Tales from the Camino Real

“…The said trail is likewise very rugged, with many sierras and jagged peaks, and many valleys and rivers, and brave mountains and very dense jungles, and so difficult to walk, that without much toil and effort it cannot be done; and some men estimate the distance on this route to be eighteen leagues from sea to sea, and I hereby assert that they are a good twenty leagues, not because the path is longer than stated but because it is very bad indeed, which I have traversed twice on foot.”

Those are the words of Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, first Spanish Chronicler of “the Indies”, it’s incredible how so many things have changed over the last 400 years, and yet so many remain the same. So much so that Oviedo sounds like he just came back from one of our treks!

As we get ready to embark in another one of our jungle exploits, we just wanted to share with you all a little teaser from one of our recent expeditions. Although it may look like an ordinary backpacking trip, our journey was more than just another jungle hike. We were on a mission to unravel the fate of the most important thoroughfare in the Americas of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries: the Camino Real. Today, more than 250 years after the last mule train traversed the Isthmus, laden with Peruvian silver, the Camino Real is barely a hint of what it once was. Partially destroyed by urban sprawl; flooded by the lake that now provides water to the Panama Canal; and swallowed by the inexorable growth of the tropical vegetation, it is indeed a mystery how the archeological remains of this legendary jewel can still be admired in absolute defiance to the forces of nature and time…

February 21 2017