Hiking the well-known Sendero Los Quetzales between Boquete and Cerro Punta (10km; 4–6hr at a moderate pace with stops) can be done in both directions. The trail, which allows you to travel between the Highlands’ two principal settlements through stunning scenery, is immensely satisfying, especially as it avoids a lengthy bus journey up the mountain from David and down again. There are trailheads at El Respingo, near Cerro Punta, and Alto Chiquero, near Boquete.

Starting from Cerro Punta you get more downhill walking, though this is much more difficult and slippery after rain. From Boquete there is more uphill, though only the last section is very steep – and it is easier to climb than descend after rain. In this direction, you also get into the forest earlier and are therefore more likely to see quetzals.

Note that, due to the large numbers of visitors combined with floods and landslides during the rainy season, the trail has been closed several times over the years. A guide is highly recommended, and you shouldn’t attempt the hike after very heavy rain since the river you have to ford will likely be impassable.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Panama features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

16 pictures that show the colours of Panama

16 pictures that show the colours of Panama

After a recent trip to Central America, travel photographer Nori Jemil shares some of her best pictures of Panama.  The geographically strategic isthmus of …

30 Dec 2015 • Nori Jemil insert_drive_file Article
10 things you didn't know you could do in Panama

10 things you didn't know you could do in Panama

There’s a whole lot more to Panama than its famous canal. Hiking, rafting, surfing and diving are just a few of the excellent adventure activities on offer, a…

08 Sep 2015 • Megan Eileen McDonough insert_drive_file Article
A little piece of paradise: visiting Panama’s San Blas Islands

A little piece of paradise: visiting Panama’s San Blas Islands

Let’s clear one thing up straight away: getting to the San Blas islands is not easy, whichever way you’re coming from. And that’s quite deliberate. The…

23 Oct 2014 • James Rice insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month