By Carina Forster
Nestled in the hilly green highlands and surrounded by lush cloud forest, Boquete is the town of coffee and strawberries. It is inhabited by a charming mix of local farmers, international expats and indigenous people, who give the town it’s unique flair.
Joining the passionate EcoCircuitos guide Gerardo on a hilly road trip, we learned about the fascinating history of the area and its role as the “bread basket” of Panama. After some spectacular photo-stops at panoramic view-points of the majestic Volcano Baru, we ended the morning with a delicious cup of coffee at a local farm.
In the afternoon we boarded a shuttle truck up a steep and bumpy road deep in the cloud forest to reach the wooden Tree Trek headquarters situated in a picturesque valley, home to the famous Canopy Zip Line of Boquete. But instead of following the crowds to the Zip Line Adventure, we went on a hidden trail up behind the lodge with the local guide Raphael, where a mysterious and unique experience was awaiting us.
Following Raphael through lush cloud forest, we could feel his passion and respect for the surroundings. “Did you study Biology “? I asked him. “No. I just love nature and read a lot”. Was his simple response. Being a Zip Line guide for Tree Trek for over 5 years, in his free time he used to stroll around deep in the cloud forests on his own until he eventually came up with the idea of building a hanging bridge over the valley. By shooting arrows to the other side and climbing the ropes, he built 7 hanging bridges and a beautiful trail network without cutting down a single tree, just within one year.
Following these fairy tale like paths combines unique encounters with the plants and animals of the dense cloud forest with breathtaking panoramic views of rivers, waterfalls and the mighty Baru Volcano covered in mystic fogs. Together with a light dose of adrenaline when crossing the slightly shaking bridges with the ground deep beneath your feet, you have all the ingredients for a unique natural adventure.