El Camino de Costa Rica – Coast to Coast Hiking Trail

Video including Charlie Doggett bird photos

Some of my bird photos appear in this first promotional video promoting a coast to coast hiking trail across Costa Rica through the rural areas and small towns where most tourists don’t go. When in Costa Rica hike this to get to know the poor working people of this great little country!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7euE5oQPC8


OVERVIEW

Contribute to building a trail from the Atlantic to the Pacific, bring prosperity to villages while exploring the ecosystems of Costa Rica. Asociación Mar a Mar aims to open a new international tourism opportunity that will offer an unparalleled hiking challenge and experience of the natural and cultural attractions of Costa Rica. This new 250 km trail, El Camino de Costa Rica: del Atlántico al Pacífico, will run from coast to coast, yet visitors can walk it in 15 days.

Summary

Our aim is to have every hiker in the world want to walk El Camino de Costa Rica, or part of it, at least once in their lifetime.  As travellers pass through rural towns along the Trail, they will stop for food, supplies, lodging, and to enjoy restaurants and cafes.  These towns and villages will grow economically in response to the establishment of the trail. This slow, socially inclusive economic development of rural towns is the fundamental objective of the effort.
Mar a Mar, with 23 Associates, including business leaders, tourism operators, local leaders and hikers, was established as a nonprofit association in Costa Rica in November of 2016 and has a strong volunteer Board representing varied expertise and a committed Executive Director. Six team leaders implement various aspects of the organization: Route Development; Community Engagement; Institutional Engagement; Communications and Public Relations; Fundraising; and Legal and Fiscal matters. With this disciplined and committed Board and volunteer team leaders, Mar a Mar has been able to accomplish a great deal in one year.
Mar a Mar has succeeded in becoming known in the world of hiking in Costa Rica, has presented its work to several gubernatorial entities where the ideas were well received and has established relationships with several lodges, community leaders and cooperatives such as Coopearruco in Orosi.   We have a digital version of the route available for guides to take groups. El Camino de Costa Rica travels through public roads as well as through the indigenous people’s lands. Of the 15 towns where hikers would sleep, all but 5 already have capacity for at least 20 tourists.  One of our accomplishments in 2016 was to establish the capacity to take day hikers on the route and to date we have walked seven of the fifteen sections with groups. A major accomplishment has been the establishment of relationships with experienced tour operators who plan to start leading hikers along the route in 2017. In fact, the first hiker completed walking the Trail in February!  We have a Board treasurer and a CPA on retainer.

What We Need

These are some key milestones that still need to be achieved. We can’t accomplish them without your generous support!
In order to fund our initiative, we seek seed money of  $50,000. Under the strong leadership of the Mar a Mar Board, the seed money would contract with program managers who would work on priority projects which will include:
  • Work with local associations to improve and maintain the trail.
  • Work with local associations to mark the trail.
  • Implement the Mar a Mar marketing plan which includes audience identification, developing content for advertising and publicity and the best media for the various publicity messages, and developing orientation and guide materials for hikers (maps, trip preparation information, lodging and dining guides, identifying nearby attractions along the trail, safety and first aid information, etc.)
  • Continue to engage with tour operators to take tourists along the route.

The Impact

Costa Rica’s GNP is driven by tourism, but rural towns do not benefit from this economic gold mine as tourists are commonly frequenting the coastal areas of Costa Rica, and neglecting the rural and indigenous areas of the country.  This trail will promote carbon neutral tourism, which is sustainable, affordable, and most importantly respects Costa Rica’s natural environment and cultural traditions.
Our strategy is that these projects would establish a flow of hikers and thus create a demand that would further engage the communities along the Trail.

Risks & Challenges

Some of the challenges that Mar a Mar faces in establishing El Camino de Costa Rica include unfavorable route conditions.  Some of the zones through which the trail passes have high levels of rain and flooding that impact the trail and bridges. Your contribution will assist in improving and maintaining safety along the route.

Ways You Can Help

A small amount of dollars will go a long way in this project to trigger entrepreneurial opportunities in rural villages
  • $10.00 would go towards developing materials for hikers
  • $20.00 would go towards engaging local entrepreneurs
  • $30.00 would go towards marking the trail
  • $50.00 would improve infrastructure on the trial
Even if you can’t contribute financially, you can certainly contribute in other ways:
  • Share our video and link with your friends
  • Come and hike the trail!
If you want to back it, go to this website and click the “Back It” button. They are in a campaign now to raise $50,000 by this summer. Go here:

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