Volcán Barú National Park

In Panama, near the border with Costa Rica, the Volcán Barú National Park rises, a dream destination for nature and adventure enthusiasts. Its unique geography, fascinating biodiversity, and unparalleled panoramic views from its highest point invite you to discover a world of unforgettable experiences.

National Park Data

Volcán Barú National Park


Located in the Chiriquí Province of Panama, the Volcán Barú National Park is a natural gem that extends across 14,000 hectares of lush mountainous landscape. Its geolocation can be determined using the coordinates: 8°48′28″N 82°32′34″W / 8.80777778, -82.54277778

History and Recognition as a National Park

Declared under the Spanish name "Parque Nacional Volcán Barú", on June 24, 1976, through Decree No. 40, the Barú Volcano stands as a monument to Panama’s natural diversity and a testament to the country’s rich geological history. This protected area takes its name from the highest natural elevation in the Republic of Panama, the Barú Volcano, which reaches a maximum height of 3,475 meters above sea level. The park covers an area of 143.25 km².


The climate within the Volcán Barú National Park exhibits significant variability based on altitude and geographical location. In the lower zones, rainfall is less intense, averaging around 4,000 mm per year. However, in higher areas, precipitation exceeds 6,000 mm annually. This difference in rainfall amounts contributes to the diversity of landscapes and ecosystems within the park.

Regarding temperatures, they also vary significantly with altitude. At the summit of the volcano, average annual temperatures are quite cool, hovering around 10ºC. This area experiences colder weather due to its high elevation. On the other hand, in lower altitude zones, average annual temperatures are warmer, around 20ºC. These milder temperatures are due to the influence of proximity to sea level.

Biodiversity of the Park


The park is home to a wide variety of endemic plant species, creating a mosaic of lush landscapes and vibrant flowers that bring its exceptional natural beauty to life. Various types of forests and habitats are unique to Panama. These include Very Humid Montane Forests, Low Montane Humid Forests, Low Montane Rainforests, Montane Rainforests, Very Humid Low Montane Forests, and Premontane Rainforests. Each of these ecosystems harbors a diversity of flora and fauna, forming a mosaic of landscapes and biodiversity.

In some areas of the park, areas of lava flow with scant vegetation can be found, creating a unique environment. Additionally, there are areas with natural woody vegetation and forests with different characteristics, such as the Cloud-Shrouded Lower Montane Evergreen Broadleaf Forest, the Cloud-Shrouded Lower Montane Evergreen Broadleaf Forest, and the Cloud-Shrouded Upper Montane Evergreen Broadleaf Forest. Each of these forests has distinctive characteristics in terms of plant species and microclimates.

Places like Paso del Respingo are especially noteworthy for birdwatching, hosting species like the Quetzal and Toucan. They are also ideal for discovering a variety of plants such as orchids, ferns, and mosses that thrive in these wet mountainous environments.

Diverse Fauna

The park harbors an incredibly diverse fauna, including a variety of birds, mammals, and reptiles, some of which are endangered species. There are at least 250 different species identified so far. Among the iconic species are the toucan (Ramphastidae), the quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), the black-and-white hawk-eagle (Spizaetus melanoleucus), and the hummingbird (Trochilidae). These birds are recognized for their beauty and uniqueness in the animal kingdom.

It is also home to endemic birds, meaning they are only found in that specific region. Some examples of these endemic species include the black guan, the slate-throated redstart, the zeledonia, and the yellow-crowned euphonia. These birds are of great importance for biodiversity conservation, as their presence and survival are limited to a specific geographic area.

Endangered Species

Endangered species such as the jaguar and the resplendent quetzal call this park home, making it a critically important site for biodiversity conservation.

Main Attractions of the Park

Barú Volcano

Altitude and Geography

The Barú Volcano is the highest point in Panama, rising to an impressive elevation of 3,474 meters above sea level. Its unique geography provides a home for a variety of ecosystems and stands as the most prominent geological feature within the park.

From the summit of Barú, one can gaze upon both oceans and a significant portion of western Panama. Barú Volcano has shown activity in the past, dating back to around 600 AD. Throughout the park, from the lowest point at 1,800 meters above sea level to the summit, there are lava formations, tuffs, and volcanic cliffs. This unique geography results in rugged topography and a wide diversity of life zones within the park.

Panoramic Views of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans

From its summit, on a clear day, you can have the unique experience of seeing both oceans, the Atlantic and the Pacific, simultaneously. A truly impressive sight.

Hiking Trails

The park offers several hiking trails that vary in difficulty, allowing visitors to explore its wonderful landscapes at their own pace.

Views from the Volcano Summit

The volcano’s summit offers unparalleled panoramic views of both oceans and the surrounding landscape, an exciting reward after the challenging hike.

Coffee Plantations in the Surroundings

The surrounding region is famous for its high-quality coffee, and many plantations offer tours to visitors, allowing them to learn about the coffee production process and taste local flavors.

El Paso del Respingo

El Paso del Respingo is a prominent location within the Volcán Barú National Park in Panama. It is known for its scenic beauty and its significance for birdwatching. This natural mountain pass offers visitors the opportunity to admire iconic birds such as the Quetzal and the Toucan while enjoying the park’s natural environment. It is a serene and picturesque spot, ideal for connecting with nature and capturing special moments in photographs.

Outdoor Activities

Hiking and Camping

Hiking and camping are popular activities among visitors, providing an excellent opportunity to experience the park’s natural beauty up close.

Photography and Bird Watching

With its diverse fauna and flora, the park is a paradise for photographers and bird watchers, offering endless opportunities to capture the beauty of nature.

Rock Climbing and Mountain Biking

For the more adventurous, the park offers exciting opportunities for rock climbing and mountain biking, sure to quicken the pulse of any adrenaline enthusiast.

Planning Your Visit

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the park is during the dry season, from December to April, when the weather conditions are most favorable for outdoor activities.

Equipment Recommendations

It’s important to be well-equipped for your visit, including appropriate clothing for cold and wet weather, hiking footwear, camping supplies, and binoculars for wildlife observation.

Regulations and Safety Suggestions

Always remember to follow the park’s regulations, including not leaving litter, not feeding animals, and staying on marked trails to protect both visitors and wildlife.

Getting There

Access from Panama City

From Panama City, you can take a flight to the city of David, followed by a short car journey to the park. Daily buses also make this route.

Local Transportation and Nearby Accommodation

There are various lodging options near the park, ranging from luxurious resorts to cozy cabins and camping areas. Local taxis and organized tours can facilitate transportation within the region.

Impact on the Community and Local Economy

Tourism and its Influence on Local Development

Tourism in the park has played a crucial role in the development of the local economy, creating employment opportunities and promoting biodiversity conservation.

Conservation Projects and their Impact

Conservation projects within the park, many of which are funded by tourism revenues, have significantly contributed to the protection of endangered species and the preservation of its exceptional natural beauty.

Challenges and Future of the Park

Climate Change and Its Impact

Climate change poses a serious challenge to the park’s future, as it could disrupt its delicate ecosystems and impact its rich biodiversity.

Ongoing Conservation Efforts

Despite these challenges, several conservation efforts are underway to preserve and protect this natural treasure for future generations.

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