Best Things to Do in Boquete, Panama
Boquete is a Panamanian town that offers many options. In addition, stopping in Boquete is a good way to make the trip from Santa Catalina to Bocas del Toro more bearable.
We arrived in Boquete from Santa Catalina, crossing the “border” between the provinces of Veraguas and Chiriqui. Yes, in Panama, between provinces, sometimes there are real borders with the military checking your passport. When we asked about this situation, they told us that it was due to illegal immigration and the possible transportation of drugs.
Well, to arrive in Boquete is to arrive in a town in the most authentic American style. If it weren’t for the fact that instead of Americans there are Panamanians, I wouldn’t see any difference.
The streets are gridded, with one-story buildings, colorful. There are also some traces of the past, with colonial buildings. You can recognize them by the shape of their terraces and the bars on them.
As a curiosity, it must be said that in the outskirts of Boquete there are dozens of enormous houses, as if they were mansions. This is because a few years ago, this town became very fashionable among American retirees. So many went to live there.
Now, you might be wondering what to do in a place like this, American in the middle of a narrow country. We’ll tell you about it later.
Climbing the Baru volcano
The Baru volcano is the highest point in Panama, reaching 3474 meters above sea level.
And the best thing is that if the day is very clear, you can see the two oceans, the Atlantic and the Pacific.
Well, if you’re daring to climb this volcano, you have to keep in mind that it’s not an easy route. Besides, you have to be in good physical shape.
The climb is quite demanding, and sometimes it is conditioned by the weather, because if it has rained a lot, maybe the route is not in the best conditions.
Route of the Quetzals
There are two modes of climbing, the night one, which starts around 11 pm. And the daytime, which starts early in the morning.
The route in both cases, between ascent and descent, can be done around 8-9 hours.
The advantage of doing the night tour is to see the sunrise from the highest part of the volcano. And as I said before, if the day is clear, you will enjoy unique views.
All the local agencies offer you the possibility to make this climb to the Baru volcano. It’s true that we met people who did it on their own. But it was the daytime climb, not the nighttime one.
In any case, keep in mind that you have to be in very good physical shape, as well as to bring mountain shoes, food and enough water.
The Quetzal Route
A good alternative, or complement to the climb of the Baru volcano is to do the trekking of the Quetzal Route. And this was the one we did.
This route starts at Cerro Punta, 1981 meters above sea level, and one hour away from Boquete.
This route will take you a whole day, as the whole tour takes about seven hours. This also depends on your physical condition. This trek is relatively simple, but you have to be in good physical shape.
It is called the Quetzal Route because it is a route where you can not only enjoy fabulous views of the Baru Volcano but also see the quetzals. These are some birds, which in the pre-Hispanic period were considered sacred.
The truth is that trekking is really nice. We got into the rainforest, and enjoyed nature in solitude, well, we were going with a guide.
This route is a sample of pure and lush nature, and we hope it lasts for a long time.
You can take a look at this article we wrote about the Route of the Quetzals.
Boquete, the village
In Boquete there is not much to do and rather little to see. But if you want to take a walk through this small town, we will tell you about some curious places.
It’s funny to find a train without a train station or trains or tracks. Well, there it is, next to the town hall in the Parque Domingo Médica.
There is also a small church, white and shiny, but beyond that it is of no great interest.
If there is one thing you can do there is enjoy Panamanian cuisine in its many restaurants. Besides, they are authentic, real Panamanian food.
Another alternative is to enjoy some delicious and affordable craft beers at Boquete Brewing Company. Also, it is a good place to meet other travelers and tell them about your experiences traveling through Panama.
Boquete Coffee Excursion
Here are two options, which are totally compatible.
On the one hand, you can take one of the many tours you can find in the different coffee plantations. This way you will be able to see how the process of the elaboration of the coffee is, and have more information to know more in depth about the Panamanian coffee.
But also, you can look for a place to taste a delicious local coffee. We found a coffee shop called La Viuda del Café. I think I probably tried one of the best coffees I’ve ever drunk there.
Boquete is one of the places in the world where you can find the best coffee.
Quetzal Route in Boquete, Panama
If we went to Boquete in the highlands of Panama, province of Chiriqui, it was for several reasons, and one of them was to do the trekking along the famous Route of the Quetzals.
But this is not the only thing in Boquete, the Baru volcano is also there.
This volcano, besides being the highest point in Panama with 3474 meters high, if you go up to it and the day is clear, you can see the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean.
We did not climb the Barú Volcano, as the weather was not good.
But if you want to climb the volcano, here are some things you should know.
The route takes about twelve hours, and the difficulty is very high, so you have to be quite fit.
Due to the length of the route, the usual thing is to get out there around eleven o’clock at night, and start the climb.
If you do this, you will enjoy what they say, it is one of the most beautiful sunrises you can see.
There are many local agencies that manage the tour with a guide, but we also met people who did it on their own, of course, during the day.
We saw the Barú Volcano from the Route of the Quetzals.
The Route of the Quetzals
The name of the route is due to the bird known as the quetzal, as it is a kind of sanctuary for them, although there are fewer and fewer of them, and despite the efforts, it is not easy to keep the place intact, or at least away from the predatory hands of humans.
The beginning of the Route of the Quetzals where we started was Cerro Punta, at 1981 meters high.
It took us almost an hour to get there, and yes, we hired a guide at the hostel where we were staying.
So, once we got to Cerro Punta, this trekking of almost ten kilometers began and it may take about seven hours.
Luckily, you do not need to be very fit to do this trekking, as it is of medium difficulty.
I advance you that if you want to see quetzals, you will have to go from January to June, since it is the time when they are in the Baru Volcano National Park, where this route is located.
This bird, in the pre-Hispanic cultures had a sacred character, and that is why so many kings and priests wore headdresses with their feathers.
It was a pity not to see one, since we visited Panama in November, bad luck…
We started the trekking seeing some fields of crops, and looking at the trees we saw pines, pines in Panama? Well yes, this was the work of the Spaniards, they brought this kind of tree, and now you can see them over there.
The side effect is that this type of tree consumes a lot of hybrid resources, and somehow impoverishes the land.
You know, invasive species were never good.
Once we started climbing, we were surrounded by high, very high mountains.
The highest point of this tour is 2500 meters above sea level.
And although Panama is tropical, at that altitude it’s cold, I can vouch for that.
Although we didn’t see any quetzals, we enjoyed going into a huge rainforest, with trees over a thousand years old, which is said to be soon.
How many things have happened in all this time.
During the trekking there was a stretch of quite a climb, then a bit of a descent.
We climbed again up to the highest part, where we could behold the Barú Volcano.
We were lucky because the day was clear, and besides, it didn’t rain!
The truth is that it was surprising to see such huge plants, gigantic ferns, huge leaves, thanks to the tropical climate, the depth of this rainforest where there were times when only a few rays of sunshine managed to cross the thickness of the forest.
Without a doubt, this route was a kind of communion with nature, enjoying the silence of nature and solitude.
We did not meet anyone else during the tour, and that is one of the plans you can do in Boquete.
This Route of the Quetzals surrounds the Barú volcano, so if you take almost an hour to get to Cerro Punta, the return to Boquete is much shorter, barely twenty minutes by car.
What to pack for the Quetzal trek
Although this trekking is of medium difficulty, there are some tips for you to enjoy the route that you should take into account.
Although at the highest points, if you stand for a long time, you may get a little cold, bring water, at least a liter per person.
It is also important that you bring some food, whether it is a sandwich, fruit and some glucose.
Of course, the plastic that you bring up with you, you keep it and throw it away in Boquete, let’s try to keep the environment clean.
For this trek, wear hiking boots, if you have low boots it’s okay. You have to take into account that you will have to pass a river at the end of the route. I took off my boots, but some people didn’t. There are also some stretches with mud. We went in November, which is the rainy season, and low boots were enough.
Wear comfortable clothes, mountain pants. A backpack to carry the things you need and make it comfortable. Try not to carry it too much, as it is quite a long walk. Don’t forget a thin raincoat, because it usually rains, and it’s cool at the top, so you won’t get cold.
Accommodation in Boquete
Accommodation in Boquete is varied, and prices are not excessive. We went with the accommodation already booked from Santa Catalina. And we did this, because in the lodging of Santa Catalina they advised us one, Mamallena.
Also, since we used the shuttle from HelloTravel Panama, a company associated with Mamallena Hostel, they gave us a discount on the price of the room.
This hostel is in the center of town, in the Domingo Médica park. And less than three minutes away there is a supermarket where you can find everything you are looking for.
If you want to see pictures, availability and prices, you can check the following link, Hostel Mamallena.
If you also want to take a look at other options, you can look at Accommodation in Boquete.
How to get to Boquete
If you want to take a road trip from Panama City to Boquete, and have the freedom to visit other destination at your own pace, a good idea is to rent a car. Here you can compare the available offers and rent a car at the best price.