LOS QUETZALES TRAIL




The Los Quetzales trail links two villages, Boquete and Cerro Punta, in the Chiriqui highlands, and is one of Panama's most visited and popular hikes.

Starting from Cerro Punta village there are three sections: the first between the village and the entrance of the Park (Cerro Punta Rangers Headquarter), the second is the trail between Cerro Punta Rangers Headquarter and Boquete Rangers Headquarter, and the third is between the Boquete Rangers Headquarter and the Boquete village.

SECTION 1

If you want to concentrate in the trail section (second) we recomend to make the first section taking a taxi because there are not buses to do that. The other option is walking (2 hours moreor less).

SECTION 2

The hike begins with a relatively flat section as it heads to the lookout ledge (mirador), which is approximately 35-50 minutes from the ranger station; just prior to reaching the mirador trail there is a short, modestly steep section.

The trail to the mirador breaks off the principal trail on the left side, and proceeds for a very short distance before reaching its end. Here you'll find a stable, wooden platform, from which you'll enjoy spectacular views looking east towards Boquete.

From here you'll have to retract back to the principal trail before continuing east towards Boquete. From this point the trail generally heads lower, with some steep sections along the way. Most of the steep sections have secure, wooden staircases with handrails to assist you.

After approximately 35-50 minutes of walking you'll come across what appears to be a camp ground. It's a rather large open area with open views to both sides, with benches and tables. It's a good spot for a break.

The trail continues to descend, offering some stunning views of the valley below. There are some very steep sections along the way, cutting through the dense jungle and rockface. In the steeper sections you'll once again find wooden staircases with handrails. As well, to ensure proper footing, round wooden steps have been placed along the trail's path.

At some point, as the trail nears Boquete, the trail runs into the Caldera River, which will run alongside the trail right to its very end.

Depending on your physical condition and interest in the local flora and fauna, it might take anywhere from 2.5 - 4 hours to descend from the lookout to the park headquarters in Boquete.

The trail departs the forest and continues for approximately 25-50 minutes along a dirt road, which handles vehcile traffic. This road descends and ascends as it winds through several privately owned farms.

SECTION 3

Upon departing the national park headquarters you'll have to walk back to the principal, paved road that services the town of Boquete. While this road is wide and does handle vehicle traffic, it's loaded with large stones and deep ruts. From here it's virtually impossible to arrange for transportation since the park headquarters has no telephone system.

The walk should take approximately 45-70 minutes. Once you reach the primary road, turn left and start walking towards Boquete. At the point where the trail branches off the primary road there is no public bus service available, but if you walk along the main road towards Boquete you'll reach a point where bus service begins. You shouldn't have to walk for about 15-25 minutes. Bus service from that point costs about $1.00. You could also get lucky and hire a taxi that happens to be passing by. Regardless, it makes no sense to stand at the roadside where the trail starts, start walking towards Boquete.

RECOMMENDATIONS

· Before leaning on the handrails we highly recommend you first grab it and test its sturdiness. Several of the handrails on the trail are weak and unable to support excessive weight. This is particularly true of the steep portion between the lookout and Boquete.

· There are very few mosquitos on this trail, but having insect repellent won't hurt anybody.

· The trail itself is very well marked and one should have no difficulty staying on the trail. Several of the signs cite distances, many of which are severely misstated, so don't pay any attention to them. Just keep walking.

· An ample supply of water is highly recommended, particularly if you plan to hike your way to either of the park's two headquarters rather than take a taxi.

· Throughout the trail there various resting stops, complete with tables and benches.

· We ask that you kindly take out all that you bring in. In spite of the fact that there are garbage bins in select areas, it's very difficult for the park to retrieve any garbage that is left inside the park. Bring out what you bring in!


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