Archive for the 'Panama Travel' Category

New Direct Flights to Panama

Two announcements this week about direct flights to Panama:

1) Starting February 1, 2016, Emirates will launch a flight from Dubai to Panama City. At 17 hours and 35 minutes, this flight will have the distinction of the world’s longest flight.

The World's Longest Flight.

The World’s Longest Flight.

2) Air France is expanding its Paris to Panama City service, with six weekly flights between Charles de Gaulle and Tocumen International, starting November 2015.

Boquete Garden Inn’s Breakfast with the Birds: Clay-Coloured Thrush

The Clay-Coloured Thrush is the bully of the Boquete Garden Inn bird feeder. Drunk on power and yesterday’s fermented fruit, he lurches from statue to statue, hopping and stomping on everybody’s breakfast, sending chunks of banana, pineapple and papaya flying to the ground. When one of the smaller birds attempts to share the feeder with the thrush, he chases them off with an urgent chirp, flap of wings and indignant flash of eyes.

Fittingly, his Latin name is Turdus grayi, or, as I call him, Little Turd.

Clay-Coloured Thrush at Boquete Garden Inn's Breakfast with the Birds

Clay-Coloured Thrush at Boquete Garden Inn’s Breakfast with the Birds

He is the national bird of Costa Rica, which always baffles guests: why choose such a plain bird to be your country’s avian representative, especially when you have so many glitzy specimens to choose from?

A few reasons: The Yigüirro, as he’s called in Costa Rica, tends to live close by, in gardens and near people, so he’s a familiar, friendly little face featured in many Costa Rican folk tales and songs. The males also have a pretty tune they sing when trying to woo ladybirds during mating season. Traditionally, Costa Rican farmers listened for this song of longing – considering it to be the first sign of rainy season.

Boquete Garden Inn: The perfect place to stay for birding in Boquete Panama! Join the Clay-Coloured Thrush for Boquete Garden Inn’s Breakfast with the Birds (gaining in popularity among humans and birds alike!) And don’t worry: he’s actually quite friendly with people.

The best way to experience Bocas del Toro? Bluff Beach!

Jason just got back from a beach break in Bocas Del Toro. When you live in the mountains of Boquete, a trip to the coast is a nice change of scene. Likewise, as a tourist, it’s great to spend 3-4 days in Boquete (or more!) and then explore the Caribbean side.

A stay in Bluff Beach on Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro is the perfect complement to a stay at Boquete Garden Inn.

A stay in Bluff Beach on Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro is the perfect complement to a stay at Boquete Garden Inn.

A 3.5-hour drive to the port town of Almirante (and then a 30-minute water taxi ride to Isla Colon), we recommend Panama Travel Services‘s shuttle at only $30 per person, with pick up at Boquete Garden Inn at 9 a.m. They provide reliable and fully insured transport, and price includes water taxi. (tel: (507) 6900-5553). To return to Panama City, Air Panama offers daily flights from Bocas to Albrook.

If you love the nightlife (if you’ve got to boogie) then Bocas town is the spot for you. Lively, with lots of restaurants and places to stay, there is a hotel or hostel (Tungara Hostel) for every budget.

But, if you prefer to be surrounded by beauty in a natural setting (like we do at Boquete Garden Inn), then Bluff Beach is your place. Bluff Beach is on the main island (Isla Colon), about a 20-minute drive from the town centre.

We like to stay with our friends Sandra & Dave at the newly established Turtle Beach House and Ron & Christine at Bluff Beach Retreat.

Each property caters to slightly different travel budgets, but are equally wonderful and are a great complement to a stay at Boquete Garden Inn.

We always like to pay a visit to our friends Steve & Rhonda at Flying Pirates quad tours and ride their fantastic trails for the day – truly an adventure. Biking the road that runs along the coast towards Bluff Beach is also a great option – you don’t cover as much ground of course, but the slower pace allows you to see things not possible on a four wheel vehicle (last year I saw a family of Squirrel monkeys hanging out some trees close to the gravel road. I lost almost an hour there – happily!)

New Panama flights: United Launches Direct Panama-Denver service

More exciting news about Panama flights! (It seems this blog has morphed into a ‘new Panama flights’ blog).


United Airlines has announced new direct flights between Denver, Colorado and Panama City, Tocumen International Airport. Starting August 2015, flights will operate daily (five times a week between September and October 2015).

And with the news of direct flights to David Panama (the addition of Copa Airlines flights between Tocumen International Airport and David Airport), it’s even easier for Coloradans (?) to come visit us in Boquete. (A large percentage of our US guests come from Colorado!)

Los Cangilones de Gualaca

I can’t believe it took me four years to visit Los Cangilones de Gualaca. An excellent swimming hole, it’s not only a perfect way to cool off (it’s warmer in Gualaca than Boquete), it’s great exercise. As you (slowly) make your way through the channel, the current pushes you back. It’s like one of those stationary lap pools x 100.

The narrow rock channels were created when Volcan Baru erupted, the lava flowed, met up with the River Esti and formed the great pools we have now (a very basic, unscientific explanation).
Gualaca is only a 45-minute drive from Boquete. You can explore on your own or go with a guide. Another great day trip…Boquete is the perfect home base to explore the province of Chiriqui.

Fiestas Patrias en Boquete – part 2!

If it seems like I just wrote a post on Patriotic happenings in Boquete…it’s because I did! There not one – but two – independence celebrations in Panama in November. This time around, we are celebrating independence from Spain.

There are a number of events and parades taking place all weekend. Here are some of the highlights:

Friday November 26
Inauguration of the pedestrian sidewalk in downtown Boquete. This one’s a bit controversial: a number of parking spots were lost to the walkway and – for the time being – there’s not much to see when you stroll around the square. But nevertheless – it will be celebrated! There will be performances and fireworks. As of 2:00 pm this afternoon, they were still laying down parts of the sidewalk.

Saturday, November 27
2:00 p.m. – Horse Parade through Boquete’s main street. Watch where you walk!
7:00 p.m. – Torch Parade that starts at the Los Naranjos Gym and ends at the Boquete Fire Station

Sunday, November 28
8:00 a.m. – Ceremony commemorating Panama’s independence from Spain. Takes place in front of the municipal building, across from the central park. School bands, folkloric presentations from Veraguas Province and more.
1:00 p.m. – Parade!

There is also a disco set up across Cabanas on the Feria road. Lots of bass-pumping action Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. Every conceivable street meat available, washed down with an ice cold cerveza.

Travelling between Boquete and Bocas?

When visiting Panama, many people do the Panama City – Boquete – Bocas del Toro circuit. A perfect combination of city, mountains and beach, right?

But sometimes logistics can be a challenge. Here are the top 5 things you need to know if you are planning a trip to both Bocas del Toro and Boquete:

1. Flights There are no longer flights between David (the regional airport closest to Boquete) and Bocas del Toro.

2. But…there are economical alternatives to flying! Land transfers between Boquete and Almirante (the port town close to Bocas) take approximately 3.5 – 4.5 hours, depending on your mode of transportation. Once you are in Almirante, you can take a $3-$4 water taxi to the island. Here are your options:

a. A shuttle service between Boquete and Almirante: The cost is $35 per person. We recommend Panama Travel Services. They have professional drivers, safe vehicles and are insured. And the best thing is – they pick up at Boquete Garden Inn at 9:00 am (other shuttle services require that you get to them – for 7:30 am)
b. Private taxi: Panama Travel Services also offers transportation between Almirante and Boquete for $160 for 2 people. Comfy, safe and insured minivan. c. Bus: Take either a taxi or bus to David bus station, and then a bus from David to Almirante. Buses leave every 30 minutes from David. Panama bus schedule. You’re looking at a 5 hour trip. And possibly sharing the vehicle with chickens.

3. Taking a rental car from Boquete to Almirante is not a great idea. The rental companies charge a hefty premium to pick up your car from Almirante. And if you are planning on leaving the car in Almirante and then driving it back yourself – you’re paying to park an unused car.

4. Guests tell us that they wish they’d stayed longer in Boquete. I know what you’re thinking: Of course we’d say that – we’re a Boquete hotel. But it’s true! There are so many things to do in Boquete and the surrounding areas – see our Things to Do section for more info.

5. Skip the logistics and stay in Chiriqui! Boquete is the perfect home base to explore the mountains and beaches of Chiriqui. Las Lajas is 1 hour and 45 minutes away, Boca Chica and Las Olas are 1.5 hours away. We provide our guests with great maps to plan their beachy day trips! Spend less time traveling and more time enjoying your Panama vacation right here in Chiriqui!

Traveling in Panama next week? Yellow Alert: Heightened Inefficiency due to Fiestas Patrias

This serves as a quick heads up to anyone visiting Panama in November, or for those newly settled here: November is the month of Patriotic Holidays. Independence Day. Flag day. Recovery day. Another Independence Day. It’s noisier than usual, less productive than usual, more crowded than usual.

If you’re prepared, you’ll navigate the holidays and enjoy what they have to offer (parades, parties and great photo ops). Remember: book your regional airline tickets in advance. Get to the station early if you are traveling by bus. Avoid driving in Panama City (you’ll be fine in Boquete). And keep this schedule handy:

November 1 & 2: regular hours for banks, businesses
November 3: Independence Day (from Colombia). Banks, government offices and most businesses closed (exceptions: most restaurants, tour providers). Limited taxi service in Boquete*
November 4: Flag Day. Banks, government offices and most businesses closed (exceptions: most restaurants, tour providers). Limited taxi service in Boquete*
November 5: Random Party Day. Banks, government offices and most businesses closed (exceptions: most restaurants, tour providers). Limited taxi service in Boquete*
November 6: Recovery Day. Limited hours for banks (usually 8am – noon), government offices closed, businesses open, taxi service mostly back to normal (except early morning, which is dedicated to hangover nursing)*
November 10 & 29: Banks, government offices closed
November 28: Independence Day (it’s Spain this time). Heavy on parades.

*This refers to yellow taxis. Our preferred taxi service, which does airport runs, tours, trips to Almirante etc., is available throughout the holidays