Crossing Back Over the Divide – Volcán Baru

After finally stamping out of Costa Rica for the third time it was time to cross back over the Divide. A back route alternative was hard to find. I was told of a hiking route but no biking route; that’s not to say there isn’t one.

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Staying in towns costs money. This spot 100 metres from the road. A local assured me it was safe.

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Huge areas of wilderness in Panama seem to be uninhabited, but they’re also hard to access.

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The road climbs (not quite this steeply)

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It rained loads

I was heading to Boquete and keen to get off the highway. A friend had suggested that Google satellite map shows an off road route to Boquete via Caldera. After chatting to a local, with a difficult to understand accent, on his way to work, I got the impression from the few words I did understand that indeed it was possible to take the dirt road by the hut on the north side on the dam. I took the gamble, it would be costly to come back since the road dropped away steeply.

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It was a great route but also VERY steep in places. This section possibly makeable with less kit, I had to push some of it.

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Then it headed down again

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Again steeply

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With river crossings

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Then after going through a couple closed gates (possibly private property) back up this IMMENSELY steep hill.

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Looking back down it (no, not a cliff)

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More ups

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And then it headed down, STEEPLY. Such a pity to waste the height gain with the brakes almost fully on but the technical challenge was fun.

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Suspension bridge


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These cows followed me for a while which was uncomfortable.


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After another short VERY steep up, some more STEEP downhill.


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Looking back from where I'd come over those mountains. It looked almost impossible!


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And then this happened to the cheap tyre I had bought in Limon (Costa Rica). Whilst repairing another puncture I damaged the tyre bead trying to get the undersized tyre onto my oversized Rhyno Lite wheel rim. I limped to Caldera once the dirt track finally hit a quiet (hilly!) paved section. There I bought another cheap tyre in a Chinese supermarket and struggled for hours to get it on in the boiling sun. It took so long I had to stay in Caldera, cursing the design of Rhyno Lite and cheap Central American tyres.


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After being delayed so much in Caldera, it was time to make the climb up to touristy Boquete. It was arduous work. The road appeared flat so the slow progress I made up the hill was tough psychologically and I felt a certain amount of despair in the hot sun.

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Once in Boquete, it was time to hike the well trodden path up to Volcán Baru. A four wheel track all the way to the top, this could be a possible but TOUGH hike a bike route. I believe they have a downhill only race here each year. In hindsight I would have taken my bike.


I camped with the antennae sharing the fly of my one man MSR hubba tent with a companion I met in the hostel. The stars and views; it was a peaceful and surreal feeling to be up there at night. Most people climb all night for the sunrise. So we had the night alone but a crowded peak in the morning.
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Sunset

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Sunrise

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Heading back down. A bike now would be awesome...

2 thoughts on “Crossing Back Over the Divide – Volcán Baru

  1. It still makes me so happy to see you have a tab here for ‘Climbing volcanoes’. Glad to see your adventure continues! 🙂

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