If you are lovers of hiking, “touring” and knowing every corner of Costa Rica, you will love taking advantage of the 280 kilometers of travel and adventure that “El Camino de Costa Rica” has to offer.
Before entering, however, a bit of necessary context: in the world of global hiking there is a must for lovers of putting on tennis shoes, throwing a backpack on your shoulders and starting out for hundreds of kilometers to walk and explore. We are talking of course about the “Camino de Santiago”.
The “Camino de Santiago” is a route that, for centuries, has been used by hikers to cross the north of Spain. It began in the times of King Alfonso II (that is, around the 9th century after Christ) and now has several paths that end at the Cathedral of Santiago, in Santiago de Compostela in the Galicia region.
The initial objective of the pilgrimage was to walk to where, according to legend, the Apostle Saint James the Greater is buried (if you have a chance, we invite you to read the legend that the truth is quite entertaining). In summary, what in the 9th century was a path with religious significance, today it is a tourist attraction that only in 2018 received more than 327,378 tourists, or “pilgrims”, making it one of the major engines of the tourist economy of the northern Iberian Peninsula.
Now how does this path work?
Santiago has several main routes: there is the primitive, the northern, the French, the Portuguese, the Basque … and so on. These routes can be done in three ways: on foot, on horseback or by bicycle. The objective is that pilgrims who go on foot, walk at least 100 kilometers and that those who go by bike or horseback, do at least 200.
Every night, and after finishing the stages, the pilgrims stop at hostels (which can be public or private) where they pay between 6 and 10 euros for a place to recharge their batteries, have dinner, spend the night and move on the next day.
What is the “economic” grace of all this?
Well, obviously the entire installation of hostels + restaurants + souvenirs + the little stand that a man put in the garage of his house to sell water to walkers who go 17 kilometers “on foot”, moves the tourist market: The “Camino de Santiago” already has an app in which one can monitor which accommodations, which restaurants and which places of interest are around “en route”, to go to see while walking around.
This is exactly the vision that “El Camino de Costa Rica” has: that of becoming a dynamic tourism route so that the towns through those 280 kilometers receive tourists and development, while national and foreign explorers enjoy all that the area has to offer.
The idea was born from Tico hikers who made the Iberian route and returned to the country thinking that it would really be very good if Costa Rica had something similar. This is how the batteries were put in place, they began to shape, it has cost a lot but the coordinating group has worked hard to specify the route to make it accessible”.
The Tico goal: move the economy
Now that the dry season is coming we have a new opportunity to help reactivate the local economy. What better way to do it than with a vacation that offers us a new alternative? This is precisely what “El Camino de Costa Rica” offers us, an option that stands out from the outset precisely because it is a differentiated proposal. For example, how about going to know a beekeeping and coffee farm in Pejibaye de Jiménez, Cartago? Write it down as part of the trip!
The most beautiful thing about the Camino is that from the beginning the route was planned from the point of view of social development: the objective is to give the towns an opportunity to participate in tourism because all those towns in the center of the country do not have a real possibility of competing with other better known and more tourist areas; We are talking about forgotten villages that are beginning to see the light and this has been the most beautiful aspect.
For example, there is the story of an enterprising lady who, after starting the Camino project passing through her community, prepared one of the rooms that she had available in her house to turn it into a shelter and start receiving hikers.
It is a beautiful anecdote because a tourist came and said, after staying at this lady’s house, that nowhere had he been received with so much affection and with so much love, which reminds us that we are able to offer not only the tourist beauty, but also the warmth of our people. That’s why this project is so cool, because we even have families whose children had already moved to San José, but are returning to their homes to offer tourist services.
In fact, and in this work of positioning the country as a hiking destination in the world, is that last December the Spanish audiovisual production company, Oxygen, launched a documentary called “El Camino de Costa Rica” that was produced in collaboration with the Institute Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) and the Spanish agency The Blueroom Project (which is the advertising agency of our country in Spain, focused on attracting tourism to our country) and with which is working so that the hikers of the world position the country in its must-see routes.
How to start the Camino?
The Camino de Costa Rica consists of a single route with 16 stages for a total of 280 kilometers, starting in Parismina or Barra del Pacuare in Limón, until reaching Quepos in the Central Pacific.
The idea is that those who do the whole route, walk between 6 and 7 hours a day (depending on the physical condition of each person) because, as in Santiago, in all the small towns upon arrival there are hostels, restaurants and tours so that people can stop, enjoy, support local entrepreneurs and then move on.
It is very beautiful because every day the landscapes are different, with all the microclimates here, everything is very varied. The hiker comes to the community, enjoys a rich lunch and has plenty of options to enjoy other things, attractions and tours: around the towns there are waterfalls, canopies, farms, attractions … everything.
Now, and this is very important to take into account: unlike Compostela (which has been developing for years later), “El Camino de Costa Rica” must be entered with a guide. In Santiago one arrives at the town where you are going to start the route and start walking; here things are a little different: We have put a lot of force into the road marking, at this time the best option is to contact the guides recommended to do the routes. They accompany the hiker and that way it is decided day by day and safely what they want to do.
Various hike options available
The options available are super important for hikers who want to take advantage and get the most out of the route little by little. All routes can be done in one day and that all places can be reached by car, which is “a very positive characteristic” for the 16 stages to be done on separate weekends and thus the whole road is taken advantage of, in a comfortable and accessible way for both nationals and foreign tourists.
To learn more about this option to enjoy our country and schedule routes, those interested can contact: https://resonancecr.com/contact-us/ So put on your hiking boots and enjoy!