Details on Hiking Cerro Kamuk as of March 2020
There is a well maintained (no signage) 55 kilometer trail that leads from Tres Colinas to the summit of Cerro Kamuk. Tres Colinas is a small community up the mountain from Portero Grande, four-wheel drive is needed to make it up the road. Kamuk is located within the boundaries of La Amistad International Park. Entry to the park is currently controlled by Asotur Tres Colinas, a non-profit community organization based in Tres Colinas. A guide is required to enter the park via the trail which starts in Tres Colinas (further info below).
The trek is 55 kilometers round trip with three designated camp areas along the route. Camp 1 is located just after kilometer 10 kilometres (6 mi) along a small creek, camp 2 is at kilometer 18 kilometres (11 mi) and also along a creek, and camp 3 is at kilometer 25 kilometres (16 mi) (there may not be water available in periods of drought at this site), the summit is at kilometer 27.5 kilometres (17 mi). The trail follows the ridge the whole time and crosses many peaks including: Kutsi, Bekom, Kasir, Nai, Dudo, and Apri before arriving at Kamuk. Water is only easily accessible at camp areas. As of this writing each camp area has several large permanent group tent areas erected meaning it is not necessary to bring your own tent. There is also some cookware/ soap available at camp areas, as well as, pit latrines. Trail likely to be mucky in places in the wet season; see wikipedia page for flora/ fauna descriptions. As compared to the popular Cerro Chirripo the trail to Kamuk is less used and is a nice foot trail (not as eroded/ wide) with a wilder feel.
Some groups take 5 nights to do this trail, but a local guide that helped to build the trail told us he has made the trek to the summit and back in 14 hours as a day hike. The summit is non-technical. Avid backpackers in good condition could easily do this as a 2 night trip with both nights spent at camp 2 and the summit treated as a day hike.
Logistics of Access
Access to the trail is primarily managed through the community-based non-profit organization called Asotur Tres Colinas. The National System of Conservation Areas or SINAC also has a station in Tres Colinas, but as of March 2020 it is not being staffed.
Asotur has very specific rules about how they manage access/ assign guides for trips to Cerro Kamuk (there is more flexibility if you are going on a shorter trip into the park/ not summitting Kamuk). If you wish to summit: you must pay for a guide and pay entry to the park. Additionally, there are multiple certified guides and there is a schedule used which predetermines which guide will be taking people up to Kamuk at which time of the month. Of important note, Asotur also regulates which lodging you must stay at in Tres Colinas the night before and upon return from the trek, as well as where you may eat! This is also based on a schedule and is a system that is supposed to distribute business equally among people in the small community.
Charges with exchange rate based on 3/2020
-Per Group (2-9 people): 178,000 colones (~$315)
-Additional charges for gear if you don't bring your own
- Each international visitor must also pay per person to SINAC (through Asotur):
$16 for each day of backpacking in the park (charged like $10/day and $6/night) ; $28/night for lodging in Tres Colinas, $5/breakfast and $10 per dinner
Though it is not always their turn to guide to Kamuk I highly recommend getting in touch with Freddy and Yendry (Finca los colibris-they are on airbnb- Mt. Cabin-Cerro Kamuk) when you are up in Tres Colinas. Freddy is a guide with Asotur, but they also run their own personal business with access to a lot of private land which you may hike on your own if you're staying with Freddy and Yendry. They both grew up in the area, are avid naturalists, and they run a trout farm, and make delicious meals. They are primarily Spanish speaking.