Visiting Finca La Gira is an adventure

Finca La Gira was probably the most difficult farm of all those we visited for the Agro Tourism in Panama campaign. I coordinated with Clara, the owner’s daughter, to meet at 6 a.m. in front of the crafts and produce market in El Valle de Antón. The access to the farm is on a very bad road and you must have a 4×4 vehicle. We opted to take public transportation that costed $3 per way.

You ride on the back of a pick-up that they have enabled to transport people with a tarp in case it rains. You must hold on tight because the road goes through curvy mountain ranges. Only to arrive is an adventure. You’ll see how the indigenous children of the area get up and down in their school uniforms. The road starts at Chorro El Macho in El Valle de Antón and continues for more than an hour along the Indio River until arriving at Jordanal in Ciri Grande. There are no defined stops when you want to get off you just touch the roof of the cabin to notify the driver.

Remigio finds his place in the jungle

Finally we arrived at Finca La Gira where we climbed some stairs to get to the main house of the family. We were greeted with a delicious breakfast of ‘bollos’ which is corn and organic coffee from the farm.

While we were eating, I asked Remigio Moran how he had arrived in the area. He tells me that it was in 1946 and he was born in 1931. First he went to the province of Cocle to find a piece of land, but the reserves they had to distribute to the people had already been hoarded and they did not give him anything. He decided to go to El Valle de Anton but he found it “very narrow” and he wanted a small lot to work and live.

He went through the mountains looking for a piece of land that he liked until he arrived in Jordanal. He met Mr. Rodolfo Arquiñez, who has already died, and bought him 27 hectares for $70.

It was an almost virgin mountain until they made the road in 2001. In 2017 they decided to pave it from El Harino to La Mesa Del Valle de Antón. When I went in April of 2018, they still were missing a lot. To build the road they took away a hectare that the government has not yet compensated.

Before the road they went from El Valle de Anton on foot and it took them about 4-5 hours. They did it since they were children, Clara tells me.

Hiking in thematic paddocks

They do not use the whole Finca La Gira for tourism because there are many wild animals like snakes that they are afraid of. In addition, they want to leave part of the farm as a reserve to protect the clean water they use on the farm.

They had a couple of cows but they got sick and now they lend the land to a neighbor to graze his mares to keep the grass low. The three paddocks are called “cienega, conejo y pomarosa” receiving their names from stories. The cienega of the moor is because one day Remigio went to hunt a rabbit and stayed waiting for the rabbit to enter the trap. He heard a baby crying aloud and shined his flashlight, he got scared and shot what he saw was an animal like a white armadillo. The next day he return to bury the animal could not not find it.

People say that the estate was haunted, that the ‘Tuli Vieja’ passes through the ravine. The Moran family says they have heard her. One day Remigio shot her and since then they have not heard her again. It must be that his old rifle has powers. Also howler monkeys used to pass through the mountain but they stopped existing because they were eaten by the residents of the communities.

They have a suspension bridge built by the brothers that crosses the ‘pomarosa’ which is a grazing land for cattle. The ‘conejo’ is another paddock where many wild rabbits were seen.

You can also go hiking in ‘las bambas’ that are the roots of figs that are more than 100 years old. To get there you must enter inside the mountain. They have made sticks to help you.

Plan your visit to Finca La Gira

They do not have formal lodging but they do have a camping area in front of the owners’ house. At night you can see the jujuna monkey (like in Finca Coco Mambo) and many stars. They organize a fire for you to have light and you can use the bathroom in their house. If you have a tent you can bring it, if not you can rent one, but they only have two people. The maximum number of visitors they receive is 14 people at a time.

They offer traditional and natural foods. The food is served in ‘muca’ which is rice with beans and meat or chicken that is put into Bijao leaves to absorb the flavor. In addition, they can put yucca or banana.

Traditionally it was like a lunch box for the farmers. They make sancocho soup with free range chicken using products from the farm. They always have juices that vary according to the season and the fruits they have including Japanese oranges, nance and tangerines. They grow corn, rice, cassava, ñampi and other foods for self-consumption.

Next to the house they have a collection of orchids including the national flower of the Holy Spirit. They have a space to practice target shooting; bow and arrow and rifle with pellets.

A river passes through the farm

We went to walk through Finca La Gira and ended up in a beautiful river with a floor full of flowers from the trees. It is possible to bathe and although it was rainy season it looked very clean.

In the river you can find any type of stone, red, white, orange, purple, and even with forms. Clara tells me that they make competitions for those who pick the most unique stone.

Before visiting Finca La Gira you must make reservations to coordinate transportation. It is possible to go from Chorrera or from El Valle as we did. I recommend wearing long pants and tick repellent because they stung us, but I would definitely go back to this paradise of Panamanian biodiversity.

More photos of the local flora:

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