When you hear “Panama”, first come up its canal connecting the Atlantic Ocean with Pacific and money laundering banks in Panama City. The canal is an architectural masterpiece and banks are hmm… useful, but HEY! They have much more to offer than Panama City and Bocas del Toro islands. Of course, if you have only two weeks of holidays and want to relax with a drink on the golden sand beach, then you might not be interested in what we want to propose today. From the other hand, if you are born to explore and during even short vacations, want to find undiscovered and off beaten paths, please sit tight 😊 Here we go:
We will focus on the northern part of the country, which is yellow fever free. You can travel safely without worrying about vaccination, which might be an expensive add-on in your country. Of course, if you are jungle lover and well prepared, we highly recommend seeing Darien National Park, called Darien Gap. We skipped it because we haven't been vaccinated. We took jabs later in Bogota, completely free of charge.
The legal tender in Panama is the American dollar. This makes shopping a lot easier, but not the cheapest country in Central America. Well, still you can easily travel on a backpacker’s budget, like us.
The first point worth to stop by and visit in Panama will be Valle de Anton (Eng. Anton Valley), which is just a stone’s throw away from the Panama City.
TIP: You can find cheaper accommodation in the capital of region – Anton. The town is about 45 min away from the valley and believe us, this is a dead city. There’s nothing to do and where to go. It is slightly cheaper than Valle de Anton, but we don’t recommend staying over there and struggling with buses and boring town.
Interesting fact about Valle de Anton is, that city was built in a crater of an extinct volcano and is surrounded by beautiful, mountainous landscapes. From there you can choose shorter or longer hiking trails, everyone will find something for themselves.
Below are some of the routes:
La India Dormida – sleeping Indian, a quite easy route, but might be tricky. Use maps.me app, which has all trails marked, so you won’t get lost. If there’s someone to collect money, then the entrance cost 3$. If you go through the northern entrance, you will find a huge rock covered with petroglyphs (esp. Piedra Pintada), which is dating back from the Pre-Columbian era, possibly to 8000 years ago. There’s no exact answer about the meaning of drawings which cover the rock.
Cerro Gaital – the highest point in Anton Valley at 1185 meters. You will need whole day to finish this trail. Unfortunately we couldn’t do it ☹
El Chorro Macho Waterfalls – 5$ entrance fee
Because of lack of the time, we hadn’t had a chance to do all those trails. On this blog, you will find all the details about the valley and more details regarding trails
Some of our shots from the trekking to La India Dormida and some unknown trails.
Next place where we’d like to take you is Calobre. You can catch a direct bus from Panama City to Santiago and then change for a local one, going directly up there. You won’t find there any hotels or a different type of accommodation, there’s only one little hostel which offers two double rooms with AC and TV for about 15$ a night. When you call them, you’ll get a better price than from booking.
This was our starting point for hikes to:
TIP: To get there just hop on the bus going to Chitra, the tiny village and ask a driver to stop at La Yeguada camping spot. From there you need to go and/or try to hitch-hike, or if you will have some luck, you might spot a pickup truck with extra seats outside the cabin, as a public transport, which will take you to the beginning of the trail. You must be prepared with food and lots of water because there are no shops at all. It’s a very remote area.
TIP:To get there you must catch a bus from Calobre or Santiago to Chitra again, but this time ask a driver to stop by an entrance to La Silampa. You won`t find there any stores, so be prepared with food and water for a whole day. It’s not the easiest trekking and might take a few hours to reach, especially when you get lost like us, but it’s absolutely worth every drop of your sweat. You can start a hike around 10 am to be sure there won’t be any people at the waterfall. Most of the tourists come very early in the morning to enjoy the sun, but we preferred to be alone. Just check out this gorgeous place.
We have visited also one very small village, between nowhere. Lady who gave us the ride invited us to her house deep in the jungle. This sounds funny, but we never asked for its name. 90% of people live there without electricity. On top of that, we got bitten by bedbugs, which is a truly unforgettable experience.
Worth to notice is that hitch-hiking works really well in Panama. Usually, after 5 to 10 minutes we had a ride.
We are sure, that Panama has more beautiful places to go, but people we met there seemed to us quite weird and after a month of travelling across the country, we have decided to not come back. At least for some time.
Do you have any experience or memories from Panama?
Thanks for staying with us,