Wekso is about 40 minutes to an hour up the Río Teribe from El Silencio. It has a grim history as the former site of Pana-Jungla, a jungle-warfare/survival school that put elite Panamanian and foreign troops through legendarily difficult training. It was closed in 1990, but spooky remnants of the camp include a cage that once housed a black panther, the ruins of barracks and officers’ quarters, and a serpentarium that once held Panama’s deadliest snakes.
Today, however, it has been transformed into an ecotourist camp currently used by the Naso nonprofit ODESEN.
The Wekso camp is on a small hill overlooking the river. The dining area is on the edge of the hillside and has a great view of the river below and the forest beyond. At the back of the camp is a large guest bungalow that resembles an oversized version of a traditional Naso thatched-roof house.
It’s rustic but perfectly acceptable and tidy, with foam-rubber mattresses, mosquito nets over the beds, and inviting hammocks on the front porch. There’s an outhouse with flush toilets. Snakes are not unheard of around the camp; watch your step.
Just below the camp is a ranger station for Parque Internacional La Amistad. This area is not technically in the park but rather in the buffer forest around it. But guests must pay the US$5 park entrance fee anyway.
There is a good chance of spotting a variety of colorful birds in this area, including the white-fronted nunbird, blue-headed parrot, king vultures, long-tailed tyrants, Amazon kingfishers, snowy cotingas, and snowcap and green thorntail hummingbirds. As always, mammals in tropical forests are hard to find, but possibilities include water opossums, white-lipped peccaries, and neotropical river otters. Frogs are generally easy to spot, including red-eyed tree frogs (Agalychnis callidryas) and poison-dart frogs (Oophaga pumilio).
A pretty loop trail that starts at the camp takes about two hours to walk at a slow pace. A second trail forks off it about 40 minutes in. The forest alternates between primary and secondary growth. The patches of primary forest contain some huge, impressive trees, including bongo, almond, and ceiba. The trail can be good for birding, including crowd pleasers such as toucans, and there’s a chance of spotting sloths. This area is too close to well-settled areas to draw much wildlife, however.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition