At 3,475 meters (11,400 feet), "el Volcan Baru" is the highest point of Panama. To get the most out of this hike, we invest two days to complete the 27 km to the top of the Baru Volcano and back to Boquete. In this way we are able to have an incredible camping experience, have a rest after the first 13.5 km up and then reach the Volcano's peak just in time to admire how a spectacular sky full of stars (and sometimes a full moon) gives away to a magical sunrise and if we are lucky enough, to the most incredible view of Panama's both coastlines.
We meet at a pre-arranged point to check that all the necessary gear and camping equipment is in place and start getting acquainted with the rest of our fellow hikers who will accompany us for the following 30 hours. Everybody is expected to have already had breakfast. A short security briefing is given by our tour guide and then we commence our journey.
Previously arranged transportation takes us on a 20 minute drive to where the real adventure begins. We start in the morning of the first day at the ranger station (where we also register by names and passports) at the entrance of "El Parque Nacional Volcan Baru" dressed comfortably to begin the hike with our backpacks full of food, water, extra clothing and with our bodies full of energy. If the group is of less than 6 hikers, then we also need to carry our tents, sleeping bags and stoves. If a large group we are going to do the hike we normally hire a driver and rent an ATV (Four Wheel All Terrain Vehicle) with a trailer attached to it to lighten our weight a bit. The ATV will transport all the camping gear (tents, sleeping bags and stoves) and extra water.
The scenery during the hike changes from rolling grass-covered hills to dense jungle to exposed rocky cliffs.
At the 9 km mark, there is a view of one of the craters, which is quite impressive. Extinct for nearly 500 years, the crater is completely covered with growth, as are the crater's walls. Some trails exist on the top, leading to either side of the crater. Other trails to smaller craters also exist, however, we are headed to conquer the Volcano's peak.
Timing depends on the amount of hikers and their physical condition. Expect from 4 to 7 hours until we get to the camping site known as "Los Fogones" at kilometer 12. Once we are there, we set up our tents, cook dinner and, make a nice camp fire. Some wine is poured around and we make a toast for a clear day and safe return. On full moon nights it is incredible. At just half an hour from the top, after the moon has set, on a clear night, you will be able to see more stars than you ever have seen before.
Next day, normally an hour before the sun rises, we hike the last kilometer and a half to the top. The morning sights are amazing. When the sun starts to rise, beautiful colors of purple, orange, pink and red appear. The sky slowly changes from black to blue while the clouds dissipate and re-form due to the temperature changes caused by the rising sun. This is the best moment to see the oceans. It is hard to put into words how amazing it is to watch this new day begin. You may have seen sunrises before, but surely few compare to one witnessed at the top of Baru.
On a clear day we can easily see the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. Panama is the only country in the world in which you can do this. After delighting ourselves with the views, the cold normally makes us choose to descend.
After taking dismantling the camping site we head back to Boquete. It normally takes 1 hour less to hike back down.
Camping Trip and Guided Hike
$ 175.00 per person
Prices includes: bilingual certified guide, transportation from downtown Boquete to Baru Volcano National Park entrance and back to Boquete at the end of the hike, entrance fee at ranger station, extra water, sleeping bag, tent, head lamp, pair of gloves, warm hat, sweater, gas canister and portable stove. Lunch, Dinner and Breakfast for the next day are provided, as well as some fruits and snacks.
- 8:30 a.m. Meet at your hotel
- 9:00 a.m. Depart to entrance of the Volcan Baru National Park.
- 9:20 a.m. Register names and passports at the ranger station. Pay park fees.
- 9:30 a.m. We start hiking.
- 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. Arrive to "Los Fogones" Camping Site and setup camp.
- 6:00 p.m. Start camp fire and begin cooking dinner.
- 7:30 p.m. Drink some wine, chill out, swap stories and count shooting stars.
- 10:00 p.m. Lights out.
- 5:00 a.m. Wake up and have something small to eat.
- 5:10 a.m. Start hiking the last part to the top of the Volcano.
- 5:55 a.m. Reach the top and choose your spot to contemplate heaven on Earth.
- 6:00 a.m. Contemplate.
- 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m. Head back to camping site.
- 8:45 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. Prepare breakfast, get ready to return and rest a little bit.
- 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Start hiking back.
- 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Arrive to ranger station.
- 2:10 p.m. - 4:10 p.m. Ride back to downtown Boquete.
- 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Arrive to your hotel.
Guided Trek Only
$ 89.00 per person
Prices includes: bilingual certified guide, transportation from downtown Boquete to Baru Volcano National Park entrance and back to Boquete at the end of the hike, entrance fee at ranger station, head lamp, pair of gloves, warm hat and sweater. Two meals, fruit and snacks are provided
- 5 a.m. or 11 p.m. Meet at your hotel
- 30 minutes to reach the Volcan Baru's National Park.
- 5 minutes to register names and passports at the ranger station. Pay park fees.
- 4 - 6 hours to reach the top of the Volcano and choose a spot to contemplate.
- 1 - 2 hours to contemplate and have breakfast or lunch (depends on the time we leave).
- 3.5 to 5.5 hours to hike down the Volcano.
- 30 minutes to drive back to downtown Boquete.
- At the end of the excursion, 12 hours to rest properly... at least.
- A backpack
- 4 liters of drinking water (at least)
- Snacks, chocolate bars, energy bars (meals and fruit are provided)
- Shoes in good condition for hiking
- A digital camera with enough batteries and memory space
- Rain coat or waterproof jacket
- A high level of stamina, eagerness to face the challenge and a huge appetite for adventure