Bordering Corcovado National Park is the Guaymi Indian Reservation. Located in the clouded forest high in the mountains, the Guaymi Indians have lived in this region for thousands of years. They moved to the reserve in the 1970s. A nomadic people, the Guaymi Indians occupied southern central Costa Rica and Western Panama. Today they sill live a semi-nomadic life, despite their permanent settlements. They strive to retain their cultural traditions. Fortunately because of the remoteness of the Osa Peninsula, they have preserved their cultural heritage. The Guaymi Indians are the largest surviving indigenous population in Costa Rica.
Upon visiting the reserve, you will see native women dressed in colorful traditional clothing and hear them speaking in their native language. The women make characteristic hats from a local tree bark to sell to tourists. While the economy is largely based on subsistence farming. In recent years, they have begun to participate in the region’s thriving ecotourism industry. Selling hand-crafted textiles, wood sculptures, and manufactured from local resources. The Guaymi Indian’s reliance on locally available resources is still deeply ingrained in their culture. For the most part, they are self-sufficient.
Many Guaymi Indian’s now live in wooden houses built on stilts in order to protect their homes from flooding during the rainy season, and they cook over wood burning stoves. There are hints of outside influence including solar panels mounted on houses. The Guaymi for the most part are largely assimilated into Costa Rica culture but retain their cultural knowledge and traditions.
A semi-nomadic people who are largely poor, the Guaymi Indian’s depend on the coffee harvest for income. They are still permitted to travel freely across the Panama border during the harvest time and maintain many of their traditional migration routes. They are self-sufficient with each community growing its own crops such as corn, yucca, beans and rice. The Guaymi Indians allow tours of the reserve as well. The ability to generate income aids them in preserving their culture.
A day hike to the reserve is an adventure through some of the regions stunning rainforest. Walking through the forests bordering Corcovado, it takes approximately five hours to reach the reserve . The Guaymi, like most of the world’s indigenous populations, inhabit one of the most biologically diverse places in the world and play a critical role in conservation efforts. Perhaps, by studying the Guaymi, we get a glimpse into how to manage our natural resources in a way that is both balanced and responsible
Crocodile Bay organizes day trips to the reserve with an experienced guide.