If you prefer to make your own arrangements, you should flag a taxi to pick you up and drop you off at each Ranger Station. The fare from Guadalupe to El Respingo should is around $20, and from downtown Boquete to Alto Chiquero is around $10. Even if the distance is only a third on the Cerro Punta side, the fare is twice the amount because the road on Boquete's side is paved, but on Cerro Punta's it is not. The entrance fee for the Volcan Baru Nacional Park is $5 USD per person.
If you wish to hike the Quetzals' Trail from Cerro Punta to Boquete, the bus from Boquete to David costs $1.45 and from David to Guadalupe around $4. Take into account that if you're hiking the trail from Cerro Punta to Boquete you'll have to arrange a taxi on the day before you hike to pick you up at Alto Chiquero. This means that expenditures for hiking the Quetzals' Trail on your own are around $40 per person if public transportation is used, plus food and water.
When arranging your own transportation, calculating your timing has to be precise. If you're not on time you'll obviously be charged by the taxi an extra fee for having to wait for you, or even worst, you risk loosing your ride and having to walk another 8 km.
The bus from Boquete to David should take no more than 45 minutes and from David to Guadalupe another 3 hours more or less. You cannot exactly know if the buses will depart as soon as you arrive to each bus station, so at least allow 4 hours for the journey from Boquete to Guadalupe. Once in Guadalupe you'll have to find a taxi to drive you up to El Respingo. Add another 30 minutes. It may be advisable to ask the bus to leave you in the town of Guadalupe rather than driving you to the intersection between the roads that connect El Respingo with the road that goes to Guadalupe, as it will be easier to catch a taxi in Guadalupe.
Hiking the Quetzals Trial downhill might take from 4 to 6 hours, depending your physical condition and on how many stops you make to take it all in, so here you have to make another guess for transportation arrangements.
If you're hiking the other way around (Boquete to Cerro Punta), just add 1 hour or 2 for the uphill hike in order to make your pickup arrangements at El Respingo site. And make sure that you carefully follow the correct path as in this way around there are a couple of places where you can easily miss a turn.
Access to the entrance from Boquete is from the scenic Bajo Mono loop road (5 km from downtown Boquete). The turnoff onto the road leading to the trailhead is marked. From this point it is another 3 km uphill to the Ranger Station. Those who choose to hike from the Bajo Mono turnoff all the way to the Cerro Punta-Guadalupe road should plan on a nine to ten hour hike.
Try to remember that most of the Quetzals' Trail is a path in the middle of the rainforest. Only at the end of the path on Boquete's side before the Ranger Station will you encounter a dirt/rock road, so if you're not in a path and seeing signs with altitude and distance readings, your are lost: consider heading back.
Another disadvantage of not having a guide is that you really do not know exactly how much you still have to hike and because of this you cannot really pace your hike to make a more adequate timing, but maybe what you'll most regret if you do not have a guide is that the possibilities of spotting one of the elusive Resplendent Quetzal will be rather slim.
Some suggest shipping your luggage ahead of time to meet you at the other end of the trail. The most "reliable" way to do so is hiring a taxi to travel from Boquete to Cerro Punta or vice versa as there have been hikers getting stuck waiting for bags sent by courier services that make the journey from Boquete to Cerro Punta only one time per day. We would recommend not giving your luggage to just any cab driver if you do not want to risk loosing it. Feel free to Contact Us and we can set you up with an honest and known cab driver. If you were planning to visit the other town, this sounds like a good idea as this would allow you to sleep over there, but if not, this would only mean that your expenditures would be raised by another $25 for the taxi + a hotel in Volcan, Bambito or Cerro Punta, which are normally more expensive than those in Boquete. These, added to the rest of the expenditures, always justify choosing a guided tour for the Quetzals' Trail if 2 or more are traveling together.
Both ranger stations have several truly rustic bunks with shared bathrooms, which cost $10 per bed. Even the most hardcore nature lovers will not be tempted to spend a night in them. You are better off renting a tent and camping along the trail.