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The beauteous Barú in all her mysterious splendor, from the Cerro Punta side.

We just returned from our latest weekend trip to Cerro Punta, a lovely farming community northwest of Boquete and on the far side of Volcan Baru. It’s one of our favorite places for a weekend visit, and at 6,000 feet, it’s a good place to do some hiking and work on our altitude tolerance for our upcoming trip to Peru in the fall. Yesterday, we spent the morning hiking Amistad (Friendship) National Park, so named because it straddles the Panama/Costa Rica border and is managed by both countries.

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Throughout Cerro Punta, you see fields under cultivation that are literally up the sides of the mountains

Starting from the Las Nubes Ranger Station, we huffed up to 8,000 feet on Sendero La Cascada (Inca Trail, here we come!) and then back down into a steep ravine to reach a lovely waterfall.

We were pleasantly surprised to find an almost-paved road all the way up to the Las Nubes station, much improved from our previous visit to Cerro Punta. The ranger station is easy to find, a few klicks northeast of town. For more information about Cerro Punta, here’s a post we did from a previous trip.

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Stunning cloud formations near Cerro Punta

 

As the largest nature reserve in Central America, Amistad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a true cloud forest. Even in this month, the driest in Panama, the forest was dripping and other-worldly. Since the panoramic views were shrouded by fog, we took in the fantastically detailed flora instead.  Surrounded by so many exotic plants, much of them looking like holdovers from some prehistoric age, we kept expecting a velociraptor or T-rex to surprise us around the next bend!

 

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Heading out on the Sendero La Cascada
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Working our way down the steep ravine
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The view from the bottom!
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John leaves his cairn
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A dew-covered spider web
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Leaflike moss on the rocks
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One of the many otherworldly plants we saw
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We also see these beauties over on our side of the volcano, but they’re usually red, not pink
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Heading back up the ravine
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A wild ginger (we think)
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A splash of yellow
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A lovely wild heliconia
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Huge fiddlehead ferns pushing up from the forest floor
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That’s a big fern!
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Yes, these leaves were this big, and we saw much bigger!
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A pop of purple
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The reward at the end – lunch at Mana, in a historic lodge that claims to be the oldest building in the town of Volcán

 

16 Comments

  1. LISA WHITEHEAD Reply

    Fantastic post ~ thank you, plan to visit this sometime in the near future … looking forward to your posts on Peru.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks – we’re looking forward to those posts as well 🙂

  2. Simply a stunning area! I so wish we had been able to do more hiking when we were in Boquete, but it is great to hear about the hikes from you.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Likewise – we’re enjoying your reports of places we’ll be visiting soon, like Peru!

  3. Beautiful place for a hike, so lush, green…but very steep in places. I am also practicing for hiking in Peru in June. When are you going to be there?

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Gilda – we haven’t finalized our dates yet but it will be three weeks in late Sept – early Oct.

  4. Lush? Gorgeous? Luxuriant? Magical? All that and more. I wish we’d been able to see it when we lived in Boquete, though parts of it look like a broken ankle waiting to happen. More, please!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Yes, all of the above adjectives! But I’m sure there are places in Colombia that are equally magical. Let’s go find them!

  5. What an amazing hike and how wonderful to have it so near to where you live. I remember the ginormous, prehistoric leaves of some of the plants and ferns and Costa Rica’s cloud forests as being, to use your phrase, other-worldly and totally enchanting! Anita

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Anita! There’s nothing quite like a cloud forest . . .things grow there that can’t survive anywhere else.

  6. Hi John and Susan,

    Panama looks so incredibly gorgeous. We lived deep in the jungles around Bribri, Costa Rica a few years ago. Not far from Panama at all; a trip down the road from Puerto Viejo. Lovely looking place.

    Ryan

  7. John and Susan Pazera Reply

    Thanks for your comment, Ryan! We also spent some time in Costa Rica when we sailed there on our boat. It’s such as lovely country.

  8. What a magnificent array of vegetation! And well done with that spider web photo! Not easy to capture those as well as you have here.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      I know what you mean about the web photos – the light has to be just right and it helps when there are water droplets on the web. Thanks for your comment!

  9. The short hike we took last year in Amistad was unforgettable-it truly is “other worldly”. It had such a surreal quality to it, from the flora and fauna to the remote cool, dark climate. Thanks for the post.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      So glad you enjoyed it! When we tell people we live in Panama, some of them think we spend all our time at the beach. Not that many people are aware of the cloud forest and all of its treasures. It really is our favorite part of the country.

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