Trail to Volcan Baru




Volcan Baru forms the focal point of a sumptuous National Park that shares its name. The highest point in Panama, it has become a Mecca for outdoor adventurers, bird-watchers and nature lovers of all kinds. It is quite probable that your first view of this 3474 m (11398 ft) high iconic symbol of the Central American rainforest will be fleeting, as the summit is usually shrouded in cloud. This is an important consideration when planning a climb and an early morning start is vital in order to maximize your chances of enjoying good views from the top. 

 

When the clouds clear, those who do make this arduous climb are greeted by the most wondrous of sights. A magnificent carpet of green lies before you, framed by the azure waters of both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Because of the volcano's height and isolation, this area is considered a bioclimatic island. Its forest is home to distinctive species of orchids and rare flora such as magnolia and giant oak trees, some of which are over 800 years old. You'll also see wild bamboo gardens and gigantic, knotted trees dripping with vines and sprouting prehistoric-looking bromeliads from their stems. 

 

The rainforest also provides a home to over 200 species of bird, the most notable of which is the resplendent quetzal, whose extraordinary beauty puts it in the number-one spot on many bird-watchers lists. Other rare birds here include the silky flycatcher, the three-wattled bellbird, and the hairy woodpecker. In higher reaches, an intermittent cloud forest creates an eerie ambience. All said, it is a wonderful place to hike and inunerse yourself in untamed beauty, but come prepared, with waterproof outerwear and shoes and a dry change of clothes just in case.

 

HOW
On foot

WHEN TO GO
Year round - it's almost deserted between November and March.

TIME IT TAKES
Allow a full day - 6 hours up, 4 hours down.

HIGHLIGHTS
The sounds of the jungle.
The misty forest.
EI Respingo - a bird-watcher's paradise, nearby.
The surrounding National Park.

YOU SHOULD KNOW
In 2007 the volcano was the scene of one of the most astonishing stories of endurance when the only survivor of a plane crash, a 12-year-old girl, was found, injured but alive after spending two nights alone in the jungle.
 

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