Guanche Hike 1 nights • Portobelo National Parking • Waterfalls • Tropical Jungle • Camping
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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Amazing Waterfalls
  • Jungle hike in Pristine Forest
  • 5 hour hike per day
  • Advance Outdoors Skills Required
  • Camping
  • Gateway: Panama City
 

 

This trip is not for everyone. It wont be a first time exploration trip; but, that is the way it feels every single time.  This is an expedition trip into virgin jungle which includes at sometimes making your way as you go.  

The highlight of this hike is to reach Los Monos waterfall.  Refer to the picture below.  But there is much more ! We will encounter huge trees , dense jungle, crystal clear rivers (if it does not rain) and for sure, now than I mention it, rain.  This is the rainiest area of Panama !

Portobelo National Park conserves rivers and mountains in an incredibly virgin state. In it is the Sierra Llorona Mountain Range, in which we enter, and in which it rains an average of 286 days per year.

The topography of the park is very complicated. Its highest point is Cerro Bruja, with 979 meters of altitude, located in the continental watershed. The Pan de Azúcar and Palmas hills and a narrow mountain range within the northern limit of the Panama Canal basin.

It protects the headwaters and watersheds of the region's most important rivers such as Cascajal, Guanche, Piedras, Iguana, Iguanita and Brazuelo.

Our objective is to walk through the jungle until we reach the Salto de los Monos, one of the highest waterfalls in the country and the highest in the Province of Colon, 74 meters high.

 

ITINERARY

- First Day

We will meet you at your hotel lobby wiithin Panama City at 6:00am to travel toward Colón and arrive to Guanche river mouth by 8:00am. We will stop for breakfast somewhere along the way.

We should be starting to hike around 9:00 top.  It should be a 4-5 hour hike from information I had searched on the web.  Do not expect trail, but mostly hiking upstream in a slippery and rocky river shore, and trying to avoid it whenever possible walking at its banks.

We will had a light lunch in the way and set camp not later than 3-4:00pm. If by them we had found Salto de Los Monos we would had achieved our goal.

- Second Day

Next day we should be heading out of the camp by 8:00am after breakfast to trace back to our start up place the day before. We should be back to the car by 3:00-4:00pm at the latest and back to the city around 6:00pm.

 

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT DOES IT INCLUDE ? All mentioned transportation, expedition kayaks and snorkel gear, guides, tents, sleeping pads, camping gear, and meals. Our guides are trained in kayak navigation skills, first-aid and CPR.

WHO CAN GO ? Any person from twelve to seventy years old, in good health. Minors must travel with a responsible adult.

WHAT SHOULD YOU TAKE ALONG ? A pair of shorts for navigating, sneakers or strapped sandals, a cap, sun-block, a light jacket or windbreaker (in case of rain), a blanket, a towel and a dry set of clothes for the trip back.

It's very important to pack only what you will require and use.  Also, make sure you pack it so that it'll stay dry, including your sleeping clothes and blanket.

WHAT SHOULD NOT BE BROUGHT ? Any object than can be deteriorated by water or valuables like jewels, cash, credit cards, etc.  Anything that you wont use such as extra clothing, make up, etc.

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PACKING LIST

- Individual Packing List:   Back-pack, light boots for hiking, hat, light and preferably dry-fit type clothing (avoid jeans),  set of dry clothes (light shorts and T-Shirt) to sleep and another  set of dry clothes to change once back in the car, sandals for walking dry around camp and when back. Personal head flashlight, insect repellent, personal hygiene, and first aid items, water reservoir, sleeping mattress (yoga of inflatable type), tent (or rain protected hamak with mosquito net), blanket

- Group Packing List:  Tarp, rescue ropes, cooking gear

 PRICE

USD $ 375.00 per person
Minimum 4 persons.

SEASON

Year around. The rainy season in Panama starts in April-May and ends by November-December.  The peak of the rainy season is usually in October.

Flooded river and creeks , if not possible possible at all to cross them, my delay our itinerary or change our plans.  We do no fight nature.

NOTES:

This is a remote location with out access roads. Jungle is so dense that an helicopter evacuation might not be feasible. The terrain is very abrupt and slippery.  The trail in many sections is poorly marked or totally gone. There are all kind of poisonous plants, insects,  and snakes that yes, their bite could kill you. You are totally warned about it.  

Narration of previous Trip:

Looking for the Los Monos Waterfall

Many comments from various sources had sparkle my interest on scouting this waterfall....

The group was conformed by Alexandra, Yoselin, Manuel and me.

We met on Saturday, July 30, 2016 at 6:00 am in the offices of Aventuras Panama to distribute in our backpacks group equipment,  and then we started our trip to the Guanche River in Colon Province. After a good breakfast and under a persistent rain we started walking at 9:00 am.

We had only hike close to 15 minutes when Manuel, the only participant in the group that had previously done this trip, shared his amazement in front of a raging flood that we had to cross. "Ooops ..  there was a bridge before somewhere here ! " We had to managed it swimming  to the other shore.

We followed a well-defined path to the mountains along the river. The river was also flooded, and we wondered what we were going to do to go across it. When we arrived at the usual crossing site there was no way to walk to the other side because of current depth and strength. We kept on hiking further upstream until finding a suitable place and again we had to swim.  Now, this was not a creek; but, the Guanche River.  Manuel swimmed across and them used a rescue cord to safely assist everyone else crossing with their backpacks.  Yes, backpacks that were packed for heavy rain; but, not for floods.

By 10:00 am we left behind a cattle farm, and we entered the jungle of the National Park Portobelo. There is a path but not very traveled so it tends to disappear. Thank goodness Manuel was with us !

We moved quickly arriving at 11:00 am at the junction of the Quebrada de Los Monos Waterfall and the Guanche River. The jungle terrain was fairly flat, though with muddy and slippery parts. However, to get to the rivers confluence we had to walk along a rocky slope of the rivershore and due to continuous rain, it was very slippery. Most of our accidents happened here. Although minors memories remains. Alexandra broke her pants beyond any possible repair, and Yoselin experienced a hard landing hurting her legs.

After a rest in which we recover contemplating the landscape we leave the Rio Guanche and follow the river (creek) that will take us to our waterfall. 

The terrain became steeper and as we were following a river, to which many ravines joined on it, our path rose and fell abruptly with each crossing of water that defined its course between the mountains. We hiked  alternating mud, roots and stones.

At 12:00 m we reached the Solange cascadel where we had lunch after a refreshing, and relaxing shower.

At 2:00 pm we arrived at the camp site. It was so dark that it looked like 6:00 pm and we knew that the persistent rain was going to be replaced by a storm so we set up camp as soon as possible. Yoselin set up his jungle hammock, Alexandra and I set up a tent and we all set up a tent where we made the dining room and kitchen. We look for wood and we set up the typical stove three stones.

It was not long before the downpour was unleashed, just as we had finished putting together the indispensable. Obviously we did not find dry wood anywhere. But after much patience and a couple of old tricks we had our fire burning consistently.

We had a very pleasant time, eating my patented spaghetti recipe with cheese and tuna, drinking wine, chatting and making jokes. As at 9:00 pm we all retired and I doubt that someone took more than 2-3 minutes to fall asleep because of the tiredness we had.

The next day I got up at 7:00 am and Manuel had the fire ready. We had breakfast oatmeal, jam sandwiches with peanut butter accompanied by Tang and instant coffee ... all gourmet cuisine to survive.

After picking up the camp and hiding our backpacks we resumed the trek upstream and in about an hour we had reached our goal ... The Waterfall of Los Monos. No matter how many photos I saw on the internet. I was impressed ! Above all because I did not find any photo that showed the flow that I had at that moment. Unfortunately, by then, my GoPro camera had drowned. Here the sun rose for the first time, opportunely to mock us.

After almost an hour of imagining the photos that we could have taken from all possible angles we started the return which was much faster since we knew the way well and we were lighter.

On our way back we passed our backpacks to the camp site and had lunch at the Solange Waterfall around midday.

We had to improvise a double river crossing in Paso El Jaguar since the shore we used before was under water and this is a place where you do not want to take chances. Here we used river rafting rescue ropes and although it took us very well.

We reach the junction of the rivers around 2:00 pm and we hit the road at 5:30 pm. This time we found a place where the Guanche River split in two and as its level had gone down we could walk through it. The ravine that had received us flooded the first day was low, transparent, and even with bridge.

It was an expedition that surpassed all my expectations. That if, as I warned in the invitation, it is not for everyone. It is for people in very good physical condition, with previous experience in similar activities, who feel comfortable improvising and always seeing the positive side of each situation.

In short, if you enjoy leaving destroyed, hurt, chopped, mottled, cut, tired ... this tour will delight you .... And no, you do not have to be a masochist. You have to have passion for adventure.