Bike commuting in western Panama
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Dec 17, 2012 5:03 PM Last Post By: angava
Dec 4, 2012 6:13 AM
Bike commuting in western PanamaHi, I will be traveling bike commuting from the south of Costa Rica to the western part of Panama, entering Panama through the Paso Canoas border. In Panama I'm planning to visit Volcán Barú and Boquete at least, however I was also considering to ride the bike to the caribbean side passing through Chiriquí, Almirante, Changinola and entering Costa Rica again through de Sixaola/Guabito border. In Sixaola I would take a bus back to San Jose (where I live).
I am planning to ride the bike in rural or paved roads that don't have much traffic (for my safety), however looking at the Panama highway maps I am not sure if it's possible to get from Boquete to Chiriqui/Almirante/Changinola using those kind of roads? I don't care if it takes a little bit longer.
My other question is related with safety (speaking about theft and robbery). I have visited other parts of Panama and they all have seemed to be very safe. I wonder about how safe are the places I mentioned for traveling bike commuting.
Dec 4, 2012 7:04 AM
1sounds like a great adventure.
From just south of the town of Volcan, in Cuesta del Piedra, is the new road that goes to Boquete. It's paved, has little traffic (though people go fast) and does have some very steep up and downs. You might want to explore this, heading up from Concepcion to Volcan, and then backtrack a little to Questa del Piedra, over to Portrilllos and then up to Boquete. You will skip all the city traffic of David.
From Concepcion to Volcan, it's possible to find smaller roads that take you off the main one, which are in pretty good shape.
You should also know that currently the road to Boquete is under construction and is a bit of a mess, however, it would be nice for biking as there are paved lanes that are not being used by cars, so you would have a little more space.
I'm less sure about back roads from Boquete over to Bocas. I think there are very few, but don't really know.
As far as safety goes, I don't see a big problem with theft and robbery. There are many bikers on these roads these days as it's becoming a popular sport in Chiriqui.
Feel free to PM me if you want more details.
Pura Vida, Ballardo
Dec 4, 2012 7:54 PM
2After leaving Boquete, there is the turn off towards the town of caldera, if you pass through caldera there is the road that is newly paved to and through the town called Chiriquicito that pops out on the bocas road near lost and found hostel, this a backroad with very little traffic, about 80% is freshly paved with the first 20% past caldera paved but with potholes...the second option is to take the turn off on the boquete to David main road, the same one suggested above and just before you get to Caldera, there is a turn off to your right that takes you to a town called Gualaca that is on the Bocas highway as well, this is a flat stretch to get to Gualaca nicely paved little traffic but you pop out further down from the other suggestion. Both routes would be to your liking and would allow you not to have to pass through David and along the Interamericana highway. Both routes are quite scenic. So, either directly through the town of Caldera and climb up to the Chiriquicito route and pop out just before Lost and Found Hostel on the bocas highway or turn just before Caldera to your right and pass through the town of Gualaca to start your climb to Almirante and bocas direction. Hope that helps, definately doable and more enjoyable than through david and along the highway, you would save some time for sure as well...more scenic, best of luck
Dec 5, 2012 12:18 AM
3I don't think there is very much in the way of alternative routes over the mountain range from the Pacific side to the Atlantic side of Panama but I didn't find the traffic too bad. Likewise riding up to Sixola you are pretty much stuck on the main road but there is enough shoulder to make it safe enough and the road is in much better condition than Costa Rican roads.
There is a third border crossing between Paso Canaos and Sixola that is close to Volcan, I believe, that would get you off the Interamericana much sooner, too. I haven't been that way so I don't have details but it might be worth checking out.
Dec 5, 2012 8:53 AM
Dec 5, 2012 12:36 PM
5Thanks a lot for all the helpful information. I didn't know about the third border (Sereno), it can be a very good option for me saving some time and avoiding the interamerican road.
My conclusion is that there are many options of cycler friendly roads in the Volcán-Boquete, Caldera, Chiriquicito area.
However, to cross the mountain range (Reserva Forestal de Fortuna) and get to the caribbean side, and then to Almirante and Changinola the only option is the main road, however it's "cycler-friendly".
Dec 6, 2012 2:55 PM
Dec 13, 2012 6:22 AM
7Sure I will let you know how it was after I come back.
I'm still concerned about how bike friendly is the road between Gualaca and Chiriqui Grande (the one that crosses the moutains and takes you to the Caribbean). I know it's cold but I'm used to ride my bike in colder places in Costa Rica, so I think I can handle that.
I'm worried about heavy trucks in this highway, are there many of them?
Dec 17, 2012 5:03 PM
8Now I have a better idea of my route. I'm planning to go from Sereno to Volcán, and then to Punta Burica, however I'm a little bit worried since I have read about how dangerous it can be to ride the bike in the secondary roads at Panama because the roads are too narrow and there are many curves. Do you think is like that where I will ride my bike?
Also, I saw there are two routes that connect Sereno and Volcan, one that passes by Caisán, and another one that is more in the north. Which one is better?
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