The “Camino Real”

Uncovering Panama’s past

The Camino Real, originally built in the 16th century, was recently uncovered in 2008.

The Camino Real, originally built in the 16th century, was recently uncovered in 2008.

The Camino Real from Panama City to Portobelo, was built in the sixteenth century by Spaniards seeking to unite the Pacific and Atlantic coasts across the Isthmus and was used by conquistadors and pirates lured by the riches of the Incas. This route was lost for centuries to the jungle and was only rediscovered in 2008. The original route is now a conservation area for tropical plants and animal species such as jaguars. It is also being developed for sustainable tourism for local communities and uncovered as a potential World Heritage Site.

Christian Strassnig, originally from Austria, has lived in Panama for 15 years. His company, Cultour, began developing sustainable tourism along the Camino Real working with the indigenous populations living in the area. Along with the community of Quebrada Ancha, about three kilometers of the Camino Real were cleared to reveal the original stone road, now visible in many places.

Christian Strassnig of Cultour.

Christian Strassnig of Cultour.

Through their tours, Cultour seeks to promote travel as a means to help the fight against poverty. By valuing the rich cultural heritage of the local communities, they create sustainable sources of income by building bridges to this particular travel market.

Cultour also organizes excursions to sites across Panama including Guna Yala/San Blas, Coiba and Bocas del Toro.

Walking tours along the Camino Real include: transportation between Panama City and Lago Alajuela, boat transfer to the site, a guided tour of the Camino Real and a typical lunch with the local community. One-day hikes are scheduled every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. For more information call Tel. 6539-2064, write to or visit


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