For the ultimate jungle experience, head to Boquete. This village in northern Panama is nestled in a dense rainforest with beautiful hiking trails and impressive waterfalls. It is much cooler than the rest of the country because Boquete is located at an altitude of over a thousand meters. Either you are very lucky or you will experience at least one day of rain during your visit, because such a lush jungle needs a lot of rainfall!
- In this article
- Popular hikes
- How do you get to Boquete?
- Staying in Boquete
There are three very popular hiking trails near Boquete. There used to be four, as the Quetzal Hike was a very popular trail, but it has been closed for some time. But don’t worry, the alternatives are worth it!
The Lost Waterfalls
A highly recommended hike is the trek to The Lost Waterfalls. This trail is only four kilometers long, but the climbs are quite challenging! The starting point is about ten kilometers outside the village, so your best option is to take a local bus (or collectivo). You can catch it at the Bruña supermarket and it will cost you two and a half dollars (direction Bajo Mono). Ask the driver to stop at The Lost Waterfalls Trail. Unfortunately, the hike itself will lighten your wallet considerably. The entrance fee is a whopping ten dollars. Don’t think twice and just go for it, because the waterfalls are gems!
It had been raining for hours when we did this hike. Not only did it make the trails muddy, but in some places the trail had turned into a swirling stream of water that came up to our knees. The upside was that the first waterfall was huge! The big disadvantage was that the other two waterfalls were inaccessible. So we made a deal with the person at the entrance. With our ticket, we were allowed to come back the next day – under sunny skies – and check off all the waterfalls.
The Lost Waterfalls
The starting point of the second hike, the famous Pipeline Trail, is only one kilometer away from The Lost Waterfalls, so it’s best to do them on the same day. This hike is seven kilometers long and doesn’t require any special effort. It’s a perfect hike to relax and take it easy! Again, the entrance is not free, you have to pay five dollars at the ticket office at the beginning of the trail. The trail is well marked and follows – you’ll never guess! – a pipeline. Along the way you’ll pass a thousand-year-old tree, maybe see a quetzal, and at the furthest point you’ll come to a very high waterfall.
El Pianista Trail
The third and final hike is the El Pianista Trail, which is just under ten kilometers long. For this trail, you again take the bus at Bruña supermarket, but this time heading towards Alto Lino. Tell the driver where you want to go and he will take you to the starting point near El Pianista Restaurant for less than a dollar. There you can start the hike for free, for a change!
Although the hike is very beautiful, it has acquired a dark connotation, especially in the Netherlands. In 2014, Lisanne and Kris, two students from Amersfoort, disappeared during this jungle walk. It wasn’t until months after their disappearance that some of their belongings and remains were found near a river. It is believed that Lisanne and Kris got lost and unfortunately fell off a cliff one of the following days. Since then, a cross has been placed at the furthest point as a memorial.
Because of these events, it is sometimes recommended to do the El Pianista trail only in the company of a guide. However, we did it without any problems on our own, because in reality the route is not difficult to follow.
How do you get to Boquete?
From Panama City to Boquete
It takes about seven hours to get to Boquete from Panama City. At the main bus station near Allbrook Mall you can take a bus to David. A ticket costs about fifteen dollars and the trip takes about six hours. In David you will transfer to a bus to Boquete for the last part of your trip. The cost for this bus is two dollars.
From El Valle de Antón to Boquete
However, since we were coming from El Valle de Antón, our itinerary was a bit more complex. We had to take four different buses. Nevertheless, the trip went smoothly thanks to excellent connections.
Trip 1: El Valle de Anton ➔ Las Uvas
In the center of El Valle de Anton you can take the first minibus to Panama City or San Carlos. Ask the driver to stop at Las Uvas, which is the stop on the Pan American Highway. The trip takes about 30 minutes and costs $1.50. Remember to pay cash when you get off the bus. These buses run regularly and leave as early as 5:30 a.m.
Trip 2: Las Uvas ➔ Santiago
At the Las Uvas stop, wait for the bus to Santiago. These buses usually run every half hour. Get off at the bus terminal in Santiago, which is usually the last stop. The fare for this trip is $6.00 and the ride takes about 2.5 hours. Remember to pay cash when you get off the bus.
Trip 3: Santiago ➔ David
At the terminal in Santiago you can buy a ticket for the bus to David. The ticket costs $9.00. You can also buy some snacks for the trip or have lunch at the terminal. The bus ride to David takes approximately 3 hours. Get off at the bus terminal in David as this is the final stop.
Trip 4: David ➔ Boquete
Again, you buy your ticket at the bus terminal in David’s. For $2.00 you will be in the center of Boquete in about 45 minutes!
Staying in Boquete
In downtown Boquete you will find a few decent hotels, close to restaurants and the departure point for the minibuses that take you to the trailheads. Don’t wait too long to book your stay in Boquete, as the most popular accommodations fill up quickly, especially in high season!
Beautiful modern rooms. Nice atmosphere. Quiet location yet in the center of town.
Popular with backpackers. Castle on a hill just outside the village, surrounded by coffee plantations.