CERRO PUNTA, VOLCAN AND BAMBITO
If you want to visit Chiriquí highlands but you prefer spots less touristic than Boquete, this area is the perfect option for you.
The first town you will meet is Volcan. It's less charming than Cerro Punta, bu it is a convenient place to stay because of its restaurants, lodges and handicraft shops. From here you can easily reach Sitio Barriles, a Pre-Columbian site located 5 km from the centre and the Area Silvestre Protegida Lagunas de Volcan, a system of lakes surrounded by lush vegetation, excellent spot for bird watching.
There's also an alternative entrance to the Parque Nacional Barú to reach the peak with impressive views but it's more technical than the hiking from Boquete.
From Volcan you can go west and enter in Costa Rica through the border of Rio Sereno or turn north to move to Cerro Punta.
On the way, you'll meet Bambito, a nice area where architecture and vegetation seem to belong to some traditional mountain village of Switzerland.
10 minutes later you'll arrive to Cerro Punta ( 1800 mt). It's the best access to the National Parks of Barú and La Amistad: in this place was actually founded an European colony, this explains the evident influence.
The main activity of local people is agriculture that supply a high percentage of the whole vegetable production of Panama. Above all strawberries are one of the specialities you can taste in many places along the main road.
An interesting attraction in the close village of Guadalupe, 3 km from Cerro Punta, is Finca Dracula, one of the most complete collections of fine American orchid of the world.
Sendero Los Quetzales
This is the most accessible trail of the National Park Volcano Barú. It's one of the best places in Central America to spot the Resplendent Quetzalcoatl, especially in the dry season from December to April, best period also to hike.
The trail connects Cerro Punta to Boquete (8 km) and from here is easier because Cerro Punta is 1000 mt higher than Boquete. It Takes 4-5 hours but you have to add other 15 km at the beginning and at the end from the 2 towns to their respective entrance. Better take a taxi if it's too challenging for you. You can stay overnight or come back taking a bus to David and then to Cerro Punta (about 2-3 hours, the last from David is at 6 pm).
La Amistad International Park
It's a park established in 1988 by Panama and Costa Rica and it's part of the Meso American Biological Corridor having great importance for the wildlife present here.
The most accessible entrance is in the small village of Las Nubes, 7 km from Cerro Punta.
Another entrance is in the province of Bocas del Toro in the village of Wekso, home of the Naso tribe, a small group of indigenous. This is instead more difficult to reach and hike. The same natives provide services like lodging and guided tours, so you need to speak a fluent Spanish.
The closest airport is David E. Malek connected with Panama City.
take a bus to David and then one to Cerro Punta from the same terminal. It also stops along the way in Volcan and Bambito.
From Costa Rica through Paso Canoas take a bus to David and drop off at the turnoff on the Pan American in correspondence of Concepcion.
Through the border of Rio Sereno take a bus to Volcan.
driving on the Pan American you'll find the turnoff to Volcan in Concepcion, 26 km west of David. Follow the nice road to Volcan (about 30 minutes): once arrived, go straight to approaching Rio Sereno or turn right to get to Bambito and Cerro Punta.
From Boquete there's an alternative panoramic road to reach Volcan, avoiding David and the Pan American: going down on the main road turn right to Potrerillo Abajo and follow this way until Cuesta de Piedra, the turn right on the main road to Volcan.