“Please take me to Boquete,” our daughter begged, “I've heard how nice it is.” We, her indulgent parents, promptly made reservations at Finca Lerida, a boutique hotel-cum-coffee plantation in Boquete, Panama. They have made the most of Boquete’s unique climate, growing everything from English garden flowers to lush, tropical plants in their beautifully landscaped grounds.
When we checked in we asked about the price of hiring a guide for a morning bird watching walk. We declined when we found out it's $75 per person. Bird lovers worldwide don't mind flying here and paying that kind of money to increase their chances of seeing the elusive quetzal and the many other birds unique to this province.
Tip: If you're a bird lover, it's definitely worth hiring a guide, though I'd suggest you do a little research ahead of time to find a local who will do it for less. Or ask at a hostel; they might know.
If you'd like to see how they grow coffee in Panama, Finca Lerida offers tours. They grow and roast it on the premises and serve it in their dining room, so if you eat here you can try their coffee.
Had it not been drizzling we'd have breakfasted outdoors on the porch. Our table was right next to the window though, so we could still watch birds land and eat the treats the owners left for them. The meals took quite a while because we kept getting up to take photos of the ones we'd never seen before. I wish I knew what they all were; they were so pretty. (If you know what these birds are, PLEASE tell us in the comments.)
Hiking in the highlands
As soon as Dan learned that the finca has forested trails for its guests he wanted to take his camera into the woods. He invited us to join him but we declined; the heavy clouds, cool air and mist put us more in the mood for an afternoon snooze. Liz took one look at the hammock on the porch and headed outside with a blanket, and I was left alone in the snug quiet of our room. I bundled myself up into another blanket and promptly fell asleep on the bed. Sometimes it's good to do nothing at all.
Finca Lerida was a comfortable stay in a local place, and their restaurant served good food. It is ideal for birdwatchers and people who enjoy peace and quiet or need to detox from electronics. On the other hand, if you need to stay in touch with the office you should know that we could get NO signal for our phones and the rooms don’t have Wi-Fi or TV. Be prepared for that if you visit.
Tip: Pack for typical mountain weather. Bring socks and a sweater or jacket along, because Boquete can get chilly.