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Visit Boquete – Panama’s Hidden Treasure

Located in the highlands of western Panama, Boquete (bow-ket-ay) is a small mountain village known as the “land of eternal spring”.

Why Visit Boquete?

 Boquete is a dramatic change of scenery from Panama City or Bocas del Toro.

Due to its elevation of almost 4,000 feet above sea level, the weather rarely reaches above 80 degrees, making for comfortable days and cool nights. Exotic flowers fill the valleys of these lush mountains, offering the most beautiful vistas!

The temperate weather, the endless recreation opportunities in the surrounding mountains make, and the affordable cost of living make a great combination for visitors. In fact, many visitors to Boquete choose to make it their permanent residence!

Boquete is one of the top destinations in the world for expat retirees. Because of this, English is widely spoken and the town offers a wide variety of restaurants and cultural arts.

an expat house in boquete panama

How To Get To Boquete

Boquete is located 40 miles from the Costa Rican border, and regardless of where you are coming from, you’ll need to pass through the city of David, which is only about a 30-minute drive from Boquete. This site offers a lot of helpful information for traveling to Boquete in a variety of ways. We traveled there from Panama City by bus and it was very easy and convenient.

What To See and Do

The landscape of Boquete is one that offers an array of activities for adventurers of all types!

Hike the Long Trek up Volcano Baru for Sunrise

There are obviously a variety of hikes, given that it is a mountainous region, but the most popular hike in Boquete will take you to the highest point in Panama.

The hike up Volcano Baru is definitely not an easy one, though. It will take you 10-14 hours to complete, and the total distance is 27km/16.5m (13.5km/8.25m each way!). At the top, on a clear day you can see both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans making the spectacular view worth the long journey (or so we heard!).

Our Experience Hiking Baru

We were brave enough to attempt and complete this hike. Now, years later we can finally laugh at this “adventure”. We got a group together from our hostel, rented warm enough clothes, and arranged a taxi to take us to the base at midnight and pick us up at noon the next day. We packed lots of water and snacks and were ready for what we had hoped to be a once in a lifetime experience, making it to the top to watch the sunrise!

at the entry to parque nacional baru
After 12 hours straight of hiking!

Everything was going great until about 4 hours in, when torrential, sideways, freezing cold rain mixed with strong winds and fog hit us with very little warning. Since we had already hiked so far and weren’t going to have a ride until noon (we didn’t have cell phones), we decided as a group to keep on keepin’ on.

We were even trying to stay positive by telling ourselves that when we got to the top, the storm will have passed and we will have a perfectly clear sunrise. So we did. But the storm only got stronger. By the time we finally reached the top, we could barely stand up the winds were so strong. In that moment, everyone was starting to get a little scared and survival mode kicked in. We all began running as fast as we possibly could back down the volcano.

Needless to say, we hiked for 12 hours straight in horrendous conditions for pretty much no reason other than a good story. We did not get to see the sunrise from the summit, but at least we can say we did it, right? And we can tell you what “not to do”!

So, if you choose to do this hike, which we still HIGHLY recommend, consider camping to break up the hike. There are guided hiking and camping tours available that will provide the camping gear. We definitely recommend getting to the top at sunrise and wish you more luck than we had. If we make it back to Boquete, we would definitely attempt it again!

Volcan Baru Summit
The view from the summit of Volcan Baru. So Beautiful. Photo cred: Dennis Binzen | Flickr

Interact With a Monkey at Jungla de Panama Wildlife Refuge

Visiting Jungla de Panama was a memory we’ll will cherish forever. We love animals so this was one of the best days ever. The staff was so nice and they actually opened specifically for us. We misunderstood their hours of operation. Our Taxi driver dropped us off and drove off before we realized they were closed. We were so disappointed.

But, the staff was so kind to us and let us in which meant we had the place to ourselves. One of the guides walked us through each cage, educated us on the animals, told us each individual rescue story, and let us interact with the animals as long as we wanted. While your experience will likely be different, it is a great place to see.

Dan at La Jungla Wildlife Refuge
This guy really wanted to see what was under those glasses!

Lindsay got to hold, play with and get violated (watch the video!) by a squirrel monkey named Rocky. Then, she held, fed, and got pooped on by a toucan.

There were also other common petting zoo type animals too, but I was pretty obsessed with the monkey and toucan, even with the poop and fondling! Overall, just a fun experience and a fun way to support a great organization that cares for and rehabilitates animals. Jungla de Panama even offers a variety of on-site accommodations and volunteer opportunities.

toucan at la jungla refuge
Lindsay with a beautiful Toucan!

Hot Springs

The Hot Springs in Caldera are a popular activity in Boquete and a great way to soak those aching muscles after hiking up Volcano Baru! The drive from Boquete to Caldera is about 30 minutes. We booked a tour to the hot springs through our hostel but you can drive yourself if you have a car. When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the hot springs were located on a local family ranch.

Boquete Hot Springs
The hot springs are located on an amazing family ranch!
hot springs boquete caldera
One of the hot spring pools!

After enjoying a dip in the refreshingly cool Caldera river and soaking awhile in the hot springs, we were invited to walk around the ranch. To our surprise, the family had a “pet” spider monkey that they rescued.

We sat and played with “Cheetah” for awhile, had lots of laughs, and took tons of pictures and videos of this silly, entertaining, and friendly little guy. Even better, the family also had peacocks, goats, chickens, and a dog that seemed to be best friends with the monkey. It was such a fun experience! You really don’t want to miss it.

Peacock at Boquete Hot Springs
Monkey, Peacocks, Chickens, Goats and Dogs… This place has it all!
boquete hot springs
Such a good way to relax!
Cheetah was so much fun 🙂
spider monkey in hammock
After a long play session, Cheetah decided that he needed a break too.

 

Zip Lining and Other Outdoor Adventures

With the rainforest comes adventure! There are lots of companies that offer tours of all sorts. We really enjoyed the Canopy Zip-lining Tour from Boquete Tree Trek. It was thrilling, beautiful, and the staff was super nice and made sure everyone had a great time and captured lots of photos! They even have a fun graduation ceremony at the end and present you with a certificate of completion.

Whether you are into rafting, bird watching, suspension bridges, rock climbing, or just relaxing and taking in stunning views, Boquete offers it all!

Visit a Coffee Plantation

For the last 10 years, Panama’s coffee has been rated as the best coffee in the world more times than any other destination. So visiting Boquete and not touring a coffee farm would be like visiting Chianti and not tasting the wine! You’ll be educated on the entire coffee process and enjoy a variety of samples. View a list of Boquete’s best coffee farms along with details on their unique tours and rates.

Parque Domingo Medica

Boquete, Panama Flowers
Boquete, Panama

Located in the middle of town off the main street, you can sit and enjoy this adorably charming park and square for hours. Sculptures, flowers, and fountains fill the square, making it a peaceful place to sit and enjoy coffee, a picnic, or just people watch. The park is surrounded by colorful buildings that house cafes, restaurants, hotels, and gift shops.

Conclusion

Boquete is one of the most tranquil and beautiful destinations in Panama. The weather is almost perfect year round, there is plenty of fascinating culture and tons of things to do! Boquete is a great spot to add to your Panama itinerary!

What to you think? Have you ever visited the Land of Eternal Spring? How was it? What was your favorite activity?

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Categorized: Panama
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