As most of my stories in Panama this trip starts with some new friends. At my workplace, the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá (UTP), I didn’t have much contact with students, because I spent most of my time on campus inside an office. The international office of the uni was very engaged however and regularly asked me to speak about my experiences and help represent campus affairs. In this context, I met some of the most amazing people!
Some of my favourite contacts were “the Mexican guys”. Most of them are from Mexico City and Irapuato. We already spent some time in Parque Metropolitano and decided to take a longer tour to visit one of the most beautiful national parks of Panama and the nearby canyons.
No sooner said than done! We packed our backpacks and got on the bus – without an idea where we’d spend the next night. On the bus, we got some tips from the driver who brought us to an elderly lady who rented part of her house to travelers.
After a short break, the lady recommended we use the rest of the day to explore the Sendero la Cruz – a medium-size hiking path leading through the jungle to a viewpoint where you can see the whole park up to the Pacific coastline. On our way (as always) I made some more friends:
Soon we left the road and headed straight for the jungle. The paths became less and less obvious and soon it felt like we were years away from any kind of civilization. A really interesting experience! One can only imagine how the people who first explored these lands in the (probably even denser) jungle must have felt!
At one point plastic bags and rags tied to trees were the only indicators we didn’t lose our way yet. They were hanged in quite some distances – in which we had to climb hillsides on vines and even steeper slopes on the roots overgrowing them.
Finally the way became clearer again.
The last steps felt easier and after a small climbing act, all of us were rewarded with a stunning view over the surrounding area.
Tired but happy we reached the hostel again. Good thing our host was so nice to let us use her fridge. That way we were able to reward ourselves with a cold beer. The rest of the evening we spent relaxing in the hammock on the terrace – watching the sundown and talking endlessly about anything and everything. Good times and happy memories!
The next day we rose early in the morning and continued our travels to the Chame Canyons. About an hour by bus and then roughly another one hiking from the national park, it was the closest thing worth seeing. Ask some people, hop on the (hopefully correct) bus, pay a dollar, jump off. Meet some more friends on the way.
Now if you’ve ever seen pictures of Chame before, you might imagine it as a place full of tranquility – a little isolated from the noisy rest. The perfect location for a relaxing break before you head back to the big and dirty city. Yeah… no.
Apart from the people, it was really worth the trip, however. We had a good time, refueled our energy reserves, and made our way back to the city on Sunday afternoon.
Sure, this hasn’t been the best trip I did in Panama, but it certainly was one of the most relaxing. During my countless trips to Saxony Switzerland, I already experienced how unwinding it can be to spend some days in nature with amazing people. I really hope to get the chance to invite my new-found friends there soon! Safe travels!