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La Carolina Lodge
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Reviews (387)
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Reviewed 1 February 2007

La Carolina Lodge is truly a special place. We lived and were married in Costa Rica ten years ago and were celebrating our 10th anniversary - with our seven year old. We were in CR for three weeks and La Carolina was the one place we bragged about the most. The setting along the river is perfect. The staff is lovely. Our three bed cabin was right over the river and had a large balcony with picnic table and hammock. The room was rustic and clean. There is no electricity but the staff comes around at dusk to light the many candles in your room and the lamps along the pathways. The fireflies also add to the magic. La Carolina is a working farm with horses, cows, chickens, etc. so most of the food comes from the farm. The food is served family style and is very Tico and delicious. You also get to meet an array of international travelers at La Carolina. The rate included guided tours on horseback of the finca and Volcano Tenorio with it's azure blue waters and natural hotsprings. Alejandro is an excellent guide and horseman. He impressed us by roping wild horses and standing on the saddle of his horse while gathering mandarine oranges for us. La Carolina has a wonderful wood-fired hot tub that's perfect after a long days hike. There's also lots of wildlife to be seen from the breakfast table - we saw an array of birds, including Toucans, and the resident sloth that lives in a nearby tree. La Carolina is great for families and nature lovers - if you need room service and don't like frogs or bugs - please stay home. We had the best time at La Carolina and owner, Bill Harwell, has done a great job because his staff sings his praises. The stay is well worth the hellacious drive - we had a two-axel rental and our daughter kept asking what that metal sound was. Pura Vida!

  • Stayed: December 2006, travelled with family
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4  Thank roroso
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 November 2006

We loved this place of all the places we stayed in Costa Rica or the many places we have stayed in around the world, this ranks as one of the best most relaxing places to stay. We stayed for 3 nights This is basic rural accomodation, wooden beds, no electricity, no good roads, but the warmth of the welcome and the quality of attentive and genuine concern for our wellbeing from all the staff and the owner simply added to the Costa Rican charm of the place. Add to that excellent local food, a clean river, steaming hot tub and staff who happily do your laundry (they even picked up the kids laundry from the floor and returned it the next day, clean and folded on the bed.)
Evenings were spent with the rest of the interesting guests around the log fire. Days in walks in the forest spotting the myriad of wildlife. Guides are available to take you to nearby sites all knowledgable (though with limited English). Horseriding was the highlight, with guides and horses available anytime to take you on walks around the property to see the many monkeys and wildlife that was so abundant in the area.
We wish we could have stayed longer and spent a few days more relaxing on the porch and in the river in good company and with far better service than any 5 star resort could hope to provide.
The main lodge is the place we enjoyed the most, though if you want isolation and a really really rustic and basic experience there is a separate cottage on the property.

  • Stayed: April 2006, travelled with family
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4  Thank saffrongold
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 November 2006

We had contacted the Lodge through the review in LonelyPlanet. All was as promised. It is a very authentic resort, a true working finca. The cheese, coffee, beans, everything grown/raised locally. The river was easy to catch small fish in while the kids were in the woood-fired hot tub. The Tican staff is outstanding, and always able to help. No bad experiences- so we can recommend without reservation. People used to the Embassy Suites type experence (generic) will be dissapointed. My kids loved riding horses every day, looking for snakes, toucans, monkeys and sloths.

  • Stayed: July 2006, travelled with family
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2  Thank andante
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 July 2006

We arrived at La Carolina at about 4:00 in the afternoon tired and hungry from our flight and drive. We were immediately led to a tree near the main lodge to see a sloth and its baby. And then we were asked (in Spanish) if we were hungry. I answered yes, and within minutes a full and delicious meal was served to us in the outdoor dining area. Those first few minutes epitomized our stay. The staff seemed to anticipate our every need and we were able to truly appreciate Tico hospitality. La Carolina is rustic luxury in an eco-friendly environment. Those two first nights in Costa Rica were our best nights and a wonderful way to start our trip. Go there! You won't be disappointed. Just make sure you bring some extra bug spray!

Stayed: July 2006
1  Thank mimitraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 July 2006

La Carolina (day 1)

I can not say enough wonderful things about our stay at La Carolina, it is about a 1.5 hour drive from airport in an area toward Upala that does not see much tourism. The roads were bumpy, bumpy and more bumpy, something we would grow to get used to. We arrived at La Carolina our hosts spoke no English, but with smiles and pointing we were able to make it work (the owner who speaks English was in the states). Ernestina, our host at La Carolina was warm and inviting, she showed us to our private lodge overlooking the property, it seems fairly new and was HUGE. King size bed for my wife and me with a double bed and single bed in a huge other room. Large bathroom with solar heated hot water. The walls were basically screened windows with a little bit of wall between them, the roof corrugated aluminum making the overnight rain beating on our roof very loud. The sounds of the insects, birds, howler monkeys and rain made our inside feel like an integral part of the outside.

Ernestina showed us the property with a huge veranda wrapping around the main lodge she poured me my first cup of café Negro from the fully wood fired kitchen, a fireplace surrounded by rocking chairs, a couple of hammocks all overlooking either the meadows, the river or the horse stables and hills. Our next stop was down to the stream where they have diverted stream water into a wood fired hot pool. The pool is made of stone with a stone bench all around which would comfortably seat 8 or 9 people, The water from the hot pool comes from the stream and into copper tubes which go around a metal sheaf of the fire pit, they keep wood available to add to the fire (unbelievable). We played in the stream water then lounged in the hot pool enjoying the bird life the incoming rain and life (Pura Vida).

Dinner was delicious, true typical food cooked over wood fire some conversation with the other guests and discussion of our plans for day 2. Included with the nights lodging is not only three great meals, but a guided hike and horseback ride. We all hung after dinner in the rockers and hammocks until we were ready for a nights sleep. We all slept well with the sounds of the rain forest all around.

Day 2, La Carolina, Hike to Rio Celeste, and drive to Arenal
I woke up hours before the rest of my family went to the hot pool, where I read and relaxed… luxurious. Everyone joined me and we had breakfast with the whole crew of guests we all decided to go on the guided hike to Rio Celeste. Before we left they came running for us to follow them up a hill where they pointed out a sloth up in a tree. It was cool to see, but honestly it looked like a grey blob… more wildlife to see later. We followed our Spanish speaking guide in our Pathfinder, he brought the guys from France in the back of his truck and they held on for dear life over the bumps, and bumps and more bumps… no pavement to be found. About a 10 minute ride to the trail head at the national park, $6 per person admission to the park. At the Ranger Station were specimens of all kinds of reptile, snake and spider life you might see in the rainforest, these specimens were preserved in what I assume was formaldehyde.

We headed into the woods for what would be a very rigorous hike, up and down switchbacks and stairs carved into the forest. My wife & I found ourselves to be twice as old as the closest to our age, this would be a common occurrence on this adventure. The scenery was magnificent as the guide pointed out HUGE colonies of cutter ants, plants that played dead when you touch them, he picked natural citronella for us to apply as bug repellant… It was all very interesting and informative. It felt like we were in a National Geographic special on Spanish television.

We finally came to Rio Celeste a huge pool of azure blue with a massive waterfall pounding into the pool. Swam in the pool, but could not go too close to the waterfall in that someone had drowned there recently. After everyone was ready we crossed the river to continue our hike, up and up and up… it was strenuous (but well worth it),

The hike continued around the river over a log bridge to the merging of two rivers of normal river color, when the two rivers joined the water turned that amazing azure blue, close to the color of a blue raspberry Popsicle, a color prior to this hike I thought never occurred in nature.

We hiked out stopped at a soda on the way, got water and coconut frozen treats, they were amazing filled with large strips of coconut. and headed back to La Carolina for lunch and if we had wanted a horseback ride. Lunch was great, we packed up our car had one last soak in the hot pool and stream, settled up with Ernestina ($55 each for lodging, 3 hearty meals, guided hike and if we could have fit it horseback riding… what a value and experience).

Highest recommendation for overall experience and value.
It seemed like we had been to
La Carolina for days, but it was j
ust 24 hours

  • Stayed: June 2006
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2  Thank zippidydo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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