El Charco Trail, a Small Trail in Soberanía Park

 El Charco Trail.

Near Panama City there is a small trail with a stream, where swim is allowed, that is the El Charco Nature Trail. It is in the Soberanía National Park, it is easy to get there and also to explore it.

I really wanted and was curious to see this trail, so I wrote to Mi Ambiente to make a reservation, they never replied, but since I was going to see another place, the Aerial Tram, I took the opportunity to go by.

 El Charco Trail.
Starting El Charco Trail.

When I arrived, I immediately looked for the forest ranger to report me, but there was no one, literally no one, it looked a bit abandoned, so we went inside.

We made the mistake of not seeing all the signs properly at the beginning, since there is information on both sides and I only saw one, hahaha.

 El Charco Trail.
Fork, where we got entangled.

Well, a few meters away we saw a fork and we didn’t know where to go.

The signposting was not very clear, we took to the right passing through the bridge, by the way, it is nice to take photos, and we began to climb, as if it were a small hill.

However, we heard the sound of the water falling from the stream and everything seemed that we were going the wrong way.

Soberania park
Back, to take the other road.

The Stream

So, we return and a few meters away we reach the stream, which forms a small pool, with the waters of the Sardinilla River.

In front, there is a place to have a picnic, either indoors or outdoors and a small amphitheater.

It has toilet (latrine) and dressing rooms, although it is always better not to consider this part, because it is not known if they are closed or in what condition they are.

I wanted to know the El Charco Trail, I was curious, since I have been to the Plantación Trail, and both are very close.

Although, we only stayed for a short time, we liked the place and we want to return.

It is a nice, quiet place to spend some time with the family. I think the next time that I go, I’ll have a picnic.

the stream
The stream and the swimming pool of El Charco Trail.


No matter which side of Sendero El Charco you take, at the end you pass through the pool and return to the fork, to go to the entrance of the trail.

If you have few conditions or go with small children, you can take the one on the left and return there, they will walk about 120 meters, each section.

But if you are more adventurous and have a little bit of conditions, then you might like to take the one on the right side.

From what I saw, a person with a disability could go (for the short section), at least up to the covered area, there is a ramp to go up, but for the other areas, such as the amphitheater, the floor is ornamental.

 El Charco Trail facilities.
Some facilities.


  • Bring water,
  • Snacks,
  • Swimsuit,
  • Repellent,
  • Cool clothing, not jeans,
  • Cape or raincoat – rainy season,
  • Change of clothes – rainy season,
  • Sneakers,
  • Do not play music or make noise,
  • Do not leave anything,
  • Do not go alone.


  • 0.8km.


  • Easy (short section)
  • Easy-medium (full trail)


  • Tuesday to Sunday,
  • From 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


  • Free entrance (by the moment).

El Charco is being managed by OBC, these are the prices (it is not mandatory to pay for these services):

  • $2.50 use of lavatory, cost per person, per day.
  • $2.50 use of activities area (picnic area) cost per person, per day.

When the authorities indicate they will begin to charge the entrance and the prices will be:

  • Free: children under 12 years old.
  • $ 4.00 nationals and residents.
  • $ 2.00 national students.
  • $ 2.00 national and resident retirees.
  • $ 7.00 foreigners.
  • $ 4.00 foreign students.

For commercial video recordings or photo taking, you must have a special permit, in addition, pay an hourly rate.


According to the Mi Ambiente page, you have to make a reservation, however, I wrote to them and they did not answer me, moreover, when I went to the trail, there was no one at the entrance.

People have told me that a reservation is not necessary for this place. I suggest writing to them before you go, as things can change.

E-mail to reserve: write to pnsoberania@miambiente.gob.pa

Map of the trail
Map, you can see the route of the El Charco Nature Trail.

Information to give to make the booking

  • Do it with a minimum of 72 hours in advance,
  • You must put in the subject: Reserva área protegida,
  • Date of the visit,
  • Number of people visiting (in case of groups, only up to 8 people are allowed),
  • Name and telephone number of the person who is booking,
  • Names, surnames, ages, nationalities and identity card or passport number of the visitors.

Maximum capacity

  • 40 people per day.

Regulations of El Charco Trail

  • No pets,
  • Forbidden to feed the fauna,
  • Do not bring alcoholic drinks,
  • No Smoking,
  • Do not carry or take out, species of fauna and flora or parts and sub-parts of these,
  • It is forbidden to enter with radios or sound equipment,
  • Do not use soap or oils in the water,
  • Do not carry balloons inflated with helium, streamers or confetti,
  • It is also not allowed to feed the animals.

Where is El Charco Trail?

It is in the Soberanía National Park, in the Province of Panama, approximately 1.5km from the Summit Park.

How to get to El Charco Trail?

If you go by car: take the road that goes to Gamboa, I entered the Vía Centenario and followed the signposts for Summit Park, which is on the road to Gamboa. Shortly after you pass Summit Park is the entrance to the Trail.

There is a signpost for El Chaco Trail at the entrance, with a parking area for about 6 cars.

If you go by bus, you can take a bus at the Albrook Terminal, route C800 (Check the timetable for this route before leaving).

Get off at the entrance of the Summit Park and then walk approximately 1.5km until you reach the beginning of El Charco Trail.

Another route is the F030, but it will leave you 3km from the beginning of the trail, you will have to get off at the Summit-R stop.

El Charco Trail is on the right-hand side, coming from the Summit.

Other places you may like

entrance to the trail
Entrance to the trail, view if you come from Gamboa.

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