Panama (March 2018): Across the Cordillera Central from Boquete to Caribbean Coast


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This three-day trek took me from Boquete, a small town in the hills north of the Chiriqui province, to the ″suburbs″ of Punta Robalo on the shore of Laguna de Chiriqui (Caribbean coast), in the Bocas del Toro province, across the Central Cordillera of western Panama. See maps below. The itinerary roughly follows an old path (known as the Culebra trail) that was used by indigenous people (the Ngobe and Bugle) before the road connecting the Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro provinces over the cordillera was built. It now receives very little traffic, mostly indigenous people living in intermediate settlements and a handful of cattle owners from the Boquete area (like my guide Lauriano).


The first half of the trek crosses the crest of the cordillera and lies for the most part in uninhabited dense forests. The second half lies mostly in the Ngobe-Bugle Comarca (in Panama, a comarca is a region administered by indigenous people). With many ups and downs, it traverses an area alternating forests and pastures and passes by a number of Ngobe-Bugle settlements. Although I did the trek at the end of the dry season, the trails were still extremely muddy.




- Western Panama:



- Google Earth image with waypoints.


[Click here to access the GPS-recorded waypoints in Google Earth. Waypoint 00 is at the start of the trek in Boquete. Waypoint 26 is at the finish. Waypoints 14 and 18 are where we spent the two nights. Waypoint 14 points to the small finca owned by Lauriano. Waypoint 18 points to a Ngobe-Bugle settlement. In each case we slept in a house on dry ground. The total length of the path is about 30+km.]


For this trek I was accompanied by Lauriano (main guide) and Nikolas. Both were great strong companions, with a wonderful sense of humor.






To see pictures of this trek, click on the links below. However, it is impossible to capture the real atmosphere of the trek in pictures. The constant humidity and heat, the smells, and the noises, especially the loud howls of the howler monkeys and the suction noise made by the boots as they rise from the mud cannot be photographed. To compensate, the links below give access to many pictures, probably too many. Most, taken individually, are not particularly interesting, but I hope that their sequence presented in chronological order gives a reasonably good sense of this trekking experience.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3











Return to main Panama 2018 page | Return to my mountaineering/trekking/travel webpage