The mountainous region of Boquete, Panama is a beautiful area packed with fun activities for every kind of traveler. Here are some hiking tips and advice for my favorite area of Panama.
From David, there are frequent buses leaving every 20-30 minutes from the main terminal. Look for the school buses with the Boquete sign on the front. The ride will cost just $1.75 and take 50-60 minutes depending on the time of day and where you are dropped off.
This is the most popular hike in Boquete and a really fun place to explore. This hike takes you to three different ‘lost waterfalls’ that stretch out over 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles). Some parts of the trail can get pretty muddy and steep in some parts especially near the last waterfall. Despite that, I was treated to amazing views of the surrounding mountains and little coffee plantations. There are also plenty of beautiful flowers to gaze at in the first kilometer of the trail. I highly recommend this hike to anyone who travels through Boquete.
Getting here is pretty easy. Walk two blocks north from the main square and take the minibus marked Alto Quiel, Bajo Mono. Ask them to take you to Lost Waterfalls. The beautiful drive up into the mountains to the Lost Waterfalls trailhead will cost you $2.50 each way. It costs $7 to access the waterfalls, which is quite an increase from the $3 entrance fee a few years ago. The hike should take around 3-3.5 hours to complete.
Piedra De Lino
Do this hike if you want an amazing view of Boquete and the surrounding area. This is a steep hike with a 500-meter elevation increase but the views from the top are what make this climb worth doing. The hike to the top should take around 1.5-2 hours depending on your physical condition. Pace yourself on this steep climb so you don’t burn out too fast and be extra careful on the hike down.
It started raining heavily halfway up the climb to the top so unfortunately, we didn’t catch any of the nice views. I ended up slipping and falling a few times on the way down because of the trail’s steep grade. Thankfully, the trail was made of soft dirt instead of rocks so I didn’t get injured. I recommend completing this hike as preparation for hiking Volcan Baru. If you can do this, I don’t think you will have any issues with hiking Volcan Baru. I didn’t take a lot of pictures on this rainy hike so check out my YouTube video to get a better idea of what Piedra De Lino is like.
This hike has no entrance fee. Catch a minibus here at the same spot two blocks north of the main square. This time, take the minibus marked Alto Lino, Arco Iris and tell them you want to go to Piedra De Lino. The driver will drop you off in front of Hostal Casa Pedro and you will pay them 75 cents.
This is the highest point in Panama at 3475 meters (11401 feet). Make sure you get plenty of sleep before embarking on this hike. Like most people, I started this hike around midnight so I could reach the summit in time for sunrise. A taxi was scheduled to pick me up from the hostel at 11:30 pm but it never showed up. I walked to the main square and paid $10 for a taxi ride up to the start of the trail. You can negotiate a better rate with a taxi driver by going with a group or booking a shuttle in advance (e.g. $20 for 4 or 5 people is reasonable).
This hike wasn’t as tough as I expected. Maybe it was because I had already completed the Piedra De Lino hike which was much steeper. Hiking Volcan Baru from the east is a very steady climb of around 1600 meters over the course of 13.5 kilometers (most of it on a rocky gravel road). The hike to the summit usually takes 6-8 hours (I did it in 5.5 hours). Descent should take 3.5-4.5 hours. On a clear day, you can see both the Pacific and Carribean sides of Panama. It was cloudy morning, the day I went up so we didn’t have the prettiest view at sunrise. One advantage of doing the sunrise hike is seeing the clear night sky. This was nothing short of unbelievable. It left me speechless because I had never seen so many stars in my life.
Volcan Baru Hiking Tips
- Spend at least two nights in Boquete before hiking Volcan Baru. This will help you acclimatize and prevent you from getting altitude sickness.
- Get lots of sleep and take plenty of naps before the hike. This includes the night before and the day of the hike. Your body and mind will thank you. I was really tired during the descent due to lack of sleep. Don’t make the same mistake as I did.
- Bring plenty of water and snacks. It’s important to keep the energy level high so you can complete the hike without any major setbacks.
- Make sure you have enough warm clothes. It can get very cold at the top. Most hostels in Boquete will have extra clothes, headlamps, hats, gloves you can borrow for the Volcan Baru sunrise hike.
More Hikes To Do In Boquete
Unfortunately, it rained almost every day during my stay in Boquete so I didn’t get the chance to do these three hikes. Here is a bonus list of hikes I would recommend for those visiting Boquete.
- Pipeline Trail: Hop on the same minibus that takes you to Lost Waterfalls (Alto Quiel, Bajo Mono). Ask the driver to drop you off at Cascada Escondida (Hidden Waterfall). This is another popular trail to do since it is a short and relatively flat hike to a nice waterfall. This hike should take around 3 hours roundtrip. The minibus will cost $2.00 and the entrance fee is $3.00.
- Quetzales Trail: Take the Alto Quiel, Bajo Mono minibus from the center of Boquete and tell them you want to go to Senderos Los Quetzales (Quetzales Trail). This beautiful 9.6 kilometer (6 miles) hike will take you through the cloud forest along the edge of Volcan Baru (with nearly 1000 meters in elevation change). If you prefer a downhill hike, I recommend starting this hike from Cerro Punta. The trek from Boquete to Cerro Punta takes 5-6 hours and 4-5 hours from Cerro Punta to Boquete. The minibus will cost $3.00 and the entrance fee is $5.00 (paid at the Boquete ranger station).
- Cerro Pianista: Take the minibus marked Alto Lino, Arco Iris and tell them you want to go to Cerro Pianista. The trail begins at the Il Pianista restaurant and begins out in open land before entering the thick cloud forest. Start this hike early in the morning to give yourself plenty of time to complete it (5-6 hours roundtrip). The trail isn’t very well marked so look out for orange markings on rocks and trees to avoid getting lost. The minibus up to the trailhead costs 75 cents and there is no entrance fee for this hike.
Here are more helpful resources and fun articles to read before your trip to Boquete, Panama!
Official Website for Boquete
This website has some great information on everything you need to know about Boquete.
Amanda Zeist from The Adventure Junkies shares her story of climbing Volcan Baru.
Ivo, Mira & Maya from The Life Nomadik spent the night at the campsite near Volcan Baru and also met the guard stationed at the summit.
Gideon Lasco from The Pinoy Mountaineer hiked up to Volcan Baru in November 2016.
Melissa from The Family Voyage has some great tips if you are traveling to Boquete with kids.