Hiking in Boquete, Panama…..are you ready??

Blog by: Debra Harwood

Hiking in Boquete, Panama with Casa de Montaña’s expert guide Israel

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We are pleased to have joined forces with Israel to offer our guests the opportunity to explore the nature around us with someone who has the training and knowledge to ensure you have a great experience.

A little bit about Israel.  He was born in David and raised here in Boquete.  He graduated from College with a degree in Science and Tourism.  Not only is he certified in first aid and is bi-lingual he also spent 3 months in 2015 in Japan taking an intense course on survival and rescue.  So you know you are in good hands while out on an adventure with Israel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xsgb_fANRuM

 

When we asked about the most challenging hike he has taken here he replied the “Camino Culebra” aka Snake Trail.   It is a 4 day hike over the continental divide which takes you to Bocas del Toro.  Don’t worry he understands not many people want to sign up for this hike!!

Taking a qualified guide like Israel to hike here is important as the trails split many times, some are just animal trails, and one may get disoriented and unsure if they are 2really on the trail they believed to be on.   It gets dark here around 6pm and even faster when under the canopy of the cloud forest.

People always ask Israel what kind of animals they may see on the trails here.  Well from small ants, bugs and frogs too many different species of birds to even possibly a panther or jaguar.  Again making it a good choice to take a guide along.  If you are out alone and it gets dark the jungle can become a very scary place.  You are unable to even see your hand in front of your face and the temperature drops many degrees. Chances of survival depends on you keeping  calm and remember if you are near a river or small stream follow the direction it is flowing and  it will eventually lead you to safety.  3

When scheduling a hike with Israel he will make sure you know what to bring as in a rain jacket, closed toe shoes, extra clothing in case you get wet but you can be confidant that he will have along all the necessary emergency supplies that may be needed.

He offers many different hikes for all levels of hikers ( put in link to all the trails here) so we are sure you will find one that suits you.   When booking more than 3 nights with us at Casa de Montana you will receive 15% off of the cost of hikes with Israel that you choose. ( scroll down in the link to Boquete Outdoor Encounters to see all the available hikes). http://www.casademontana.com/specials-savings/5

So come and stay with us at Casa de Montana and spend some quality time hiking and learning about the cloud forest, animals, birds and the Eco-system Boquete is so well known for.

The 10 Must-Do activities while visiting Boquete, Panama!

Blog by Terry Richmeier & Manzar Lari

Ok, so, here at Casa de Montaña we have been talking a lot about taking some time out – a respite from life and a tranquil vacation from the daily stressors of life. It suddenly dawned on us that not everyone wants to sit around sipping wine while lounging in their room!
So if you are seeking some thrills as well as create life-long memories of a vacation full of adventure, we have the best options for you!

1) Boquete Overview Tour

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Let’s start with our very own Boquete Overview Tour! You inspired us to create this unique experience of Boquete – see the beautiful landscape, precious people, and to help you decide if Boquete could be a future home for you. This tour gives you an overview of Boquete from the comfort of the van while you enjoy a bottle of water and a snack. This is a half day tour and is full of information about Boquete and the surrounding areas. It’s our number one must do for a reason! Whether you are looking at a possible re-location or you just want to see the magnificent and amazing place we call home, this tour is designed just for you. There is a charge for this tour but check out our specials to look for discounts here .

2) Coffee Tours

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There are a couple of coffee tours that we highly recommend. The first one, “Café Ruiz” picks you up here at our hotel and takes you to the finca (farm) where they grow and pick coffee beans and do the initial processing of the coffee beans. Later on they take you to the plant where they roast and taste test. During this truly entertaining tour you learn a lot about the history and the current state of the coffee business in Panama. You also get to smell and taste different variety of coffee and you even end up bringing home your own bag of coffee! This is the perfect tour if you have never been on a coffee tour before. Just let us know and we can get this set up for you. And if you have been to a coffee tour before, Dos Jefes (Cafes de la Luna) is a great option for you. Remembering your knowledge on how the process works to put the great tasting coffee on your table, Dos Jefes details the process of winning the world’s best coffee awards. You will become the expert yourself as you pass through taste testing and talk about the living environment of the indigenous people that work the farms as well as why organic coffee is fast disappearing and much more. Unique to this tour is the chance to taste the new tea that is being produced from the Cherries of the coffee bean! This is a second tear/level of coffee tours. Note: We have information about a special and unique program where you can buy a portion of a coffee farm through “International Coffee Farms” (ICFC). If you are interested, you would be welcome to join their regularly scheduled conferences that is chock-a-block full of information about how you can be part of the Socially Responsible way of producing coffee by giving back to the community. Let us know if we can assist you in getting connected to ICFC or other coffee tours. Click here for more information.

3) Zip-Line

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For some real thrill and adventure we can get you scheduled for a Zip Line/Canopy Tour where you ride sky high from tree to tree looking onto the rivers, suspension bridges and the cloud forest below. This amazing adventure is not for the faint of heart! You may want to put this onto your bucket list! Contact us to schedule here.

4)Whitewater Rafting

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Another must do for the enthusiastic adventurists is to take scheduled whitewater rafting trip which is about 1.5 hours away at the Costa Rican border. This tour is particularly thrilling during the rainy season with the river rafting level going up to Level Four in the months of August-October!  The tour guides take in a van to the river, provide all the equipment and instructions and provide the adventure of a lifetime! They even break for lunch that is included in the fee. Click here to request more information.

5)Island Tour

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With tours that take you into the deep rivers with “White Water Rafting” (above) to zooming across the ocean in a water taxi on your way to a remote island, life couldn’t get better! Along the way to the Pacific island of Bolaños, you will get to experience whale and dolphin watching as well snorkeling when you arrive at the island.  And, when you are hungry, eating a lunch of sandwiches, fresh vegetables and fruit while you are sprawled out across the sand is definitely in order! Don’t forget to bring your swim gear! Click here for more information.

6)Cloud Forest Hikes

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Your thrilling adventure can continue upon your return to Boquete when you hike through the many more easy to difficult hiking trails (and everything in between) that Boquete has to offer! Start with “The Pipeline” trail, the easiest trail for those who want to see the animals, sloths, Quetzals (see bird watching) and Panama’s oldest and biggest tree as well as a beautiful waterfall at the end of the trail. Another great hike is “The Lost Waterfalls” hike, it consists of three different waterfalls. This is a moderately difficult hike. As you see nature at its finest don’t forget to jump into the middle waterfall, get wet and cool off! The “Il Pianista” hike and “Volcan Baru” are two of the most challenging hikes and we strongly recommend that you go with an experienced local guide to do these. There are so many more hikes that you can do. Our Manager Debra has done many of them herself. Contact us and she can give you more information.  Contact us here.

7)Caldera Hot Springs and Gualaca Mini Canyon (Cangilones)

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Don’t forget that we also have amazing Hot Springs and Canyons! You can sit in the Caldera Hot Springs as you relax in the hot water so natural and healing or you can dive into the water in the Gualaca Canyon. Really exhilarating! This tour is usually a combination all-day tour. Let us know and we can get either (or both) of these set up as well.

 

8)Horseback Riding

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You continue your nature adventures by taking a “Horseback Riding” tour throughout the mountains and canyons of Boquete! There is not a better way to experience all the senses with the sounds of the birds the touch of the horses and the sites of the amazing and ever changing landscape of Boquete, Panama. Click here to schedule.

9)Bird Watching

And speaking of the sounds of those birds, if you are a bird watching enthusiast you have HIT THE JACKPOT while visiting the province of Chiriqui! Panama is home to 978 species of birds. Grab a book on Panama birds, take a journey on the Los Quetzals or the Culebra trail (for example) and snap those pictures! We even have guides available to help you spot them. Contact us for setting up a guide for you.

 

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 10)Relaxation: Massage and Yoga

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Ok, now that you have done the top nine things, it is time to pamper and rejuvenate yourself! All the Must-do’s have been accomplished and you are feeling great about your bucket list! One of Terry’s most favorite and highly rated must-do is to have a Massage or take a morning yoga class. Both melt away the soreness and allow you to relax and re-align yourself. Contact us for more information and to schedule here.

 

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We at Casa de Montaña know that vacation time is so short, we want to help you make it your most amazing trip possible! We will do our best to assist you in setting up your “Must-Do’s” creating the perfect vacation for you. We are available by email: info@casademontana.com or by phone, Panama: 507-7309472 or U.S. 952-931-9770 or just contact us by clicking here  and get your “Bucket List” checked off!!!

 

Let the “spirit” move you in Boquete, Panama!

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Blog by Terry Richmeier

Many people will come to Boquete, Panama, looking to see if this would be a place they can call their next home. Why is that? What is it that pulls them here and for some makes this the most awesome place on earth to be? In order to answer that, we have look at what moves ones spirit or one finds “spiritual”.

I myself fell victim to the all-encompassing power that Boquete, Panama, had over me. The first time I stepped off the bus and looked deeply onto the mountain side where the sun was just setting behind the mountain side with a tint of purplish red and telling me “be calm and let me surround you with a blanket of tranquility”. Many times during that first trip and from then on, I would feel those mountains come together and wrap me and give me a sense of security and invite me to relax, calm the angst within me and tell me the world was at peace at that very moment. To me that is my “spirituality”.

I began to wonder if others felt this same thing when they were sucked into the land of cloud forests and calm nights. What were their stories? Did they find this to be a spiritual place as well? So to understand a bit more about what spirituality is, I had to research what it means.

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Spirituality, according to Wikipedia: Not to be confused with Spiritualism.

There is no single, agreed-upon definition of spirituality. Surveys of the definition of the term, as used in scholarly research, show a broad range of definitions, with very limited similitude. This causes some difficulty in trying to study spirituality systematically; i.e., it impedes both understanding and the capacity to communicate findings in a meaningful fashion.

Spirituality for many denotes almost any kind of meaningful activity or blissful experiance. For others, it denotes a process of transformation, but in a context separate from organized religious institutions, termed “spiritual but not religious“. In modern times the emphasis is on subjective experience. Houtman and Aupers suggest that modern spirituality is a blend of humanistic psychology, mystical and  esoteric traditions and eastern relegions.

              So, ok now we know! Not really, however, I thought I would present to you some different facets of spirituality that we have down here in Boquete, Panama

Real recently Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast used their space for a spiritual workshop that was called “Rites of Passage” and had a presenter named “Wilbert Alix” leading the group. It was inspiring to listen to the drumming that was soft and methodical as people closed their eyes and placed themselves in a solace position. According to Alix, “Happiness in life is not achieved by finding the right answers but rather by asking deep and meaningful questions.”

Many people here have taken their spiritual journey through artwork. Creating emotions in every piece they do. The local photography group named “Photografia” captures the local people and wildlife in amazing positions of great emotion. Others capture emotion in the painted faces and still others capture that spirituality in encaustic art like Robyn Cole Artworks.

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Many people here attend their respective Churches from Catholic and Christianity to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islamic Mosques, Jewish Synagogues and Church of Latter Day Saints. After a little bit of researching, I found the following information on the organized religions of Panama.

The government of Panama does not collect statistics on the religious affiliation of citizens, but various sources estimate that 75 to 85 percent of the population identifies itself as Roman Catholic and 15 to 25 percent as evangelical Christian. The Baha’is community of Panama is estimated at 2.00% of the national population, or about 60,000 including about 10% of the Guaymi population; the Bahá’ís maintain one of the world’s eight Baha’is Houses of Worship in Panama.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (Mormons) claim more than 40,000 members. Smaller religious groups include Buddhists with between 15,000 and 20,000 members,Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah Witnessess, Episcopalians,  with between 7,000 and 10,000 members, Jewish and Muslim communities with approximately 10,000 members each, Hindus, and other Christians. Indigenous religions include Iberogun (among Kuna) and  Mamatata (among  Ngobe). For the indigenous people of Panama, the spirituality is Bahai. There is also a small number of Rastafarians.

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Bahi’s House of Worship, Panama City, Panama

Catholics are found throughout the country and at all levels of society. Evangelical Christians also are dispersed geographically and are becoming more prominent in society. The mainstream Protestant denominations, which include Southern Baptist Convention and other Baptist congregations, United Methodist, Methodist Church of the Caribbean and the America’s, and Lutheran, derive their membership from the Antillean black and the expatriate communities, both of which are concentrated in Panama and Colon Provinces. The Jewish community is centered largely in Panama City. Muslims live primarily in Panama City and Colon, with smaller concentrations in David and other provincial cities. The vast majority of Muslims are of Lebanese, Palestinian, or Indian descent.

The Constitution provides for Freedom of Religion, with some qualifications, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.

                            So, after all this exploration about spirituality, in my opinion it comes down to this … what you find inside your heart, that place of peace and tranquility where you know you are truly in the happiest moment of your life, that is your spirituality! For me, I sit outside on the back terrace, look out upon the ever-changing sky and think, reflect, dream, and love all that is there in that moment and that is why Boquete, Panama, for me, is a spiritual place! I would like to invite you to come down to Boquete and see for yourself what this awe-inspiring place brings out in you. See you soon at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast.

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