Following you will find a list of our favorite trekking and hiking destinations:
The Baru National Park trek takes you to the summit of Panama’s only volcano and is considered one of the most interesting trekking destinations in Central America. The six-hour trek is an excellent and quite challenging outing for those in good shape. The Baru National Park is home to abundant wildlife, including pumas, tapirs and beautiful birds such as the famous resplendent Quetzal, the Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Silvery-throated Jay, Black-faced Solitaire and the Barred Becard. On a clear day, it is possible to admire both oceans from Baru’s top.
The Sleeping Indian Maiden is the most famous of the mountains located along the rim of the El Valle volcanic crater, jutting out from the Continental Divide. The hike will take you up a trail along tropical rainforest streams and falls, past ancient rock carvings. You will enjoy the sounds and sights of the forest as you wind through small fruit farms and a mountain sugar mill tucked within the trees. At the top of the crater you will find an ancient Indian cemetery. The descent will render breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the village down below.
One of the most popular trails in western Panama is Los Quetzales Trail, which connects the towns of Cerro Punta and Boquete. The trail meanders through a thick and lush cloud forest teeming with colorful birds and offering and endless array of panoramic lookout points and crystalline streams. The hike is much easier if started at Cerro Punta since it is 3,000 ft. higher than Boquete so the trail is mostly downhill. However, if you are fit and looking for a workout, you shouldn’t have any problems going uphill. You may also hike for the first two hours starting in Boquete and then retrace your footsteps as this is arguably the most beautiful stretch in the trail and you may even spot a resplendent quetzal. The complete Los Quetzales Trail is about 6 miles so you should be planning about 6-7 hiking uphill and about 4 if walking downhill.
Nusagandi Kuna Jungle (Guna Yala)
The premontane rainforest of the PEMASKY (Project for the Study and Management of Wilderness Areas of Guna Yala) located at Nusagandi in the eastern foothills of Panama has been rated as one of the top ten in the world by Smithsonian scientists in terms of flora and fauna. The Kuna General Congress created this reserve to protect “back doors” from the creeping deforestation caused by the Pan American Highway and adjacent roads. With the help of the McArthur foundation and the World Wildlife Fund, the Kuna people built a rustic wooden lodge that is basic and clean, with hostel-style dormitories, bunk beds and separate toilets and shower facilities.
Two-night tours include hikes with local guides through one of the beautiful Kuna trails, where you can observe different bird species such as the speckled antshrike, black-headed antthrush and black-crowned antpitta among others. This area is famous among Audubon birdwatchers and nature lovers since its forest is connected directly to the jungles of Darien through the mountain range, offering outstanding opportunities to view many species of flora and fauna and enjoy beautiful waterfalls.
The Panama Canal Basin offers great trekking opportunities for both novices and experienced hikers alike. La Laguna Trail is one of the easiest hikes in the area. This friendly walk takes visitors through a protected track of tropical forest situated on the grounds of the Gamboa Resort. Along the walk, general aspects of tropical ecology including inter-relationships between plants and animals are discussed. Another popular spot for hikers and nature lovers is the Barro Colorado Nature Monument–the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s most important site for the study of moist tropical forests. During tours of the largest island in the Panama Canal , visitors learn why this site has become the world’s most renowned tropical research center. A more demanding tour is the one that follows the historic trail of Las Cruces, which was used by the conquistadores to cross the isthmus during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Las Cruces Trail was used in colonial times to transport the gold of the Incas from Peru, Baja California and Chile along its route to Spain. The gold and treasure was transported across the Panamanian Isthmus to Panama City and finally to Portobelo where it was loaded onto ships and sent on to Spain. Today’s visitors may experience the trail much as the conquistadors did over 500 years ago. The Panamanian tamarin, two-toed and three-toed sloth, and howler monkeys are among the attractions of the park.