CERRO TUREGA ‘THREE PEAKS’ HIKE IN COCLE, PANAMA
Cerro Turega is an epic trail that leads you past waterfalls before up an intense incline to reach the three peaks at the summit with panoramic views!
Photos by myself @jerryfit
HIKING CERRO TUREGA ‘THREE PEAKS’ IN A CRAZY THUNDERSTORM
We began the day in Valle de Anton and had to wait quite a while for the public bus to Alto de la Estancia. Buckle in because the journey up this hill is a rollercoaster with the crazy drivers who have mastered the hairpin turns up and down the steep incline.
The bus dropped us just after the school and without a guide, we just wandered into the village. Alejandro came up to us and asked if we were trying to hike Cerro Turega. We were stoked that we had bumped into him because we really wanted and NEEDED guide. As often happens in Panama, no prices were discussed. Both parties just have a mutual respect that they will do the fair thing and the fair price for the knowledge and effort of the guide. It’s old school and I love it. You never abuse it and always pay a fair price or more because once the trust is lost it never comes back. The balance of trust between tourist and locals is imperative to the experience and in Panama, it is still very much intact, unlike some huge tourist destinations that are all about the money.
We headed off down the hill as we looked up at Cerro Turega. It seemed far away but in reality, the hike was only a 6km hike. However, the hike is regularly touted as a 4-hour journey and this is because the terrain is incredibly steep and slippery making it very slow going.
After only fifteen minutes of hiking, we had a surprise! I thought this was going to be just a mountain hike but all of a sudden we reached a river and a beautiful little waterfall spot. You can climb up the back of the waterfall and even jump in. Of course, check the landing area first for rocks and debris!
From this waterfall onwards the entire journey was pretty much straight up the hill. The path ended quickly and Alejandro put the machete to work while we scrambled up behind him. The ground was so slippery we were grabbing onto the small trees and pulling ourselves up but it was very hard work.
Then the rain kicked in and we started getting hammered by a ferocious thunderstorm or ‘Tormenta’ as they say in Spanish. It made matters even harder and we were slipping all over the place. Completely saturated, scratched up and tired we somehow managed to pull ourselves to the summit.
For a brief moment, the rain stopped and we could enjoy the summit. I even managed to pull the drone out of the bag and send it off into the sky for two minutes before the storm chased it back in. To all the photographers and content creators, a rule I always follow is the following:
Get your photos or videos when the weather is good. Not when the time is convenient. Often you might only have a small window of the sun or a break in the storm. You can always shoot later but this summit was a great example. If I had grabbed a drink or a snack the drone would have stayed packed away. It wouldn’t be the end of the world but when you carry it up and down hikes like these you want to use it! I managed to click two photos while we were at the top before the storm hammered us again. The rest of the photos I took while we were back down the bottom and just flew it back up!
There are three epic peaks but as far as I know, you can only reach the first where you can see us standing in the photos. They are very steep and I would be surprised if peak two and three are accessible. The views are beautiful and we got a few glimpses amidst the fog and stormy clouds.
Lightning struck and we sensed some serious danger and began hurrying down the mountain. The thunder was booming and the lighting was striking very close. On top of a summit next to a flagpole wasn’t the ideal resting place!
The rain was absolutely crashing down now and our path had now turned into a river, we were slipping and sliding everywhere and this had really turned into a crazy jungle adventure. Luckily we had waterproof bags to store the camera gear!
We took an alternate route home because the river was raging too much but luckily Alejandro was able to guide us to a bridge he knows and we took the long safer route back home.
HOW TO HIKE CERRO TUREGA
I don’t often suggest a guide. However, you need a guide. The trail was in places clear and then at other times, it was a pure jungle. Our guide put his machete to good use and at times it seemed as if he was creating the trail for the first time. We zig-zagged across the mountain and scrambled our way to the top with the help of our guide. We were stuck in an insane thunderstorm at the top and rain bucketed down on us. Our guide had to navigate a new safer way down and then make several alternate routes as the river was now raging. Without him, we would have been in some serious trouble. Like I said, I am all about the DIY adventure, but as of September 2018, this hike requires a guide for not only your own safety but to navigate the trail.
We walked into the village and Alejandro welcomed us and we were lucky that he was willing to take us up that afternoon. I have put his contact details below. At the end of the hike, despite the insane thunderstorm and the tough hike he told us we didn’t need to pay. I’m sure he may have been expecting us to (as we should!) but he is a genuine guy who is stoked to show you the nature in his region. He wanted us to come back on a sunny day to show us again! We were a group of four and one of our group is als0 local (not of Cerro Turega) who suggested $5 per person and $20 total was a fair price for the 4-hour journey. His wife gave us some oranges after the hike and it was just a really cool experience with Alejandro and being able to be part of his day as he was ours.
+507 6642 7850
If you can’t reach him, you can try your luck and just visit the village and ask for him or any other available guides who know the area well.
CONTACT JERRY THE LOCAL GUIDE (MY BEST FRIEND IN PANAMA)
If you need a local guide or are looking for tips to travel through Panama I suggest contacting, Jerry, one of my best friends from Panama. He runs group tours to off the beaten path locations like Escudo de Veraguas and Bayano Caves. He is a local, indigenous guide who is incredibly funny, honest and knows Panama by the back of his hand. We explored all of Cocle together and went on some insane adventures and he became like a brother to me. If you have any questions or want help, tours, guides or tips he is your man.
WhatsApp: +507 6153 8924
WHERE IS CERRO TUREGA
Cerro Turega is in Alto de la Estancia, which is a short bus ride out of Valle de Anton. The bus will pick you up from the town center. Just wait for the Alto de la Estancia bus to come past and tell the driver you want to be dropped at Cerro Turega entrance. They will drop you just after the school and you will head down a road into the village on the right. Here is a map of the pink location for Cerro Turega.
ADVENTURE BAG FROM CERRO TUREGA IN PANAMA
This is an adventure bag. It is full of trash. Every time I go on an adventure I collect one adventure bag full of trash. It’s my small way of saying thanks to mother nature for allowing me to enjoy her beautiful creations. If we have time to go on an adventure we have time to collect an adventure bag on the way back out of the trail once we have enjoyed the waterfall, the hike or the beach. Adventure hard!