Altos de Campana National Park -- 90km (56 miles) W of Panama City
This is Panama's first national park, established in 1966 and covering about 4,925 hectares (12,170 acres) of mostly igneous terrain created by the extinct El Valle de Antón Volcano. The park is characterized by rugged peaks -- almost completely deforested on the Pacific side -- and sloping rainforest on the Atlantic side. There are dramatic cliffs, lava fields, and one of the most extraordinary lookout points in Panama at Chame Peak, from which visitors can marvel at sweeping views of the Canal Basin, the Chame River, and the Chame Bay. Unless you're an avid birdwatcher, this is the major reason to visit the park, since hiking and other adventure activities are in short supply here. Past the turnoff for Altos de Campana, drive about 4km (2 1/2 miles) to an ANAM ranger station (tel. 254-2848; or try the local office in Coclé tel. 997-7538), pay the $3 (£1.50) per person entrance fee, and walk up to the lookout. ANAM has developed a mostly uphill hiking trail here called Sendero La Cruz, but you'll need a 4WD to reach the trail head. The park station sometimes has copies of a good illustrated guide to the trail. Bird-watchers should know that the park is home to exotic species that can be difficult to view elsewhere, such as violet hummingbirds, white-tipped sicklebills, and orange-bellied trogons. Taking a public bus here is next to impossible; you'll need a rental vehicle or arrangements with your tour company to make a detour here on your way out to other destinations in the area. A campground here charges $5 (£2.50) per night.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.