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  • Writer's pictureJuan Antonio Chavarria

Etapa 1b EL Camino de Costa Rica

After finishing our tour of the Goshen Canals, we returned to the dock and found a sign indicating the start of the land route. Across the street, they sell ice cream and rent bathrooms.

We crossed the bridge over the canal, and it is important to note that 98% of this day's journey will be on stone and pavement paths. In a stretch of 800 meters, you can observe oropendolas, birds that are common in the Caribbean of Costa Rica.

Upon reaching the first intersection of the road, we must turn left. From there, we will walk along the main road until we reach the Sahara intersection. We will walk one kilometer and find the town of San Juan, which in Costa Rica, is considered a town if it has a school, a soccer field, and a Catholic church.

Throughout this journey, we will find shaded areas and rice, African palm, and beef cattle plantations. We must always turn right, including the crossroads of the "La Amistad" bar, where some houses with traditional Caribbean Costa Rican architecture (Tropical Victorian) can be seen.

At that point, the Turrialba volcano can be seen to the right, and our goal for the day will be to cross the plains of the Caribbean and reach the foot of the Cordillera, the mountains that can be seen ahead.

After six kilometers of road, we will find the Sahara intersection, where we will find the first official kilometer milestone of the route located on the left-hand side. There are official milestones that mark the distance with kilometers, as well as others that were donated and have different motifs.

At that intersection, we will turn right onto the pavement. The corner house has a huge garden, and sometimes you can pick pitangas from the tree next to the road

After a kilometer and a half we pass the school and find the first mini supermarket on the route. Underneath the giant water tank, there is a short path that leads to the hidden store on the other side. As a reference, we have a giant mango tree in front. The lady who attends has a bathroom and sells basic things for hikers, as well as a bench to sit and rest.

After the soccer field, we will find another mini supermarket, a little hidden as well. On the right hand side, 50 meters away in a house with gates. We must always go straight on, not turning left or right.

Once we leave Sahara, we follow a straight road for four kilometers to the intersection for San Carlos de Pacuarito. On that straight, we can see a hut that is used for ribbon races (a Costa Rican tradition), as well as banana, yucca and rice plantations.

At the beginning of these 4 km to San Carlos we can see some small wetlands full of jacanas and herons. The last houses in the area indicate the beginning of the banana plantations. The giant bamboos were brought with the banana plantations and are used here to protect the plantations from possible thieves.

In this straight, we have 3 supermarkets distanced to 1 km each, approximately. They will be the last of the day. The first one has a bathroom and the lady always helps the walkers (it is on the left hand side in the first 300 meters of the pavement).

En the garden of the school, we have a marker in memory of Jan, an important contributor to the Costa Rica trail.

After we pass the town, we cross the bridge over the creek. Here comes the factory that prepares the bananas for export. If they are active, you can watch the whole process of packing the bananas, until they are loaded into the containers ready for Europe and North America.

From there, my only advice is to follow the pavement and not detour to the pineapple plantations. We have a couple of small slopes and the village of La Union Campesina, named after a village where peasants took over an abandoned farm and settled.

This area is full of houses, and in case of an emergency, we always have the possibility of help.

At km 20, we must continue straight on. The only reference we have are the pineapple fields on the right hand side and the pastures with water buffalo and cattle on the left. This part is of stone and mud. We cross a small river 150 meters from the crossing. It is not very deep, but it is enough to wet the feet a little..

This area is always special to see the local manakins and poison dart frogs. We walk 1.5 kilometers until we reach the river. There we take the path to the left into the guanabana plantation. This area is full of poison ivy on the sides, but by far the most beautiful part of the day.

We reached the train line. This bridge was built in 1910. There you have two options: continue and turn back on the highway or walk those 200 m on the train line, which is illegal and the train is active, although all the locals use the track for walking.

That is the end of the stage. There you can stay at Yolanda's house, in the community hall or look for transportation to some local lodging.

Equipment needed:

For this stage you will need comfortable, cool clothes that dry quickly, a hat, 2 to 3 liters of water, insect repellent, shorts or long pants, running shoes (or hiking boots), and a small backpack to carry your belongings. In the stores you will need cash in colones.

Technical details:

- Walking on ballast, dust and pavement.

- Flat terrain.

- Possibility of mud depending on rainfall.

- Sun on most of the route.

- Mosquitoes and other insects present.

- It is possible to recharge or buy water in the mini supermarkets.

- Average temperature ranges between 25°C and 35°C.

- Humidity 95%.

Fauna of the stage:

Ground turtles, sloths, howler monkeys, iguanas, basilisks, armadillos, dart frogs, toads, coyotes. Birds, hawks, hawks, vultures, jacanas, herons, Heron, seed-eaters, Flycatcher, tanagers, toucans, green macaws. parrots, hummingbirds, tick-tyrants.


Rice plantations, cocoa, soursop, pineapple, banana, tropical plants, African palm, cassava and pastures, with trees in the area sporadically.

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