We left Bocas del Toro by water taxi for Boquete, at 1500m and were met by Amy, with Pamela, our two Airbnb hostesses. They are a really nice couple, very laid back and happy for us to use the hammock on the balcony, slob out in the lounge on very comfy chairs and cook in the kitchen. 100m away is a brewery with bar attached, that serves about 6 really good ales and has a great atmosphere. It’s just a bit pricey, but so good it has to be used!
There’s also two very good ‘locals’ restaurants serving inexpensive hearty food, a nice central square and plenty of cafes and restaurants making this a smallish but very pleasant town. It also has a splendid climate of cooler air, about 26°C, feeling hotter in the sun and chilly at night, one night needing a sweater to go out.
|The start of the Pipeline Trail (Walk no. 1)|
|One of the bridges on the trail|
|A howler monkey watches from the trees|
First walk – Pipeline Trail
|1000 year old tree (they say). How do they know?|
We saw only a few other people on the trail, one couple ahead of us (we let them go on ahead out of sight, so we could be quiet in the hope of seeing birds and animals) and about half a dozen others coming back the other way.
One couple told us that ahead, just by a bridge is a Quetzal in a tree,
but it was gone when we got there. When we met the couple ahead at the
waterfall they told us they saw it but it flew off, which confirms that we
probably did see it flying into a nearby tree. It just looked like a medium
sized dark coloured bird in the distance to me, but Jackie was convinced, and
it fitted the timing of the one flying off near the couple ahead.
|Very pretty flowers|
|The waterfall at the end|
Got back to the start just as a collectivo van was waiting at the entrance. We jumped in, paid our US$2 each and then went on up the lane to pick up people from the Three Waterfall walk and then up to the end/start of the Quetzales Sendero Trail (at least we know where it finishes now, ready for our trip the day after tomorrow).
Trip to Cerro Punta
The next day (7th April) was our day to travel round to Cerro Punta, leaving most of our luggage in Boquete so we could hike the trail light. It’s a 3.5 hour bus journey on two busses, the first takes one hour to go to the city of David in the south of Panama, near the Pacific, a mere 38km and low in altitude (so it’s very hot!), then another 2.5 hour bus back up to the other side of Volcan baru to the higher (2000m) town of Cerro Punta.
busses are ‘local’ busses, stopping frequently along the routes to pick up
passengers and going very slowly, but at US$1.75 to David and US$3 to Cerro Punta,
pretty cheap as long as time isn’t a problem! A very scenic drive, going
through lots of very fertile farming land, suddenly onions, cabbage, potato and
other ‘normal’ things were all about us growing on ridiculously steep
|The old school bus to David|
|Gudruns lovely house in Cerro Punta. On the right is the open lounge diner for guests with a big fireplace, left is the sauna/steam room, left again was our bedroom|
|Jackie finds the hammock|
|Wine and home cooked pizza in front of a roaring fire|
|The Quetzales Sendero Trail|
|Gudrun driving off from the rangers hut after dropping us off|
|Here we go then...|
|Getting lower, we're into bamboo now|
|And here is a female Quetzal|
|And there's a male in that tree|
|This is what they should look like|
Earthquake – actually just a tremor!
|A humming bird on Pamela and Amy's balcony|
|Look what we found in one of the shops|
On Sunday we bumbled around Boquete, Jackie and Pamela going into town so Jackie could get a haircut, Pamela get her nails done and to translate for Jackie. In the afternoon we walked into town for an Easter parade that looked about to happen. The main street was closed to traffic, viewing platforms had been arranged, seats placed along the street, there was a dog show going on and lots of people about. We waited and eventually a police car came down slowly, followed by dancers, a band and then just a load of people on horses. A rum wagon and a beer wagon were amongst them handing out alcohol to all the riders, probably not a good combination of slightly inebriated riders, and big horses next to people, but it all seemed to work and we even got a rum drink from the wagon. It was the locally brewed Panama rum called Abuela that Jackie had bought for Wendi on Bocas, half rum and half ice – very strong and very nice!
Volcan Baru Hike
|Flower gardens in Boquete|
|She looks elfy (ha-ha!)|
|The start of the parade in Boquete on Sunday|
|Followed by lots and lots of people on horses|
|Jackie looking happy with her Abuelo rum|
|Sunrise at the start of the Volcan Baru hike|
|Just to show that Jackie does occasionally carry the rucksack|
|The 12km marker, just 1.5km to go. Feeling quite knackered at this point|
Anyway, I made it and to a fabulous view, the crater of the volcano way below us, the city of David in the distance and the Pacific Ocean beyond that. Turning clockwise we could see what we think was Cerro Punta and Boquete far below us.
Beyond that were the islands of Bocas del Toro in the
Atlantic Ocean. We’d made it and what a view. Well actually we hadn’t quite
made it, there was a higher rocky bit with a cross on the top. ‘We have to go
up there’ I told Jackie, her shoulders slumped forward and she said ‘no we
don’t’. ‘Yes we do’ I said and set off, asking her to take the rucksack again.
There were no other people around so she left it there and said we don’t need
to take that up there, so we set off with some snacks and water.
|On the highest point 3475m|
|Looking down into the crater. The Pacific is in the distance on left and centre. Just to the right of the pointy rock on the right is the city of David, 38km away|
|Oh, and by the way, I made it too!|
‘What time is it?’ I asked her. ‘Nearly 11:15’ she said. We started at 06:10 from the taxi so we did it in just about 5 hours! ‘Only very fit people do it in that time’ Pamela told us and even the young couple who started at midnight took 5.5 hours, so there’s life left in us old uns yet! Jackie would have carved a good 20 minutes off that time if I hadn’t held her back.
|The Atlantic Ocean and islands of Bocas del Toro|
|Looking the other way and you can see the Pacific Ocean|
|Here's where we were and how we could see both oceans|
|Here's our plotted route up and down the volcano. 28km in all and 1700m of ascent. 5 hours up, 3.5 hours down|
|Did we mention there were a few transmission masts on the top?|
|This was the final little bit up from the crater rim to the summit cross. Not far, but it was hard work!|
|Jackie coming down the scramble from the summit cross|
|Stopped in our tracks to let a four wheel drive vehicle pass...|
|And a JCB type digger...|
|And this Bulldozer, too wide for the track, but that didn't stop him!|