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33km (21 miles) N of David

The road from La Concepción to Volcán slowly winds 34km (21 miles) up from the humid lowlands and into a cooler climate and a landscape characterized by a patchwork of fincas, or dairy and cattle ranching farms. Eventually, the road opens up to a wide plateau and the village of Volcán, the highlands center for services such as banks, pharmacies, grocery stores, and just about everything else. While Volcán isn't as picturesque as Cerro Punta or Guadalupe, the fresh mountain air and open views of rugged landscape give Volcán a decidedly alpine atmosphere, part of the reason so many European immigrants chose to settle around here in the early 1900s. The town sits at the skirt of the Barú Volcano and offers grand views of that peak, although it is commonly shrouded with a layer of clouds and hidden from view. Considering Volcán's location at the axis of the roads to Guadalupe and Río Sereno, near the Costa Rica-Panama border, the town is a convenient base from which to explore the western highlands area. Volcán is centered around a blink-and-you-miss-it main street, Avenida Central, which forks in the center. Head right to continue on to Guadalupe and Cerro Punta, and straight ahead for the road to Río Sereno and the Costa Rica.

Like Boquete, its neighbor to the west, foreigners are beginning to discover Volcan and the surrounding mountain communities, which is evident in the new, foreign owned restaurants that seem to be popping up all over the place. For now, Volcan still retains a distinctly Panamanian feel, but how long this will last is anyone's guess.

I strongly recommend you rent a car if visiting this area, because attractions are not within walking distance and using a taxi will cost you just as much or more than renting a car. A 4WD vehicle will give you more freedom to visit some of the region's more remote and difficult-to-reach attractions.