Parque Nacional Volcán Barú, Panama
 This 14, 300-hectare national park is home to Volcán Barú, which is Panama’s only volcano as well as the dominant geographical feature of Chiriquí. Although Volcán Barú is no longer active (there is in fact no record of its most recent eruption), it has not one but seven craters. Its summit, which tops out at 3478m, is the highest point in Panama, and on a clear day it affords views of both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.
The national park is also home to the Sendero Los Quetzales, one of the most scenic treks in the entire country. As its name implies, the trail is one of the best places in Central America to spot the rare resplendent quetzal, especially during the dry season (November to April). However, even if the Mayan bird of paradise fails to show, the park is home to over 250 bird species as well as pumas, tapirs and the conejo pintado, a spotted raccoon-like animal.

For views from the summit of both the Pacific and the Caribbean coasts, climbing Volcán Barú is a goal of many visitors. It might not be worth it in poor weather, as the going is strenuous and rough, and there is little to see in cloud cover. You can enter the national park on the eastern (Boquete) and western (Volcán) sides of the volcano.

The eastern summit access from Boquete is the easier, but it involves a strenuous uphill hike along a 13.5km road that goes from the park entrance – about 8km northwest of the center of town – to the summit. The road is paved to the ranger station and several kilometers beyond. If you drive or taxi as far up as possible and then walk the rest of the way, it takes about five or six hours to reach the summit from the park gate; walking from town would take another two or three hours each way.

We recommended you hike at night, starting at 11pm or midnight and arriving at dawn to see the sunrise. But for this you’ll need to hire a guide and be prepared for the cold. Another option is to spend the night. Camping will also allow you to be at the top during the morning, when the views are best.

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