Carate Wildlife Refuge is truly a walk on the wild side. This remote but beautiful location is home to numerous animals, birdlife and plants. Don’t forget your camera!

The Carate Refuge includes 123 hectares or 304 acres of land.  The elevation ranges from sea level to 200 meters or 0 – 656 feet.  The refuge protects rainforest and beach habitats.  There are hiking trails in the refuge or one can stroll along the beach spotting wildlife in the forest that backs it.

There are many species of wildlife in the refuge.  Large cats include pumas, ocelots, margays, and jaguars.  All four species of monkeys that inhabit Costa Rica can be found here, including capuchin, howler, spider, and squirrel monkeys.  Other mammals include tapirs, peccaries, raccoons, anteaters, sloths, pacas, kinkajous, pizotes, and agouties.  There are many amphibian and reptile species.  A few of which include fer-de lance, eyelash pitvipers, vine snakes, and several species of poison dart frogs.  There are many species of birds in this area.  Perhaps the most noticeable are the scarlett macaws which are large red parrots that can be heard squawking from a half kilometer away.  There are many other species including parakeets, owls, trogons, pelicans, ibis, and sea gulls.

There is no ranger station or public restroom at the Carate Refuge.  There are no designated hours, but it is not advised to visit the park at night, at least without a qualified guide.  In addition, there is not an entrance fee.  There are no overnight facilities, though there are several lodges in the Carate area.

More about the Carate Wildlife Refuge

There is a two mile stretch of black sand beach in front of the refuge.  The ocean in front is perfect for swimming.

To access the refuge, you can fly into the airstrip in Carate, take a boat, or take a serious 4x4 road, which requires crossing several rivers.  This cannot be done in the rain season as the rivers are simply too high.

At a glance

Region: Osa Peninsula, South Pacific
Closest town: Carate
Size in hectares: 123 (304 acres)
Year established: 1998
Elevation in meters: 0 – 200 (0 – 656 feet)
Private managed: no
Government managed: yes
Rangers station: no
Overnight facilities: no
Public restrooms: no
Entrance fee: no, though access is difficult without arranging a tour
Days: daily
Hours: no set hours
Hiking trails: yes, though access is difficult without arranging a tour
Boat tours: no
Average temperature range in Fahrenheit: 75 - 90
Average yearly precipitation in millimeters: 4,000 (157 inches)
Habitat: rainforest, beach

How to get there

The easiest way to get there is by taking a flight from San Jose to either the Carate airstrip (private charter required) or by flying in to Puerto Jimenez and then arranging a taxi from there.

If you have a reliable 4x4 with high ground clearance, you can drive there from San Jose during the dry season.  To do so, take Rt. 27 west until you reach the Rt. 34 exit.  Take Rt. 34 south until you reach the La Chacarita gas station.  Turn right on Rt. 245 to Puerto Jimenez and then continue on the same road all the way to Carate.

Weather and packing list

The Carate Refuge is located in one of the wettest climates in the world.  Daytime temperatures are often around 90 degrees and overnight temps are typically in the upper 70s.  The area receives an average of 4,000 mm or 157 inches of rain annually.  The driest months to visit are between January and April.

The essentials to visit Carate Wildlife Refuge include a bathing suit, towel, shorts, tee shirts, appropriate shoes, rain gear, sun block, and insect repellent.

Fun Fact: The Osa Peninsula is one of the wildest places in the world and home to nearly five percent of the planet's biodiversity.

Nearby Destinations

Drake Bay104 km
Puerto Jimenez80 km
Sierpe151 km
Uvita210 km
Golfito146 km


Latitude: N 8° 26' 39.22"
Longitude: W 83° 27' 45.36"

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