This mountain is the only spot in the world where (early in the day) you can see both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans at the same time. The hike is steep but easy to follow climbing through the rain forest. Panama is home to at least 940 different species of birds, and holds various world records for many years in bird counts and observations. This area is noted for the famous, but elusive quetzal a large beautifully plumed bird with a distinct call (the quetzales eluded me on my visit). The hike is along an often steep and rutted fire road. Most vehicles even four wheel drives have trouble with this climb. There are a couple makes of autos that the Panamanians advise will actually make the treacherous road. The hike is approx. 14km each way.
Get to Panama via Panama City, get to Chiriqui Province via an amazing six or seven hour drive up the Pan American Highway along the Pacific side of Panama. Turn inland (for approx. one hour) in the town of David to reach Boquete the small mountain village which lies at the base of the mountain (a one hour flight is also available from Panama City to David). Directions to the trail are best obtained directly from your hotel or hostel in Boquete, but originates at the entrance to the Volcan Baru National Park. For those not staying overnight in Boquete, there is a nice tourist information center upon entering Boquete on a bluff to the right of the road overlooking the mountain town. Or ask the locals they know.
When To Climb
During the dry season (December to April). To see both oceans you need to arrive early in the morning on a clear day. The earlier the better. I hiked this mountain in September in the heart of the wet season. I had a pancho and raced the clouds up the mountain alternating between periods of light rain, sunshine and mist. Creating a nice hiking environment for those prepared for dampness. I arrived early in the afternoon at the summit, about ten minutes before the mist and clouds obscured the Atlantic coast and the Archipelago islands scattered in the Carribbean.
There is camping allowed in and around the mountain, however, I would recommend researching tours and fees for usage of these sites. There are two spots to note along the hike: the halfway point called the Road to Heaven and Los Fogones designated campsite that (if I saw it) was simply a nice tree with a clear spot underneath and maybe a trash can. There is also camping available in Boquete.
You are hiking through Panama's extensive rainforest. Be prepared for rain, mist and mystique. The general trend is that it is sunny in the mornings, humid all day, and as evaporation accumulates it climbs the mountain at approximately the speed of a fast hiker. Early in the afternoon expect the summit to become enveloped by clouds and cool dramatically. This mountain range known as Cordillera Central is unique to Panama in its cooler temperatures, particularly overnight.