A few days ago, sadly one of our last in Bocas, Eli and I decided to take the jungle trail and hike to Red Frog beach. Red Frog Beach is a national park with beautiful beaches, all are beach pictures are taken there, but it’s a 10 dollars round trip water taxi ride and plus 3 dollars for park entrance. We wanted to go one more time before we left but we’re not trying to spend 13 dollars each. The owner of the hostel we were staying at on Bastimentos told us that it was possible to hike from Old Bank, the town, to Red Frog, but there was the chance of a lot of mud and some scary dude with a pit bull and a machete demanding money. After considering the possibilities of running into said man and adding two other guys from our hostel to our hiking group we decided to go for it. We didn’t bring any valueables, just our high spirits and lots of water. The walk started out easy enough just a stroll through town in between houses following signs pointing toward Wizard beach. Once we got into the jungle it became the most epically muddy adventure. We went from walking down a trail to hopping from root, to rock, to log, trying to avoid the huge puddles of mud. Eventually we decided that we just need to embrace the mud so we kicked off our shoes, abandoned our hopping technique and went trudging through ankle deep mud. We were slipping and sliding everywhere hoping that we would make it to the beach before eating a face full of mud. The jungle was awesome. Really thick with light shining through here and there, tons of crazy trees, and flying insects. Thank God, and I do mean thank you God, we did not see any huge spiders. We eventually made it to the beach covered in mud and having sweat off all our sunscreen. After a quick rest and asking for directions from some locals we continued down the beach hoping we were going the right direction. After about fifteen minutes of walking down the beach and another fifteen of crawling under logs and scurrying over rock we came to a dead end. There were rocks jetting into the sea in front of us, no way to climb around them, and a “trail” going into the jungle. I call it a “trail” because it was mostly just mud through what looked like a path someone had long ago carved with a machete. We started hiking through this “trail”, mud in the middle and jungle on each side when one of the hikers in our group that Eli and I nicknamed Capt. Half-Ass started having a fit about hiking too much and now we were all risking infection. The reason we were so annoyed was because before we left town the owner of the hostel explained that we could hike there but it was long and a little inconvenient, so we all knew what we were getting into. Secondly, most of this hike hadn’t been very hard just different than hiking in the west coast of the U.S. Third, half of the hike had just been a stroll down the beach. We felt like we were so close but frustrated by Capt. Half-Ass’ complaining we agreed to turn around. So back we went, under logs and over rocks, across the beach until we got to where the jungle leading towards town started. Some locals were hanging around and surfing so we asked them if we were going the right way and if we were close. Of course the beach was right around the corner and they were looking at us like we were crazy for turning around when we were so close.
Now we had a decision to make. We could either walk back up to town muddy, defeated, and slightly irritated or try one more time to get to Red Frog Beach. I did not want to go back up to town. We had escaped the jungle once without seeing machete man or a spider and I didn’t feel like we would be so lucky the second time. So after a heated discussion with Tyler and Capt. Half-Ass, all the heat coming from Capt., we decided to continue forward with our adventure and started back down Wizard beach towards Red Frog. Along the way we saw two ladies walking with their dogs, a machete, and a board with jewelry. These ladies looked like they knew what they were doing so we hussled to catch up with them and indeed they were going to Red Frog. Walking as far away from Capt.’s complaining as possible we had a great time talking with Josephina, from Argentina, and Sophie, from France, in Spanish and drinking fallen Coconuts along the way.
Once we got passed our turn around point we realized that there was absolutely no way we would have made it to Red Frog without these ladies. The “trail” went from already no trail to absolutely no trail, just puddles and puddle of mud between roots and trees. I felt like Indiana Jones thrashing through the Jungle. The part was even more jungley than the last, trees so tall and big we couldn’t see the sky, mud up to our calves, vines hanging everywhere, and bugs buzzing all around us. It was awesome. At one point they pointed out a tree, that looked like every other tree, and said “When you see this tree you know you are going the right way”… The calf deep mud sounds really gross but it was actually pretty pleasant, it didn’t smell bad, it was smooth and soft, and there were no pokey things waiting in the depths to kill our feet. Aside from Capt. trying to shove me down and use me as a wooden plank to walk across the mud pools (really dislike this guy) we had a really great time. I just kept thinking, this is such an experience. Did I ever think I would be tromping through the Panamian jungle, bare-foot, covered in sweat with mud up to my calves, following two girls with a machete going to sell their homemade jewelry at the beach, and drinking coconuts a long the way? Nope. Also we saw a Red Frog which is what the beach is named after. They are super tiny and bright red with black spots.
After about forty-five minutes of gleefully treading through the Jungle we made it to the beach. We said farewell those Josphina and Sophie, thanked them for being our guides and sent the rest of the day hopping in and out of waves and laying in the sun.
I think that this is one of the coolest experiences I’ve had on this trip so far and definitely one of a kind. It was a great adventure and so worth not having to pay 13 bucks each. I wish that we were able to bring something to take pictures but better save that sorry.