Nestled amidst the lush landscapes of the surrounding Panamanian mountains, Boquete offers breathtaking vistas and adrenaline-pumping escapades, with a variety of activities and hiking trails to choose from.
While these trails offer unparalleled beauty and excitement, it is essential to be well-prepared for the potential dangers that lie ahead. In this article, we unveil the captivating allure of Boquete’s mountainous terrain while offering essential tips to ensure a safe and memorable exploration.
So lace up your hiking boots for an exhilarating expedition through nature’s wonders, where thrill meets precaution in perfect harmony.
The Boquete Mountains
The hills and mountains around Boquete are a huge draw for tourists who want to enjoy some serious trekking off the beaten path. However, you may first want to take into account some recent and not-so-recent incidents before heading out alone on the Boquete mountain trails.
As much as the local media and authorities try to play down the risks, there are real issues facing budget travellers in Panama. These risks are not just limited to the well-known danger areas in cities such as Colon and Panama City.
The most infamous of these was the death of 2 girl backpackers on the Volcan trail, Boquete in 2014. The actual facts of the case are still unsolved, and speculation is rife. There are a number of more or less lurid theories: An accidental fall, a drugs deal gone wrong, or an attack by wild animals.
The police search recovered only some bones and belongings. Months later, some indigenous people turned in a bag of bones containing the remains of 2 girls, plus 3 other unidentified people.
The police didn’t pursue the case further, possibly to avoid any repercussions to the tourist industry.
More recently in early 2017 an American girl was dragged into the jungle and murdered near the Red Frog trail in Isla Bastimentos, not far from Bocas Del Toro. Again, more speculation and rumours, but this time the FBI was called in.
When we visited Bastimentos 3 weeks later, we were greeted with billboards advising tourists not to take valuables onto the trails. It wasn’t clear to us if this meant there was a risk of being mugged (since our bags would be on our shoulders on the trails), or worse.
In any event, we heeded the advice and left everything except a camera in our guesthouse. This actually was a tricky decision, since our guesthouse – The Ushuaia – gave us the distinct impression of being anything but safe and secure, with a window that couldn’t be closed facing directly onto the jungle.
Jungle Trail to Wizard Beach
From Bastimentos town, we started on the trail through the jungle to Wizard beach (the other side of the island) in the early morning. After 200 yards we passed a couple of policemen. They were discreetly taking pictures of everyone who passed into the jungle. There were a couple more policemen close to the end of the trail.
We didn’t meet anybody during the 30-minute walk in between.
At Bluff beach on Isla Colon, we saw notices advising tourists – for their personal safety – not to use the beaches before 9 am and after 5 pm.
Nevertheless, one night due to unforeseen delays we were obliged to make an unplanned hike in the dark back along the jungle path to our guesthouse.
It was a pretty creepy experience, and one to be avoided if possible. Even during the day there was a noticeable police presence around both town and beaches.
The takeaway from all this?
Take especial care when travelling in Panama at night, on or off the beaten path. And ideally, don’t travel alone after dark.
Stay Informed : Stay Safe
Panama is considered generally safe for travel. However, like in any country, there are certain precautions travelers should take to ensure their safety, and one common piece of advice is to avoid traveling after dark, especially in certain areas.
Petty crime, such as theft and muggings, may increase in poorly lit areas and less frequented locations during nighttime.
To stay safe while traveling in Panama, consider the following tips:
- Schedule your sightseeing, shopping, and other outdoor activities during the daytime when it’s safer and more crowded.
- If you need to move around after dark, use reputable taxi services or ride-sharing apps rather than walking or using public transportation.
- Stick to well-populated and well-lit areas, especially if exploring at night.
- Be vigilant with your belongings and avoid displaying valuable items like jewelry or electronic devices.
- Carry only essential identification and travel documents with you, leaving the originals safely stored in a hotel safe.
- Stay informed about the safety situation in the specific regions of Panama you intend to explore and be aware of any recent travel advisories.
It’s important to note that situations can change over time, so check with the latest travel advisories and updates from official government sources before your trip to Panama. These resources will provide the most up-to-date information on safety and security for travelers.
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