Finca El Oasis in the Baru Volcano National Park

In 1945, Don Yen Menendez, as he was known, arrived on foot and then on horseback to Finca El Oasis in Boquete. He colonized this 513 acre (208 hectare) estate located at 2,300 meters above sea level. He managed to get his title deed in 1953.

In its beginnings the farm was for agricultural production and sowing onions, potatoes, lettuce, among others. They opened a trail to the farm to take out the products. But the erosion of the soil added to the over growth of the products caused losses due to the bad state of the road.

In the 1970s, the government of Panama opened a road to the top of Baru Volcano to improve telecommunications. INTEL, the institution that existed before telecommunications was privatized, put antennas on top of the volcano that still exist.

Baru Volcano National Park

In 1976, the Baru Volcano National Park was created with an area of 14,325 hectares. It is part of the Mesoamerican biological corridor and has many unique species including red deer and white tail; peanuts; jaguars; snakes, among others. More than 250 species of birds have been seen in the park.

With an altitude of 3,475 meters (11,401 feet) it is the highest point in all of Panama. On a clear day you can see the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea from its summit. To climb to the top you must walk 13.5 kilometers on foot. You can also go on the Los Quetzales Trail that connects Boquete with Cerro Punta bordering the volcano. Finca Bajo Mono Camping Site is very close to the entrance to this trail.

Finca El Oasis has a tour operator called Oasis Adventures that offers tours to Baru Volcano in 4×4. They pick up tourists at 4 a.m. in their hotel in Boquete. The idea is that they can see the sunrise at the top. The tour lasts 6 hours and includes guide, hot drinks (chocolate or coffee), juice, water and sandwiches. It is very cold at the top (3 degrees) at 5:45 a.m. so they should go with warm clothes. They usually descend a bit before 8 a.m.

Tourism in Finca El Oasis

Today, the farm is managed by Maximo Menendez, which is the third generation. He is adapting the place to be a site for tourism respecting the environment.

Visits to Finca El Oasis need reservations. They have the capacity to handle individual reservations and groups. In December for high season they will open completely to the public. It has a restaurant that serves grilled or typical Panamanian food.

An area is being enabled for those who wish to camp. This space is next to the restaurant and has full bathrooms with showers and a barbeque area. They are starting to build a small hotel with few rooms. In the future they want to build another more luxurious hotel in the entrance area that has a beautiful panoramic view. Maximo thinks about doing something like the Hobbits cabins.

Day tours

Those wishing to visit Finca El Oasis for the day will go on a 3-kilometer hike through a place that looks like something out of the Lord of the Rings movie.

It looks like an enchanted forest full of trees and moss where one imagines that elves, fairies, gnomes and other creatures live. I do not know if all these creatures appear but what you will be able to see is birds. They have 135 different species on the farm.

The guide will explain you about the different types of trees you will see, including ash, oak, mamesillo and aguacatillo. The latter is preferred by quetzals since it serves as food. You can see them commonly between November to June or July. But with climate change they are already on the farm almost all year round. The two times I went I could see them very close.

It is no longer an agricultural farm, they only raise Suffolk sheep, originally from England. They are raised for meat and for their wool. Visitors can see them while they graze and understand how they move by herd following their leader.

Then you will go to a viewpoint where you can see the Gulf of Chiriqui, the Caldera plain and the Chorcha plateau. Finally, they will go through a blackberry plantation where they can taste and harvest them.

They are finishing a zipline canopy tour that will have nine lines. The longest will have 800 meters.

In addition, they are enabling a path to climb the Baru Volcano inside Finca El Oasis. This is being done in conjunction with the Ministry of Environment and the Bioguides Association. At the moment hikers go road that offers little vegetation in comparison to this possible route that is also shorter.

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