Guests stay in ANCON’s lodge, high on a hill behind a long, deserted beach. It’s a steep walk, but the reserve has a “tractor taxi,” a tractor with a wagon hitched to it, to transport guests and luggage. The lodge has a dining hall with a wrap-around balcony fitted with strategically placed hammocks. There’s a mirador (observation platform) upstairs.
The balcony and the mirador have gorgeous views of the Golfo de San Miguel and the point where historians believe Balboa stepped out of the forest and became the first European to see the Pacific. On the left there’s a sweeping view of the old coconut plantation.
Sunsets can be spectacular here, especially during the dry season. The lodge is high enough to watch mangrove black-hawks sail by at eye level. It’s an incredibly tranquil spot, especially when it’s breezy.
The 10 simple but pleasant cabins are behind the lodge. They’re surrounded by flowering trees, and all are air-conditioned and have a view out over the coconut plantation from their balconies. Each has two beds, high ceilings, and a private cold-water shower and toilet. Towels and soap are provided. A generator supplies electricity in the lodge and cabins 6 p.m.–6 a.m.
The place is well managed and guest-oriented. Thoughtful touches include being greeted with a pipa (fresh coconut), finding fresh-cut flowers in the cabin, and discovering that a staff member has fired up the air-conditioner in the cabin before you turn in for the night. Lime trees are everywhere, so there’s always plenty of fresh limeade to cool you off.
However, because Patiño is surrounded by mangroves, it’s much buggier than places such as Pirre Station and especially Cana. The mosquitoes are intense in the late rainy season, and insect repellent just seems to make them thirstier. As annoying as this is, Patiño has so many charms that it’s worth a little crazed scratching and a welt or two.
This place is a good compromise for those who’d like a taste of the Darién, but don’t want to rough it too much.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition