Boquete is a cool and pristine mountain town in Northwestern Panama. It’s temperate climate, friendly locals, and stunning scenery have long charmed expats in search of a slow pace of life and small town appeal. But more and more tourists are also discovering that Boquete is a Mecca for active travelers, with a myriad of adrenaline-pumping adventures accessible via day trip from the town.
Here are a few to get you started:
White Water Rafting and Kayaking
The Chiriqui area near Boquete is said to have some of the best white water rafting in all of Panama; with unspoiled mountain scenery and a large variety of crystal-clear rivers, it’s hardly any wonder why. Choose from Class III to IV rafting and kayaking down the Chiriqui or Chiriqui Viejo River. (There are also easier ‘floats’ available if you prefer.) My first time rafting I opted for a Class III/IV, and it was the perfect mix of exciting rapids and gentle floating past breathtaking scenery. During most rafting excursions, you’ll have the opportunity to view spectacular wildlife, including local monkeys and birds. Full day trips will also make a stop for lunch. Chiriqui River Rafting is a family-run company with great reviews—they only use local Ngobe-Bugle aboriginals as their river guides, which in turn supports the local economy.
Hike Los Quetzales Trail
There are plenty of day hikes that surround Boquete, but one of the most popular routes is an 8km trek called ‘El Sendero de Los Quetzales’. This hike is challenging—the trail itself might be only 8km, but the entire route between Boquete and Cerro Punta is 23km. Additionally, if hiking from Boquete, the entire route is uphill. But not only is the hike itself gorgeous, it is also one of the best places to see the rare resplendent quetzal bird. Start early to maximize your bird sighting opportunities. While a guide is not necessary, it is helpful if you are keen on spotting as much wildlife as possible. And like most places in Central America, don’t forget to bring along your poncho.
Zip Line at Boquete Tree Trek
I did a lot of zip lining as a child, but none of the experiences could prepare me for the trepidation of flying through the trees in Central America. But despite any anxiety, zip lining in Panama is an absolute must. Boquete Tree Trek is one of the most popular places to give soaring a try, with a highly skilled, fun staff that will put your fears at ease. They have 13 stations along the zip lining tour, with heights up to 60 meters and long stretches between trees. The views of the majestic forests of the Chiriqui Highlands are unbeatable from above.
After conquering your fears and pushing your limits, reward yourself with one of Boquete’s prestigious cups of Joe. There’s a reason why Lonely Planet calls Boquete: ‘the Napa Valley of coffee’, and many consider the coffee here to be some of the best in the world! The popular geisha coffee is a bit pricy, but the powerful and aromatic brew is the perfect way to rehash all your Panamanian adventures!
Have you been to Boquete? Which adventure do you want to try?