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.

waterfall

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!

armadillo

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

Chiriqui Day Trips: Haras Cerro Punta

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!

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.

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.