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Hiking in Boquete & surrounding area

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Belmont, California
posts: 18
Hiking in Boquete & surrounding area

We are going to be in Boquete for 9 days in January. Want to hike the Quetzel Trail, and I have read elsewhere on this site that the La Artillería (The Fortress Hike) and Peña Blanca (White Rock) are worthwhile.

Can anyone recommend good hiking guides for the Quetzel Trail? There are 7 of us and someone quoted $80 pp (inclusive of transportation and lunch) for the Quetzel Trail, which is outrageous for one group. For one thing, we can bring our own food and drinks...

Also, we are hoping to maybe visit the Bambito/ Cerra Punta valley. Any good trails there? Again, who would be good guides?

We also expect to visit Finca Suiza, which is a drive from Boquete but supposedly has beautiful trails that are well marked. Anyone has experience with this area, and advice?

Thanks,

Cathy

Puerto Jimenez...
posts: 354
reviews: 3
1. Re: Hiking in Boquete & surrounding area

With transportation and lunch, $80 per person is a fair price.

A good guide will be able to do more than lead you on a trail. They should be able to share the environment, plants, birds, animals, local history plus keep you all motivated to continue the hike.

Are you starting and ending the hike in Boquete, or will you continue from Boquete to Volcan. If you are ending (or starting) in Volcan, that is about a 2 hour ride to get there.

Guiding, while it may appear to be a glamorous job to many, is a very difficult job, especially with a large group. A good guide work hard for their clients, and in return should be able to earn fair wages on a yearly basis. Please remember that a guide's work is often sporadic and seasonal, unlike most of the steady jobs their tourists have.

If guides are too expensive for your budget, you should look into other alternatives that you can afford. It is unfair to say that the guides price is "outrageous".

Pura Vida,

Ballardo Diaz

Belmont, California
posts: 18
2. Re: Hiking in Boquete & surrounding area

Well, we have a group of people all used to hiking. We plan to do it one way but have not selected which direction; we do plan to hike all the way through. We are seasoned backpakers and can carry our own food and water. Happy to rent a car but obviously, will need transportation at either end to get back.

We were given to understand it is not a good idea to hike on our own as the trails are poorly marked. We are perfectly willing to pay "fair" wages, and support the locals. But $560 for a day hike does seem steep to me. Especially since on page 3 of this site, I saw that prices were $20 - $30 pp for the same hike a couple of years back.

Atlanta, Georgia...
Destination Expert
for Colon, Isla Grande, Portobelo
posts: 1,941
reviews: 10
3. Re: Hiking in Boquete & surrounding area

What you're experiencing in guide rates is typical of what has happened to much of Panama's tourist industry -- especially taxis in Panama City. What happens is that instead of finding out what a fair price should be, the tourist says, "okay" to the rediculous price and pays it instead of negotiating to get the fair fare or walking away from the cab and getting the next reasonable driver. The result is that taxi drivers, scuba/snorkelling operators, tour companies and guides have learned that gringos will pay insane prices without question. Some people who post on TA have rationalized paying excessive prices, "because I can afford to." But, the result is bad for everybody. You want to guess how many Panamanians can afford to pay $80 pp to hike the entire 9 km of the (newly rerouted) Quetzal Trail, or can afford to pay $15 to go a few blocks in a taxi? You wonder why some Panamanians have become so resentful of gringo tourists? It means there are either two prices -- one for Panameños and one for gringos -- or the Panamanians do without. I do know that a good friend of mine who hiked the trail one month ago with a group didn't pay $80 for a guide.

(I'll get the guide's name for you.)

Yes, I agree, Ballardo -- being a guide is a lot of responsibility, and they're not working every day. I know they would work more days if they kept their prices in line. I also know that asking $560 to guide seven people on a 9km trail is beyond even rip-off gringo prices. No seas tan huevon.

By the way -- going from Boquete to Cerro Punta is almost entirely uphill. I haven't hiked all the way on the Quetzal Trail, but I found it much easier starting at the Cerro Punta trailhead.

And, yes, there are a number of trails around Cerro Punta. You'll need a guide for most of them, though.

Puerto Jimenez...
posts: 354
reviews: 3
4. Re: Hiking in Boquete & surrounding area

Three years ago I could buy a good wine from So. America for less than $4 a bottle. That same bottle of wine today costs more than $10. Let's not forget that Panama has seen some serious inflation in almost all sectors not excluding tourism.

Pura Vida, Ballardo

Belmont, California
posts: 18
5. Re: Hiking in Boquete & surrounding area

I would really appreciate being given name and contact info for a good guide. We are particularly interested if someone is a good spotter of quetzals or other birds/ animals along the trail. We will actually be bringing a spotting scope, along with binoculars etc.

And yes, if someone could give some suggestions for potential hiking in the Cerro Punta vicinity, would love to hear about them. We are actually planning to rent a car to get to that valley anyway.

Re the direction of the Quetzal Trail hike: I had originally planned to hike from Cerro Punta to Boquete, but learned online that an early morning start from Boquete may give us more opportunity to see the birds (who come out early) and that the rains are more likely to come early in the day in Cerro Punta, and later in the day in Boquete. These two points seem pretty compelling.

I am not really interested in a political discussion about prices/ supporting the local economy though generally like to mingle with the locals. I live in San Francisco and know that the prices being quoted for a day hike won't go very far even in the local economy here. And by the way, same goes for car rental prices being quoted in Boquete. The speed with which a phone quote came down this morning made me suspicious that I hadn't "plumbed the depth" of just what the "real" price would be.

Thank you!

Sibenik, Croatia
posts: 321
reviews: 104
6. Re: Hiking in Boquete & surrounding area

Best price for a car rental in Boquete comes from Boquete Value Motors. He is half the price of the other place in town and also cheaper than the rentals at the airport. His email is bill@valuemotorsboquete.com - we don't own a car here in Boquete (why would we a taxi is .60 to get into town!). When we want to rent a car to get someplace for a day or so he's the one we rent from.

BTW - some of the best bird watching happens at Finca Lerida. It's not just a coffee plantation. They have bird watching hikes there all the time. They are also a resort with their own restaurant and some of the best views of Boquete. If you are into the brid thing that is.

Some of the areas you are talking about the government is no longer allowing people to hike without a guide. Seems lots of folks were getting lost in those hills and they had to go get them so now you have to have a guide to hike any of the area near Volcan. Smart really. There are snakes and spiders in those areas. Where are you staying in Boquete? There are at least three companies that do trek hiking based in the city. If you want their names let me know. I'm joining this conversation a little late.

When are you coming in January? The coffee and flower show is at the end of the month. The grounds look great already. Just wondering if you will be here during that. It will make getting around a bit more challenging.

Arlington, Virginia
posts: 2
7. Re: Hiking in Boquete & surrounding area

I would be grateful for your recommendations on hiking guides (with any available contact info), especially for the Quetzal Trail. Thanks.

Sibenik, Croatia
posts: 321
reviews: 104
8. Re: Hiking in Boquete & surrounding area

There are three places;

www. boquetetreetrek.com

http://boqueteoutdooradventures.com/

http://www.hablayapanama.com/school/boquete/

Check the pricing on each. If you want recommendations for places to stay and places to eat let me know. I also know a shuttle driver who can drive you around.

9. Re: Hiking in Boquete & surrounding area

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Belmont, California
posts: 18
10. Re: Hiking in Boquete & surrounding area

Thank you very much for the pointer on car rental. I have already sent an inquiry by email to Value Motor. Btw I have read elsewhere that a lot of companies try to rip off tourists by claiming damages when the cars had already sustained those damages. Presumably this is not the experience you have had with Value Motor?

We are visiting 1/3 - 1/12, and will be able to catch the Coffee & Flower Festival at the end of our stay, I think for two days. Leaving those days open for now though we don't quite know what to expect. Just a great spectacle maybe? Are you saying that it's best not to plan to go anywhere as roads will be clogged?

We are visiting Finca Lerida the first day! Have already heard of their reputation. We then plan to do the zip line and the Quetzal Trail the two subsequent days.

After a day of rest post Quetzal, we plan to rent a car and explore a bit. Were hoping to drive out to Finca Suiza (35 miles N of David en route to Chiquiri Grande) but I just heard from the people who were planning to re-open this place in December that the deal fell through. So right now we are looking for some suggestions for that area as well. I have heard that the scenery on the drive is breathtaking. Does one simply drive out and back, or are there areas worth exploring without having to contract yet another guide? (We are used to going places on our own with a good map, so all this guide stuff is new to us.)

Another person also suggested that we consider the Pianista Trail. This sounds like a pretty long hike through some primary forests. Supposedly very different Quetzal. Don't know... it depends on if we have the stamina to do both trails within a couple of days of each other.

We are staying at Villa Escondido.