Emergency Medical Care Free to Tourists in Panama

March 28 2013

Most of the time, vacations go off without a hitch. We manage to survive crazy cabbies, strenuous hikes, slippery slopes. But sometimes, things happen: one simple misstep, or a virus you can’t shake, and you find yourself in need of medical care. Well, here’s some good news if you are considering a trip to Panama.

In 2011, the government announced it would provide free emergency medical care to tourists arriving via Tocumen International Airport, valid for the first 30 days of their stay.

Blog med ins-1

In 2011, Boquete Garden Inn guests Virginia and David experienced the benefits of this program firsthand. As she was leaving a restaurant, Virginia fell and broke her leg. Jason and our manager Danny visited the couple at Chiriqui Hospital to ensure Virginia was OK and provide her with information about the Panama Tourism Medical plan (Note: Not all hospitals in Panama are aware of the program).

Virginia needed surgery and a four-night stay in hospital. Thanks to the plan, the bill was only $400. (US residents: Imagine how much that would have cost back home!) They were both very pleased with the quality of care and we’re happy to report that when we saw Virginia during her most recent visit to Boquete Garden Inn, she was back to her regular self!

How do I get covered?

Once you land at Tocumen International Airport, visit the Tourist Information Center, located on the lower level, in the Immigration zone of the airport. There you will receive a brochure with information and a user card. If, during the first 30 days of your stay, you need emergency medical attention, present this card, along with your passport, at the hospital.

The insurance policy covers accidental death (up to $20,000 dollars), hospitalization and medical expenses for injuries due to accidents, or in case of contracting a disease in Panama (up to $7,000 dollars), expenses for dental emergency (up to $ 2,000 dollars), administrative legal assistance related to the accident (up to $ 3,500), and lost or stolen documents, among others.

What the policy does NOT cover:
- incidents causes by negligence
- accidents related to drugs or alcohol
- accidents that are a result of participation in extreme sports

If you meet this criteria and the hospital refuses free coverage, there is an exclusive hotline for questions and concerns: 204.9300 or 204.2312 (area code is not necessary if you are calling within Panama)

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To Baru or not to Baru?

November 01 2012

Volcan Baru, Boquete Panama: To Baru or Not to Baru?

Volcan Baru, Boquete Panama: To Baru or Not to Baru?

Part of what makes Boquete Garden Inn unique is our ‘Boquete Your Way’ service. We can help you plan your unique Boquete Panama experience—helping you select the best Boquete tours, independent excursions, Chiriqui day trips and Boquete restaurants to make the most of your stay in Boquete. Occasionally, we get guests asking us if they should climb Volcan Baru. Here’s what I tell them: unless you want to cross ‘highest mountain in Panama’ off your list, don’t do it.

I thought maybe that sounded a bit harsh, so I put it out to our Facebook followers, to see what they thought. Was I too Anti-Baru? Due to a lack of overwhelming response, I stick with my original recommendation: Don’t do Baru.

Of course, if you really want to climb Volcan Baru, we’ll help you to find a guide and work it into your stay. But here are some things to consider first:

1) If you are only visiting Boquete for 3 or 4 nights, a Volcan Baru climb kills a whole day and night. Most people leave for their Volcan Baru hike at midnight (in hopes of seeing both oceans at sunrise). It takes about 10-12 hours in total (about 6 hours up, 5.5 hours down), so most guests get back at noon and sleep. When you have a limited time in a place, you probably don’t want to spend it sleeping during the day or climbing in the pitch dark.

2) The rocky trail is tough-going on the descent. It’s really easy to lose your footing.

3) Baru clouds up pretty quickly, so, with the exception of about 2 or 3 months during the year, your odds of seeing both oceans are quite low.

4) If you aren’t a climber, and you’re more of a hiker, there are so many other amazing trails in Boquete with wildlife and great views. (The Pipeline and Culebra trails are just two!)

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What makes Boquete Garden Inn special? Our guests!

August 07 2012

Sure, a lot of business may say this – but we mean it! Boquete Garden Inn guests are interesting, well-travelled, thoughtful, adventurous and fun! Boquete Panama attracts awesome people and we are thankful to welcome them to Boquete Garden Inn!

Repeat guests Lyle and Loila, who on their first visit to Boquete drove a minivan down from North Dakota. They went on one of our recommended Chiriqui day trips to Volcan and Cerro Punta and brought us back this fantastic sign from Arte Cruz. Thanks, guys!


Voted BGI’s Sassiest Guests of All Time – Linda, Terri, Arcadia, Laura and Deanna! With Susan and J.

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Chiriqui Day Trips: Haras Cerro Punta

July 20 2012

Only an hour and a half away from Boquete, on the other side of Volcan Baru, the towns of Volcan and Cerro Punta are perfect day trip destinations. Boquete Garden Inn can provide guests with our map of the area (not to scale!), with all sorts of great places to visit.

One of these places is Haras Cerro Punta – the home of future horse racing stars!

And then return back to Boquete for its quality accommodations (ahem, Boquete Garden Inn!) and excellent Boquete restaurants!

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Los Cangilones de Gualaca

June 28 2012

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.

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New Bird Spotted at Boquete Garden Inn

June 27 2012

Cheeky the Squirrel raids the bird feeder.

Cheeky the Squirrel raids the bird feeder.

The birds aren’t the only creatures who enjoy ‘Breakfast with the Birds’. This fella routinely ambushes feeding time, packing in as much fruit as he can and then taking off. The Boquete Garden Inn birds are fighting back. Bird species on the offensive: Clay Robin and The Great Kiskadee (not surprising). Don’t worry: the birds are winning!

Bird species we routinely see at breakfast:
- Blue Gray Tanager
- Flame Tanager
- Palm Tanager
- Red Legged Honeycreeper
- Passerini’s Tanager
..and so much more.

Boquete Garden Inn is top-rated with birders (and birds!).

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Chiriqui Beaches – Sand Art at Las Lajas

March 28 2011

Sand art courtesy of the tiny little crabs at Las Lajas beach.

A visit to Las Lajas beach is a perfect day trip from Boquete (only a 1 hour and 45 minute drive). When you stay with us at Boquete Garden Inn hotel, we can provide you with maps for a number of great drives and outings – all less than two hours away!

Boquete Garden Inn – find out what sets us apart from other Boquete hotels!

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Road trips from Boquete – Volcan, Sitio Barriles

February 23 2011

We had family visiting this week, so it was the perfect excuse to visit Volcan and Cerro Punta. This is the second time we have taken the short cut via Potrerillos. It not only shaves 20-25 minutes off your drive time, the views are beautiful! From Boquete Garden Inn, the drive is only 1 hour and 15 minutes. The perfect day trip!

This time we finally stopped in at the Sitio Barriles, a site in Volcan with amazing artifacts from an ancient culture. This is a family home, so it can be a bit confusing at first: “What is this place exactly? Do they accept visitors? Are those dogs circling the car friendly?” (Yes, they are!)

And they do welcome visitors. This is a beautiful property that has revealed all sorts of treasures: petroglyphs, artifacts, pottery, 18 human sized statues (Now in Panama City. They are in the Reina Torres de Arauz Museum…but sadly, not on display). There is also an amazing tomb that was discovered seven years ago, with urns and other pieces embedded in the earth walls. Incredible! They also have magnetic stones on the property, thought to have healing properties. One of the magnetic basalt stones reveals drawings and designs only when wet.

National Geographic has profiled this property and over the years archeologists have been on-site to catalogue the numerous artifacts.

You can walk the property for $3 a person, or take the guided tour for $5 per person (Recommended! Otherwise, it’s just a stroll around beautiful grounds. The guides really bring it to life!)

This is an excellent opportunity to see museum quality pieces in a relaxed, beautiful setting.

Tours are available in English and Spanish and the property is open to the public seven days a week, from 7:00 a.m – 4:00 p.m. If you are staying at Boquete Garden Inn, just ask us for our Volcan/Cerro Punta map!

Edna Landau, granddaughter of William Frederick Houx. Houx came to Panama from the United States in 1925 and settled on the property that is now the Sitio Barriles. Edna is showing us a petroglyph which archeologists have determined is actually map of Volcan and routes to surrounding areas. The circle at bottom left of the stone represents Sitio Barriles. The squiggles to the right of the circle aren’t just squiggles – they indicate that this was a ceremonial centre.

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Road trips from Boquete – Arte Cruz in Volcan

January 26 2011

Boquete is the perfect home base to explore Chiriqui. From the comfort of our beautiful little town, you can visit the mountain towns of Volcan and Cerro Punta, Pacific Ocean Beaches (Las Lajas and Las Olas) or experience the healing hot springs in Caldera, Chiriqui’s very own Marlboro Man country.

Last week, we took a day trip to Volcan and Cerro Punta, trying out the new road that links Potrerillos to Volcan (which will be extended to Boquete this year).

A visit to Volcan is not complete without stopping in to see Arte Cruz. He is a skilled artist, turning pieces of wood into incredible works of art. He is happy to demonstrate his technique and give you a sneak peak of the pieces he is currently working on! When you are at Boquete Garden Inn, just ask us for a Volcan and Cerro Punta map…we’ve highlighted all the must-see places!

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Fiestas Patrias en Boquete – part 2!

November 26 2010

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.

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