Top Five Outdoor Activities To Experience in Panama
There are plenty of things that come to mind at the mention of Panama – gorgeous sunsets, pristine beaches and tropical weather, for starters. However, Panama is one of Central America’s greatest treasures, especially for outdoorsy types who love spending time in nature. Surrounded on both sides by ocean, and covered in lush forests and mountainous terrain, Panama’s unique landscape lends itself to numerous outdoor activities such as surfing, fishing, hiking and sailing, but there are plenty of lesser-known adventures to be had as well. We’ll get you one step closer to having the experience of a lifetime by providing some top outdoor activities to enjoy during your time in the beautiful country of Panama.
1.) Visit Nivida Bat Cave. – While the name might be intimidating at first glance, there’s no reason to be scared of Nivida Bat Cave. This wondrous cavern is home to swarms of harmless nectar bats that feed on Panama’s vast assortment of native fruits and vegetables. The same location features a subterranean lake that’s suitable for swimming, creating a memorable and eerie setting for a mid-day dip. Of course, there’s a reason that Nivida remains one of the area’s best-kept secrets. It’s only accessible by a scenic motorboat ride, which cruises through Isla Bastimento’s signature lush greenery. A trip to Nivida Bat Cave is only recommended with the direction of an experienced guide, so plan accordingly. Most tours end with a visit to the Bahia Honda indigenous community for a tasty lunch. This community is made up of about 20 indigenous families living near the bay, making for a truly authentic experience.
2.) Engage in Water Sports at Isla Carenaro. – Whether you’re an avid surfer, or just trying your luck at stand-up paddle boarding for the first time, there’s no shortage of aquatic escapades to enjoy at the famous surf school known as Escuela Del Mar located on beautiful Isla Carenaro. Call ahead to make reservations for a top-notch, three-hour surf class taught by Argentine Luis. You don’t have access to your own equipment? No worries – Escuela De Mar also offers Kayak, stand-up paddle and board rentals by the hour. Make reservations by calling (507) 757-9042.
3.) Take a hike on the Sendero Los Quetales trail. – This 8km trek may not be best for amateurs, but it’s an absolute must for thrill seekers. Most easily hiked from east to west due to Cerro Punta’s higher elevation, this trail connects the beautiful cities of Cerro Punta and Boquette, and takes between four and seven hours to complete. While much of the trail is easily visible, be aware of potential suspension bridges that will need crossing, especially the one that was recently constructed over Rio Caldero. Save some time by taking a four-wheel drive taxi to the beginning of the trail for about $25 per person, but know that road conditions may prevent this, depending on landslides or other potential natural obstacles. For the most convenient experience, leave your baggage in the city of David (where you can catch a bus back to Cerro Punta) and take only the bare essentials along with you on the walk, including cash for lodging and a nice meal in Boquette.
4.) Climb Volcán Barú, one of Panama’s only potentially active volcanos. – Many visitors aspire to climb to the summit Volcán Barú, where they can obtain picturesque views of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Pick a time when weather is cooperating, as the hike is challenging even on a clear day and those trek worthy views can become obstructed by cloud cover. Enter through the eastern park gate at El Salto if you want to experience a memorable drive through one of Panama’s most lush forests prior to your hike. Also, if you’re committing to this outdoor adventure, plan to spend at least one night on the mountain, as morning views tend to be the most impressive. Prepare for the cold at night, as conditions can get chilly in higher altitudes.
5.) See the waterfalls at Chorro de las Mozas. – Located about 1km outside of the southwest corner of El Valle is Chorro de las Mozas, (which translates to Waterfall of the Young Maidens), one of Panama’s most beloved natural waterfalls. Experience history and bliss in this scenic setting, where a prehistoric lake once existed. Over time the lake breached and transformed into the flowing cascades that still pour mightily today. The hike surrounding the falls tends to be slippery, so exercise caution during your climb, or opt instead to set up camp near a refreshing wading pool that’s closer to the ground. Because access leading to Chorro de las Mozas is not particularly well marked, this natural landmark remains a favorite among locals who come year round to sun bathe, swim and simply admire the stunning falls and deep pools in the comfort of El Valle’s nearly perfect weather.