During Easter weekend, I took an eight-hour bus ride from San José, Costa Rica to David, Panama, and then a 45- to 60-minute bus ride from David to Boquete, a mountain town in the foothills of Barú, Panama’s only volcano and the country’s highest peak at 3,474 meters above sea level. Barú Volcano National Park is adjacent to the international park that Costa Rica and Panama share, called La Amistad (The Friendship), though it is far smaller than La Amistad, at around 14,000 hectares compared with 207,000. I was joined on the four-day weekend trip by my friend and coworker, Jocelyn, who had never been to Panama before, and we enjoyed hiking the conservation areas above the town of Boquete, admiring the many waterfalls in the region and also looking for the high-elevation bird species native to the cloud forest, many of which are endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama, as I wrote in my previous volcano-related post.
In addition to the national park, which charges $5 for entrance and has two main trails (one to the peak of the volcano, which takes about five hours to ascend, and one across the forest and part of the mountain ride, called Sendero Los Quetzales), there are some private forest reserves that charge a small admission fee. One is called the Lost Waterfalls Trail, which features three cascades and costs $7; another is called the Pipeline Trail, which follows a series of water tubes to the source and costs $3.
In two days of hiking, Jocelyn and I saw 87 species of birds total, 34 of which I had never seen before. Unfortunately, my camera broke in the week leading up to the trip, so I had to resort to “digiscoping” with my old binoculars and my phone camera. More on that, along with some photos of the birds we saw, in the next post!