Altos de Campana, Panama’s first national park, is located just 48 miles (77 km) by car from Panama City. With 4,925 hectares of gorgeous landscapes, this extension of the now-dormant Valle de Antón Volcano features breathtaking lava fields, impressive cliffs, volcanic rocks, and a variety of exotic wildlife. Avid birders flock to this park due […]
Altos de Campana, Panama’s first national park, is located just 48 miles (77 km) by car from Panama City. With 4,925 hectares of gorgeous landscapes, this extension of the now-dormant Valle de Antón Volcano features breathtaking lava fields, impressive cliffs, volcanic rocks, and a variety of exotic wildlife.
Avid birders flock to this park due to the high percentage of endangered species. Expansive views of deep valleys and rolling peaks unraveling into the Pacific only further the attraction of the park.
If you’re looking for a place to go hiking near Panama City, Altos de Campana should be on the top of your list. It’s only an hour and a half drive from Panama City and makes for an unbelievable detour on the Inter-American Highway. Read on for more information about the wildlife of the park, how to get there, and what to do.
Altos de Campana National Park has an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. The humid tropical forest of the park is home to 267 species of birds, including a number of endangered species. Keep an eye out for the Panama national bird, the harpy eagle, along with swallow-tailed kite and orange-bellied trogon.
You’ll also find a large number of amphibians and reptiles. While it hasn’t been spotted in the wild since 2009, there’s always a chance you could see the Panamanian golden frog. This bright yellow and black-spotted toad is critically endangered and native to Panama. In addition, look for the smoky jungle frog, the largest amphibian in Panama which can grow up to 7 inches long (18 cm)!
Among the park’s 198 tree species, you can see two-toed and three-toed sloth hanging out. Other mammals in the park include marmosets, white-nosed coati, and opossum.
The most popular mode of transportation to Altos de Campana National Park is via car. The easiest and perhaps most convenient option for renting a car is at Panama’s Tocumen International Airport (PTY).
While there are a plethora of car rental agencies, we suggest picking Alamo for their large selection of 4×4 vehicles, perfect for your off-the-beaten-path experience. On their website, they make it extremely easy to rent your preferred car for your arrival date—they have been known to accommodate for last-minute travelers as well.
If you would like to go by bus, the nearest town to Altos de Campana National Park is Chicá. Panamá Regional Buses provide excellent budget-friendly transportation to Campana (the town before Chicá) for $2-$3 USD.
From Campana, you can take a $4-5 USD taxi to Chicá. There is no public transport from Chicá to Altos de Campana, so you’ll also have to take a taxi to the trailheads.
While you can visit Altos de Campana as a day trip from Panama City, you may want to consider staying the night in Chicá to maximize your time in the park. We recommend Lodge Brisas de Chica as a hotel option.
Hiking! Admire the lush greenery of mosses, bromeliads, and orchids as you walk in the tropical forest, as well unique wildlife. You will have to pay a small fee of $5 USD to enter the park and the hours are from 7:30 am to 15:00 pm.
If you are heading to Altos de Campana National Park, the “Cerro de la Cruz” trail is paramount to your nature experience. The trailhead is located 3 miles (5 km) from the National Park headquarters. After seeing a “NO ESTOY” sign, turn right on that road and you will find a parking lot with access to the trail to your left.
The park has one main trail that is fairly short, with steep and rocky parts along the path. However, there are many off-the-beaten-path sections that can add to your experience. The hike provides an fantastic view of Chame Bay and the mangroves of the Pacific coast. Along the way, you’ll enjoy seeing a plenitude of flora and hopefully some wildlife. Round trip, the distance of the trail is about 1.3 miles (2 km). Expect about 2-3 hours of hiking, including ample time to soak in the views.
Looking for a guide? As the trail is not well marked, and it is easy to get lost, we recommend hiking with a community guide. Explore some of the lesser-known parts of the park that only the locals of Chicá, know about. Make sure to bring enough food, water, and a hiker’s first aid kit. While you’re at it, check out our other Altos de Campana tours and greater Panama City tours here.
Overall, Altos de Campana has attracted explorers from all over the Americas and it is only a matter of time before this hidden gem becomes a major Panama travel attraction.