Test-run of the Camino del Oro

By Emily Arnold Mest, Associate Director of INOGO

Tourists aren’t the only ones who have been anxiously awaiting an opportunity to explore the Caminos de Osa. Following a July 2015 trip in which we visited many of the first cohort businesses, we recently had the opportunity to join a small group of RBA collaborators to explore the first trail of the Caminos de Osa that will open: the Camino del Oro.

The adventure started at Finca 6, where we explore the Pre-Columbian  history of the region by learning about the stone spheres and theories about their origins. The following day we explored the mangroves of Sierpe, where Enoc of Sierpe Azul Tours taught us about the many legends surrounding Isla Violines and the treasure that Sir Francis Drake is said to have buried there. We continued on to Estero Guerra, where Yency and her mother Eraida provided the kind of hospitality that usually only comes when you’re visiting family. Then we hiked along to Rancho Quemado where we found comfortable beds at Rancho Verde and delicious food at Paraiso Jaguarundi.

From Rancho Quemado we hiked towards Alto Laguna, realizing along the way that perhaps such a long walk in the heat of the sun wouldn’t be so enjoyable for visitors (don’t worry, we’ve since modified the itinerary!). At Aguas Ricas Lodge we enjoyed a refreshing stream and a wonderful snack. Here, the group divided to explore two potential options. One group traveled by horseback to La Tarde, and my group traveled by taxi to Playa Blanca.

After a restful afternoon enjoying the Golfo Dulce, we dined on fresh seafood at LapaMar. In the morning we set out in kayaks at 4am to watch the sun rise on the Golfo Dulce as we paddle in a leisurely fashion to Playa Sandalo. From Sandalo we walked to Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre, where we spent an incredible evening with Zulay and her husband William at Amazonitas. We heard stories from William about his time goldmining, and Zulay told us about much of the history of the region since she has lived there all of her life.

Having worked in the region for over ten years, the Camino del Oro showed me another side of the Osa Peninsula.  There is something so special about being far away from home and sitting down for a home cooked meal with someone in their home – you feel that, at least for that day, you’re a part of the family. We hiked the same mountainous trails that women I met had hiked at 8 months pregnant in order to get the hospital.  We heard many stories about the challenges and struggles of the past, and saw the hope that tourism is bringing.

I hope that you’ll all be able to experience the Caminos de Osa. For those of you who already have, please join me in congratulating all of the entrepreneurs involved.  As for me, I’m looking forward to my next opportunity to get out on the trail already!