Rather than a town, Bambito is a series of farms and houses scattered along the serpentine Río Chiriquí Viejo valley on the western slope of Volcán Barú, between Volcán and Cerro Punta. Because the people who live in the valley do their shopping in nearby Volcán, it has almost no stores or other businesses—just a few hotels—so it lacks the kinds of architectural eyesores that dominate most Panamanian towns.

The valley's scenery grows more impressive with each hairpin turn. Even if your destination is Cerro Punta, make a few stops to admire the suspension bridges spanning the boulder-strewn river, lush forest clinging to hillsides, wildflowers, and neat wooden farmhouses. Small farms line the road, and several roadside stands sell vegetables, fruit, and preserves—strawberries (fresas) are everybody’s favorite here—and fresh fruit batidos (smoothies).

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