The mention of Panama evokes visions of its monumental canal, a triumph of human ingenuity. But this Central American gem conceals more than the feats of mankind – it overflows with a cornucopia of natural wonders, including waterfalls of unparalleled beauty nestled in the heart of lush, verdant jungles that form nearly 40 percent of the country.
Often tucked away in remote corners, veiled by mystery and intrigue, these spectacular torrents of water paint a breathtaking picture of majesty and raw power. Sparse or even contradictory information, along with the nameless allure of some and the numerous monikers attached to others, add to their enigma. Further mystifying the landscape, clusters of these cascades huddle close together, creating a mesmerising tableau that borders on the surreal. Thus, unveiling Panama’s waterfalls isn’t merely an exploration—it’s a thrilling adventure into the wild, uncharted beauty of this captivating country.
Located along the Salto del Quiqui river in Cerro Banco, this cascade is widely cited as the tallest waterfall in Panama. QuiQui Falls, sometimes spelled Ki Ki, thunders down from a height of around 330 feet in the dense jungle, descending in a sheer drop with a force so powerful the air around it is filled with mist.
Santa Fe National Park
There are said to be an astonishing 50 or so waterfalls in the wilderness of Santa Fe National Park. The best known are probably the trio known as Alto de Piedra. Charmingly unspoilt and captivating within their remote jungle setting, they range in height from approximately 30 to 50 feet. Or there’s Cascada Bermejo or “Bermejo Falls”. Located further off the beaten track, on the edge of the park, it’s said to have a drop of 115 feet.
El Valle de Antón
At some 230 feet tall, Chorro El Macho is the tallest waterfall in Panama’s El Valle de Antón. Located within a nature reserve, its waters spiderweb down at an angle amid the dense jungle vegetation. The much smaller but more accessible Chorro Las Mozas is also found in the region. Legend has it that this trio of falls represent the tears of three sisters for an unrequited love. A less romantic view is that the cascades and the pools surrounding them were formed when a prehistoric lake breached its banks.
Boquete Waterfall Trails
The area surrounding the city of Boquete boasts a myriad of cascades. Many are found along trails and in private nature reserves. Among the best known are the Lost Waterfalls, also known as the Three Waterfalls or Las Tres Cascadas. As the latter name suggests, this is a trio of falls set within dense jungle. Not too far from there is the Pipeline Trail, which leads to a waterfall known as Cascada Escondida.
El Salto de Las Palmas
When one imagines a rainforest cascade, it’s likely to resemble El Salto de Las Palmas. This most bucolic of waterfalls in Panama plunges some 150 feet in a sheer drop amidst the forests of Veraguas.
La Amistad International Park
The untamed environs of La Amistad International Park is home to yet more incredible examples of waterfalls in Panama. Unspooling like silk threads amid the mossy rocks in the ethereal cloud forests, there are waterfalls of various sizes. The best known is a chaotic cataclysm along the Sendero La Cascada trail, with a drop of around 160 feet.
Darien National Park
Darien National Park is one of the most impenetrable and remote areas on the planet. UNESCO listed the area as a World Heritage site, hailing its “exceptional variety of habitats” and diverse wildlife as “breathtaking”. Within this vast and extraordinary landscape of mountains, jungles and swamps on the Colombian border there are numerous rivers and waterfalls. Amongst these is Cascada en el río Perresénico, a 20-foot high fine sheet of water rushing diagonally through the mud.
Macho de Monte Canyon
A truly spectacular scene of Panamanian waterfalls unfolds as the Río Macho Monte travels through Chiriquí’s Boquerón District and enters Canon Macho de Monte. This canyon is like a deep corridor, with water cascading freely from either side into the enclosed passageway, creating a scene that seems otherworldly.
The Waterfalls of Panama
As we bring our expedition of Panama’s best waterfalls to a close, it’s crucial to note that we’ve merely skimmed the surface of the sheer abundance of breathtaking cascades that this country shelters within its borders. From QuiQui Falls’ mist-filled grandeur to the ethereal beauty of La Amistad International Park’s hidden gems, we’ve journeyed across a fraction of the magnificent water spectacles that dot the Panamanian landscape. Each waterfall, with its unique story and charm, contributes to the country’s rich tapestry of natural wonders, waiting to be discovered and admired.