Located in Central America connecting Costa Rica and Columbia, nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, this breathtaking country is known for its beautiful desert islands, rainforests, mountain vistas, and ocean views. This diverse landscape offers exceptional hiking and horseback riding opportunities for both travelers and those surfing in Panama. From simple strolls to strenuous days hikes appropriate for the advanced hiker, Panama’s stunning countryside offers myriad trails to choose from.
Volcan Baru National Park offers a magnificent mountain trail up to Panama’s highest peak, at 11,400 feet. It is 27km to the top of this volcanic peak and back and is not a hike for the faint of heart. Many guided tours offer this trek as a two-day trip experience. Make sure to plan ahead before setting out on Volcan Baru with plenty of water and food. It is also recommended that you begin your hike at around midnight, as you will then reach the peak in time to watch the spectacular sunrise.
The Sendero Los Quetzales trail is one of Panama’s most popular hikes, especially for wilderness enthusiasts hoping to glimpse the Quetzal birds or other local animal species. Also located within the Volcan Baru National Park, this hike is somewhat less strenuous than the Volcan Baru trail, at only 9.6 km roundtrip taking most hikers on average 4-7 hours. Although the path is marked along the way, this trail is very dense with forest and lush vegetation and for inexperienced hikers, a guide may be useful.
Pipeline Road is another top choice for birdwatching enthusiasts. Approximately 15 miles outside of Panama City, this trail is relatively short and not too steep. Spotting wildlife in the rainforest can be difficult for the untrained eye, however, and you may find it worth paying to have a guide come along.
A shorter and flatter hike is the Peña Blanca located in the Boquetes. Here the wildlife is abundant with Quetzales, monkeys, sloths, and other animals. A more family appropriate trail or for those looking for more of a relaxing stroll, the Peña Blanca trail is filled with lovely waterfalls and lush vegetation.
Another family-friendly trail is can be found in the La Amistad International Park. Trekkers can take the 15 to 20-minute stroll along the base path. Those interested in a slightly more intense hike can travel about an additional hour beyond to the bamboo gardens. Approximately two more hours uphill through the jungle and hikers will reach a scenic waterfall and lovely views looking down onto the country.
La Novia de la Montaña, which translates to “The Lady of The Mountain” is a short but spectacular hike. There are trees along this trail up to hundreds of years old, as well as gorgeous waterfalls and depending on the seasons, beautiful plant and flower species. This trail received its name from the rocks along the path, which is said to show the face of a woman. If you hike this path, make sure to bring a bathing suit as well. It is customary that upon completion of the trail, one take’s a dip in the mountain’s refreshing falls.