Two must-see half-day hikes in Boquete

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Two must-see half-day hikes in Boquete

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Walking in the mountains surrounding Boquete should be on the wish list of every traveller, not just to Panama, but to Central America as a whole. There are numerous routes to choose from and the vast majority can be enjoyed without requiring a guide. The Quetzal Trail remains Boquete’s most famous hike, but we’ve listed two alternative trails below that you can enjoy in the morning before group classes begin at 1pm.

It is important to set off early. The journey to the start point of the trails can take at least 25 minutes so if you’re eager to squeeze in a morning hike, you need to be setting off on the bus around 8am to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the stunning scenery and return without missing out on lunch in your rush to get back for school. One benefit of starting early is that you will have the trails all to yourself. You are likely to bump into some fellow hikers around 10am, but by that point you’ll be on your way back.

To get to the start of both the trails listed here, go to the bus station in front of the Bruna supermarket and jump in any bus with the words Bajo Mono or Alto Quiel on the windscreen. These buses will bring you back to Boquete when you have finished hiking. They don’t have a fixed timetable though so be prepared to wait a little after your trek for a bus to arrive.

Pipeline Trail

This is a beautiful, gentle ascent towards a waterfall. You’ll be dropped off by the roadside next to the sign below.

Although it says Cascada Escondida, don’t confuse this trek with the Tres Cascadas Escondidas (Three Hidden Waterfalls). The start point for that trail is a further 1.6km down the road. Instead walk straight up the path towards the ticket booth, where you’ll be asked to pay the $3 entrance fee. Continue walking parallel to the river and you will soon see the pipeline that the path is named after.

You will cross the meandering river several times and pass a 1,000 year old tree en route to the waterfall. You can’t really get lost so enjoy looking for the resplendent quetzal in the trees above you. The final stretch towards the waterfall is along a dried up riverbed, so keep following the pipeline until the scenery opens up, revealing the waterfall. After taking it all in, head back the way you came - it’s all downhill so it won’t take you as long to get back to the start.

Three Hidden Waterfalls Trail

After crossing a rickety metal suspension bridge, you’ll reach the start of a very steep path that takes you up into the hills. Soon after it levels out, you’ll reach the ticket booth where you will be charged $7 to continue.

Once you’ve paid, you’ll soon start climbing towards the first waterfall. The hike is very muddy so walking boots are essential! You will be able to hear the waterfall before you see it through the trees. To get up close, it’s necessary to take a small detour downhill. This waterfall is the only one of the three that you are not permitted to swim underneath.

Retracing your steps towards the main path, continue following the white arrows that will lead you on the undulating path uphill to the second waterfall. From there, the path becomes precipitous and there are ropes and handrails to assist hikers.

You will eventually come out directly above the second waterfall. At this point a couple of students have said they were unable to find the third waterfall. Follow the path next to the river until you reach a fallen tree. Walk underneath the trunk and soon afterwards you'll arrive at the final cascade. For those who don’t fancy a swim, it’s possible to stand behind the waterfall. Remember you will still get wet!

From there, head back towards the start. As with the Pipeline Trail, this route is not a loop and requires you to take the same route back. However, on this trek you can avoid the detour to the first waterfall on your return.

Let us know how you get on!

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Search our blog if you're visiting Panama! From must do's, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish while in our country! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 10 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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