The laidback mountain village of SANTA FÉ has become popular as a retreat from the “backpacker trail” – which ironically has put it firmly on the must-do list. Like El Valle, the village enjoys lush hillsides and a cool microclimate, but the scenery is far more impressive and, unlike El Valle, Santa Fé is a genuine thriving village – rather than a weekend playground for Panama City’s elite. It is famous for its co-operatives, which were founded in the late 1960s by a young Colombian priest named Héctor Gallego, who wanted to help local farmers get a fair price for their goods. For reasons that are unclear he was persecuted and eventually murdered by General Noriega’s henchmen but his presence lives on here: a statue of him marks the village entrance and a foundation in his name continues to help local farmers. There’s a wealth of outdoor activities here, including hiking, tubing, horseriding and waterfall trips.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Panama features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

16 pictures that show the colours of Panama

16 pictures that show the colours of Panama

After a recent trip to Central America, travel photographer Nori Jemil shares some of her best pictures of Panama.  The geographically strategic isthmus of …

30 Dec 2015 • Nori Jemil insert_drive_file Article
10 things you didn't know you could do in Panama

10 things you didn't know you could do in Panama

There’s a whole lot more to Panama than its famous canal. Hiking, rafting, surfing and diving are just a few of the excellent adventure activities on offer, a…

08 Sep 2015 • Megan Eileen McDonough insert_drive_file Article
A little piece of paradise: visiting Panama’s San Blas Islands

A little piece of paradise: visiting Panama’s San Blas Islands

Let’s clear one thing up straight away: getting to the San Blas islands is not easy, whichever way you’re coming from. And that’s quite deliberate. The…

23 Oct 2014 • James Rice insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month