New Bird Spotted at Boquete Garden Inn

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!).

Chiriqui Beaches – Sand Art at Las Lajas

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!

Road trips from Boquete – Volcan, Sitio Barriles

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.

Road trips from Boquete – Arte Cruz in Volcan

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!

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 flyingLand 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

Boquete Mountain Safari

Boquete Mountain Safari is always measuring, adjusting and listening to feedback to get their tour mix just right. Guest favourites include the Wildlife/Hiking tour ($40 for half day) Caldera Hot Springs with Horseback Riding ($50 for 5 hours) and the Cloud Forest Safari 4×4 jeep tour ($35 for half day) The guides are excellent – knowledgeable and friendly.

Many people ask me if it’s necessary to hire a guide for hiking. I think it’s a really good idea if you’ve got limited time and want to see as much as possible. These guys know how to call down birds, take you to the best trails and give you a mini-tour of surrounding areas on the way to the trails.

And a new feature for Boquete Mountain Safari: ‘add a coffee tasting to your tour’…
Add a coffee tour to the Cloud Forest Safari, Wildlife Hike or Horseback Riding and it’s only $50- $55 per person for a five-hour tour. Awesome value and expertise!

We organize tours for our guests at no additional charge – it’s a complimentary service and most tours pick up at the hotel! Send us an email if you’d like more information! 

Panama tourism questions – Panama Flights

“How do we get to Boquete without an overnight stay in Panama City?”

Many guests have asked us about flying from San Jose, Costa Rica to the regional airport in David Panama (closest airport to Boquete) versus flying from Panama City.

The reasoning behind this: Boquete is very close to the Costa Rica border. Guests want to get to Boquete as quickly as possible, without spending a night in Panama City. This is technically an option, but the timing is very tight.

Panama flights leave San Jose for David Panama on: Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11:00 am local time. So, unless your flight lands in San Jose very early, you’ll still have to spend a night in a big city. Given the choice, I’d rather stay overnight in Panama City than San Jose.

Another option available soon: David Airport Expansion
The David airport is set to undergo a major expansion, which will open up this side of the country to more Panama flights. Copa Airlines recently announced that it will provide service from Tocumen International Airport in Panama City to David, starting the first quarter of 2011. (Right now, travellers have to do a 30-minute land transfer from Tocumen International to the regional airport in Albrook and then take a flight to David.)

Panama Flights – Regional airlines

Aeroperlas www.aeroperlas.com
Air Panama www.flyairpanama.com