Archive for the 'Boquete Hikes' Category

Boquete Hiking Trails – The Waterfall Trail (aka Pipeline Trail)

I take this Boquete hiking trail most Sundays with my wonderful animal stalker friends, Bill and Lynne. The Waterfall Trail in Boquete is gently sloped, so not too strenuous and it delivers on stunning views and an abundance of wildlife. This Boquete hiking trail is also the Quetzal nightclub of Boquete: all the boy quetzals gather here, coyly letting their tail feathers swing, luring in the ladybirds. Finding this trail can often be confusing: it used to be called the Pipeline Trail, plus, there’s another excellent trail close by with a similar name, The Lost Waterfalls (our next featured trail – stay tuned!). You know you’ve got the correct trail if you see this sign:

waterfall trail entrance

This is the trail we recommend most often when guests ask us where to go. For plenty of reasons:

Quetzals! You have the greatest chance of spotting a Quetzal on this Boquete hiking trail. You further increase your odds if you have a skilled guide with you. We can arrange this at check in. Most tours pick up at the hotel at 8:00-8:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. and the hike lasts about 3.5 hours. The cost is approximately $40 per person.

Quetzal on the Waterfall Trail, August 2014. Photo courtesy of John from Boquete Custom Tours!

Quetzal on the Waterfall Trail, August 2014. Photo courtesy of John from Boquete Custom Tours.

The Really Old Tree: Yes, that’s the official name of the 1,400 year old tree that has withstood two eruptions of Volcan Baru (you can see two distinct indentations in the trunk). The tree is off to the left of the main trail (not the first left fork at the beginning of the trail…that’s where the bee colony is. Don’t go there). You’ll see the tree from the main trail. You’ll also see a lot of people with binoculars pressed to their faces, mouths slightly ajar hovering in the vicinity – it’s prime quetzal country due to the abundance of aguacatillos, also called mini-avacados, or, quetzal crack cocaine.

The Waterfall! At the end of the trail, you’ll see a stunning waterfall. Tip: Don’t stand directly under the water, trying to recreate an Irish Spring moment. Landslides/tumble-y rocks a distinct possibility, especially in rainy season. Admire from a distance.


Wildlife: I’ve seen quetzales, toucanettes (you’re picturing a toucan in a blonde wig and smurf hat, aren’t you?), howler monkeys, a sloth, baby tinamou (he hiked with me for a spell). Lynne and Bill have seen: the above, plus, a weasel, peccary, coatimundi, armadillo, deer, olingo, cacomistle, porcupine, opossum, agouti, capuchin monkey.

Photo courtesy of Bill Fox!

Photo courtesy of Bill Fox!

Another two Bill photos!

Another Bill photo!


The drive up to the trail: The Bajo Mono loop road is spectacular. You can make a whole day of it: stop at the crazy rock formation, waterfalls, abandoned ‘castle’, stop in at Fresas Cafe for a fresa batido (strawberry milkshake), drive through farm country and breathe in the smell of green onions. We provide a great map with all the landmarks. Ask us about it before you hit the road and we can give you some tips!

You'll see this on the way up to Bajo Mono.  Climbers not guaranteed. :)

You’ll see this on the way up to Bajo Mono.Climbers not guaranteed.

Safety first! This trail features a lovely woman named Janeth who collects $3 from each hiker to cross her family’s land. She also takes note of who enters the trail and who exits—which is always a good thing.

Trail: The Waterfall Trail
Location: Up the Bajo Mono loop road – ask at our front desk for a map!
Time: 2 – 3 hours (depends on how often you stop to shoot photos)
Pros: Beautiful views, quetzals and other wildlife, waterfall
Cons: Lots of people on it in high season
Level: Beginner/intermediate

Boquete hikes – Il Pianista Trail

In the past, Il Pianista has been an overlooked, underrated trail (ok, mostly by me). I really wanted to recommend it because the trailhead is so close to Boquete Garden Inn. But guests who hiked the Il Pianista independently weren’t impressed: it was muddy, difficult to navigate and the Continental Divide wasn’t obvious. They’d get to the blinking cows and turn back.

Here’s the thing: guests who went with a guide loved it – because they knew where to go and what they were seeing. So, we decided to make the hike easier for people to explore alone, with tips and photos, and we are now recommending it as one of the top intermediate-to-advanced hikes in Boquete.

The Il Pianista trail delivers beautiful views and a great workout. The trail is deeply creviced at points from years of use, with walls 5ft and taller. (The Il Pianista trail was the primary walking route for coffee pickers travelling between Almirante and Boquete.) The highlight of this trail is hiking to the Continental Divide (basically, a splitting point: on one side of the divide, rivers flow to the Caribbean, the other side, towards the Pacific).

Lyle (former guest, Hiker-in-Residence, deputy mayor of Boquete) and I decided to go ourselves, scope out the trail and take photos at the points where guests reported getting confused.

Here’s where everybody freaks out: there is a bridge to the left, farm to the right. Cross the bridge. That’s it.

Cross the bridge on the left!

Cross the bridge on the left!

lyle model

And you’ll also get to the point where there’s a gate. Go ahead. Open it and continue! (Lyle demonstrates in the above photo!)

The rest of the trail has been thoughtfully spray painted with orange arrows – so it really is difficult to lose your way. You know you’re at the divide when you’re at the highest point and the trail ahead of you starts to slope downward again. The views from here are incredible on a clear day.

Trail: Il Pianista
Location: About a 2-minute drive from Boquete Garden Inn, on the right side of the road, to the left of the Il Pianista Restaurant
Time: Approximately 3 hours (1.5 – 2 hours up; 1.25 hours – 1.5 hours down)
Pros: beautiful views, close to the hotel, if you’re lucky, Blue the husky will accompany you up, blinking cows, Continental Divide, cloud forest (better than Evian mist), post-hike calzone and red wine at Il Pianista Restaurant
Cons: muddy – avoid in rainy season
Level: advanced intermediate