Parque Nacional Volcan Baru Stories and Tips

La Artilleria Trail

Mount Artilleria Photo, Parque Nacional Volcan Baru, Panama

This short but grueling trek is the only one reviewed not within the National Park. The peak is located on eastern side of the Boquete valley, and is a favorite of Panamanians. Since it's on private property, ask around with guides for an escort.

Considering these were the Highlands, this was just another mountain. From the Jaramillo Alto Road, it didn't even seem that impressive when looking through a zoom lense or binoculars. I had no idea what really awaited nor why this particular peak held such esteem.

Name translates "The Artillery", and holds historical significance. The pinnacle is capped with boulders, which form an illusive cavern where guns and weapons were hidden during various uprisings and revolutions. The walk-through enclosure has openings on two sides; highly unique but nothing compared to what awaited around the exterior.

Unless opting to climb the volcano, no where else is said to oblige such encompassing vistas of the Chiriquí Highlands. To the south, glistening of the distant Pacific was visible through late afternoon haze while low-lying clouds shrouded Volcán Barú on the north. Overviews of Boquete are chiseled between tiered layers of foothills seperating the two.

Feelings of power, from conquering the summit, dwindled into nothingness with all that sprawls below. What hadn't already left me breathless was finished-off by savage winds. Views from the top are worth the brief but strenuous exertion for hikers of all physical conditions.

Times average 75-minutes to the top compared to 45-minutes on return. From the highway, 4x4's can follow a horse trail until it becomes to narrow, and walking begins. Difficulty comes from steep grade. There are three distinct sections of path that were challenging even in dry conditions.

Lower section is the longest, and most rugged. Rains have washed away large segments, exposing rocky terrain and massive roots systems. Middle section enters forest, where path becomes smoother with ground cover of natural debris. Upper section had no trail. Traversing these windswept pastures was better tackled with horizontal movement, and still felt like the ultimate stairmaster work-out.

If it's any consolation, I survived this hike after making another 22km jaunt earlier that morning, but also confess playing invalid the entire next day. Shortly after collapsing outside La Artilleria, barking began at a speck-sized farmhouse on the neighboring peak. Lucho quickly pointed-out dogs were welcoming home their master; trooping up the slope with a strapped-on pack that looked to be as large as he was.

Boquete serves as outpost for indigenous highlanders whom make these "shopping runs" as needed. To watch this individual become absorbed into the perspective was one of those confirmations of purpose and place in this vast world; even if only for the moment.

I could've stayed up there marveling the views, lost in thought until the cows came home. Actually, they did later that afternoon when returning to Sueños del Río Guesthouse, and finding Holsteins had invaded the backyard.

Been to this destination?

Share Your Story or Tip