Somewhere in nowhere, hidden in the mountains of northwest Panama, is the little village Santa Fé. Not many travellers find the way to this hidden paradise, which is a pity.
Santa Fé has plenty trails to hike, cascades to see and wild rivers to swim in.
In and around this village it´s possible live to see the real Panama
Santa Fé lies at an altitude of about 430m and is located in the Veraguas Province, northwest Pamama. About 3 000 people live in the village which was founded 1560. The Caribbean Sea is 60km away.
We stayed in the hostel "La Qhia" which is close to the towncenter and led by a very friendly Belgium woman. It was one of the best hostels we stayed at on our trip, so far. The room was beautiful and we shared the bathroom and kitchen with people around the world.
The next supermarket is close, just walking 5 minutes down the street or 10 minutes downhill to the center of the village for local fruit and vegetables.
The owner of the hostel knows the region very good, gives helpful tips where to hike and helps out with trail explications.
The first place we visited was the finca of Egberto Soto, a local farmer who is working 12 months a year on his fields and is a local producer. He has ten children and plenty of fruit trees and vegetables growing on his field.
The way to get there is interesting and difficult. We passed some local barracks and had a spectacular view over the region. We started at 250m altitude and finished after almost 7km uphill at 650m. The trail is crossing some creeks on the road and has olenty steep hills going up and down. On our way up we met Josué, one of Egbertos children, who is walking this way every day to get to school.
Egbertos Finca is the last house in the little village on the top of the mountain. They welcomed us very well, eventhough we didn´t tell them that we would come. They showed us their waterfalls in the backyard with swimming holes, offered us some fruit of their garden and had lunch with us. The trail to the waterfalls which Milton, another son of Egberto, showed us, was going over water and slippery stones. He was walking in front and jumped so easily over everything that he made Laura and me, who tried to follow him, feel old.
The waterfall was beautiful! A high cascada coming from the mountains with some big pools around. Other smaller waterfalls came down from every side and created a really relaxing atmosphere.
Thanks to the good translation of Laura, we had very interesting talks! We told him about Luxembourg and he explained us about the work on his finca and interesting facts about Panama.
At the end of the stay we were literally sitting together with the whole family in their hut and were joking around.
Río Las Lajas
Our last day we had a beautiful hike to the Río Las Lajas. On our way we observed a long black snake climbing up a hill very quickly and we found a dead coral snake on the street.
The hike is easy and 7 km along local barracks, pasture landscape and over several bridges. The last part is through the waist-deep river Las Lajas with slippery stones.
At the place where we wanted to stay was a waterfall with turquoise refreshing water.
Not many people know this place most of the time we were on our own.
As not many people know Santa Fé, it can keep his charm and doesn't get overrun by the tourism. There are almost no hostels in this little village and no tourists on the streets.
The temperature is wonderful and Santa Fé has plenty of little trails to discover the amazing landscape.
It's the perfect place to discover the real Panama and get in contact with locals. If someone finds the way into this little village, I really recommend to visit the finca of Egberto Soto, to spend the day with the lovely family and to learn more about the farmers and their problems in Panama.
Santa Fé was a short but very powerful experience! Definitely a highlight on our travel!