I call Alex Caballero to visit his Sendero La Pantera farm in Veraguas. He sent me the location on WhatsApp up to where the cellphone signal arrived in the town of Cañazas. You must go up a bit more until you reach Los Valles. The road is very picturesque passing through mountains full of greenery, through an area of my country that I did not know.
This place is for those who want to disconnect completely as there is no cell signal or electricity. Supposedly in December 2018 they will have electricity, since they threw the wiring in the area. For now they have solar panels and sometimes they use a power plant. The nights are very cool and you do not need to use air conditioning. The advantage is that the darkness allows you to see the stars well.
You can camp since they have bathrooms and all the infrastructure for this type of activity. They have two cabins with hammocks and double beds made with pine wood from the area. The kitchen can be used by guests who wish to prepare their own food.
Also, it is possible to coordinate to bring a person specialized in the type of food they prefer since the can offer full food service. You can also stay at a hotel in Santiago de Veraguas and go for the day.
Where does Sendero La Pantera come from?
Alex’s father was called the pink panther because used to ride a high Hercules bicycle and the children were called “the little panthers”. That has remained from generation to generation. The three brothers played soccer on the same team and when they said take care of the panther they referred to the three. Alex is the oldest. He has a fireworks business in Santiago called La Pantera.
It is possible to see panthers (jaguars), tiger, peccaries, painted rabbits, ñeques and many birds in the surroundings of Sendero La Pantera. Quira is a tree in danger of extinction, since the wood is very hard it is covetable by the smugglers. Several have been planted on the farm. They are huge and beautiful, when they bloom they turn orange, with an aroma that smells like honey, therefore it is filled with all kinds of insects and birds that sleep there. The birds are the ones that reproduce these trees by moving the seeds.
They have a reforestation project and educate neighbors about the value of conservation. Visitors can learn to plant agricultural products such as yams, yucca, otoe, rice, corn and pigeon peas. They bought a Jeep Wrangler for off-roading and to visit other nearby farms. It is also possible to go horseback riding.
A place for hiking
Sendero La Pantera is the ideal place for hiking. They have several people who can serve as guides depending on the interest. There are huge waterfalls, the largest in Panama, entering through Papayan. You should walk between 3-4 hours on a very nice trail.
Many students from La Salle and Javier schools visit the area to do social work and they take them exploring. The guide also tells people tales of witches and of the town, like when Omar Torrijos and Camilo Gozaine arrived in the area. You can see pines planted by the general like those seen in the La Yeguada Forest Reserve. He sowed them throughout the northern part of Veraguas. Therefore, there are more than 60 thousand hectares of pine. He also had cattle and buffalo, like in Granja Alternativa in Coclesito or Granja Campo y Aventura in Colon.
Discover the Ngäbe-Buglé region
You can go to Bocas del Toro on foot, just cross the mountains that are in the north curve of Veraguas. It takes like 1 day to reach many communities. They are building a road that runs along the sides of San Juan passing through the hydroelectric plant to a local area. The natives walk to Calovebora when they have congresses. If you want to cross to Santa Fe (where you can find Maria and Chon Farm) it is just 3-4 hours.