Boquete was the third city on our list. Located in the part of beautiful Chiriquí at the ffot of mount Barú and Panamá’s coffee capital.
So as we did before we intended to go by bus … That plan was quickly foiled given that there was no accurate description of the rout é to be found: You’d have to go back to Sona, then to Santiago, David and then: Boquete. The route might take you any time between 5 to 10 hours and supposedly costs you something between 15 to 25$. We just booked a shuttle.
You can book those at any hostel and you should do so the day before. The shuttle will take you to Boquete for 30$ and about 5 hours. Easy. It is a bit expensive but most definetely more comfortable.
I really liked just sitting in the car, looking out the window: First of all: The forest is beautiful. So serene and lush and green.
Secondly: Taking part in local traffic is hilarious! As I mentioned before: I am German. We like rules. There’s a red light. We stop and fill out a red-light-stopping-form. Not so in Panama! Most countries seem to care less for traffic rules, now that I think of it.
Ayways; Here are some of my favourite things:
- Horses are just a regular part of traffic
- So are dogs, cats, chicken, sheep, cattle, …
- Even though the shuttle’s advertise with “gentle drivers” … Don’t trust the pamphlet. Just don’t.
- The drivers are pretty cool: If you need to get off early: Just tell them and figure something out!
- The roads are crazy! Don’t try sleeping
The shuttle went on to drop us off at our hostel:
This was the first location we stayed at in Boquete. The Hostel is located in the town center but not incredibly close to where all the hastle is at. That makes it very quiet yet everything stays in walking distance.
The reception was run by two people who also stayed at the hostel. What seemed a little weird at first turned out quite familiar and cozy. There were only one or two rooms to stay in, one bathroom, one kitchen and a cute little garden outside.
The two people living there are quite talkative – one of the only speaks Spanish, though! – and it was quite nice getting to know them.
Breakfeast is not include but you’ll get some coffee, tea and cookies – and the guy staying there was nice enough to share his amazing coffee with me – Thank you, dude!
Boquete – A Coffee Lover’s Paradise!
The best thing about Boquete? The coffee! Oh my god, the coffee!
Since the town lies afoot a volcano in some climatically specific highlands the situation is perfect for coffee to grow.
There are a lot of coffee shops in town, so you can stock up and have your daily cup at adifferent place each and every day. I drank my favourite cup at La Viuda de Café. Just in case you’re looking for somwhere to start.
Tour a plantation!
You can book a tour at one of the plantations around. It is really worth having a look around town since there are a lot of shops selling coffee and other tours with daily special offers.
I went with Boquete Tree Trek and I really enjoyed myself. There were only three people in my group, including me.
You get driven up into the cloud forest highlands, then showed around by a guide. The plantation was past a swinging bridge in the middle of some beautiful nature.
Did you know you could eat the coffee cherries? Back in the day – before the coffee plant came over from Africa – the cherries were the only thing consumed.
Our guide Octavio (Say hi for me!) knew so much about coffee! It was really great to see someone who was so passionate!
They grow different sorts of Arabica – that’s right! Arabica isn’t just one kind of coffee – with different flavour profiles. Boquete is mainly know for one of those special plants: Geisha coffee. Not named after the Japanese courtisans but after the montain in Africa – Gesha – it was first discovered on. It is quite expensive but has anice sour-ish, zesty aroma. It doesn’t taste the way you’d expect coffee to taste so you should try it first but it has become my cup of holiday back home.
After touring the plantation you’ll get to test the different coffees growing there.
They also grow tea there! I toured the tea plantation and got to pick some myself.
The tea plantation is still in its trial phase so I’m excited to see how it’ll develop.
There’s also a restaurant/café there and a lodge styl hotel in case you want to extend your stay. I also bought some of the coffee from the tour for myself and my parents as well as some macadamia and some hazelnut flavoured coffee.
Hikes Around Boquete
Apart from coffee, Boquete also draws in a lot of nature lovers. And I completely understand why!
There are many hikes through the cloud forest around – the most famous and popular one is probably the hike up Mount Barú. I didn’t do that one, whereas my friends did. They were a little underwhelmed. So were most people.
You can take the shuttle up at midnight, then go hiking for 5-6 hours to see the sundawn in the morning. You have to be very lucky, though, since the weather isn’t always great.
I went on a hike titled The Lost Waterfalls and the name does not disappoint!
You can pack your swimsuit if you want to – 2/3 waterfalls are “swimmable” but really cold!
You should also be prepared to do a little climbing. The way to the last waterfall leads up some rocks past a rope …
In cas you need to cool down after your adventure in the woods, how about you vistit Boquetes very own Ice Cream Shop.
They sell classic Frutas Con Leche and other Bebidos but they also sell gelato in all kinds of tropical flavours. The selection changes a little everyday so you can try something new whenever you get there. I can only reccommend the Guanabana ice cream. It’s delicious!
Frutas con leche and Bebidos are traditional refreshers in most South American countries. They come fairly close to smoothies since they’re usually made of pureed fruit, milk or water and crushed ice. My favourite? Papaya.
In case ice cream isn’t your thing – Boo, you! – you can check out the Sandwich Shop! In fact: You should ceck out the the Sandwich Shop anyways.
They sell other food than sandwiches and it is all very delicious. There’s many vegetarian options as well!
So hop on by and have one of the best sandwiches ever!
Bambuda Castle … Have you ever slept in a castle? No? Well I have.
Bambuda Castle towers high above the town. The view is beautiful!
They offer 8-bed-dorms for 10$ a night, laundry service, food, breakfast, taxis, shuttles … Everything! There’s a pool and a jaccuzzi in case you want to just kick back and enjoy the view.
They serve dinner every evening at the same time so the whole hostel comes together to have “family” dinner and afterwards hang out on the balcony and enjoy the view on the sunset.
Did I mention that Panamá means “abundance of butterflies” ? I’m reall not sure. Anyways: Panamá means “abundance of butterflies”.
If you want to know more about the abundant litte critters you could visit the Mariposario. It is located between Boquete and Bambuad castle hidden away.
There’s the butterfly house and the egg chamber and a café you can go to afterwards. I really reccommend the homemade lemoande and hummingbird cakes. Most of the things they sell there are local and vegan so that’s a huge plus.
I got a one on one tour since I was the only one there and I was able to stay in the butterfly house as long as I wanted to.
Apart from butterflies they also keep bees and you can book a honey tasting as well.
I just found the Mariposario to be quite expensive. So think about going there. That’s all.
The Boquete Artists’ Market
Now to my favourite spot in town! The Artists’ Market.
I went exploring on my own when I first arrived in town since my friend was a little tired.
I had a quick look around, had some coffee, hade some ice cream and stumbled into the Artists’ Market.
As with the little stalls around Plaza Francia you can buy als sorts of souvenirs and handmades here.
Crystals, Blankets, Bracelets … All of that! I am usually a little careful with anything taken from nature (one guy in Panama tried to sell me a butterfly), since I don’t want to get in trouble with either the law or the ecosystem.
Making friends …
I bulked up on gifts and postcards and then quickly made some friends:
If you’re in Boquete check in with Richard. He’s an artist and truly a Jack of all trades! You can buy paintings or some of his metal bracelets or earrings (got a triple.metal bracelet).
Or say hi to my friend tucked away in the furthest corner of the market: She sells all sorts of things: Handmade macramée bracelets, books or vintage broches? She’s got it all! I got a cute little bracelet for my sister and she whowed me the different meanings of the stones’s colours. Wehn I payed she showed me all the green jade gems she had in her wallet – to attract business.
I went back there acouple of times and got some broches (so cute) and she even gifted me a little gem stone – I keep it with me in my wallet to this day!
On my last day in Boquete I decided to make her a gift as well: I’ve been making little bracelets myself – I’ve been giving them to people I met on my travels – so I made her a green one (again: to attract business) as a parting gift. That was probably one of my favourite – though bittersweet – moments. I got a bracelet back and it’s been on my wrist since.
It’s moments like this that I really cherish and that I go travelling for! I felt most at home in Boquete and I felt incredibly sad to leave … But life goes on.
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