(UPDATED ON July 1, 2020) Volcan is in the Chiriqui district of Panama, roughly 75 to 90 minutes from Boquete, a huge ex-pat area near Volcan Baru. It is slightly South of the Continental Divide. My husband and I road trip there for a change of scenery from Boquete (our part-time home) and to spend the day in the beautiful mountain town.
The town of Volcan holds some special things that you can’t do just anywhere in the world, so a road trip is a must-do when visiting the country.
Here are things to do in Volcan, Panama, that we suggest on your day trip.
Meet Artist Arte Cruz
Drop by Arte Cruz’s master woodworking shop to see the custom craftsmanship. His incredible works have been featured in several magazines and he made several doors for a winemaker that I adore here in the states.
Arte is a charming man and chances are that he will display his talents for you by etching a piece of glass or making a personalized wooden keychain in under two minutes. Video it and share it with your friends!
Discover Sitio Barriles
Explore Panama’s most famous archaeological site and museum, Sitio Barrilles. The address is Vía Caizán, Km 6, Barrilles, Panama, which may or may not work on a phone map, but you can ask any local and they can tell you how to get there. Uncovered from the Barriles location include AD 300-900 artifacts named after the barrels that were the first objects discovered. The treasures have been studied by those around the world since the 1940s.
Sitio Barrilles is privately owned by a lovely family that shares their finds in the form of statues, ceramic artifacts, and excavation areas. Many of the petroglyphs are only visible when water is poured on the surface. It is magical.
Besides the historical relics, the grounds are stunning with amazing collections of flowers and plants. They even had puppies when we visited and a sweet young calf out back. I was exhilarated from the huge dose of nature, history, and wildlife at Sitio Barriles. It is a do-not-miss stop and one of the top things to do in Volcan!
Eat a Delicious Local Lunch
Enjoy a tasty meal from Fanny’s Terrace Bistro, one of the best eateries for miles. Though the menu changes daily, you are in for a real treat eating the culinary specialties that Fanny offers using only the freshest herbs, fruits, and vegetables. The pasta meals are my favorite, but the Greek salad is something I must have every visit.
If Beef Stroganoff is on the menu, make sure to order it over rice or noodles. Tender strips of filet mignon with tart sliced pickles, mushrooms, and a creamy sauce put this Stroganoff over the top!
Be Intrigued by Wildlife at Raquel’s Ark
Visiting Raquel’s Ark, a privately owned animal rescue center (injured or abandoned wildlife), is undoubtedly one of my favorite things to do in Panama. Raquel is warm and friendly, opening up her animal collection to the public to see and understand. Although Raquel has several animals, the howler monkeys and sloths are the favorites.
Holding a sloth is right up there with one of the best things ever. Their coarse hair, cute little round eyes, and powerful claws are something you need to see. They love being held, fed nuts and fruits, or just talked to.
The howler monkeys are a bit wild but very entertaining. Make sure to leave a donation as Raquel pays for these animals’ upkeep and food out of her pocket.
Sample World-Class Coffee at Janson Coffee Farm
Stop for coffee at the world-famous premium Arabica Janson Coffee Farm. Take a coffee tour or simply unwind on the beautiful grounds enjoying a stellar coffee or tea and pastry. This agro-tourism farm has great views of the enormous Volcan Baru mountain, the highest in the country.
Janson’s rare Geisha varietal is one of the most famous and expensive coffees in the world, owned by the same family for three generations.
Buy Local Fruits and Veggies
Shop for produce at the local market stalls that run in and out of town. Here, you can find typical Panamanian fruits and vegetables and rambutan, closely related to the lychee and one of my favorite Costa Rican fruits.
Relax and Unwind at the Hotel Bambito
The Hotel Bambito offers 47 tastefully appointed rooms with views of the beautiful garden in this “oasis of tranquility”. A heated indoor swimming pool is a welcome treat in this part of the country.
Las Truchas, the onsite restaurant at Hotel Bambito, tantalizes your taste buds whether you are a guest or just visiting for a meal. You may want to consider bringing an overnight bag and stay at this Alpine-style eco-retreat in Volcan. Complimentary breakfast is included with your stay.
Volcan: A Beautiful Panama Destination
Volcan is beautiful! You will marvel over the green vistas and rolling mountains that go on for miles. I love seeing cattle in the fields; Panama has Blenheim cows, totally different from our American cows.
Another fun thing to do in Volcan is world-class birding with treasures such as the blue-crowned motmot and colorful araçari. No matter what you choose to do in this lovely part of the country, have your camera ready for its natural beauty and spur of the moment memorable occurrences.
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