Volcán Barú is Panama’s tallest mountain (3475m) and an extinct volcano that dares all visitors to take it on. From the park entrance (US$5), south of Boquete, a 13.5km-long boulder-strewn road, passable only with a customized 4WD, winds up to the cloud-shrouded peak. It’s a steep and strenuous four- to eight-hour hike, and another six hours or so back to Boquete.
From the top, the cloud cover breaks every so often to reveal the sight of at least one of the oceans. Your best chance of catching the breathtaking view of both the Pacific and Atlantic is to climb in the dry season (late Dec–April), in the dark (head torch needed), setting off around midnight or 1am, to arrive at the summit at dawn. Although the trail is for the most part clear and not technical, a guide is recommended in case the weather turns foul and foggy, or someone twists their ankle.
Take waterproof clothing, dress in layers and wear good hiking shoes.