Funding Sought for Trail Linking Coasts in Costa Rica

Asociación Mar a Mar (which translates to “The Sea to Sea Association”) is a not-for-profit group in Costa Rica that is developing a one-of-a-kind outdoor experience. The project, which is El Camino de Costa Rica, is a massive linked trail system whereby hikers would navigate the country, going from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific in just a two-week period. To complete the project, Mar a Mar is looking for funding through IndieGoGo.

Representatives from Mar a Mar made it clear on their IndieGoGo page that the ultimate goal is to encourage every hiker from around the globe to at some point in their lifetime walk the entire El Camino de Costa Rica, or at minimum, walk a portion of it. Being hailed a “new international tourism opportunity,” this 155-mile trail linking system would provide hikers with incredible challenges but also allow visitors to have a first-hand experience of the many cultural and natural attractions in Costa Rica.

With opportunities that tourism offers to many coastal Costa Rican towns, this trail would make it possible for remote rural areas to participate in economic growth. As part of traveling down the trail, hikers would go through isolated towns, stopping for overnight lodging, food, and various supplies. One of the primary goals of this project is to support the inclusive economic development of these towns.

Established in November of 2016 as a non-profit Costa Rican association, Mar a Mar is comprised of 22 partners. These include tourism operators, business leaders, various local leaders, and even hikers. Within the past 12 months, this group has been extremely successful in promoting their idea with governmental agencies and naturalists in Costa Rica, all of whom are supportive.

To lay the groundwork, the partners of Mar a Mar have come together and established solid relationships in towns that run the length of the trail that can offer lodging. They have also established relationships with leaders in the community and cooperatives like Coopearruco located in Crosi.

Not only will the El Camino de Costa Rica linked trail system go on public roads, it will meander through indigenous lands. In all, there are 15 towns that would provide overnight lodging for hikers. Within the past year, trail organizers guided visitors on day hikes, covering 7 of the 15 sections. They also proudly watched as the first hiker completed the entire trail in February. These organizers said that all but 5 of the 15 towns were able to accommodate a minimum of 20 tourists.

Although things are going smoothly, the trail is clearly mapped at ground level, and anticipation is high, there are still a few obstacles to work around. For example, funding is needed for a project manager whose responsibility it would be to leverage funds for marking, maintenance, and improving the El Camino de Costa Rica linked trail system, including various safety features during the rainy season like bridges.

Promoting carbon neutral tourism, which is sustainable and affordable, is something that this linked trail system will accomplish. In addition, the tourism would greatly respect cultural traditions and the natural environment of Costa Rica. Indigenous communities will start to benefit from this project, marking the first time they have been included.

James Drews

Vice President, Sales. Age 43 Prior to co-founding VESTA GROUP, James moved to Costa Rica in 1996 and began his real estate career here by co-founding Dominical Realty. In 2001, the company obtained a Coldwell Banker independent franchise, and three years later partnered with another Coldwell Banker franchise in Costa Rica to become Vesta Group, the Master-Franchise-holder for the entire country. As a member of the Global Association of Realtors and the U.S.-based National Association of Realtors, the Master Franchise has already grown to ten (10) offices throughout the country, with several more currently in process. James is married to a Costa Rican, and proud father of 3 daughters ages 7,10, and 20. James, is well respected among the local and foreign community, and carries high ethical standards, and a hard working family man that seeks to provide his customers with the best level of service possible. James goes out of his way to seek out new frontiers that are ahead of the wave, and specializes in rural and remote farmland, developing land and collecting legacy type of properties. Surfing big waves, fishing, hiking, and travel are favorite pastimes. Daily goal is a new discovery. Approaching 20 years of living in Costa Rica, James knows his territory well, and has much love for his new country and it's people, and will guide you well, and share his resources and local knowle​d​ge with you to make your new venture successful.​ ​