In the small town of Volcan, Panama, the fresh, mountain air is invigorating and a welcome change from the humid, tropical heat of the Chiriqui lowlands. Lush gardens and cypresses that whisper in the mountain breezes line much of the streets in this quiet town. Tranquil and perfect for walking, no matter you go in Volcan, Panama, the namesake of this pleasant town is always visible. “Volcan” means volcano and that’s exactly what the large, green mountain is that climbs into the sky just outside of town. Fortunately, though, dormant Volcan Baru is just as quiet and subdued as the town of Volcan, Panama.
The area around Volcan, Panama was first settled by indigenous peoples several thousand years ago. Reminders of the early inhabitants of Volcan, Panama in the form of pottery shards, grinding stones, and other artifacts are occasionally found by farmers or people working in their gardens.
The site near Volcan known as Barriles is thought to have been a town from around 300 to 600 BC and may have been the biggest permanent settlement in the area before the town of Volcan, Panama became established several hundred years later. (Read a little bit more here!)
Some Ngöbe Buglé people live in the area, Panama but the culture for the most part is similar to other areas of rural, small town Panama where folks live pretty easy-going lives with little stress. A lot of locals have small farms or make their living off a newer, important part of the economy, Panama- tourism. Coffee also plays a very important role in the area as the rich, volcanic soils and elevation are perfect for cultivation of this cash crop.
Attracted by the beautiful scenery, spring-like year round weather, and affordable, tranquil living at Volcan, Panama and surroundings, many ex-pats have chosen this area as a place for retirement or for a vacation home. Some have also influenced local culture by opening businesses and playing greater roles in the local community.
Activities near Volcan, Panama mostly take advantage of the proximity of this small town to the forests, lakes, and rivers that grace the flanks of Volcan Baru (also known as the “Volcan de Chiriqui”, or Chiriqui Volcano).
This area is an especially good area to use as a base for hiking in the area. There are several trails that access Volcan Baru National Park and other forests near town. One of the most popular trails that leaves from near Volcan, Panama and descends to Boquete is the “Sendero Los Quetzales”. This scenic, ten kilometer trail that winds its way through cool, mossy, cloud forest is an absolute must for any hiking enthusiast who visits Panama or lives in Volcan.
The trail is named like so because hikers often get views of the Resplendent Quetzal as they walk through the cloud forest. This is one bird that even people who aren’t interested in birds should see because the Resplendent Quetzal is so beautiful and spectacular that the Mayans believed it to be a messenger from the Gods.
The starting point for the Sendero de Los Quetzales (unless you are training for a triathlon and want to walk uphill from Boquete), is near the village of Guadalupe, a settlement around thirteen kilometers from Volcan at the end of the main road that passes through Cerro Punta. Signs in Guadalupe point to the start of the trail and it is easy to follow as it heads down to Boquete although a small river must be crossed several times during the descent.
It must be emphasized that hikers who don’t feel prepared for a ten kilometer hike don’t need to do the entire walk from Guadalupe to Boquete. Walking on a small section of the trail makes for a beautiful, short walk; an excellent option for folks who live in or near Volcan, Panama.
An even more adventurous activity that can be done from Volcan, Panama is white water rafting on the Chiriqui River. This is NOT for the faint of heart as rafters have the chance to tackle every class of rapids, BUT it will certainly be an unforgettable, incredible adventure where the adrenaline surge seems to match the exciting flow of the river.
Other activities near Volcan, Panama that require less exertion are visits to a private, pre-Columbian archeological site at Barriles, springs heated up by geothermal activity beneath the nearby volcano, trout fishing, a visit to coffee plantations, a day at the picturesque lakes known as Lagunas del Volcan, or a visit to the Arte Cruz Volcan art gallery and gift shop. This gallery and store just 3 kilometers south of Volcan, Panama on the road to Concepcion, is run by a local artist who trained abroad and makes high quality furniture, sculptures, and etchings.
Types of accommodations available
The important role that tourism plays around Volcan, Panama has resulted in the presence of a number of options for lodging from the vicinity of Volcan to the end of the road at Guadalupe.
Small hotels are the rule in this mountainous region with the most expensive and luxurious lodging being found at the Hotel Bambito. There is also at least one bed and breakfast and a number of small hotels found on the road towards Rio Sereno.
Tourism is very important to the economy in and around, Panama and as the word gets out about the beauty of Panama, it will probably play an even bigger role in the future. Some ex-pats have already taken advantage of this and have opened restaurants and hotels in the area. Locals also own hotels, restaurants, and work as guides for hiking, river rafting, and birdwatching in and around the area, Panama.
It is a wonderful place to move to if you want to live in a small town or rural setting with fresh, mountain air, beautiful gardens, and views of large, jade-green mountains just outside your door. This small town is also only about twenty minutes by road (a good one) to the amenities of the third largest city in Panama; modern, developed David.
Even for folks who don’t want to live year round in here, Panama, the likelihood that many other people will want to move here combined with its strategic location for tourism make it a great place for investing in real estate.
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