Birds: 2.0 | Orchids: 3.5 | Plants: 3.5 | Landscapes: 5 | Signaling: 3.0
If you are visiting Chiriqui, we totally recommend this trail of the Thunder Waterfall. It is a hidden tourist attraction located near the Rio Macho de Monte in Tierras Altas de Chiriqui. In this page we provide all you need to know to be able to get to this beautiful place.
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The zone of Cordillera, where its located is known for its cattle pastures. It is where most of the milk in Panama is produced. Because of this, this area has recieved a lot of intervention and has lost most of its forests which makes this trail a jewel that preserves many animal and plant species.
This trail goes into a canyon dug by the Bregue river which later on feeds the Cangilones gorges.
The Bregue River turns into this amazing waterfall of 4 stories high (12 meters) which when it falls it creates a loud roar, hence why its called "Thunder Waterfall". The large energy of this waterfall also makes strong wet winds that are inspiring.
This trail has one of the best waterfalls in Chiriqui and is worth the visit. It is near Macho de Monte so many people go to both places in one afternoon.
This trail is free
Open all day
This trail is best to visit with guide since it doesn’t have proper signaling. If you want to visit without a guide watch the video.
Public Transport Access
There is a bus going from Volcan to Cordillera though it has a very irregular schedule. We suggest hiring a taxi in Volcan.
You need a 4×4 car to get to the trail entrance.
Walking the trail takes about 35 minutes each way plus whatever time you spend in the waterfall
In rainy season it is not advised to visit this trail because of surges and slippery mud when walking down the trail.
We didn’t see any mosquitoes though we advise to wear repellent.
There is no cellphone signal whatsoever in the trail. At the entrance there is limited Digicel and Movistar coverage
What to wear and bring
How to get There
You start off in the main road that goes from Bugaba to Volcan. When that road reaches the town of Cuesta de Piedra, about halfway to Volcan, thats where you have to to into the road that takes you to Potrerillo or Boquete. In that road, which heads East you have to turn to your left at the first intersections (see picture).
You go straight after that and pass by a school.
You follow that road until you see a bus stop next to a church (see picture below). At this point you take a right to that road.
From that point on the road becomes difficult since its not paved. You must follow it for about 1 Km until you reach the entrance of this path. The entrance is not marked so you have to look for this spot:
You can park there and start the hike down the path.
Check out our Tierras Altas de Chiriqui Travel Guide
Thunder Waterfall Trail
The trail starts by going down a steep slope. You must be careful of loose gravel and some spiny plants. When you reach the hill, you have to go under a fallen tree log and always keep to your left. The only signs are peaces of fabric tied to branches every 100 meters as seen in the following picture.
When you reach the river you turn to your left and follow the trail at the side of the river. You have to climb a large boulder at one point and soon after the path makes you cross the river. You will know you have reached that point because there is a cable you can use to hold on to.
To get closer to the waterfall you must continue straight to it to the right of the river, that path is not easily visible. We climbed the rocks but in retrospect it was a bit dangerous so we advice you look for that path.
If you want to get even closer we recommend you bring clothes that you know you will get wet because the mist from the waterfall will reach you from far away.
At this point you can go swimming and take pictures. The water is not as cold as in Cerro Punta but it still chilly.
This trail is relatively steep at the beginning, not well signaled, lots of loose rocks, slippery mud and crosses the river with about 1.5 mts (4 feet) deep.
This zone though not being very biodiverse has beautiful ferns, bromeliads, and mushrooms growing on the trees and some orchids along the trail.
Some beautiful butterflies and birds. We suspect earlier in the day may be better for birdwatching.
Duration: 1 hour + time in waterfall
An impressive waterfall of over 4 stories high that fades into a mist which covers the place
Be careful when crossing the river, the rocks are slippery and in the rainy season there could be surges. on the walk down its slippery. This zone is known for having many snakes.
Contactos y Guias
Jorge Santamaría is a young guide with lots of energy, experience and responsibility. He hace experience in tourism safety and is actually a member of a group of rescuers from Tierras Altas de Chiriqui.
This post is also available in: Spanish