PPP #08 Conquering Volcán Barú

This was an extraordinary hiking trip full of firsts. I have never ever before been hiking

It all begins at the Albrook bus station in Panamá City. In the night from Friday to Saturday at midnight we take the bus to David, Chiriquí. The bus system in Panamá seems reliable and this particular bus was comfortable. For some reason we ended up in the VIP section without really paying any more. We took the opportunity and enjoyed! The ride lasted about six hours and the next morning we safely arrived in David. We took a small break and it didn't take long until we found ourselves sitting in the next bus towards Boquete, a small city close to the volcano.

After our arrival and a short breakfast, we took the chance of our free time and explored Boquete and its surroundings a little. The strong greens and clear blue sky, but also parts of the architecture reminded me of my hikes in Switzerland last summer. The sights are amazing and the tropical flora were the perfect "exotic" touch for me.

Small river running through Boquete

In the hostel Valle de las Flores we spent the rest of the day relaxing, watching the ongoing football matches of Euro '16 and Copa Centenario '16. After all, the night would be a rough one. The plan was to leave at Saturday midnight, climb the mountain at night and watch the sunrise on the summit. After all, watching a sunrise from a total height of about 3,500m above sea level must be impressive! At 23:30 we took the shuttle to the foot of the mountain and started the hike. The roads were rough with big rocks everywhere.

Rocky roads and fog near the volcano summit

Treading lightly, we made our way through the night past endless walls of trees. After about an hour of walking we reached a glade where the darkness seized and the ground was lit by the dim moonlight. We turned off our lamps and watched the astonishingly clear sky. At this altitude it felt like there was nothing between me and the stars. While we were admiring the beauty of the cosmos, multiple shooting stars passed by!

The clear night sky

After six hours of hiking, having travelled 13km, we finally made it to the top - just in time! To our disappointment, there were big clouds in the way so that there was just a slit of red light making it through. Nonetheless, the experience of reaching your limits and being rewarded with an amazing view above clouds itself was worth the trip.

Panorama of the sunrise with clouds from the summit

The six hours of hiking down again, were an absolute torture. Arriving in the hostel after 12 hours of pure hiking and more than 26km distance travelled, we all were finished. We did not see a clear sunrise. Also, if the conditions are very well, you can see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. That did not happen either, however the feeling of success displaces even the smallest doubt that it was not worth it.

Here's another small video with some impressions. Enjoy!