Panama has many natural treasures and the great natural beauty of the land amazes visitors from all over the world. Amidst this entire splendor a small sector of the country stands out, and has already achieved international fame: Boquete. Boquete is a paradise with a great climate and amazing natural beauty. For decades Panamanians from the coast have escaped the heat of the tropical climate by visiting and living in Boquete. In recent years they have been followed by retirees from all over the world who have discovered this safe and beautiful oasis.
The valley of Boquete, famous for its coffee, wildlife and natural beauty, is located in the western highlands of Panama at 1,200 meters (3,600 ft.). Nestled among the country’s most mountainous region, this peaceful town is situated between the Caldera River, which lies to the east, and the Baru Volcano to its west.
The valley enjoys a sunny, cool mountain, comfortable year round climate considered nearly perfect, and this is why Boquete is also known as the “Valley of the Flowers and the Eternal Spring.” Boquete’s flora is abundant and diverse, characteristics that deservedly gave the town its nickname. Lilies, hibiscus, hortenses, anthuriums, roses, St. Josephs, carnations, sunflowers, and orchids create a polychrome scene of incomparable beauty. This beauty and charm is the inspiration for the Fair of the Flowers & the Coffee, held each year in January, to celebrate Boquete's unique charm and makes it the Garden of the Americas.
As in most tropical spots it rains from May to October, and the sun shines brightly from November to April. Temperatures range between 60° and 80° (Fahrenheit) all year round. There is no need for heating or air conditioning. Typical of the area is the bajareque a light and cool drizzle brought by the North winds of the mountains. Even in the rainy season, the days start out sunny, with rains starting around noon or so. Being only 9 degrees north of the equator, the length our days doesn't vary much, with the sun rising and setting about the same time year round: 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Boquete is the home of about 15,000 welcoming people whose cultural roots can be traced from Native Indians, Spaniards, Europeans and North Americans among other ethnicities. Boquete was founded on April 11, 1911. Its first settlers came from other areas of Panama, and from different countries, but predominantly Swiss, Yugoslavians, Swedish, Germans and North American immigrants gave shape to the cultural melting pot that is Boquete today. Most farms and houses still have remnants of the architectural styles more commonly found in those countries.
On the sheer mountains that surround the valley live the Ngöbe Bugles, the indigenous ethnic group, also known as Guaymies. The Ngöbe Bugles usually work on the coffee plantations and farms. They are also highly skilled artisans. Famous are their colorful chaquiras (bead necklace) handicrafts, basket weaving works, the typical “chacara” (woven bags), and the “Original” or “nahua”, the traditional dress of the Guaymi women of the region.
The land is extremely lush, for it is mostly of volcanic origin. The strength of the Boquetenian economy depends on the nurturing of flowers, a wide variety of vegetables, citric fruits (Boquete’s oranges are among the sweetest), strawberries and coffee. During the last three years, Boquete has been recognized by the Specialty Coffee Associations as the producer of the best coffee in the world. Café Ruiz, Kotowa Coffee, Café Suárez and others, give you the unique opportunity to visit their coffee plantations and processing mills. But be warned! These tours can turn you into a Coffee snob because you’ll learn everything about the process, from when the coffee plant starts growing and you’ll end at a tasting where you’ll learn how to taste and differentiate all the different flavors of truly gourmet coffee.
If you are into white water adventures, the rivers born in the highlands of the nearby volcanoes offer breathtaking scenery and high doses of adrenaline thanks to their constant rapids. Chiriqui Viejo is a world class river that has all. Also the Quetzals trail is one of the best hikes in Central America and horse back rides are also available in the area. You can also explore the canopy of the tropical cloud forest in the Palo Alto area with a Zip Line Tour. After all of the excitement and adventure of the area you can relax in the Caldera Hot Springs, which are just 30 minutes away from Boquete. While there you can check out the pre-Columbian petroglyphs and rock drawings.
The town of Boquete is 340 miles or so from Panama City, being easily accessible by land (it will take about 5-7 hours from Panama City) or by air (1 hour from Panama City to David City, which is 30 minutes from Boquete). Boquete neighbors to the north with the communities of Bocas del Toro and Chiriqui Grande, located in the Bocas del Toro province. Its neighbor to the east is the district of Gualaca, to the south are Dolega and David, and to the west is Bugaba. This fresh and fertile valley is made up of the communities of Bajo Boquete, Caldera and Palmira. It is also very easy to get to Costa Rica along the Pan-American Highway by bus or car. The trip takes about 2 hours.