Panama Travel: The Pipeline Trail

travel Nov 06, 2019

Our first adventure was hiking the Pipeline trail. It's a moderately easy hike you can do in half a day. Since we went in October it rains almost every afternoon, so it's a good idea to wake up early and start the hike.

Getting to the trail:

We woke up around 6.30 am and got ready with our hiking boots and jackets. We got breakfast and had our hotel arrange us a cab. After about 20 mins of a scenic drive we reached the trail. There is a sign that shows which way to go. You can also take a guided tour, however it is pretty straight forward so you can save some money here and go for it yourselves. After a short walk some locals came and collected $5 each from us and made us sign our names on a piece of paper.

The Hike:

After this point there is only one clear path, so if like me you are scared you would get lost be assured its a clear path. The hike through the jungle is wonderful. The green trees and sound of the chirping birds consumes you. It seems completely secluded and is weird to think how close you are to the town.

This trail is the best place to spot a Quetzal, a strikingly colorful bird very popular in Panama. One of our main goals was to spot a Quetzal on this hike, so we were sure to keep our eyes on both the trail and the sky.

The 1000 year old Mexican Elm:

Towards the end of the trail there is a hard to miss ancient Mexican Elm which is about 1000 years old! The magnificent tree makes you feel so small.

Waterfall Delight and the quest to spot a Quetzal:

After seeing the tree the hike starts becoming more wild. We started hearing howler monkeys, but still no sign of a Quetzal yet. After almost giving up we made it! There was a beautiful waterfall. We sat there and admired the beauty for a while and took pictures. Since it was just us we were in no rush. But we had to leave as the sky started to darken and the promised rain was on its way. We quickly but carefully made our way back. On our hike back we spotted a female Quetzal! Seemed like the day was just perfect!  

Getting Back:

After getting out of the trail we saw a bus stop and sat down. Although it seemed like no bus or taxi will ever come this way, a bus (also known as colectivo) finally came by. We waved at it and they picked us up. They dropped us to the city center in the now pouring rain.

Total Duration and Difficulty:

It took us about 4 hours to complete the trail. Because of my bone bruise we walked slowly. So I think if you want you can do it faster. It's a medium intensity trail, so if you have moderate fitness you should be just fine!

All in all, it was definitely a great hike, and we would love to go back to see if we can find a male Quetzal!