Boquete

Travel Guide Central America Panama Boquete

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Introduction

boquete

boquete

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Boquete is a town in Chiriquí, a province in western Panama. While it isn't much larger than a village, Boquete is popular amongst travellers as an eco-tourist destination. Set in the mountains, it enjoys a sunny, moderate climate and beautiful views of the surrounding landscape.

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Sights and Activities

Boquete is known as the "Valley of the Flowers". Nestled in the western highlands of Panama, near the border to Costa Rica, Boquete shares some of the same mountain ranges and some of the incredible wildlife and rain forests. However, because it is not as well known, and a 'road less traveled', prices are lower, and it is not as commercial.

The Boquete Valley is rich with agriculture as well; strawberries, oranges, and coffee come from this region. Boquete is known as a prime coffee-growing region, with many farms exporting high-end coffee to Europe and Asia. The famous 'geisha' coffee that was sold at auction for $130 a pound can be found growing on the rich volcanic slopes.

You can hike for 1/2 a day, or all day, and still have a rare chance to see the resplendent quetzal, or a howler monkey in the wild.

Adventure travel, which includes whitewater rafting, zip lining, ATV and jeep tours, cloud forest trekking, horseback riding, rock climbing and deep water soloing, is a key reason that Boquete, a fairly small town, is growing in popularity for European, American, Latino, and Asian travelers.

Because of its temperate climate, moderate prices and relaxed living, it has also become a favorite with expats and retirees.

  • Whitewater River Rafting. Whitewater rafting in Boquete on the Chiriquí Viejo River offers continuous class 3 rapids on a jungle run with warm water. A few companies offer full day rafting excursions or (when the conditions are right) whitewater kayaking and inflatable kayaking for all levels on several rivers around Boquete. The full day trip leaves in the morning and returns in the afternoon, with lunch and drinks usually included at the river. Rafting ranges from $65-90, kayak $85-100. Verified rafting operators in Boquete include Boquete Outdoor Adventures, Chiriqui River Rafting (no office in town, must be contacted through email or phone), and Mountain Safari (located on Main Street next to Plaza Los Establos).

Coffee plantation tours. Boquete is known for the excellent coffee-growing conditions that make for some of the best in the world. Even if you aren't an avid coffee fan, a coffee tour is a great way to understand the culture and recent history of Boquete. Cost for most coffee tours around town is usually $30 pp and take 2 to 4 hours.
1. Cafe Ruiz. For a larger and more industrial form of coffee tour.
2. Kotowa also for a larger and more industrial form of coffee tour.
3. Finca Dos Jefes, ☎ +507 6677 7748. For a more intimate small-farm experience visit. Offers an in-depth roasting and tasting. Experience the only hands-on roasting tour in Panama. The owner, Rich, provides an incredible experience focusing on the history, and current industry of coffee, as well as tastings of various roasts, in a beautiful mountain setting on the slopes of Volcan Baru. Tours can be booked directly or in the Boquete Outdoor Adventures office in Plaza Los Establos on Main Street.

  • Boquete Tree Trek. A zip line experience in the cloud forest with 12 lines of over 5 kilometres in total. It is located on a coffee farm, with beautiful views of Boquete, and an adrenaline rush from soaring through the cloud forest. The office is located in the Kotowa Coffee Shop in Plaza Los Establos. Cost $65 pp., which can also be combined with a Boquete Outdoor Adventures's whitewater rafting trip for $99 pp. plus tax for both activities.
  • Volcan Baru. Panama's highest point, is literally the easiest place in the world to see both of the world's great oceans, on a clear day. It's a tough climb that can be done by hiking or jeep tour.

1. Jeep tour to the top of Volcan Baru. There are a number of companies in the Boquete area capable of providing jeep transport to the top of the local volcano, including A1 Private Tours which provides a 4x4 driving tour to the top of the volcano for the sunrise, for $150 per adult, $75 per child. Levels of service vary from one to the next and so does their ideals about environmental impact. It is possible to book a jeep through tour operators in town.
2. Hiking to the top of the Volcan Baru. Though there are other options, but ANAM (Panama's Environmental Protection Organization) has encouraged local tour guides to recommend the more environmentally friendly method of hiking to the top of Panama's highest point. Expert guides can be found by stopping by the offices of many tour operators in town. If you prefer to go without a guide, Hola Panama Travel, located in the Mamallena Hostel has a cheap daily shuttle (minimum 3 people) to the Volcan Baru trailhead at around 11PM, so hikers can get to the top of the Volcano by the morning sunrise. The hike is around 6 hours, strenuous, one-way hike to the top up a steep dusty dirt road. Then 6 hours back down, which is challenging on the knees. The climb is very difficult because of the length and steepness of the trail. Take into consideration the dramatic change in climates as you summit and be prepared with warm clothes, food, and water. This is the only place in Panama that temperatures occasionally drop below freezing and two people have died on the top due to hypothermia. A guide is not necessary for hikers in groups as it is difficult to get lost on the road to the top, however Panama has been enforcing guided-only hikes in National Parks for the safety and prevention of lost tourists.

  • The Quetzal Trail. Hike the Quetzal Trail, so named because it is one of the homes of the rare resplendent quetzal. You can hike from Boquete to Cerro Punta (4 hours one-way gradual elevation gain), or the reverse. Most hikers will hike from Boquete to the "Mirador Las Rocas" and then return to avoid the more than 3-hour return by bus from Cerro Punta back down through David, and then back to Boquete. It is about a 4-5 hour one way hike (8 hours out and back), so it can be completed in one day. An experienced hiking guide is highly recommended as the trail is extremely hard to follow, and often forks off into the cloud forest. Especially if you hope for any chance of spotting a quetzal bird, a guide is almost necessary in helping to locate a nest. edit
  • Golf. Take advantage of the year-round spring-like weather and golf at the two golf courses at any time of the day. Lucero Golf and Country Club and Quebrada Grande Golf Course are open to the public.
  • Hot Springs Caldera. Hot and bubbly mineral water right next to the Caldera River. Take a dip in both hot and cold. Taxis charge $30 to $36 for the round-trip journey. There are also a few inconsistent buses between Boquete and Caldera - from the bus stop in Caldera it's about an hour walk to the hot springs. After the bridge over the river, the real hot springs are to the left. Tourists that book a tour with a tour operator in town are taken to the hot springs with some daily departures for fun evenings soaking in hot water and sharing stories over the sunset. The Hot Springs entrance is difficult to find to on your own and is on private property which has a $3 entrance fee. Going with a group is recommended. edit
  • Horseback riding in the mountains of Boquete. Most horseback riding tours are located in Caldera, 20 minutes drive back down toward David from Boquete. It is best for beginners up to experienced riders, and offers a nice trail ride with beautiful views of Volcan Baru. This tour is normally $35, but can usually be combined with the Caldera Hot Springs for a $55 half-day activity. An excellent horseback riding tour can be booked with Boquete Outdoor Adventures, Boquete Mountain Safari, or a few other operators in town.

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Events and Festivals

Chiriqui Highlands Flower and Coffee Festival

After full bloom and a fresh harvest, you will be treated to glorious sights and smells at this ten day festival held every January. It is held in and around the town of Boquete.

Boquete Jazz and Blues festival

The mountainside town and coffee-growing region is home to this annual music festival held in March. It has grown in recent years, and is now on the map for international touring artists who play jazz and blues music. The town of Boquete provides an ambient feel.

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Getting There

By Plane

Air Panama and Copa Airlines fly to nearby David from Panama City. See below for links with David.

By Bus

  • From David: there are several refurbished school buses leaving roughly every 45 minutes until 9:45 PM. Travel time is a little over 1 hour and cost is $1.75 which you pay when getting off. Look for the old USA school buses with the biggest line and a big "Boquete" sign painted across the top front.
  • From San Jose in Costa Rica: there is one morning bus leaving from the Tracopa terminal at 7:30AM ($21). It takes about 8 hours to get to David, including the Costa Rica-Panama border crossing, and arrives at the David Bus Terminal. Panama immigration officers can be strict, and tourists must often provide proof of onward ticket out of Panama, at least $500 cash or bank statements, and credit cards. From David see above.
  • From Panama City: There are regular buses from the Albrook Bus Terminal, run by at least three companies (Panafrom, Padafront, and Terminales David); between them, there is a bus leaving about every hour. Daytime fares (as of February 2011) are $15.00; there are also nighttime express buses for $18.50. It is an air conditioned bus and gets very very cold. The bus makes one 30-minute meal and bathroom stop in Santiago, halfway in between Panama City and David. It takes roughly eight hours to get there, as there is construction on the Pan-American Highway between Santiago and David as they are widening it to 4 lanes. Construction can sometimes delay traffic.
  • From Bocas del Toro: There is a twice-daily, $30-35 private shuttle (including water taxi to Almirante) between Bocas del Toro and Boquete 4 hours, as well as several daily public buses between David and Bocas, which are cheaper but take quite a bit longer 5-6 hours. Call or e-mail tour operators in Boquete for details.

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Getting Around

There are many tour companies that offer guided trips through the mountains to see waterfalls, coffee plantations, the cloud forest, white water rafting, and the Volcan Baru National Park.

By Car

If you want to rent a car and explore the area around Boquete, a four wheel drive may be safer, because the mountain roads do get washed out. Also be aware that there are no safe shoulders and no place for pedestrians to walk but the highway, so take caution traveling at night.

By Public Transport

In the surroundings you can also use taxi (one dollar brings you quite far) or the local area vans/buses which leave from the La Bruna Super Market 200 meters up the main road from the bus stop. Each local van/bus has written on the front window the areas that they cover, which are normally large loops up in the mountains in areas of Bajo Mono, Alto Quiel, Arco Iris, or Volcancito.

By Foot

Boquete is a very cozy mountain village so you won't have problems exploring the city on foot. The central plaza, in the middle of town on Main Street, is where the David-Boquete bus drops off incoming visitors and locals.

By Bike

For the smell and feel of the area there are scooter rentals at $25.0US for 4 hours as your means of transportation.

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Eat

This is the bread basket of the country, so the food that is served in the restaurants is very fresh, and quite varied, reflecting its early European beginning and its gaining international popularity.

  • Bistro Boquete (On the main drag, several blocks up from the square on the left). This bar and restaurant which is run by Panamanians has an excellent chef and gives great value. The tortilla soup, watercress salad, and pesto salad are nice starters (each for around $4), and the salads can be turned into a meal by adding an accompaniment of trout for less than $3. The flavors here are interesting but not overpowering. US$8-$13 for a meal plus tip.
  • Fonda de la Merry (Walk South from the town square one block--at the corner near bridge, where Duran Coffee is), ☎ +507-6519-3209. 7:00am to 7:00pm. For a real local experience, this bright green restaurant is the place. Don't be put off by the spartan atmosphere. The warmth of the owner/server Maria, and the quick serving of excellent local food capture one's focus. The hojaldres, deep-fried pancakes, are a nice accompaniment to the vegetarian scrambled eggs, and the papaya, pineapple, and banana fruit salad is enough for two people. As a bonus, Maria speaks Spanish slowly and clearly, and cheerfully helps those who are learning. US$3 for breakfast, US$4-$5 for lunch.
  • El Casona Mexicana (Walk South from the town square for about 8 minutes.). Very good Mexican food and large portion sizes. Various Mexican folk tunes play in the background. Good value. US$5 - 8 main.
  • The Rock, Ave. 11 de Abril Palo Alto, ☎ +507-720-2516. 12:00md - 9:30pm. Because of the climate and dedication of its producers, Boquete offers an incredible collection of fresh food products. With the use of these top quality products and contemporary technical knowledge, the Rock is a higher-priced restaurant with exquisite food including pastas and a very rich suckling pork dish. Stimulating your senses every day is fundamental to provide an incomparable experience at THE ROCK. International food. from $9.00.
  • Boquete Artisan Baking Seminars (BABS), Bajo Boquete, ☎ +507 6557-1279. Learn to make artisan breads in beautiful Boquete. Designed for the beginner as well as more advanced student, you can learn the secrets of creating amazing bread in one day to three day seminars. Hands on learning with talented teachers who are passionate about artisan bread.
  • Big Daddy's Grill (freshest fish tacos in boquete), Main Street (1 minute walk down from Main Plaza). 12:00-9:00pm Tues-Sun. Home of Boquete's original grilled fish taco, Big Daddy's prides itself on serving only the freshest fish which was swimming yesterday, as well as a killer margarita, delicious buffalo wings, and organic salads. Good service. One of the favorite restaurants with both locals and tourists in Boquete. $7.95.

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Drink

  • Zanzibar. This chilled bar offers live music at weekends, and is extremely popular.
  • La Cabaña - Late night bar, open Fridays and Saturdays only.
  • Madre Tierra Restaurant at Rancho de Caldera Eco-Resort, Caldera, Boquete, Panama (On site at Rancho de Caldera Eco-Resort (see separate listing)), ☎ +507 720-4225. Wine and beer are served, as well as delicious healthy beverages prepared with local fruits and herbs and sweetened with honey - instead of refined sugar.

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Sleep

There are several inexpensive hostels around and within a few blocks the central park.

  • Hostal Palacio, right opposite the bus station and the central park. It is a bit noisy since it's right on the street, and it's important to mind your belongings. Be aware about the owners and the hostel as many tourists have had some troubles. 20 US for dorm. Across from the main plaza, but there are many much better places to stay. 8.50 US for dorm.
  • Hostal Nomba (Adventure Backpackers), Primera calle oeste, arriba escuela Josefa Montero de Vazquez (One block north and one block west of central park), ☎ +507 720-2864, +507 6497-5672, e-mail: ryan@miradoradventures.com. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. Cheap, friendly micro-hostel just off the main street. Run by an extremely welcoming young couple. Poker nights, table football, and comfy hammocks in the common area. They also rent a full range of outdoor equipment for local expeditions, and organize a wide range of adventure tours in the region. WiFi, Free breakfast, backpacker bar with happy hour, two kitchens and 3 baths over just a few rooms. Adjacent is the office of Mirador Adventures Dorm rooms starting $8, privates starting $18.
  • Rancho de Caldera (Eco-resort), Caldera (25 minutes from downtown Boquete, 40 minutes from David). Check-in: 2:00, check-out: 11:00. A serene and gorgeous eco-resort (completely off the grid, on renewable energy year round) nestled in the mountains of Chiriqui; accommodations include large, spacious rooms, each with a glasswall overlooking the mountains to the east, A/C, iPod docking station, TV, mini-refrigerator and free Internet. Activities include horseback riding, hiking and swimming in a beautiful infinity-edge pool. Hot springs nearby. Rancho de Caldera's on-site Madre Tierra Gourmet Restaurant under the care of internationally acclaimed Chef Craig Miller is a popular new fine dining choice in western Panama. Rancho de Caldera, a leader in innovative, clean energy hospitality, has been recognized by Green Globe International, Rain Forest Alliance and Sustainable Travel International.
  • Boquete Mountain Casitas, Boquete, Chiriqui (Boquete is a 30-minute drive from David), ☎ +507 6613-1472. Check-in: 2:00pm, check-out: 11:00am. Some of the casitas are located within walking distance to the village while others are on private estates in the mountains. Has one 2 bedroom, 2 bath in the middle of an Organic Coffee Farm.
  • Hostal Gaia, Boquete (On main street across from Roxane´s restaurant, next to Sugar & Spice.), ☎ +507 7201952. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Here at our hostel you will find a pleasant atmosphere, a fully equipped kitchen and a dining room, WiFi, camping area, and laundry facilities. from $10. edit
  • Boquete Paradise, ☎ +507-720-2278. Next to a roaring mountain stream and walking out with a view of the Volcan Baru right out of your front door. Each unit has a two bedrooms suite with full kitchen, that sleeps eight people. Breakfast is served in the morning $60-189.
  • Hostel Mamallena, Parque Central (Right on the Central Park, 30 metres from the bus stop), ☎ +507 720 1260. This new hostel (sister to the established Mamallena in Panama City) is already extremely popular with travellers.Free breakfast, WiFi internet, lounge, patio, laundry. Also has private rooms with private bathrooms.Information and tours are available.
  • Panamonte Inn & Spa, Ave 11 de Abril, Boquete, ☎ +507-720-1327. Famous for its gracious hospitality, charm and exquisite cuisine, The Panamonte is the true definition of a country inn: a warm and friendly place for travelers seeking a pleasurable ambiance and personalized attention, a home away from home. Located at the foot of Barú Volcano, the Panamonte is the perfect base for exploring the Chiriquí Highlands, and it is the only full-service lodging option in Boquete, offering a deluxe spa, fireside lounge, excursion planning, and a regionally renowned gourmet restaurant.
  • Valle Primavera (8 minutes, walking, heading South from the central square), ☎ +507 6674-5761. Check-out: 11:00. Offers bed-and-breakfast style accommodations in a tranquil atmosphere. Rooms are comfortable and include private entrance, private bathrooms with hot water, cable television and WiFi. Breakfast included. Ideal for families, though it becomes noisy around 8:00am every morning, so do not expect to lie-in. US $38 (inc taxes) for 1-3 person room.
  • Hotel Isla Verde, Calle 5a Sure (Behind the School Josefa Vasquez), ☎ +507 720-2533. Check-in: 1:00pm, check-out: 11:00am. Isla Verde offers six roundhouse cabins and four suites, all fully equipped, next to the river in a tropical garden with mountain views. Walking distance to town but peaceful. On-Site massage available. $80-100.
  • Momentum Panama, Alto Boquete (Left side of road going towards Boquete in Alto Boquete), ☎ +507 7204385. Check-in: 2:00pm, check-out: 10:00am. Momentum's fully-equipped cabins and B&B are set on a green plateau, perched on the edge of a valley alongside the rambling Rio Cochea. There’s plenty of room to wander for you and your family. Small groups welcome. (Maximum capacity 26). At 800 metres, the temperature and distinct lack of humidity is always refreshing. Enjoy the peace, privacy and serenity of our unique location. Better yet, it all comes with spectacular ‘straight-on’ views of Volcan Baru, at 3,475 metres, Panama’s highest peak.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes can be found in cities and most major towns. Wifi is on the rise though with many hotels, restaurants and bars offering this services, especially in the major tourist areas like Panama City, Bocas del Toro and Boquete. Some mountainous or off the beaten track areas might not have any internet services at all.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Panama's country code is 507. All cellular numbers start with the number 6 and have 8 digits. Land line phone numbers have 7 digits. 911 is the general emergency phone number.

Calls to the USA and Europe are between 4 and 10 cents a minute. The best way to make international calls from Panama is to buy prepaid telephone cards that are sold at every corner. The most popular is the TeleChip card. If you bring your cellphone, you can choose to buy a local simcard, instead of paying high charges for internet use through your home provider.

Post

Correos y Telegrafos is the national postal company of Panama. It provides a wide range of services though you usually have to use the post offices for both sending and receiving mail and packages, including buying stamps. Post offices can be found in many cities and towns and are open from 6:30am to 5:45pm Monday to Friday and 7:00am to 5:00pm on Saturday. Domestic mail takes several days but to the USA and Europe for example it can take anywhere from 5 to over 10 days depending on the country. For sending larger packages, you might also consider using companies like FedEx, TNT, UPS or DHL, as they offer fast, reliable and competitively priced services as well.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 8.774566
  • Longitude: -82.431999

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This is version 20. Last edited at 10:56 on Mar 12, 19 by Utrecht. 24 articles link to this page.

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