What happens when a Canadian, a Brit, an Italian, a Panamanian and five Americans attempt to conquer a volcano in the name of conservation? Victory! Well thats 12 hrs and 26 kilometers (17 miles) later….
The Alouatta Sanctuary staff and friends decided it would make a great fundraiser to hike the volcano in exchange for support for our cause. What we didn’t know is that this was not any regular volcano, this was Panama’s largest mountain at 3,474 metres (11,398 ft) high with 13,000 ft of elevation change that we would hike.
So at 11:30 pm we left Boquete and grabbed a taxi up to the trailhead. We started on the hike around midnight with everything pitch black around us.
Along the way, we met a few new friends including this tarantula. We weren’t afraid though because tarantulas primarily perceive their surroundings via tiny hair-like sensory organs instead of their eyes, so if you don’t bother them they will not bother you.
The hike was long and up. We couldn’t see anything except the spot of light that was illuminated by our headlamps, so we had to continue forward. We took breaks for water and snacks, but couldn’t stop for too long because the temperature was dropping. As we climbed, it became closer and closer to 40 degrees F and then dropped below that. Few of us had more than a sweatshirt.
We summited around 5:30 am. We had been hiking almost straight since midnight. We had hiked almost 2,000 meters up (7,500 ft) and it was cold. Normally the sun rose around 6:20 am although since we were so high up, we wanted to account for any fluctuation in viewing time. We soon learned that there was little fluctuation…after we sat in the windy dark in almost freezing weather for an hour.
But around 6:20am all of our hard work finally paid off. The sun began to rise and it was magnificent.
We decided that we wanted to hike up to the absolute highest point- the Cross. From this point, on a clear day, you could see both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans- I’ve been told that this is the only spot in the world where this is possible.
I finally made it!! Sun and all! You can see the waves of clouds below still covering Boquete.
This will definitely go down in my life as the best sunrise I have ever seen. Absolutely spectacular. I’m afraid little be able to compare in the future.
So as far as top adventures in Panama go, I would definitely have to recommend hiking the Volcan Baru. Although it may not be for the faint of heart, the views are certainly worth the effort. ~B