Culture Magazine

The City of Eternal Spring

By Teymarie @teymarie

Throughout all my travels, I've never experienced a place where, overall, the locals were so friendly.

Don't get me wrong, I've encountered some extraordinarily gentile people during my explorations. The locals of El Nido in the Philippines and the villagers of Nisha in Egypt come to mind first.

But complete strangers greeting me on the street for no reason, or hugging and kissing me on the cheek upon first meeting, was a warmness I first viewed with a skeptical eye.

As the days passed I learned to let my guard down. There was no catch to be had or scam waiting around the corner. These people were just naturally welcoming.

Perhaps such temperament and cordiality is the result of growing up and living amongst such exceptional beauty.

The small town of Boquete can be found nestled within the lush mountainous highlands of Panama's ChiriquÍ Province, just east of the Costa Rican border.

Its' downtown area (if you can even call it that) resides around a small park less than a block in size, lined with a couple of restaurants, hostels, souvenir shops, a café and grocery store.

Though small in size, the towns' location grants it proximity to much grander perks, including some of the most alluring natural features of the country.

One of these is Volcán Barú, a dormant volcano to the west, which also happens to be the highest point in the country (3,474 meters or 11,398 feet high), making it a popular hike for both locals and tourists.

The hike is very long, steep and strenuous, but for those up to the challenge, it's said to be well worth it. On a clear day, you can see both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea from the summit.

Information on hiking alone or guided tours to Barú can be found on the Complete Guide to the Volcán Barú.

Running from the volcano and through the town is the Caldera River.

The power and magnitude of the volcano and river has created marvelous features that people can enjoy, such as the Caldera Hot Springs (locally known as Los Pozos de Caldera) and The Lost Waterfalls.

Overall, there are many things to do around the area, particularly if you like nature. Touring coffee estates (Boquete is known for having the country's finest), white-water rafting along the Chiriqui and Chiriqui Viejo rivers, horseback riding, canopying and ziplining in the rainforest, jungle treks, rocking climbing and birding - to name a few.

TripAdvisor has compiled an extensive list of attractions and activities here.

How to Get There

From Panama City's Main Bus Terminal at Albrook (Gran Terminal) take a bus to David. The ride is between six and eight hours (depending on whether you take a regular bus during the day or an overnight express bus). Schedules and prices can be found here.

Once at David Terminal you can catch a bus to Boquete. The bus leaves every 30 minutes from the hours of 6am to 9pm. The ride takes approximately one-hour and costs $1.75 per person.

Where to Stay

There are plenty of hostels to choose from. I personally recommend the Refugio del Rio. They have a convenient location just outside of the downtown area, with friendly staff who are happy to assist you with whatever information you might need.

Their accommodations range from dorms, to private rooms, and I believe they just started offering tents as well.

If you happen to find yourself in Panama, or close to the Panama frontier in Costa Rica, and looking to get away from the heat and crowds, mosey on over to Boquete - a location with a cooler feel (literally - it can get chilly up there) and scenic setting. It might just be what you've been looking for.

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