This community-oriented rural tourism initiative was born out of the necessity to find sources of employment while conserving the natural environment of Rancho Quemado, a town located 15km east of Drake Bay in the scenic Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve, in the heart of the Osa Peninsula.
For many years, this community was characterized by its agriculture and cattle activities; however, as prices for these products fell and production costs rose, its citizens had to find other activities to make a living. Many chose tourism and emigrated to nearby destinations like Drake Bay and Puerto Jimenez. Meanwhile, in the area around Rancho, high levels of unemployment resulted in a series of environmental problems such as poaching, cutting of trees, and more.
Then in 2009, the Development Association of Rancho Quemado along with the support of the University of Costa Rica proposed help design a community hiking trail which would be administered by the Development Association. This was an attractive idea because 'Rancho' already had 25 tourism projects in 3 areas: Food/Lodging, Production, and Tours/Services. These had the aim of improving community entrepreneurs and promoting Rancho Quemado as a tourist destination, working as a community to achieve its initiatives, increase the income of the families, and reduce the environmental problems caused in recent years.
Next began a series of steps to gain the appropriate permits to be able to use the land for the development of the Osa Trail as well as to coordinate trainings of business administration and tourism by UCR, the Corcovado Foundation, INA, and the Neotropica Foundation. Further, the community was able to receive funds from various NGOs like the Corcovado Foundation, FACOSA and CRUSA. Another important development was the program “advancing women” INAMU-IMAS in the community during 2012 which strengthened 16 women entrepreneurs and constitutes the Women’s Hope Committee of Rancho Quemado.
These projects are the result of 2 years of trainings given by the Neotropica Foundation and the Corcovado Foundation financed by the debt for nature swap fund between Costa Rica and the USA. Some of the entrepreneurs are founders of the first rural tourism cooperative in Osa: COOPERTURIC.
It is a result of this that the majority of the entrepreneurs’ projects are already in operation, have tourism experience, and have a clear vision of sustainable development, which will help Rancho Quemado become a new tourism destination in this part of Costa Rica.