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panama travel and tourism

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With an elevation of 3,600 ft. (1,200 m), and just 45 minutes from David, Boquete is nestled between the Caldera River to the east and Baru Volcano to the west, the latter of which is Panama’s highest peak at 11,400 ft. (3,475 m). While small when compared to the provincial capital of David, Boquete is Chiriqui’s most populated and developed highlands community, with a very stable population and an ever-increasing number of ex-pats.

Surrounded by steep, lush mountains to the northeast and west, and just 3.3 miles (7.3 km) south of Bocas del Toro Province, Boquete’s combination of cool, brisk temperatures and rich, fertile soil serves as an ideal setting for coffee growing. The slopes of Baru Volcano are littered with private estates and commercial plantations including Panama’s largest and most famous coffee growers and exporters. Cultivated by hand—most often by people of indigenous Ngöbe-Buglé ethnicity—Panama has earned respect worldwide for its flavorful, high-quality coffee.

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boquete chiriqui panama birding panama quetzales trail flower festival boquete

For outdoor enthusiasts, Boquete is an unrestricted playground. Its comfortable climate, coupled with the region’s rivers, mountains, and trails, serves as an ideal venue to enjoy a multitude of out-of-the-house activities such as rafting, kayaking, hiking, biking, birding, among others. Boquete has always attracted healthy, free-spirited individuals in search of endless recreation.

For a small, mountainous community, Boquete possesses a surprisingly large and varied collection of accommodations. From streetside hostels to expensive, secluded hideaways, Boquete can satisfy both backpackers and more demanding, upscale travelers alike. As well, there is an abundant and diverse offering of restaurants and eateries. While small local establishments, like Sabroson, offer inexpensive, local dishes, upscale bakeries, pizzerias, and steak houses service those with a more demanding palate.

Near to the Costa Rican border, and less than one hour from the provincial capital of David, Boquete is well worth a visit!

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Tourism Office

Google Map - Boquete Google Map - Boquete Tourism Office

The Boquete tourism office—managed by CEFATI—is located in Alto Boquete, and rests on the ridge before you descend into town. It is quite a ways from the center of town, too great of a distance to walk.

Tel.: 720-4060
Hours: 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. 7/days a week

Getting to Boquete

Google Map - David Bus Terminal

Buses depart from David's main bus terminal every 25-30 minutes, between the hours of 6:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. Upon arriving in Boquete, the bus will stop in front of the park, which is centrally located and within walking distance to most everything. If you wish to be dropped off at the tourism office (see above), you will need to notify the driver because they don't normally stop there. Keep in mind, it is a long way from the center of town.

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Boquete Flower Festival

Since 1973, Boquete has held its annual Flower Festival during January, which lasts ten days. Before 1991, the festival was held in April.

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At 14,400 feet, Baru Volcano is Panama's highest point. The hike to the summit is an adventure for the fit and reckless; the road is anything but a road. The initial portion is paved but it soon changes to dirt/stone near the park entrance. Temperatures at the top are normally very cool and drop considerably during the dry season months of December–March when low temperatures are accompanied by high winds. Sweaters, jackets, and long pants are highly suggested, if not mandatory. Most of the local tour operators in Boquete offer organized hiking tours to the volcano's peak, with trips departing very (extremely) early in the morning to be sure that you reach the summit before sunrise.

Google Map - Baru Volcano

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Just north of Boquete, lies a privately funded botanical garden, which resides on a private estate. The trails are exceptionally maintained and crisscross through the front and backyards, offering terrific photographic opportunities. Most of the local plant species are represented here, very neatly arranged for pleasant viewing. It's well worth a visit. The gardens are free to visit and open between 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. on weekdays.

Getting to Botanical Gardens

Continue north along the main road that passes through the center of town. The gardens will be off to the right side. If you're walking, it shouldn't take any more than 20-30 minutes.

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Boquete is synonymous with coffee. For those interested in taking a coffee tour, we have identified three private estates that offer such tours.

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Reaching 200-300 ft. in height, this beautiful waterfall is located just north of Boquete and makes for a wonderful 1/2 day hike. The trail leading up to the waterfall is lined with lush foliage and streams. Off to the right, at its base, there are large boulders you can climb for an elevated view.

Getting to Hidden Waterfall

Google Map - Hidden Waterfall

You will need to get on the bus that reads "Alto Quiel", which departs from the center of town. The bus ride lasts approximately 15 minutes and will drop you at the trail's entrance.

From here, proceed along the dirt/gravel road and not the paved road; the latter is the start of the Los Quetzales Trail. The trail is relatively flat and narrows as it enters into the forest, but remains very easy to follow with just a few gradual hills along the way. The trail hugs the river from beginning to end, and you'll need to crisscross back and forth over it a few times before reaching the waterfall. Most of the crossings are narrow and some have bridges in place to help you get across. Along the trail, you'll find many short paths that lead to the river's edge.

The end of the trail opens up into a large basin with the thundering waterfall off to the left. The hike takes approximately 1-1.5 hours each way, depending on how fast you walk.

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The Los Quetzales trail unites the two communities of Boquete and Cerro Punta and is one of Panama's most popular hikes. Cerro Punta resides on the western slope of Baru Volcano, whereas Boquete is situated to its east. The trail cuts through some of the province's most pristine, protected forest, offering spectacular views of the surrounding valley. At the right time of year and with a little luck, you should see a quetzal or two if you keep your eyes open. There is a National Park's office on both ends of the trail, and you can complete the hike in either direction.

The hike begins with a moderately flat section as it heads towards the lookout (mirador), which is approximately 35-50 minutes from the ranger station—just before reaching the mirador trail, there is a short, relatively steep section. The trail to the mirador breaks off to the left and is quite short. The lookout is a stable, wooden platform, providing spectacular views looking east towards Boquete. You will need to return to the principal trail before continuing.

The trail soon descends, with steep sections along the way. Most of the steep portions have secure, wooden staircases with handrails. After approximately 40-50 minutes, you'll reach what appears to be a campground. It's a rather large open area with benches, tables, and open views on both sides. In short, a great place for a break.

The trail continues to descend, providing stunning views of the valley below. There are a few very steep sections along the way, as it cuts through dense jungle and rock face. In the steeper sections, you'll once again find wooden staircases with handrails. As the trail nears Boquete, it meets up with the Caldera River, which hugs the trail right to the very end. Depending on your physical condition and interest in the local flora and fauna, it could take anywhere from 2.5 - 4 hours to reach the park headquarters in Boquete, from the lookout. Towards its end, the trail departs the forest and continues along a dirt road as it winds through several privately owned farms. From the forest's edge, it will take approx. 30-45 minutes to reach the ranger station.

After departing the park headquarters, you will need to walk to the principal road that services Boquete, which could take an additional hour. You could always arrange for a taxi to pick you up at the ranger station.

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Getting to the Los Quetzales Trail

Google Map - Los Quetzales Trail

The road from Cerro Punta to the ranger station begins as a paved road and later turns into a dirt/gravel road. The paved section climbs gradually as it passes through private agricultural farms; the dirt/gravel portion is steep and winding. There are no public buses that service the trail entrance, so you'll either have to walk or hire a taxi. The walk from the trail entrance to the ranger station could take anywhere from 1.5-2 hours. Most taxis can take you to where the paved road ends, but if you want a ride to the park headquarters you will need to hire a 4x4 taxi.

Just north of Boquete, these thundering waterfalls reside on private property. They require special permission to view and an admission fee must be paid. Most of the local tour operators in Boquete offer organized tours to the falls.

Getting to the Lost Waterfalls

Google Map - The Lost Waterfall

To reach the waterfall, you will need to take the same bus (Alto Quiel) as mentioned above (see Hidden Waterfall). From the bus stop, proceed along the paved road as though you were starting on the "Los Quetzales Trail". Walk for about 20 minutes, until you see a small house off to the right, and just behind it a steel bridge. After crossing the bridge, stay to the right and follow the trail uphill. The path soon turns into cement and the climb becomes rather steep. Upon reaching the top, proceed through the gate and you'll find yourself on an open plateau where there are lots of flowers to photograph. The trail first turns downhill, bending to the left behind the small house, and then quickly turns uphill en route to the first of three waterfalls.

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rafting kayaking boquete chiriqui panama

Due to its mountainous topography and abundant rainfall, Boquete offers visitors both class III and IV commercial whitewater rafting and kayaking, along its Chiriqui Viejo and Chiriqui rivers. Three major outfitters offer rafting and whitewater rafting excursions.

White Water Rafting & Kayaking Companies

san ramon waterfall boquete chiriqui panama

Approximately 150 ft. (50 m) in height, the San Ramon waterfall resides alongside the Caldera River, a short distance from town. During the rainy season, it can be impressive and well worth the trip.

Getting to San Ramon Waterfall

Google Map - San Ramon Waterfall

If you are walking, continue north along the principal road that passes through Boquete—you will see the church off to the right side as you exit town. At the first intersection, turn left, and follow the sign for Bajo Lino/Bajo Alto. When you reach the next intersection, make another left—there will be a sign pointing to Los Naranjos. At the next intersection, at the bus stop, turn right and follow the sign for Bajo Mano. Shortly thereafter, you will cross a large, steel bridge. Continue along this road until you reach the intersection. Turn left—you will see a sign pointing to the waterfall, which is just a bit further up the road off to the right side. The walk takes about 1 hour, and the scenery along the way is beautiful.

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