One of the beautiful things about Boquete – and Panama in general – is the fact that it is still relatively off the beaten track. Because of this, I didn’t really know what to expect when I got there. Sure, I was able to find a little bit of information in guide books and look at a few pictures on Google, but for the most part what awaited us when we arrived in Boquete was a complete surprise.
Unfortunately, this also meant that I wasn’t able to find much information on hiking trails in the area beforehand, and we had to rely almost entirely on asking around for recommendations and advice. The one trail that I had read about beforehand(besides the famous Volcan Baru sunrise hike and the Quetzal trail, which we wouldn’t be able to complete during our short time in Boquete) was the Lost Waterfalls hike. Funnily enough, this also happened to be the hike that everyone recommended to us, so off we went.
Getting to the Trailhead
From our guesthouse just outside of Boquete, we were able to hop on a colectivo that drove right past the Lost Waterfalls trail. Of course, nothing in Panama is actually that easy, and it was a still short but confusing walk from where the colectivo dropped us off to find the sign that pointed us to the trailhead. Which, of course, was over a rickety old suspension bridge up a very steep and rocky hill.
Once we made it up the hill, we walked a little further along flat ground to make it to the gate house. There, we each paid $7 to enter the trail. Even though we thought this was a bit steep for Panama, we were definitely excited. The kind man at the gatehouse showed us a map of the trail which marked off each of the 3 ‘lost’ waterfalls and told us about the recommended route. We each took a picture of the map on our phones so that we wouldn’t get lost. And then we were off!
Finding the Lost Waterfalls
Before we entered the forest, some pretty amazing views of the surrounding mountainsides caught our attention. Even though the hike had barely started, I couldn’t help but stop to take some pictures.
Soon enough, trees, vegetation, and giant leaves surrounded us. I was more than a little bit amused by these giant leaves, and kept picking them up and demanding photos with them to show their size in relation to my face.
We hiked for perhaps 25 minutes before finding our first waterfall – labeled on the map as Waterfall #2. And it completely blew us away.
After taking the time to get all of the photos that we could possibly want, we set off again towards Waterfall #3. People told us that this would be the hardest waterfall to reach, and this was definitely not an exaggeration. After a particularly gruelling ascent, we decided to take a break by the river to eat our packed lunches.
With a little bit more energy, we finally went the rest of the way to the penultimate waterfall. During this section of the hike, I was definitely grateful for my waterproof hiking boots. We walked through tons of mud and even a little stream of water to get the the waterfall. The hike to the last water fall completely wore us out. The reward, of course, was another beautiful waterfall.
After a short break to admire the waterfall, we turned around and started to make our way back. In the end, we were so exhausted that we decided not to take the detour to see Waterfall #1. But, we were still incredibly pleased with how our afternoon turned out. As we emerged from the forest, Rocky Balboa – cutest, friendliest dog of all time – ran over to greet us. We paused for a photoshoot before heading back down to catch a colectivo back to our guesthouse.
If You Go
From Boquete, take one of the colectivos headed for Bajo Mono or hire a taxi and get off at the Lost Waterfalls Trail. Before you get to the Lost Waterfalls you’ll pass another trail called the Waterfall Trail. Be sure not to get off here. Keep going a little ways longer if you want to actually hike the Lost Waterfalls Trail!
From the road, you’ll hike about 15 minutes, partially up a steep hill to reach the gatehouse. There, the owner will charge you $7 (as of January 2017) and show you a map of the trail. The trail should take about 3 hours to complete (round trip). It’s pretty strenuous as there is a lot of ascending and descending, so don’t attempt this trail if you aren’t in at least decent shape. As you are in the cloud forest, be prepared to get a little muddy. Be sure to bring lots of water and wear hiking boots if you have them!