Boquete is a gorgeous town set in the highlands of Panama. While visiting, I heard about this lost waterfall hike where you can find three waterfalls in the jungle. I consider myself somewhat of a professional waterfall chaser, so I knew I had to go.
You can arrange tours and guides to take you to the waterfalls but I decided to go on the adventure myself.
The Lost Waterfalls of Boquete
Getting to the lost waterfalls trail
To get to the lost waterfalls trail you can get a collectivo (bus) from town for $3 USD to the Bajo Mono area. The busses depart from Calle la Sur, one block from the main square. Buses run every half an hour from town, but this is Central America so I wouldn’t count on timeliness.
An alternative is to get a taxi to the trailhead which should cost about $10. Since my hostel was outside of town already en route to the trailhead, I decided to get a taxi. An advantage of the taxi is they will take you as far in as they can, whereas taking the bus you may have to walk a bit further.
After the taxi dropped me off the trail started with a nice suspension bridge. As I walked through the beginning of the trail I passed by a few signs stating the entrance fee is $7, but nowhere in sight to pay it. I thought because it was raining that day no one bothered to come collect, but eventually further in a small booth appeared and the man asked for the money. He then gave me a small hand-drawn map of where the waterfalls are and told me to take a photo of it.
He went through the map with me, mostly just repeating the worlds “Muy difficulto”. He also made me sign my name in a book and asked me to check out when I return. None of this was reassuring to me.
The Lost Waterfalls Hike
Immediately entering the hike you are immersed in the beautiful jungle of Panama. Everything is lush and green and wonderful.
The first waterfall is only 10-15 minutes walk from the start with a slight detour off the trail. The man at the entrance will tell you to visit the second and third waterfall first, and then the first on the way out. I took his advice but I don’t think it’s much of a difference since the trail is a loop. All the waterfalls are beautiful so visit them in whatever order you prefer.
It was a beautiful day in Boquete when I left my hostel, but as I learned the hard way, this means nothing in the highlands. By the time I was at the trailhead the rain started. This actually didn’t bother me because I get so hot hiking that I find it refreshing. What I didn’t account for was that it was the end of the rainy season, so the ground was a muddy mess.
I’d lugged my hiking boots all around Central America rarely wearing them and finally, on that day, it all became worth it. I was so grateful to have these on my feet and can’t imagine doing this hike without them, at least in the rainy season!
The second waterfall is about a half-hour walk in. The waterfalls are relatively easy to find due to the fact that you can hear them as you get closer. There is little signage on the trail to direct you, with the exception of a few white arrows strategically placed where you can already see the waterfall 😛
The second waterfall is gorgeous. You can get up right next to it and take a refreshing shower.
The hike itself, aside from the waterfalls, is lovely. Although it’s not far from town, it feels like you are deep in the jungle with all the beautiful flora and fauna around.
Given that the first and second waterfall was easy to find, I decided that the third one can’t be that hard to get to.
That was wrong.
I should also mention the few people I met on the trail that day decided not to go find the third one due to the poor weather conditions, but I was determined.
It takes about half an hour to walk to the third one, but I wouldn’t say that I walked there. It was more like me crawling on the muddy ground trying not to fall into the jungle.
But I made it!
The third waterfall is gorgeous, but I wouldn’t recommend going unless you have a good pair of hiking boots. At least in the rainy season. I was pretty much covered in mud from head to toe at this point.
After spending some time at the third waterfall I turned around and made my way back through the trail to the first waterfall, which of course, was beautiful.
I had brought my drone with me that day but hadn’t used it because of the rain. At this point it was clearing up so I figured screw it, I should try. I’ve carried it all the way here.
Drones are not a good item to bring in the jungle.
I wasn’t in the clearest headspace that day, evidently by all the mistakes I’d already made, and before I knew it I had crashed my drone in the jungle. It was difficult enough to walk on the path, let alone in the actual jungle, so after a while, I was about to give up and surrender my drone to the jungle of Panama.
Then a German couple showed up and I told them what happened. They helped me look around, and the guy was able to spot it flashing! I hiked down and retrieved the drone, which was still intact and functional. I even caught my dumb crash on video for your enjoyment. Go Mavic Pro!
After the drone incident I was pretty hungry and just wanted to get home because I didn’t have any snacks with me (what was I thinking that day)?! I figured there would be a taxi waiting to make a few bucks or the tourist bus might show up, but there was not.
It was about a two-hour walk back to the hostel but I figured that I would find some way back if I just started walking. After walking for about 20 minutes my prospects seemed dismal, but at least the views were beautiful along the way.
Eventually, I came across an old farmer putting items into his truck so I thought maybe he would bring me to town. After talking for a couple minutes I thought I had succeeded in my goal but then he drove me 10 feet down the road to what I assume was the bus stop. I need to work on my Spanish. Luckily after getting out of the truck, a tourist van pulled up and I finally got a ride.
The van then went back up to the hike entrance and picked up the two Germans. In hindsight, I should have just been patient and waited at the entrance, but hunger causes you to make poor choices.
Overall, I still loved my time hunting for waterfalls in Boquete. Unlike Costa Rica, where they are waterfalls every 5 minutes, I didn’t find as many in Panama.
What to bring on the waterfall hike
Where to stay in Boquete
One of the most unique and high-value hostels I’ve been is Bambuda Castle in Boquete, Panama. The castle was built by a European couple who later sold it after deciding they didn’t need that much space. The purchasers then converted the castle into a hostel, but it feels like a 5-star hotel. They have dorm beds and private rooms available.
The castle is beautifully constructed and kept meticulously clean. Inside the castle, there is a large indoor pool and hot tub available for guests to use, as well as a restaurant/bar on site. Every night the staff cook a delicious family-style dinner which gives you a chance to mingle with the other guests.
It was not my finest moment(s), but me and my drone survived the jungle and found the lost waterfalls of Boquete. It was definitely an adventure and the waterfalls are some of the best I’d seen in Panama.
Hiking to the lost waterfalls is a great adventure to have in Boquete. Let me know if you’re planning to visit the waterfalls below in the comments below, or if you’ve already been! I’d love to hear about your experience. Hopefully, it was drier than mine 😛
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