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BOQUETE PANAMA - MOUNTAINS

Fortune magazine's 2005 Retirement Guide selects Boquete as one of the 5 best places in the world to retire. Boquete used to be one of Panama's best kept secrets. All that changed in 2001 when the magazine of the American Association for Retired Persons also chose Boquete as one of the top places in the world for Americans to retire, a rating based on safety,beauty, climate and cost-of-living. A scenic mountain town in highlands of West Panama, Boquete is also a world class tourist destination-a flower-filled valley village with gourmet coffee farms on its slopes, spectacular mountain views and springlike weather year round.

Each year the Boquete Flower and Coffee fair draws more visitors and it looks like they are planning a big turnout this January. The fair grounds are used only once a year for this special event that features beautiful floral displays and handicrafts from all of Central and South America.

Flowers fair will generate more than $2.5M with an increase in the budget for year 2008 of 500 thousand dollars, the works of reconstruction of lands of the Flowers & Coffee Fair in Boquete, that every year attracts for the month of January the visits of many national tourists as well as foreigners, due to their charming climate and landscapes. The president of the Patronage of the Flowers & Coffee Fair, Edilberto Beitía, expressed that for next year, the fair will count on new attractions in the different gardens, including varieties of flowers brought from abroad.



HOW TO GET THERE: By air, car or bus. You can fly Aeroperlas or Turismo Aereo from Albrook Airport to the nearby city of David. Airfares are around $100 round trip. From David, you rent a car or take a 45 minute taxi ride to Boquete. It also is an easy 7 hour car trip from Panama City or you can take a bus ($15) from the Albrook Bus Terminal.

WHERE TO STAY
There are two options- stay in the village or up on the mountainside. A stay in a village hotel offers walking distance proximity to riverside fair grounds full of flowers, Boquete town sights and good restaurants.

In the Village and Near the Village

Isla Verde- Round cabins in a peaceful setting with European charm. A very short distance from the village, next to a lovely river with mountain views
Panamonte Inn and Spa: In the village, the Gran Dame of all Boquete hotels, tasteful decor, garden setting, great on-premise restaurant, fine social area and bar.

Cabanas Valle Escondido: Beautifully appointed riverside bungalows  with kitchenettes, direct TV and fireplaces in Valle Escondido Resort Community

Cabinas Via Lactea- Just two minutes from town, lovely cabins set in a tropical gardens next to a river, all with fully equipped kitchenettes.

Above the Village:

For a "close to nature" experience with spectacular mountain views, you can stay at three small hotels with views that look out on the 10,000 feet Barú volcano and surrounding mountains: La Montana y el Valle - The Coffee Estate Inn, Villa Marita or Los Establos.


La Montaña y el Valle - The Coffee Estate InnThe Coffee Estate Inn is a small place with a big reputation-the subject of feature articles in the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle among others. Nestled in an orange grove and working coffee farm, the Inn is owned and run by Canadian couple who are personable and attentive hosts. The Inn, designed to be a romantic getaway, is a favorite place for honeymooners and couples. The bungalows have panoramic mountain views and gourmet meals are served by candlelight.

Villa Marita -Perched on a beautiful plateau that looks up at majestic Volcan Barui. Villa Marita is for everyone including the whole family. Reasonably priced country-style chalets each have a bedroom, a sitting room and a picture window with a mountain view. The common lodge has a terrace with panoramic village and mountain views and a comfy lounge. Owner Rodrigo Marciacq, a Texas A&M graduate, is a gracious and knowledgable host. He and his wife Priscilla serve family-style meals with fresh greens from the Villa's hydroponic farm.

Los Establos is a small, elegant hotel designed for couples only with romance in mind. Nestled on a hillside above the village of Boquete, it features stunning mountain views, a flower filled landscape, an outdoor jacuzzi, a tree house for adults.

For the backpacker and budget minded Boquete has a numerous pensions and economic hotel options. The Lonely Planet Panama guide has a list.


WHERE TO EAT
Boquete Bistro : Featuring continental foods flavored with the sauces and spices of a true chef. Prices are reasonable and the servings generous. Housed in a historic building with a full wall mural by a famous Panamanian artist from 1952 on Main St. Owned and operated by Loretta from Aspen, Colorado

Santa Fe Bar and Grill: The Santa Fe offers affordable burgers and Southwestern US style food in a beautiful setting along the river side and next to Boquete's flower- filled fair grounds. You will also find a very popular bar with pool tables and foos ball. It always time to party at the Santa Fe.

WHAT TO DO

Boquete Tree Trek-

An exhilarating, adrenaline rush ride- glide through 3 kilometers of the canopy of a century-old cloud forest high above pristine rivers, waterfalls and landscape bordering Amistad National Park and the Baru Volcano

Coffee Farm Tours

1World's Best Coffee: Boquete is home to a number of "specialty" or gourmet coffee farms. The special micro-climates of Boquete grow the world's finest gourmet coffee. Hacienda La Esmeralda recently won first place at two international cupping competitions and set an online coffee auction record when it sold for $21 dollars a pound.

 

Take a fascination tour of a coffee farm and the processing plants which prepare the coffee bean for consumption. The coffee farms are set on beautiful mountainsides with the coffee bushes growing in banks on steep slopes. All tours end with a delicious cup of gourmet coffee or a "cupping" which is the coffee equivalent of a wine tasting.

Coffee Farm Tour Options: Café Ruiz: From their roadside coffee shop, Café Ruiz offers an excellent and inexpensive tour of their farm and processing plant. Kotowa Coffee Estate Kotawa is the source of gourmet coffee sold at the airport. Their beautiful coffee farm features two processing plants- one antique and one modern. The tour ends with a "cupping".

2White Water Rafting for Everybody

Our family took a white water rafting trip offered by Hector Sanchez's Chiriqui River Rafting. Mr. Sanchez and his certified rafting staff come highly recommended based on a perfect safety record after 20 years in the business. They offer everything from a safe and fun trip down the river that any family can enjoy to more challenging "first ascent" for adventures for experts. Many consider the Chiriqui Viejo River one of the 10 best rivers in the world.

Eight members of our family made the trip in one raft (steered by an on-board guide) along with two kayakers providing additional safety support. It was a thrilling all day trip including 4 hours of rafting broken by a break for a riverside picnic lunch. We sometimes sped and sometimes drifted down the scenic river. It was as exciting as any ride at Disney World and it lasted a lot longer.

Horseback Riding and Scooters

Boquete is surrounded by mountain roads and is the ideal place to ride horses or whiz around on a scooter. Gringo Scooters in town offers scooters by the hour and your hotel host can tell you where you can rent horses by the hour.

Hiking and Nature Tours

Seeing a Quetzal for Sure
In Boquete there is a birding guide by the name of Chago who is one of the few people who know how to call a quetzal- the holy grail of American birders. Chago is famous for his quetzal viewing tours on the slope of Baru Volcano. Panama is the last place where it is relatively easy to see a quetzal, considered the most beautiful bird in the Americas. When we took his tour, Chago promised us we would see five quetzals. We spent an hour meandering through a grove of special trees high up on the volcano as Chago made his bird calls- and better than his word-we saw not five but seven quetzals. Chago told us of people who had made 20 trips in Costa Rica trying unsuccessly to see this rare, wonderful bird. In Boquete Chago guarantees you will see a quetzal anytime of the year, or he will refund you part of your tour fee. Jane from the Coffee Estate Inn reports that between December and May of 2003, all of their guests, without exception, saw between 4 and 12 quetzals on a single tour with Chago. Chago's cellular phone number is 620-2187 and home phone number is 720-4548.

Hiking

The geography of the land surrounding Boquete is a hiker's dream. There are public trails throughout the area, which have been used by the farmers for generations.The forests are magnificent. As you gain elevation in one cloud forest nearby, you pass four distinct types of vegetation. Enjoy exuberant greenery and picturesque views, including waterfalls. You can go with a guide or you can hike the main roads yourself.

Strolling Around Town
The village lends itself to easy strolls. You can visit the riverside fair grounds with prize winning flowers displays, the small Huaca Museum, handicrafts shops, coffee shops and dine at one of Boquete's fine restaurants. A must-do is a visit to "My Garden is Your Garden" a beautiful private garden of local, wealthy family filled with whimsical figures made of flowers.

Resort Communities
More and more people from around the world are deciding to make Boquete their paradise on a more permanent basis. It is hard to imagine a more ideal place for a permanent home, or second home. In fact Modern Maturity the magazine of the AARP selected Boquete as one of the top four best places in the world to live outside the United States, a rating based on safety, beauty, climate, infrastructure, stability and cost.



Boquete has an ever growing number of residential projects. Prices are about half of anything comparable in the U.S. and also less than Costa Rica.Two of the best are Valle Escondido and Cielo Paraiso.

Valle Escondido is the original premiere resort community-the dream-come-true of an American developer who fell in love with Boquete and this hidden valley. Valle Escondido is a planned, architecturally attractive residential community with all the amenities you would expect from a world class development including a 9-hole golf course,a spa, a quaint shopping village, riverside cabins and villas offering overnight and longer stay accommodations.

Cielo Paraiso- On a plateau with spectacular 360 degree views of mountains and ocean, Cielo Paraiso is an exclusive resort community of estate residences with a golf course designed by Michael Poellot opening in 2007

 

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Last Modified June 23, 2009.