The small town of Volcan lies on the side of the Baru Volcano, one of the region’s most impressive landmarks. Located around 45 mins drive from David, Volcan is a 7 hour drive from Panama City. There is a regular plane service between David and Panama City though, and flights take only 40 mins.
Volcan is a quiet and peaceful town, largely free of the tourists that you find in Boquete. The area is very remote and sparsely populated. The scenery is some of the most spectacular in Panama. The volcano dominates the skyline but is surrounded by mountains. At the foothill are lush green fields, home to horses and cattle. The various shades of green you see in Volcan are much more vivid than elsewhere in Panama.
Traffic is not an issue in Volcan, and you’ll see no pollution. If you enjoy spending time outside, this is the place for you. On the flipside the area has little in the way of amenities. The town has some restaurants, a bank, supermarket and a few other stores that cater to everyday living. If you’re a culture vulture, or looking for a varied or lively nightlife you will want to look elsewhere.
An advantage of living in Volcan instead of Boquete is the lower cost of living. Real estate is far more affordable with plenty of land available too. The region has abundance of local produce, available at bargain prices. If your happy to eat fresh, seasonal produce, your day-to-day costs will be low. Another bonus is that you don’t need air conditioning or central heating.
|Rent||US$800||Close to downtown, American style, small house, unfurnished.|
|Transportation||US$50||Local buses, taxis, car expenses.|
|Gas||US$15||Commonly used for Cooking and heating|
|Electricity||US$35||No air conditioning.|
|Internet||US$30||Calls, texts, and low data|
|Cell Phone||US$30||Calls, texts, and low data.|
|Household Help||US$80||Maid-one day per week ($20 per 8 hour day).|
|Entertainment||US$105||This includes eating twice a week (430 per meal for 2), drinks twice a week ($3 per drink), and a movie theater trip to David once a month ($20).|
|Groceries||US$400||Basic items for a couple|
|Medical Appointment||US$15||Basic doctor’s visit with a GP.|
|Total Monthly Expenses||US$1,610.00|
There are several rain forests in Panama, but the Highlands center around Volcan Baru. The peak of the volcano is 3,475 meters (11,000 feet) in elevation. On a clear day, trekkers willing to make the four-hour ascend can see both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean.
With increased elevation in the highlands, temperatures are much cooler—a welcomed break from the heat of the lowlands. Jackets are a mainstay in Volcan, Panama, against the nearly constant mist that provides frequent opportunities to view rainbows. There are two major areas in the highlands that have expat communities.
Tucked into the west side of the volcano sits the small town of Volcan. To the opposite side is the popular town of Boquete. Both areas are beautiful examples of highlands and rain forests but offer two different lifestyles.
Most people do not visit nor live in Volcan for the town itself. For most, it’s the impressive scenery and a chance to get in touch with nature. This makes the area an attractive place for expats looking for a quiet, laid-back lifestyle. The area surrounding Volcan is one of the most picturesque areas of Panama, with long, wide vistas of rolling hills shrouded in cloud mist. It’s not unusual to see sprawling homes with picture windows designed for the incredible view.
Volcan is the agricultural center of Panama, and the low hills provide an ideal location to cultivate produce. Horse and dairy farms are popular, as well as traditional vegetable farms. Not a day in Volcan goes by without seeing trucks cruising the hillside heaped with carrots, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes. It’s part of the local charm of the region.
Farming is not for everyone. Fortunately, the highlands offer a variety of outdoor activities. Volcan Baru National Park, which is just down the road, features a plethora of hiking trails. The trails range in difficulty and length, with one six-hour trail wrapping around the side of Volcan Baru to Boquete. You can also head to the summit of the volcano from here.
If hiking is not your fancy, you can enjoy other outdoor activities in the Volcan area. One example is the Lagunas de Volcán—two wetland lakes that sit at 4,000 feet—the highest lakes in all of Panama. Panama is home to over 900 species of birds, so you’ll enjoy a day full of bird-watching.
An often overlooked yet incredible site 7 miles south of Volcan is Cañon Macho de Monte.: Formed by the river, Río Macho de Monte, it’s a popular day spot. The canyon itself is spectacular but also provides a host of activities. Depending on what part of the canyon you’re in, the river offers class IV rapids for kayakers and areas for the more sedentary choice of inner-tubing or to relax in the cool water. Although the river is the main attraction here, remember to look up occasionally as the canyon is home to a high quantity of bird species.
Ultimately, Volcan is a small community with basic amenities. It might not seem like there’s much to offer while driving down the main road, but locals know straying off the beaten path is the key to discovery.
The town boasts restaurants that range from familiar Mexican food, to hole-in-the-wall mom and pop stands, to upscale dining with “American” fare. When it comes to accommodations, Volcan, Panama, offers affordable hotels, but, like most foreigners, you can also rent private homes and apartments.
Volcan is known as a top place to live in Panama, especially because it has positive qualities that attract people that want to retire overseas: From fresh mountain air, healthy food, to a calm lifestyle, Volcan ensures that way of life.
If you want to live in Volcan you have to know some Spanish to be able to do business and communicate with the locals.
The climb to Baru Volcano takes four to seven hours and the descent up to five hours. It’ important that you take your time while climbing to the top and through green hills, jungle, and rocky cliffs.
Volcan, Panama, is the best place for retirees looking for a healthy and budget-friendly lifestyle. It’s an ideal location for those seeking a peaceful and leisurely lifestyle, with convenient access to both a city and a beach. All in all, it’s an exciting and relaxed living option.
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