Panama’s Chiriqui Highlands have so much to offer adventurous visitors. From national parks, mountains, to protected reserves and spectacular views of the glistening Caribbean Sea; it is impossible to be disappointed if you are an outdoor enthusiast.
Situated in the western part of the country, Chiriqui borders the Pacific Ocean and Costa Rica and boasts lovely towns and a diverse landscape. Coming here means witnessing amazing natural scenery, which is composed of virgin rainforests and cloud forests, housing a wide range of fauna. Because of its cool climate, domestic and international tourists make their way here, to get away from the hot and humid temperature experienced in the lowlands.
The region is home to Baru, the largest dormant volcano in Panama. To see this 3475-meter high magnificent giant up close, you can go for the Los Quetzales Trail, which not only offers spectacular views of the volcano, but also exposes you to various forested habitats. If you are interested in reaching the peak, the most convenient way is to drive up in a 4WD vehicle.
Situated in the boundaries of the summit is the Parque Nacional Volcan Baru (Baru Volcano National Park). The park encompasses around 14,000 hectares, and it is close to La Amisted International Park. Around the park area, there are many scenic hiking paths you can take. Because of the rich black volcanic soil on the region’s grounds, you can find several coffee plantations and vegetable farms in between the tourist resorts. Some of the popular plantations you should consider visiting are Cafe Ruiz and Finca Lerida.
The Volcan Baru is only one of the prominent highland areas in the Chiriqui region, locally called Tierras Altas de Chiriqui. The other two major areas are Boquete and Cerro Punta. Boquete is situated in the Eastern Highlands’ vicinity, and lies in a valley of the same name. Over the years, it has become a notable resort town because of the excellent lodging facilities, and for being a good base for outdoor excursions. It is blessed with a great geographical location as it is in close proximity with many parks, which include the Parque de las Madres. In addition, Boquete is widely known as a quality coffee producer. You can easily find an established tour operator or a freelance tour guide to show you around the local coffee plantations and facilities.
River rafting is one of the thrilling sports in the Chiriqui, and has become an all-time favorite among the adventurous visitors. The two main spots for this rafting are the rivers of Viejo and Chiriqui. These rivers are only about an hour drive from David, which is the third largest city in the country. If you wish to spend some time in the city, don’t forget to explore its colonial center as well as its main attractions like the St. Joseph Cathedral and Jose de Obaldia History and Art Museum.
The period from December to March is considered the best time to visit the Chiriqui Highlands because of the comfortable weather. During these months, you can try several outdoor activities like horse riding, bird watching, fishing, rafting and hiking. While it may get chilly at night, and in the early mornings, the highland area will most likely be sunny and beautiful and perfect for your exploration.