When I visited Costa Rica I discovered something rather special, a place that would steal my heart and set my senses on fire, for this Central American country offers to those who dare seek it, the discovery of any traveller’s paradise – a vista unseen by other’s eyes. For me there was one particular place that I will never forget, Carate, a small dot on the map to the south east of the country located in the Osa Penninsula, jutting out into the immense Pacific ocean.
Carate is so far off the beaten track that tourists rarely venture there. In the dry season it is accessible by car via Puetro Jimenze, a journey of over 2 hours to navigate the 43km of rough and meandering roads. In the wet season, it is only accessible by small plane as the rivers become impassable and are teeming with crocodiles and bull sharks, determining that only the mad would attempt them. All of these natural barriers ensure that when you do arrive at Carate, you are greeted by one of the most flawless areas of natural beauty the country has to offer.
As you near the end of the exhausting drive, you enter an avenue lined with almond trees. To your left is the unforgiving Pacific Ocean relentlessly crashing on the black sand beach. To your right, tucked amongst the jungle ascending into the hillside, is The Look Out Inn, my base for the duration of my stay.
Carate is the wildlife lover’s paradise, where at breakfast you’re joined by the curious white-faced capuchin monkeys eagerly eyeing up your food, but not before they have told off the confident coati for trying to steal their bananas! During lunch the iguanas creep ever closer in hope of catching your crumbs, and your afternoon siesta is disturbed by the squawks of the scarlet macaws as they race along in search for food.
The jungle buzzes relentlessly around you with the sound of marvellous creatures great and small; turn a large leaf up and you will see the sleeping bats, look to your right and the squirrel monkeys are scurrying away, to the left the ant eater is ambling down the trunk of an old twisted tree, whilst above you the toucan is sitting high in the tree observing your every move, and before you’ve even seen them you will hear the sound of the howler monkeys, a sound that will convince you that you’re lost in Jurassic Park.
Once night arrives, the sound of the surf crashing on the shore sounds like the most indomitable thunderstorm you’ve ever heard, but eventually lulling you into a deep sleep somewhere below your mosquito net.