Camino Real - 4 Day Rainforest Hike
4-day Expedition: Trekking on the Camino Real from ocean to ocean
Trek from Pacific to Atlantic, on a cobblestoned colonial road through the primary rainforest of Chagres & Portobelo National Parks, used by endless mule caravans carrying about 200 tons of silver from Peru and Bolivia a year to the trade fairs of Portobelo, which attracted famous pirate and privateers like Francis Drake. The original route of the Camino Real was rediscovered in countless jungle expeditions by Christian Strassnig, founder of Cultour Panama, where he hiked more than 600 Kilometers in Chagres and Portobelo National Parks. The Camino Real is the forgotten precursor of the Panama Canal, where the mix of indigenous, afro-descendent and mestizo population aspires for sustainable way of living and conservation of surrounding rainforests: experience history and be part of local communities quest for sustainability in tropical rainforests.
This tour allows the participant to cross the Isthmus of Panama along the original route of the Camino Real, beginning in Old Panama on the Pacific Ocean, trekking through the dense jungle of the Alto Chagres to reach Portobelo in the Caribbean. This three-day trekking has expedition character and requires very good physical condition from the participants. The night before departure, we will held a meeting to explain details of expeditions in the jungle, animals, safety, and also what to carry and what not (the trekker carries his day pack, while the tent, food and personal belongings are carried by porters). The challenge of this hike is not the altitude, but the humidity and temperature of the tropical climate. Participate in this expedition really allows to experience and appreciate the work of the historical characters like Francis Drake and the unknown drovers of the mule trains, who crossed this road in the past. The first night we spent at a peasant village, where we will better understand their life situation within a national park and the problems of deforestation and conservation. The second day we start hiking the path of the Camino Real, soon we find a well-preserved segment of it in the mountains of the Chagres National Park and enjoy spectacular scenery. The third day we walk mostly in primary forests below old giant trees up to the headwaters of the Rio Boquerón, which pours down its valley over countless waterfalls. The fourth day we arrive finally at Portobelo in the Caribbean Sea, where between the walls of the Spanish fortifications remains the rich heritage of Afro-Caribbean populations.
First Day: Panama Viejo and Lake Alajuela
In the morning we visit the ruins of Panama Viejo located at the Pacific Ocean. Panama Viejo Ruins, the first city of Panama founded in 1519, was sacked by the English pirate Sir Henry Morgan in 1671 and destroyed by fire. In the afternoon we left the outskirts of Panama and arrive at Lake Alajuela. A boat will take us to a peasant village, far from modern life. In the communal house we enjoy a traditional dish and get to know their culture and traditions and how they pursue a sustainable way of life within Chagres National Park.
Night at the peasant community (with tent and mosquito net). Includes lunch and dinner.
Second Day: Camino Real
Early morning we start the hike on the Camino Real. We ascend onto the edge of the mountains, where we enjoy a marvelous panoramic view of the Chagres National Park. Then we follow the route of the Camino Real between rivers Pequení and Boquerón, until we found a well-preserved section of the Camino Real near the Quebrada Peluca. Hike Details: Distance 15.3 kilometers, up 250 meters, down 150 meters, duration 8 hours. Overnight in tents. Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Third Day: Camino Real
Today we walk mostly through primary forests in the headwaters of the rivers and Cascajal Boquerón. We walk under giant trees of the virgin forest on the banks of the river Boquerón where we observe numerous waterfalls.
Hike Details: Distance 11.2 kilometers, up 170 meters, down 220 meters, duration 8 hours. Overnight in tents. Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Fourth Day: Camino Real
Today we wander the last segment of the Camino Real toward the Caribbean. We walk along the river Cascajal in the footsteps of the Camino Real toward Portobelo. The Bay of Portobelo was discovered by Columbus on his fourth voyage. Later, it was the site of the famous fairs of Portobelo and the starting point of the Spanish treasure fleet. Due to these treasures, the pirate Sir Francis Drake attacked Portobelo, soon after he became ill and lies in a lead coffin somewhere outside the Bay of Portobelo. Late afternoon transfer to Panama City or Colon. Hike Details: Distance 10.8 kilometers, up 75 meters, down 175 meters, duration 5-6 hours. Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.
What to bring:
Trekking boots, walking clothes (long pants), rain coat, a bottle with 1.5 liters of water, bring snacks and lunch for the walk on the second day.
IMPORTANT: In case of rain it is advisable to have dry clothes for the return, therefore take trousers, a shirt and flip-flops in a bag to change after the walk (its kept dry in the bus).
Includes: Guide, Land and water transport, contribution for local communities, National Park Fee, lodging at community and lunch, dinner and breakfast.
For reservation please write us or fill in the form below!