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  • Writer's pictureJuan Antonio Chavarria

Etapa 1a El Camino de Costa Rica

Every great adventure begins with a strong dose of anticipation and excitement for the unknown, and El Camino de Costa Rica is no exception. This epic path through the heart of Costa Rica starts on the Caribbean coast, and in this first stage, I want to share my experience with you.

On day one, we departed in a coordinated means of transportation to the Goshen dock. The journey takes about 4 to 5 hours, depending on the traffic from San Jose. Once we passed Braulio Carillo National Park and entered the Limon province, the weather changed drastically.

Costa Rica's Caribbean coast is known for its high humidity, suffocating heat, and unpredictable weather. In less than an hour, it can change from sunny to rainy, and vice versa.

Once we arrived at Batan and took the dirt road to the Goshen dock, we met Don Julio, the captain of the boat that would take us through the canals. There are no supermarkets or places to buy snacks in this area, that will be until the next stage. Plus, it's not possible to withdraw money until you arrive in Suiza or Turrialba, which will take about 6 days.

I recommend taking time to enjoy this area on your first day. The amount of wildlife that can be found here, from birds and reptiles to mammals, is incredible. With luck and thanks to Don Julio's expert eye, you can have an unforgettable experience while touring the canals.

The first stop is Laguna Madre de Dios, where we had lunch. If you do the route in 14 or 11 days, you can have breakfast and leave the same day. After the Caribbean lunch, several hikes can be done within the Pacuare Reserve, either a guided tour (with extra cost) or walking the 3 km by the beach to Pueblo de la Barra del Pacuare and returning to rest before the next day.

What's essential is going to the front of Aventuras del Caribe, Julio's lodging, beautiful and rustic cabins. Then walk the 500 meters to the first milestone of El Camino, this marks the beginning of this experience and are the markers that the organization has placed along the route. My personal ritual is to touch the sea with my right foot first, then with the left, bring water to my head and heart. This route requires strength, focus, and love, in my case for my country, my work, my clients, and this project that I carry tattooed on my skin.

Needed equipment:

For this first day, you will need comfortable and fresh clothes that dry quickly, a hat, 2 or 3 liters of water (to hydrate you for the next day), insect repellent (very important), shorts or long pants, hiking sandals, or running shoes (or hiking boots), sunscreen, and a small backpack to carry your belongings.

Technical details:

- Beach sand or trail hike.

- Flat terrain.

- Possibility of mud depending on the rains.

- Shade on the trails, lots of sun on the beach.

- Mosquitoes and other insects.

- Possibility of finding poisonous snakes.

- It is possible to refill the water at the lodgings, and the town has a small bar that is sometimes open.

- The average temperature ranges from 25°C to 30°C.

Wildlife in the area:

As for fauna, we can find spider, capuchin and howler monkeys, basilisks, crocodiles, alligators, sloths, bats, poisonous frogs, turtles, and snakes.

As for birds, there are as many options as impressive ones: anhingas, cormorants, herons, fish eagles, hawks, vultures, jacanas, swallows, toucans, green macaws, parrots, sea birds, pelicans, kingfishers, tanagers, trogons, and much more.

The first stage of El Camino de Costa Rica is an introduction to the humid tropical ecosystem of the country's Caribbean coast. Let the journey continue!

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