The Central Highlands.

Published: April 22nd 2012
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From Cerro TuteFrom Cerro TuteFrom Cerro Tute

Near Santa Fe

We stumbled upon more wonderful places in Panama. The hiking trails in the other countries of Central America were riddled with tales of robberies and muggings, and guides were always being recommended. We wanted the independence of not having a guide and enjoying the trails and nature at our own pace - Panama has allowed us this. Thanks Panama! It is never too late to get in a hike or two and we both needed the exercise! We pretty much spent all of our days hiking. It was perfect!

Santa Fe...

The Santa Fe region has some awesome hiking trails. We hiked to many waterfalls, through thick cloud forests and farmland and enjoyed the very fresh mountain air. We were accompanied by wildlife on all of our hikes in the area. The scenery was gorgeous.

El Cope...

We rocked up in El Cope without a whole lot of info on the place. There was only one place to stay in town and we were the only two there. We were told by a local man who spoke English to walk up the dirt road to a building with a sign and ask for Pablo. An old man greeted us in Spanish and showed us to our room. "No aqua ahora". There was no water that day due to some road construction. He had filled up his laundry sinks and water bottles so we could wash. We used the outhouse instead of his flush toilet. We treated some water with our Pristine drops for drinking water. And we were still grateful for the electricity as we had a fan to keep us cool whilst sleeping.

We ventured up the steep hill to the Park office in the blistering heat. It was closed, "On an official mission" the sign on the door read. So we sat in the shade and had a juice to cool off. We had hoped to stay in the Omar Torrijos National Park, but found out it was closed for Semana Santa (Holy Week). El Cope, a very small town, did not have a great deal going on (i.e., nothing). Although, it was rather entertaining to watch some teenage girls giggle amongst themselves after saying "Hello" in English to Dave as Dave attempted to engage them in English conversation. But all they knew was a few salutations.

Just when we thought the one-day stay in El Cope would be rather quiet, we met John from Calgary. John and his wife Cathy were house-sitting for an American couple whom they happenstanced upon, and were enjoying living in the middle of the Panamanian mountains. John was kind enough to take us for a drive through some small communities via the backroads. He chatted about Panama and how it has all the money in the world to get things done - but doesn´t have the workforce to do it. Judging by what we have seen thus far in Panama, they definitely have money to build bridges as there´s hardly a road you can travel without some sort of bridge being built. After touring us around he took us to the house they were taking care of, we picked up Cathy, and then the four of us drove to the coast for a fish supper... Thanks you two!

El Valle...

There weren´t many buses from El Cope to El Valle making the journey rather annoyingly frustrating. But as we waited at an intersection bus stop, a couple of American guys swung in by car asking us for directions. It serendipitously ended up that
Mountains and CloudMountains and CloudMountains and Cloud

Santa Fe National Park.
we were all going to the same destination so they offered us a ride. What a treat! As we chatted, we discovered that they were avid birders and had stayed at the same lodge as us in Crooked Tree, Belize, at the same time! So cool, when that happens. (In fact, upon reflection of our entire trip, whenever we were at a junction during our travels hoping for some form of transportation before we ran out of water and dehydrated, a truck or car would pull up to help us - it was magical).

We enjoyed the town of El Valle. It is situated in a giant crater of an extinct volcano. The views were stunning! The climate was very pleasant too, making for yet more wonderful hikes in the forests and meadows. On a different note, we are still contemplating the zoo in El Valle. While the educational value is there by learning about different species, we would like to see the standards improve for some of the animals. We would like to pursue more knowledge on this subject...

Hasta la proxima... D y T

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21



On one of our hikes in the Santa Fe region
Watching the MantisWatching the Mantis
Watching the Mantis

A praying mantis on our hike in the Santa Fe National Park
The Miniture WorldThe Miniture World
The Miniture World

We just adore these guys.
Mountain ViewMountain View
Mountain View

Santa Fe National Park
Babaya RiverBabaya River
Babaya River

Santa Fe N.P.
Very Steep Hill AheadVery Steep Hill Ahead
Very Steep Hill Ahead

An angle so steep that even Pythagoras would have been baffled!
Frog on our DoorFrog on our Door
Frog on our Door

On our hostel door in El Cope
El Valle de AntonEl Valle de Anton
El Valle de Anton

A town of 7000 built in the crater of an extinct volcano.
Rana DoradaRana Dorada
Rana Dorada

The golden frog. A very rare amphibian, found only in a small part of panama. We were lucky to see him at the El Valle Amphibian Research Station. They are helping to educate people about the deadly chytrid fungus that is killing frog populations.
Square Tree.Square Tree.
Square Tree.

An odd variety of cottonwood. The trunks and growth rings are square. This type of tree only grows like this in this particular valley - odd!
Mountain Ridge Hiking TrailMountain Ridge Hiking Trail
Mountain Ridge Hiking Trail

On La India Dormida in El Valle de Anton.
At The SummitAt The Summit
At The Summit

Near El Valle

22nd April 2012

What a trip you guys, beautiful country side, and lots of maze or fog, Sure like that golden frog, should put him in The Golden Unicorn. sure enjoyed reading everything you two did, thank you, for the trip I made even if I was at home, LOVE, MOM
22nd April 2012

square tree
For squares? LOL Very cool..the whole species are like that? Way should try and get a slab of it for a table top, that would be amazing.....
23rd April 2012

The adventure continues...
Thanks Dave and Theresa for your continued postings. They are fabulous. Wish I was there instead of working. Stay safe. Bob
30th June 2017
Square Tree.

Square Tree pic use request
Hi Theresa and Dave. My name is Charlie from Louisiana. I am writing an ebook, and in it I make mention of the very interesting square tree of Panama. Did you take these pics yourselves? They are nice! Would you mind if I use your pics; if it's ok, I could attribute it similar to this: Pic Courtesy of Theresa and Dave of If you agree, just send an email. Thank you and all the best!
24th August 2017
Square Tree.

No problem
We did take the pics, you can use them if you wish. Thanks for reading the blog and sorry for the delay in responding.

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