Boquete – Feria de Las Flores Y el Café – Caldera Hot Springs

Boquete

– Feria de Las Flores Y el Café

– Caldera Hot Springs

caldera hot springs

©Exploramum and Explorason – enjoying the warm pools

Boquete

Boquete is in the Highlands of Panama and nearby are the Caldera Hot Springs. On our arrival to Boquete, we feel an instant change in the temperature of the air. The cloud forests are nearby in Costa Rica – just across the border. While we love the feel of a fresh natural air, our only hope is that this extreme weather change won’t have a toll on us while on this lovely single parent travel adventure. Just as our luxury travel experts always tell us, when on a family travel across regions, be prepared with appropriate clothing.  You just never know how much the weather might change.

The mist blows in off the mountains as we head over a pretty river. It is getting late in the afternoon and we both change to long sleeve tops before we head out.

 

caldera hot springs

©Exploramum and Explorason – look to the right behind to see the pretty flowers at the festival

This mountain town of Boquete feels more like Europe. Mainly because, many years ago the Croatians, Swiss and Austrians settled here and introduced their housing style to the region.

caldera hot springs

©Exploramum and Explorason – Boquete River

Boquete River

The bridge over the Boquete River sets a great scene with the mountains and church beyond and the Boquete Inn where we would first want to have stayed in luxury style. We head to the flower and coffee festival.

Traditional Dress

Lots of women walk around in their traditional dress. Explorason decides to play statues as we walk around, and at least we are trying to make the best of the day.

Boquete

©Exploramum and Explorason – Explorason plays statues as locals walk around the coffee festival

Weather Change

It is a bit cold so we don’t last long. It is only $1.75 admission so we might come back another day dressed a little warmer. That cold mountain air is moving in fast.

As we exit, my son decides to play statues again. It is a very pretty festival, and the music is loud.  We feel the vibe of Panama now and that is good.

Boquete

©Exploramum and Explorason – flower and coffee festival

A headache

I have a massive headache and aching shoulders. My neck is out. Carrying the bags today didn’t help and with all the tension of today, I just need a hot shower.

The lack of toilet stops or toilets on the buses means I can’t drink enough water. This, in turn, gives me a headache.

Caldera Hot Springs

Next day we have arranged for a driver to take us to the Hot Springs. We pass through some arid areas to Caldera.  Other areas were planted with orchards which were pretty.

Lots of cattle freely walkabout.

orchards

©Exploramum and Explorason – dry lands lead to Boquete

Our Driver

cattle

©Exploramum and Explorason – cattle roam freely

The driver has a guide with him who will walk with us when we get to Caldera Hot Springs. We are to be charged $20 for 3 hours. Considering the return bus for the two of us is $12, and then it is a 4 km walk, I think this is a bargain. He speaks no English, so my Spanish – English dictionary comes in handy.

Suspension Bridges

Boquete

©Exploramum and Explorason – suspension bridge

We head over a suspension bridge which is pretty cool – I notice Central America likes it’s suspension bridges.

There is another carload of Panamanians driving on ahead to Caldera Hot Springs or else we would have had the place to ourselves.

If in Panama, do try to sightsee on weekdays if you prefer serenity. Panamanians go by bus and carload to the tourist destinations on weekends and are avid sightseers. They are in groups and are loud but on weekdays they are all working so you will have a quieter experience – if that is what you are seeking.

caldera hot springs

©Exploramum and Explorason – our guide takes off – he is old, he smokes, and he is fitter than us

Our guide ‘Nick’ is an old dude who chain-smokes. He heads off faster than we can keep up.  He is older and much fitter than I am even when he is a smoker.

Bienvenido’

caldera hot springs

©Exploramum and Explorason – sign pointing the way

After 20 minutes we find the Welcome sign ‘Bienvenido”.  You see this word everywhere.

On we hike

Yet we walk on. Over planks and little creeks.

caldera hot springs

©Exploramum and Explorason – crossing the creek

Out of nowhere, there is a farm with lots of animals.

A monkey runs up to me and wraps its tail around my leg! Yikes – no time to get the camera out – also they are little thieves I’m told, so best not anyway.

Hot Springs

Our guide leads us to a small private WARM Hot Spring. It is by the river. It is as warm as you can bear on a hot day. We spend about 45 minutes here, and I relax and let the heat work on my shoulders and neck. After my earlier headache, this is perfect for me and I highly recommend it.

There is no sulfur smell as this is piped off the big spring.

©Exploramum and Explorason - enjoying the warm poolscaldera hot springs

©Exploramum and Explorason – enjoying the warm pools all to ourselves

Locals have a Picnic

Feeling we are missing out on the bigger pool at Caldera Hot Springs. Oh my – this one is so HOT! We pose for a picture but this is too hot to stay in for very long.

The Panamanians have set up a picnic around the pool and have bought chairs and the works. So we head back to our private pool again. But overall, there are few people here.

River Swim

mountain water of Panama

©Exploramum and Explorason – River swim in icy mountain water

After another go in the WARM hot spring, we head to the river. It is a mix of slimy smooth stones and sand.
river rocks

©Exploramum and Explorason – beautiful river rocks in Panama

I take a plunge but get back in the hot spring after as it is water off the mountain and its FREEZING cold!

Attempted Rip-off

We head back into town with our driver after Caldera Hot Springs.

The driver and guide then try something we get used to on our travels.  What they do is try to demand more money than agreed on at the start.

They are friends of the Hostel man that checked us in – this man we already have learned is not the most honest of people. I am not surprised. I just refuse.  He leaves with what I agreed to pay him at the start but it leaves a rotten feeling to have to fight for honesty.

Exploring Boquete

We wander around Boquete town. I love the church with its wood carved doors. Can you believe this blue sky and this was taken on an instant camera with no edits! But, the photograph is not a good one. Not close enough and not far enough to see the steeple crosses either, but then it is taken by a seven-year-old.

Explorason is nearly hit by a car

caldera hot springs

©Exploramum and Explorason – Boquete church

Explorason has gone across the road to take the photo. He twice nearly gets himself hit by a car not looking in the right direction.

I end that idea of him crossing alone ‘quick-sticks’!

Haircut time

local barber

©Exploramum and Explorason – going to the barber

It is time for my son to get a haircut so we find a barbershop. For $3 he gets just the worst haircut but then he is not used to cutting blonde curly hair I am sure. I am forced to stop the guy with the electric clippers and I don’t have a good feeling about this.

Boquete

©Exploramum and Explorason – Barbershop in Panama

It is hard as I can’t communicate what we want. It looks like he had a bowl put on his head. A sixties haircut with a part by his ear!

One side is longer than the other. My son walks with his hands over his head back to our accommodation.

He jumps in the shower and washes it and I get out his school scissors. Out in the garden, I set to work cutting off uneven chunks of hair. I do a pretty good job and my son is able to face the world again but not before we had a LOT of tears.

Now, later on, when we talk about it, Explorason feels very sorry for the man and would like to return to the town to give him a hug ‘because he did his best’.

Coffee Festival

We head back to the Feria de Las Flores Y el Café (coffee festival). I want a good coffee and I am sure this is the place that I will be assured of that – how wrong I was!

We have coffee plantations all around us in the hills so I decide I want one where you get a souvenir mug.

The worst coffee

Guess what?  It is a shocker of a coffee! They stick nutmeg on it and it is so weak. In fact, I tell everyone it is the worst coffee I ever had and it was at a coffee festival.  I am sure they make good coffee and I just had an ‘end of day’ mug. Surely?

Boquete

©Exploramum and Explorason – love this building at the coffee festival

Fortunately, I have an already purchased a packet of the same coffee and my metal coffee plunger/French press. The brand of coffee is actually really good and back at the hostel, I make a good cup!
At least I have the souvenir mug that makes it all the way back to Australia so I can tell the story.

Police Everywhere

As we head back over the bridge we stop a couple of policemen and ask for a photo. This town is full of police as the festival gets rowdy at night with the dance parties (and drugs so we later find out).

If you are a person who likes sleep, I suggest not to stay in town when the festival is on, but rather stay in an adjacent town or out of the town center.
Back to these policemen – most of the policemen stand around using their mobile phones. Texting and talking all day. I think they were a bit ticked off, I stopped them to ask for the photograph, but they do graciously oblige.

Later that night there are SO MANY drunks in the street. I think their work was ahead of them that day!

policemen

©Exploramum and Explorason – Panama police

Lack Of Sleep

Later that night the coffee festival starts pumping out loud music. At 4:00 am it is still going and because we lack louvers on the windows it is like sleeping at a concert. I feel a bit sleep deprived but we have paid for several nights here.
But things do get worse.

Questions and Comments

  • Ever heard of the Boquete Chiriqui highlands or the Caldera hot spring?
  • What experiences do you have from touring the place?
  • Do share your thoughts and comments with us.

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