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“Horse Lover Heaven”
Review of La Carolina Lodge

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La Carolina Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 11, 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, traveled with family
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
2  Thank andante
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 30, 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 July 17, 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
    • Value
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2  Thank zippidydo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 4, 2006

Just came back from a short stay at the Carolina lodge in Costa Rica. We absolutely loved this rustic Costarican experience. Staff at the lodge provided excellent service and really worked hard to make our stay a pleasurable one. I would definitely recommend this lodge to people seeking a rustic experience...rustic mainly because there is no electricity at the lodge. But that is also the beauty of the lodge...everything is done by candlight at night. Besides all the different activities (walk the Rio Celeste - definitely recommend that, it is georgous, horseback riding, hiking different trails, etc...), the lodge has a wondeful hot tub (looks more like a hot spring), right alongside the river (spend many hours there...). Lookinf forward to going back at some point.

  • Stayed: May 2006
    • Value
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Thank VirginiaMember
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Utah
1
Reviewed March 21, 2006

We only spent two nights and three days at La Carolina, and the time we had there was the highlight of our trip to Costa Rica. It's hard to believe that the meals, horse back riding, and guided tours of the jungle were all included in the cost. The Spanish speaking 'Tico' staff were so welcoming and friendly. I can't wait to go back, La Carolina is absolutely beautiful.

  • Stayed: March 2006
    • Value
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Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Berkeley, CA
25
Reviewed December 29, 2005

Have to say I echo the other review posted here. Our experience was terrific with the staff taking very gracious and good care of us during our 4 night stay. Waking up to freshly brewed coffee that you saw being roasted on property while watching the fabulous birds frolicking in the trees was amazing. A toucan visited on our first morning. The horseback riding was a real pleasure and guided by a true costa rician cowboy. The walk to the rio celeste is a definite must. Food was terrific and eating by candlelight is special. I say go and enjoy, if you like getting away from it and want to use your spanish.

  • Stayed: December 2002
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2  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 3, 2005

If you want an authentic Costa Rican experience, go here! It was the highlight of our trip. The lodge is well off the beaten path with electricity in only one of the cabins, and not in the main lodge - At night the place is illuminated with candles and all meals are cooked over wood stoves. The owner is American but the lodge and surrounding farm are essentially run by a staff of 10 local Ticos. Everyone was so friendly and helpful - even though the Tico staff spoke essentially no English and we spoke very little Spanish, they did their best to make sure we had everything we needed without ever getting frustrated by the language barrier. They even did our laundry for us! The traditional meals, which are included in the price, were amazing. The orange juice, lemonade and coffee was all grown and processed by hand on the farm. We also had fresh milk and cheese from the farm. Everyday we went horseback riding, and the third day we rode up to high point where we could see Lake Nicaragua in the distance. We also took a tour of the nearby Volcan Tenorio National Park where we saw the Rio Celeste, which is normally a vibrant blue color due to the reaction of different minerals in the two rivers that feed it - It was cloudy and drizzling the day we went so the color wasn't as spectacular as it can be. There are also nice hot springs, an impressive waterfall and the Volcan Tenorio in the park but the volcano is often covered in clouds. Find out more at the website lacarolinalodge

Some advice:
The lodge is much easier to get to if you rent a car (4x4 recommended). If you are planning on coming by bus/taxi, make sure you start your journey early. There are only 2 taxis in Bijagua and it's possible they will be unavailable. From San Jose, there is a bus to Upala that goes through Bijagua which is more straight forward than taking a bus to Canas and then another bus to Bijagua.

Knowing a few basic Spanish phrases would be helpful. The Tico staff doesn't speak English, and the owner, Bill, is not always available to act as a translator. As long as you keep an open mind, the language barrier will not be problem though.

  • Stayed: December 2004
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14  Thank dorykoehler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about La Carolina Lodge

Address: San Miguel | Bijagua, Bijagua de Upala 21301, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Bijagua de Upala
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Bijagua de Upala
Price Range: $110 - $130 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 4
Also Known As:
La Carolina Hotel Province Of Guanacaste
Hotel La Carolina
La Carolina Lodge Costa Rica/Bijagua De Upala

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