Howler monkeys wail in the distance, you’re waist deep in water, surrounded by crystallizing rocks formations and the only light is from your headlamp. Come experience the Bayano Bat Caves – a perfect adventure day trip from Panama City.
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Howler monkeys wail in the distance, you’re waist deep in water, surrounded by crystallizing rocks formations and the only illumination emanates from your headlamp. The Bayano Caves have spent millions of years forming and only recently have been uncovered from the surrounding virgin rainforest, which hosts sloths, snakes, alligators and a variety of bird species. We’re not sure why more people don’t make it out here. But I guess that’s better for you, right? Do a day trip from Panamá City or crash in the Cave’s host town, Pueblo Nuevo, and experience hikes that few tourists have ever tried.
As soon as you step inside the Bayano Caves, you’re surrounded by untouched crystallized rock, stalagtiting and stalagmiting all around. After a few minutes, you’ll wake the bats, who’ll take to their random, frantic flight paths just below the ceiling, twelve feet above. The guides will tell you that the bats won’t swoop or get in your hair and indeed, they won’t. Our favorite parts were when the ceiling opened and we looked up a chimney of sheer rock face stretching toward deep green jungle. If you have time and go with a local guide, we suggest following the river past the end of the caves and asking them to loop you back through the jungle–so worth it.
You’ll be at least knee-deep in water the entire way and depending on when you go, you might have to swim for part of it, so dress accordingly and bring a change of clothes for the trip back. Many of the tour guides offer headlamps with the tour but if you’re coming on your own, make sure to bring one. Also, don’t touch the walls: they’re trying to crystallize and the acid and oil on your hands will dull and deter them.
If you want to do a day trip that includes transport, we recommend using Manuel Chavez (the boat driver) who is the president of the Asociacion Ecoturismo de Pueblo Nuevo. The boat rates are $ 70 for 1-5 people, $100 for 5-10 and $120 for 10-15 people. The tour rates are $10/ person (which includes the enterance fee and guide). If you would like to buy lunch, it is $4 per person, and you pay the community directly. They cook fried tilapia (fished from the lake) and patacones (from our farms). Please book at least 3 days in advance to make sure they have the food for your group.
Hey! The guides do not speak English, but we may be able to arrange for some translation help if you email us ahead of time at email@example.com!
At this point, the host town of Pueblo Nuevo is trying to build its capacity to receive tourists, with the help of a Peace Corps volunteer. They have a few guys who can serve as guides to the area and some families willing to house and feed tourists. If you’re interested in staying the night and trying some less developed, local activities, apart from the Bayano Caves, we suggest visiting the swimming hole on the Rio Tigre.
The community takes you on a beautiful scenic boat ride along the banks of the Rio Tigre, between two dramatic rock faces and right next to a great swimming hole with 10-15 foot jumping rocks. This ride up the river is complete with rock cliff walls on both sides and you can often spot tons of birds on the along the way. Duration: 20 min.
Price: $10 for a guide + boat ride
(Note: You can also hire a boat for $10 and it only takes about 15 minutes to get there, but then of course you miss out on the sweet jungle hike.)
Stay with a local family in one of the many houses overlooking beautiful
Bayano Lake and receive home-cooked meals featuring seasonal fruits and vegetables and free range chicken from the community. Contact Maribel (listed below) to arrange a stay.
There is rancho that has 2 rooms with single beds and some space to put up hammocks. The cost is $10/per person per night. It has a table for eating, cooking facilities, and is a prime location overlooking the lake right next to the lake. Contact Maribel (listed below).
Have your own equipment?
No problem! If you would like to bring your own camping equipment you can camp out in the community on the lake for only $5/person.
From Albrook Terminal (Panamá City), take an Aguas Frias bus to Puente Bayano (the Bayano Bridge); the bus ride takes about 3 hours and costs $3.50.
Here, you will need to take a boat across the lake. ARRANGE THE BOAT AHEAD OF TIME.
You can secure a boat using the contact information below. We at Keteka are happy to help you arrange for boat transportation to the community, however at this time, you will still need to pay the boat driver cash upon your arrival.
For groups of 1-7, boats are $90
For groups of 7-9, boats are $110
For groups of 10-15, boats are $150
Manuel (boat driver): 507 6793-9446 (Spanish only)
Maribel (President of women’s eco-tourism group): 6806-7032 (Spanish only)
Miguel (guide): 6466-1235 (Spanish only)
Dorales (guide): 6711-9755 (Spanish only)
After you book your experience, you will receive a confirmation email from us confirming that your payment went through. You will then be connected directly to the tour operator, in case you have any further questions. We are also happy to answer any questions about the tour, or travel in general in your country of destination.