Sitios de interés turístico en Chiriquí (inglés) agosto 22, 2007Posted by BPP in Turismo.
GOLFO DE CHIRIQUÍ AND THE WESTERN HIGHLANDS
Western Panama offers some of Panama’s most spectacular, and diverse, attractions.
On the one hand, there are the verdant highlands, home to the country’s tallest mountain and the picturesque town of Boquete, which now rivals Bocas del Toro as Panama’s hottest destination for foreign tourists and retirees. On the other, there are the remote Pacific islands and beaches of the Golfo de Chiriquí, which is so large and species-rich some consider it a small sea.
The Golfo de Chiriquí extends from Punta Burica at the western edge of Panama toward the Azuero Peninsula to the east, encompassing the entire coast of Chiriquí province and much of the Pacific coast of Veraguas. It’s a region of superlatives. It contains the richest mangrove forests in Central America, the largest island in Panama, and one of the largest coral reefs in the Pacific. It offers truly world-class diving, surfing, and sportfishing.
Conservation organizations have targeted this area as one of the most ecologically important in Central America. It has so far seen relatively little development, but human pressures are mounting. Panama has reacted by establishing protected areas, most notably two huge marine parks: Parque Nacional Marino Golfo de Chiriquí and the newly created Parque Nacional Coiba.
Because the Golfo de Chiriquí is still so remote and untouched, facilities for visitors in the most scenic areas are limited and getting around can be laborious. But the region also includes Panama’s second-largest city, David, near the coast not far from the Costa Rican border.
Most visitors simply pass through David on the way to somewhere else, usually the highlands, but it has all the services one would expect of a busy, modern provincial capital. There are a few large beaches within a couple hours’ drive of David, the most popular of which are Playa Barqueta and Playa Las Lajas. Farther east, remote Playa Santa Catalina is internationally famous as one of the best surfing spots in Latin America.
Those who visit the western highlands after a trip to the beaches and islands feel they have entered a different world, a world filled with powerful rivers, gigantic waterfalls, imposing mountains, secluded hot springs, and green forests bursting with life. The highlands are also home to Volcán Barú, a dormant volcano that, at 3,475 meters, is Panama’s biggest and most dramatic mountain.
There’s plenty to keep outdoorsy types busy, including hiking, horseback riding, biking, the country’s best white-water rafting, kayaking, even rock climbing and rappelling. The western highlands are popular with bird-watchers, since the forests attract hundreds of species, including many spectacular ones.
Most of the highland sights are clustered on the west and east sides of Volcán Barú. While the west side of Barú is a bit cooler and more dramatic looking, the east side has both great beauty and something its western neighbor lacks: a charming little town called Boquete.
Boquete is booming. As a result, there are more options for lodging, food, outfitters, and guided tours on this side of the mountain. The west side of Barú is quieter, less densely populated, and more rugged. It also has easily accessible trails through the enormous Parque Internacional la Amistad.
Parque Nacional Marino Golfo de Chiriquí: A remote and still little-known tropical paradise lightly peppered with deserted islands, bohemian hangouts, and an exclusive resort. (read more)Parque Nacional Coiba: Panama’s answer to the Galapagos, Coiba is the crown jewel of the country’s islands, with virgin forest covering it, rich sealife surrounding it, and a Devil’s Island mystique about it. (read more)
Playa Santa Catalina: Panama’s top spot for surfers, remote Catalina has one of the most consistently awesome breaks in all of Latin America. (read more)
Finca Lérida: It’s pricey to visit and not easy to get to, but this highland coffee farm is one of the best places anywhere to see the resplendent quetzal. (read more)
Parque Nacional Volcán Barú: Panama’s tallest mountain is visible from everywhere in the western highlands, and on a clear day adventurous hikers can see both oceans from its summit. Don’t miss Sendero Los Quetzales—the most popular hike in the highlands—while you’re here. (read more)
Parque Internacional La Amistad: A gigantic national park, with some of the most diverse flora and fauna in Panama. (read more)
Cañon Macho de Monte: An impressive and accessible canyon that appeals both to bird watchers and inner-tube rafters. (read more).
Fuente: Moon Travel Planer, http://www.moon.com