelines ranging from nearly vertical on the northeastern coast to mangrove swamps in the Esquinas corner and near Rincon. Humpback whales calve in the Gulf, and whale sharks make annual pilgrimages into the still gulf waters. Porpoises are a dime a dozen and can be come across in pods of hundreds of individuals. Motor boat tours up to six hours in duration provide a spectacular low-impact activity. Enjoy snorkeling and swimming. The signature experience is with Changing Tide Tours which offers six hour tours for $65.
  • HORSEBACK RIDING
    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.
  • CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK
    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.

Accommodations:  

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.

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La leona Lodge
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Luna Lodge
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Lookout Inn Lodge
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Finca exótica 
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